Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Morning, 8AM

In my effort to expose the girls to the news a bit more and be less overprotective, I turned the radio up loud enough so the girls could listen to Morning Edition with me today while they had breakfast and I packed their lunches.  When I switched it on, they were doing a story about sex education and teen pregnancy prevention programs.  Awesome.

"What did they just SAY?"  Molly demanded, looking scandalized.  "They're talking about sex," I said.  (I was only halfway through my first cup of coffee - what do you want?)  "MOM!  Violet's going to hear you!  Don't say that WORD!" 

Ah, Violet - our innocent kindergartner.  She was riding the train with me the other day and asked if she could listen to my iPod.  As I put the earbuds in her sweet little ears, she turned to me and whispered "Mom, do you have "Fuckin' Perfect" on here?"  This was on a packed subway car, by the way.  And it was a stage whisper.  Mom of the Year, yet again.  (In case you're wondering, yes I did have "Fuckin' Perfect" on my iPod, and yes I did let her listen to it. Shut up.)

Back to the breakfast table and NPR: I already said I hadn't had enough coffee, right? I am really  not equipped to have a serious conversation about sex education and teen pregnancy at 8AM.  Instead, I performed a rousing rendition of Jermaine Stewart's classic "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off" and danced around the kitchen while making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I can't believe I still remember that song.  (You know what I want to know?  What IS cherry wine, anyway? Boone's Farm?)  I think the kids liked it.  Also, they never want to be seen in public with me again.  Oh, well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Parenting Fail

"How come you didn't tell me about Japan?" demands my 9-year-old as she shrugs off her backpack and parks herself at the table to sort through her homework assignments.

I look up from the email I am rushing to finish so that I can put out a snack for the girls and start packing for ballet. "Um, why? Did you talk about Japan in school today?"

"YES! Mom, didn't you know there was an earthquake and a tsunami and a whole bunch of people got killed? Everyone was talking about it at school! EVERYONE knew about it except for me. Why don't you ever tell me about this stuff? Why don't you ever tell me ANYTHING?"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lick-the-Beaters Chocolate Chip Cookies

All right, you guys. I'm going to give you my secret recipe - the one I've been refining for years (no joke) and the one everyone always asks me for. I can't vouch for how this will work at altitude, but the recipe I was working with toward the end of our time in Denver was pretty similar to this one and I had fairly consistent success with it. Everything comes out better at sea level though - it just does. After we moved here I realized I actually could bake bread and make cakes from scratch. I felt like a magician. Ah, sea level. I was always meant to come down from the mountains, you know? This altitude is so much better for me. I can breathe here.

So without further ado, here is the recipe.  Oh wait, no - one more thing. You'd probably have figured this out on your own, but I call these "Lick-the-Beaters Chocolate Chip Cookies" because they don't have eggs in them. I have no desire to do vegan cookies - I am ALL ABOUT THE BUTTER - but leaving the eggs out rocks because you can lick the beaters (and the bowl, and your fingers) without worrying about that scoundrel, Sal Monella. He wants to make you sick, but we're not having any of it. Go ahead and eat this dough by the spoonful if you want to. I won't tell.

Elizabeth's Lick-the-Beaters Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c. butter (1 stick!)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
2 T. maple syrup (the real stuff, of course)
1 T. soymilk (or whatever milk you prefer - we don't do cow around here)
2 t. vanilla
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. chocolate chips (semisweet, always!)

You know the drill: cream the butter and sugar, add the maple syrup, milk and vanilla, then add the flour, baking soda and salt. You can sift your dry ingredients together and add them in slowly if it makes you feel good - whatevs, I say. Depends on how much of a hurry you're in. Then stir in your chocolate chips, drop by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet (line it with parchment paper or foil, please) and bake at 350 degrees for just about 9 minutes. Take them out even though they look just a smidge underdone, and let them sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to finish baking through and firming up. Spatula them onto a wire rack to cool - a little bit, at least. The chocolate really will be too hot to spatula them directly into your mouth. I know you want to, but listen: we are all grown-ups here. YES WE ARE.

If your kids are nice, you should let them have a cookie (but only if they are very very good children) and then they will look like this:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sad Blog

Did you all know that I have another blog - sort of a secret blog? It's about missing my dad and I update it very infrequently. (You're surprised, right? I know. I am such an avid blogger.)

I have felt very private about it; I disabled comments and never really meant it for public consumption. For some reason though, I feel like sharing it today. Missing my father is such a big part of who I am now - who I'll be forever, I guess - and it feels inauthentic to pretend it isn't.

I might post some more writing there soon; it will be kind of rough and ugly. Grief is rough and ugly. No one has to read it, but maybe it will help someone. I know there are people out there grieving hard every day and pasting a smile over it. Sometimes it helps to talk about it, and sometimes it doesn't. We shall see.

You can click on the title of this post to go there if you want.

(I took this picture of my dad when we went to Antarctica together in 1994. I love it - and I love that I know he was looking at me.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

Nope, it’s not Disney World. It’s Sephora. Next time you’re having a terrible day, do yourself a favor and pop into a Sephora (New Yorkers are lucky – we’ve got 15 just in Manhattan) where you can sample makeup and perfume to your heart’s content. Is there anything better than makeup and perfume? I think not.

I may be a tool of the patriarchy, or I may have been warped in my formative years by a big box of Mademoiselle back issues given to me by my aunt, but nothing makes me happier than looking and smelling pretty. I'm sorry, Gloria.

“You smell like candy” someone said to me recently. “Really?” I said, batting my eyelashes. “That’s funny.” Of course I smell like candy – I spent an hour at Sephora, dipping my fingers into tester pots of solid perfume, slathering myself with body lotion samples, and spritzing eau de toilette onto tiny sticks of paper and waving them in front of my nose, trying to create the exact combination of smells that produce the sugary scent that emanates from me. Call me crazy, but when I smell good, I feel good. Put on a little lipstick and a dab of perfume, and the world seems brighter.

I suspect that the other parents at my kids’ school think I have it all together because I’m wearing eyeliner and lipstick when I bring my kids to school in the morning, but all it really means is that I took five minutes to moon in front of the mirror, ignoring the demands of my daughters on the other side of the bathroom door. God may have given me one face, but I have no qualms about making myself another, even when lunches need to be packed and breakfasts made. Take away my makeup and perfume, and I’ll be tempted to do my Ophelia impression at the bottom of Prospect Park Lake. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what happened to her. She was so fixated on those flowers; she was probably just jonesing for some good perfume. Forget the nunnery, Ophelia - get thee to a Sephora!

Illustration © Jaeman Park

Friday, January 14, 2011

Things That Make Us Go

The other day, our coffeemaker died after a long day of gurgling, steaming, sputtering effort which failed to produce even one drip of coffee. We knew it was coming – first the on switch stopped working and we had to set the auto timer and trick it into turning on every time, then there were several unprovoked incidents of grounds overflowing into the pot, and finally there was the death rattle that produced first a half pot, then a quarter pot, then no pot of coffee at all. Our coffeemaker gave us years of faithful service, and we worked it hard, sometimes making several pots a day. All that time I never realized how much we depend on that machine – until the day it died, and our lives seemingly came to a halt.
We dragged our French press pot down from the cupboard and tried to remember the correct grounds to water ratio, but failed most of the time, either making it too weak or too strong – usually erring on the too-strong side, we sometimes were unable to push the plunger down all the way. The French press made a smaller quantity of coffee – not enough even to get us through the first hour of the day; plus, we couldn’t set it up at night to brew us a pot before the alarm went off in the morning. The corner of the counter where the coffee machine used to sit looked so desolate, I could hardly bear to look at it.