Monday, August 30, 2010

Long Overdue

Love him or hate him, Kanye West is first an artist. His new video proves it. I'm hopeful you've seen it before but if not, voila.
Please be patient and watch the commercial first. And then push it into full screen.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Hate This Part Right Here

Everyone I know is in a funk...whether they are sending a kid off to school, tired of the heat, or tired of the rain (all day today!), or bellyaching about going back to work...they are just funky.

I'm the worst offender.

I feel so...sensitive. So delicate and easily broken. I know the anticipation of the busyness and crazed schedule is worse than the reality - I know it! But one can't tell oneself that, it seems.

So how to stay calm in a crazy time. Yes, yes, we all remind ourselves how lucky we are. And boy, we are REALLY lucky. I have some dear friends going through some shit. Sorry for the NSFW but this is legitimate shit they are going through. Like, health shit. The worst kinds. Also financial shit. The recession has affected me in ways that don't seem that high-impact. I mean, we were always frugal and we didn't paint ourselves into financial corners. But there are those that are AFFECTED. I do think gratitude is an important part of every day. One can always turn to The Gratitude Journal app for iPhone ™. Just tap tap tap what you are thankful for right into your phone for daily affirmation and reminders.

The Vision Board app, also featured on the above link, just makes me tired. Look at it! Stickies and pictures of money - blech.

Exercise is a great stress-reliever for me. It is a great energy-producer for my husband. I like to take Body Pump and Body Flow classes at my gym, but lately I've really enjoyed the Wii Fit that my daughter got for her birthday. I was anti-video game for so long and now my day is not complete without doing plank or Ski Slalom or Kung Fu on the Wii. My Mii is plump but lately I've noticed her getting trimmer. Plus, she is FINALLY at a decent "real age" after I was able to find a good center of balance.

As you know, I enjoy the alcohol. I look forward to a drink after a long day...especially if I don't have to drive a carpool later on that evening. My friend Lynn hooked me up with Canton, a ginger liqueur. She serves it with pear vodka, but I find that it is just as delicious mixed into straight vodka for a gingery martini. Hubby pours a splash into his Maker's Mark. Wowza! Ginger is a naturally calming root, too. And mixed with vodka, hell! It's a wonder drug!

Finally, where would we be without relaxing music. I would offer up some of the cool hip indie music I have in rotation, but a lot of it is disturbing or so deliciously rocktastic that it will not soothe you (Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Kanye, Matthew Dear). Some of it is chill. ax. Zero 7 is a favorite of my spouse's and they have a nice new compilation out, Record. On iTunes radio, under the Ambient section, they've taken away my beloved Groove Salad station (it got me through several tropical storms) but you can get it on the web site. I also listen to Café Monet and the hilarious Birdsong radio (um, a bunch of chirps. Surprisingly calming!). Jazz-wize, I've been enjoying Nnenna Freelon (Durham's own!) and her latest release. She sang on Mad Men and I didn't even know it! Beach House can be sweet, and they are playing Raleigh in October. (I'll be at a soccer game, so someone let me know how that goes.)

So there you have it - a few ways to relax. Just writing this has been incredibly therapeutic for me, I must say. Of course, I have nothing for dinner and soccer practice in an hour and school starts tomorrow....let me go put on that bird tweet station....

Thursday, August 19, 2010


There are three summer triumphs I can think of to write about at the moment. I'm sure there are others....for example, I have actually lost weight this summer despite drinking more than the daily recommended allowance for women over 40. Also, my children went two full weeks without screen time which now qualifies me to nod knowingly as I read John Rosemond's column in the paper. (This is probably worthy of another post, but EVERYONE I know agrees with this guy! And yet, one reads his column and recognizes not only one's own problems and parenting faults, but everyone else's too! I have yet to find a parent who says they don't like him, at least part of the time, but no one seems to really follow his precepts.)

Ok. Back to the three triumphs.

1. My daughter just handed me the copy of Twilight I loaned her, with a bookmark about halfway through, and said, "I don't think I wanna finish this, Mom." !!!! "Why?" "Because the girl just seems so....incompetent."

2. My son, when asked today if he wanted to accept an invitation for a swimming date/sleepover, said, "Nah, I don't think so." !!!! "Why not?" "I'm always really tired and grumpy after sleepovers. I don't sleep all that much and then I don't have any energy the next day."

3. My children, every day since our family viewing of "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure", have imitated Pee Wee Herman. !!!!! "Mad Dog! GRRRRRR" "I know you are, but what am I?" "I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel."

Take THAT, John Rosemond!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The List

Posting will be light whilst we in my household attempt to cross more things off of our summer goals list. Yes, we made a list. It is written in my husband's illegible script on scrap paper, and posted on the fridge.

So far I would say the big highlight was choosing to go to the Northeast on a (somewhat last minute) jaunt to see friends and chillax. The small highlight would be the classic movies we've screened - only two (what happened to all that movie watching???) but they were both HUMONGOUS hits in the house. More on those later.

Off to some expensive, loud fun park and then to the farmer's market to make some whack recipe my daughter chose.....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mad Women

I have very few tv shows on my must-see list. Obviously, LOST was a huge priority, and you know, the Bravo habit, ahem. But from season one, episode one, I've watched "Mad Men".

The premise alone was enough to hook me - late 1950s New York! I LOVE a costume drama. What I didn't realize, tuning in, was that I would be getting a dose of feminist history.

For you see, I think the show is really about women. Hold on, don't tune out or throw things...just think about it...if you are a fan, you'll remember that season one turned on Peggy's changing role and affair with Pete (and the subsequent consequences of that affair). Season two had a lot to do with Betty and Joan....Betty arguably the less strong female, but the one who left her cheating, lying husband (albeit to go with another man) in season three. Joan married, but instead of living the dream, found she missed work, was not appreciated at home, and essentially was humiliated and violated by her husband. And now we have season four...back to Peggy (her hair! Finally!) and Joan, both of whom have major leadership roles at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, and Pryce. Lane's wife (SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THIS WEEK'S) left him. The real Don Draper's wife is the only person Don seems to love. The one woman Don has a legitimate date with keep's him at arm's reach (a feat unaccomplished by anyone else except maybe the retail store heiress...but even she gave in). Betty...well, we'll just see how Betty comes out in the wash as feminism becomes more prevalent.

I read online that this season seems to be the one where Don becomes pathetic and that the world is moving on without him. Watching the excellent opening credits (with the catchy, catchy licks by my fave RJD2), you see a silhouetted figure's office falling away from him and that theory seems correct. But the silhouette is a man. And the times, they are a' changin'.

Friday, August 06, 2010


It's time I admit, after admitting earlier this summer that I 1. love Bravo, and 2. am a suburban mom and 3. have decided that cooking isn't all that bad, that I am a working mom. I'm not really a stay-at-home mom, though my schedule makes it seem that way. And that's a dangerous thing.

For you see, I am free some mornings - mornings that I often fill by volunteering at school or trying to catch up with friends. I am home in the afternoons with my children, making me available for homework help and carpooling to activities. Most of the summer, I'm free. Folks tend to forget that I actually have a paying job with duties that are somewhat important and co-workers and congregants who are relying on me.

If I had to complain a bit about my very flexible schedule, I would say the following: I have had to essentially quit my book club as it meets during a weekly work event, and I'm generally considered the go-to parent as my husband's job is not nearly as flexible. Yesterday, for example, I worked for a good chunk of time, constantly fielding phone calls and texts from home when, say, the power went out due to storms! Or someone wanted to open a new container of nuts! Needless to say, I was a half-ass employee.

And half-ass parent, I should add.

Which is why I quit full-time work just before I had my second child. I felt like I was not doing a great job at either place, home or work. I wanted to be 100% SOMEWHERE. As it turns out, part-time work is really good for me in terms of my emotional health...challenging, fun, adult time, and the money. But part-time work is not recognized by a lot of circles (I'm looking at you, PTAs of both schools!). So here I am again, in half-ass land.

My husband has been generally great, as a lot of the times I work are when he is home (Sundays, evenings). Still, there are the predictable squabbles over logistics, schedules, and who-does-what.

The money I make has enabled us to go on trips this summer and to send each child to a it's worth it. Right?

In an age when women truly are getting the upper hand, why does it seem like I still struggle to meet all of the expectations and goals I have? I believe some of it has to do with the area where I live. Most moms here don't work full or even part-time...partly the reason we moved here to begin with (I was very lonely in our other neighborhood where no one was even procreating). That tide seems to be changing a bit, especially as children age out of the preschool years.

I keep thinking what if, what if...what if my parents lived here and could help me...what if we made enough money to warrant hiring someone to help with the house, or with shuttling the children....what if I was able to indulge myself a little more with free time or time with friends....

but mostly, I think our situation is working.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Fist World Gratitude

Things I'm thankful for on a cloudy August morning:

Cloudy and relatively cool temps before the heat onslaught today

Air conditioning (see above)


The thingy I can plug into my iPhone that enables me to play music in the car

The car

The iPhone

Reading glasses in every room

New Yorker magazines in every room

iPhoto's ability to create slideshows from our recent vacation

Our recent vacation

My clogs, worn to ease my aching feet after my long walk at a pastoral field out in the suburbs

The suburbs, and

The free time in which I took said walk.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Embracing the Cooking, Summer Edition

I didn't cook a lot, or didn't cook much in a creative vein, on vacation last week. This week, however, I want to take advantage of summer produce. So we are having:

Baked Pommes Frites

Fresh red-skinned potatoes cut in half lengthwise, then into slices
Put in cold water for a soak
Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper
Bake at 400 for 20 - 30 minutes, turning once
Serve with:

Curry Ketchup

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp Curry powder
1/2 cup mayo
1 tbsp finely chopped onion or shallot

No-Gas Gazpacho

Chopped fresh tomatoes (at our newest local produce market, Bickett Market, I was able to get "Cosmetically challenged tomatoes" for a good dollar less a pound.)
Chopped fresh cucumber (maybe one cuke to two tomatoes is what I did)
Chopped onion
One ginormous garlic clove, minced
fresh basil - about a large stalk
fresh parsley
the juice of a lime
a tablespoon or so of red wine vinegar
Hot sauce (your fave)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix all this up. Add some tomato juice (I used Clamato). Blend about half of it in a blender, and add it to the chunky bits.

I'll have this with Trader Joe's Crab Cakes, which I'll serve with

Horseradish Mayo

1/2 C. mayo
lots of horseradish
Lemon zest
lemon juice

and then popsicles for dessert.