Feb 112015
 

Hi Strangers! It’s been a long time, I know. I’m sorry about that. As much as I love this blog and all the support from everyone who reads it, I have a new baby with whom I’ve been spending a lot of time. Yes, I finally did it: I’m writing a novel. I hope someday you will all get to read it. I really hope that some of you will enjoy reading it even half as much as I have been enjoying writing it. I have a lot of dreams for this little book, but these dreams seem like a far off place that maybe I will get to travel to someday. So for now, I just write and dream.

But I did have to dust off the old blog because there is question that has been plaguing me, and I thought that it might be a question you have had too. So, as I like to do when I have a question that needs answering or a wonder that needs wondering, I decided to write about it with the hopes that maybe we can all figure it out together. So here goes…

What kind of mom am I?

It’s something I have definitely thought about it in the past, especially when I was a brand-spanking-new mom. Now as a wizened – although not wise – mother of two, I thought that I had pretty much come to terms with who I am. But lately, this old question has once again reared its ugly, insecure head.

See, I know what kind of mom I am not.

Despite my deepest wishes, I am not Crafty Mama. Crafty Mama subscribes to parenting magazines and frequents Pinterest to discover how to make awesomely adorable little crafts out of egg cartons and old magazine and used condoms… or whatever. I, personally, am quite pleased with myself when I buy those $3 holiday craft kids from Target and let my kids go to work sticking them together, only to have them fall apart five minutes later. I desperately wish I was Crafty Mama. But Crafty Mama, I am not.

I am not Chefy Mama either. Chefy Mama straps matching aprons on herself and her children and bakes delicious cookies from scratch, teaching her children how to clarify butter (that’s a thing, right?) with flour on their noses and smiles on all of their faces. Chefy Mama makes her own baby food, and macaroni and cheese from scratch, and then bakes gluten-free, applesauce-sweetened muffins for dessert. I am a mama who make macaroni from a box and cakes from a mix and gets semi-annoyed at all the mess. I wish I was Chefy Mama, but I am not.

I really wish I was Cultured Mama. Cultured Mama takes her children to modern art museums and classical concerts, and only lets them watch TV in French and discusses world news with her three-year-old over a perfect prepared quiche. I am a mama who takes my kids to museums when I find a Groupon, and who occasionally turns on classical music when I remember, because I read somewhere that it’s supposed to be good for them. I am not definitely not Cultured Mama. I wish I was.

I’m also not Cool As a Cucumber Mama, who let’s her kids explore the world without hovering. Cool As A Cucumber Mama lets her kids eat food off the floor and run around with runny noses and climb to the top of the monkey bars. Cool As A Cucumber Mama knows that germs and dirty faces won’t kill her children, and most importantly, she doesn’t care what people think. I am a mama who has eased up this second time around, but who is still terrified of what her kids will do when she is not watching, and even more scared of what people will think of her parenting skills if she is not watching. I wish I was Cool As A Cucumber Mama because life would be so much effing easier. But alas, I am not.

So, like I said, I know what kind of parent I am not.  I have even come to accept this about myself. But on the long, dark days when my kids are annoying me and I have no patience and I am almost too tired to microwave a TV dinner, the thought that keeps buzzing around my head is: If I am none of these kinds of moms… then exactly what kind of mom am I? And if I am NO kind of mom, then maybe that means that I’m not a good mom.

I guess I am the kind of mom who just muddles through and is happy that everyone makes it out alive. I am the kind of mom who loves her kids fiercely but is terrified that love is just not enough. I’m a mom who is convinced that her kids deserve more: they deserve freshly baked cookies and interesting crafts and a mom who isn’t afraid of anything at all.

But then there are good days. Days when I sit around the table with my kids laughing and eating freshly baked cornbread. Cornbread that came from a box, but that I made with my daughter at my side and my son on hip. Cornbread that we stirred together with my big hand over their little ones, and when I let my daughter crack the egg and she got shells in the batter, instead of getting even a little mad, I just fished them out and smiled at her and said that I like my cornbread crunchy anyway. On those good days I am able to convince myself that maybe I’m not Chefy Mama, but perhaps I’m not doing so badly after all. On those days I think that maybe I am not Cultured Mama or Crafty Mama or anything close to Perfect Mama, but that’s ok because I am Their Mama. And Their Mama can be someone who teaches them that they don’t have to be perfect to be good. That they may never fit into the mold of what they or anyone else thinks that they should be, but that they are still exactly who they should be. Maybe Their Mama can show them that great love and good intentions are enough.

Maybe, just maybe, great love and good intentions really are enough. Maybe.

Chefy Mama's lunch
photo credit: Sesame Street Ernie and rubber ducky snack lunch in Lunchbots box via photopin (license)

May 022013
 
Hell yeah, I ate all the cupcakes!!

Hell yeah, I ate all the cupcakes!  And they were delicious!

5 Things I Have Eaten Recently:

1)  Queso dip, 5 layer bean dip and approximately a half pound of corn chips. As an appetizer.

2)  A smoothie made from greek yogurt, bananas, mango, pineapple and 3 different kinds of weird sprouts that made the smoothie crunchy.  All in a misguided attempt to counter-balance the bagel with cream cheese that I ate 10 minutes prior.

3)  Almost an entire box of dry Fiber One Chocolate cereal.  I will spare you the details but, please don’t ever do this!!!

4)  A cupcake.  Ok… three!!

5)  An entire jar of bread and butter pickles… which I don’t even really like.

 

5 Things I Have Cried About Recently

1)  That phone (or something) commercial where we see the little boy in all stages of his life, ending with him giving his mom a tour of his dorm room.  “It all goes so fast!! Sniffle, sniffle”

2)  Every single time I feel that my husband just “doesn’t understand me.” (ie. at least twice a week)

3)  A video of my daughter taking some of her first steps in our front yard.  She is smiling proudly as she drunkenly moves towards me on her wobbly little legs.  Her chubby fingers are laced in mine as… Oh crap… here we go again!

4)  The day I really wanted Mexican Food but Pinches Tacos was closed.  Ok, I didn’t actually cry, but I did get pretty teary-eyed.

5)  Any movie, tv show, commercial, webisode, viral video, or infomercial featuring a baby, toddler, small child, animal dressed to look like a small child, person with small features, midget or gymnast.

 

What does all of this mean????

I’m pregnant!!!!!
photo credit: FUNKYAH via photopin cc

Dec 072012
 
See, even Santa knows how to enjoy the holidays... maybe a little too much.

See, even Santa knows how to enjoy the holidays… maybe a little too much.

Ah the holidays. A time of peace, joy and magic. Of sparkling lights, cheesy music, fattening food and beautifully wrapped gifts. And don’t forget the stress that comes from making, buying and planning all of the above. There are houses to be cleaned and decorated, cards to be bought and sent, cookies to be baked and delivered, events to be planned and attended, traditions to be created and upheld, and gifts to be purchased, wrapped and shipped… all in the name of peace, joy and magic. It’s enough to make a girl long for New Years. Or at least to keep her up all night, ticking off endless lists in her head, while she stresses about stupid things like does she have enough scotch tape.

Yes, there is much to be done during the holidays. But the thing we all forget to do is the most critical thing of all… to stop and enjoy it. What good is a perfectly trimmed tree if you don’t have time to sit in front of it with a glass of wine? What good are those homemade latkes or Christmas cookies if you don’t taste them? What fun is a holiday party if you spend it stressing about making it to the next one?  What does it matter if you find the perfect toys for your children if you don’t take the time to play with them?

This year my holiday wish for you all is for you not to have a happy holiday, but instead to ENJOY a happy holiday. I wish for you to enjoy many nights drinking hot chocolate (and by hot chocolate I mean wine) with your loved ones in front of the fireplace… or if you live in LA, in front of your flat screen TV and simulated fire DVD. I wish for you to share a wonderful meal with your best friends and to laugh until the wee hours. To delight in the pure glee on your little-ones’ faces when every gift is unwrapped. To spend hours walking around and enjoying the beauty of the season. To savor each bite of food, every moment with your family and all of the wonderful gifts you are given. To ENJOY a holiday season full of peace, joy and magic rather than stress, greed and guilt.

So this year if my holiday cards don’t arrive until January, or my cookies come from the grocery store, or I don’t attend every holiday party, or my jeans don’t zip up, or my presents arrive in ugly gift bags instead of beautifully wrapped packages or perhaps don’t even arrive at all… don’t blame me.  Blame the peace, joy and magic.

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

Nov 212012
 

I am thankful for those who drink as much as I.

I love me some Thanksgiving. What’s not to love?  Family and friends all gathered together. Delicious food and the ability to eat as much of it as you want without feeling guilty because everyone knows that calories don’t count on holidays. Same thing goes for drinking. Everyone knows that alcoholism doesn’t count on holidays. Plus, how the hell can you cook without wine? Or survive an entire day with aforementioned family without wine (Except for mine, of course. Happy Turkey Day Mom!  Thanks for giving me life!)

Unlike some other holidays lurking around this time of year, Thanksgiving is pretty stress-free (unless, of course, you are dumb generous enough to host.) There’s no gifts to be painstakingly purchased. No gifts to be returned, only to panic when the giver of said gift comes to visit and wonders where are those lovely ceramic figurines with the creepy, giant eyes that follow you everywhere, even your nightmares. There is no planning of a night out awesome enough to close out a great year and make all your Facebook friends jealous. Nope, none of those annoying holiday stresses. Thanksgiving is all about eating and drinking with friends and family and giving thanks for it all. Oh yeah, and I think it is also about Pilgrims, Native Americans and a giant Pumpkin who terrorizes children.  But don’t quote me on that.

However, as much as I love Thanksgiving and think it is important to give thanks, there is one thing about Thanksgiving that I dread:  the moment when all the food sits before you on the table, and instead of allowing you to dig in, the well-intentioned hostess asks everyone to go around the table and say what they are thankful for. Seriously?!  That is the right moment for that?  How about starting the giving of Thanks during the five hours when everyone is eating dip and dry carrots and waiting for the damn turkey to be done?  And why is it so hard to come up with something that I am thankful for at that moment? Perhaps it is because I am dizzy with hunger due to the fact that I starved myself all day to make up for the sick amount of calories I plan to consume. Or perhaps it is because I am drunk as I started drinking at 6 am without eating anything besides the cold, wet stuffing I snuck and ate with my fingers out of sheer desperation. Or perhaps it is simply the pressure of putting a whole year of thankfulness into a few words.  Whatever the reason, when called upon, I usually break out in a cold sweat and blurt out something like: “Iamgratefulformyfamilyandfriendsbecauseilovethemsomuchohyeahandmyhealthandmyfamilyandmyfriendsdidialreadysaythat.”

So, this year I am going to do things differently.  Firstly, I am going to make more of an effort to give thanks all year round.  Secondly, in order to bypass the paralyzing moment of Thanksgiving pressure, I am going to take the time to lay out some things that I am thankful for right here and now.

THIS YEAR I AM THANKFUL FOR:

Everyone who has read this far in the post.  For those of you who stopped reading after the first paragraph or who totally ignored this post: I hope you choke on a turkey bone or gain ten pounds, whichever is worse.  Just kidding.  But to those who read my blog:  THANK YOU!!

My amazing, smart, hilarious, charming daughter.  Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am.

My awesome family. I know you think your family is awesome, but my family kicks your family’s ass in my book.  Sorry.

My wonderful friends who support me, challenge me and love me no matter what.

A husband who makes me feel smart and funny, and who still likes to grab my ass.

Having an ass that someone still thinks is worth grabbing.

Girls trips.

Nap times.

Date nights.

Family days.

Push-up bras and Spanx:  Some people call it cheating. I call it branding.

Good red wine.

Cupcakes:  The perfect cake to frosting ratio.

My daughter’s amazing, obnoxious, loud, boisterous laugh.

Mixologists.

Wedge heels: Almost comfortable.

Movie theaters that let you pour your own butter on your popcorn.  Yes!

Skinny lattes.

Stretchy jeans:  I refuse to call them jeggings.

Vacations.

The health of me, my family and my friends.

Baby Tylenol:  Helped my daughter through a lot of crazy fevers this year.

Girls days with just my daughter and I, when I have no work, no chores and nothing to do but be with her.

Pumpkin spice…anything.

And the one thing that I am most thankful for…

Laughter:  Curer of everything that I am NOT thankful for.

So there you have it, My 2012 List of Thankfulness!  Hostesses take note:  this hereby exempts me from the torture of participating in this tradition this year, and possibly for all subsequent years.  So back off and let me eat overcooked turkey, already!  But just because I will not be participating myself, doesn’t mean that I won’t be watching this unfold. As much as I hate doing it myself, I love watching other people sweat at that inevitable moment when the person who goes before them takes the exact thing that they were going to say.  I love that moment!  In fact, you might even say that I am thankful for it.

Jul 102012
 

After 16 days, 3 countries, 27 hours of flight time with a 14-month-old, 5 hours of total flight time without baby, 12+ hours in a car with baby, 6 bus rides, 2 train rides, innumerable taxis, 2 sleeping pills, 2 all-nighters, countless bottles of wine, 12 gelatos, 4 lbs (a small price to pay), many frustrated screams, many, many nervous laughter outbursts (I tend to laugh at inappropriate times when I am stressed), 1 amazing wedding, 1 week with my husbands lovely family, 0 relaxation and too much laughter to count… I have returned.  And along with a small spare tire around my belly and a couple of crappy souvenirs (sorry family!) I have brought many stories to tell.  But, as I am still exhausted from everything listed above, I will start you out with the following list.

10 THINGS I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION

1.  Discovered that a baby screaming on a plane while all the other passengers are trying to sleep is NOT the end of the world.  As much as I was dying inside at the thought of being “that mom”,  I got over it.  And I am sure that the other passengers did too. Eventually. And even if they didn’t, I will most likely never see any of them again anyway.

2.  Learned the art of the afternoon nap.  Italians are very good at this.  It took me a couple of days and a couple of bottles of wine at lunch to learn, but I finally got the hang of it… just in time to come back to the real-non-napping world.

3.  Walked around in my bikini WITHOUT SUCKING MY STOMACH IN.  Hey, if 82-year-old Italian women with breasts that look like beach balls in a trash bag can rock a bikini with confidence, I sure as hell can too.

4.  Stayed up all night to confirm that, yes, currently there are nearly 24 hours of daylight in Norway.  Twice.

Bonus:  No getting up with baby, who was safely with her Grandparents in a different country.  Hallelujah!

5.  Made sand castles on the beach, paddled around with the entire family on a paddle boat with a slide, rented one of those 6 person bicycle-cars where you strap your kids to the front, and partook in other various cliche familial activities I swore I would never do – and had more fun than I have had in a long time.

6.   Gained 4 lbs.  This is only notable because I expected it to be much more considering my daily meal schedule in Italy:

Breakfast:  Americano coffee with latte frio.  Brioche and toast with Nutella.

Lunch:  Salad and grilled vegetables, followed by a first course of pasta or risotto, followed by a second course of meat or fish, followed by a dessert of fruit or gelato.  All washed down with a few glasses of white wine and sparkling water.

Aperitivo:  1-2 drinks made with Aperol, such as a Negroni  (gin, Aperol, and sweet vermouth) or Aperol Spritz (champagne and Aperol)  plus nuts, focaccia, chips or whatever the bar brings to the table.

Dinner:  Another 4 delicious courses, similar to lunch, ending with fruit and dessert.

Walk around town, ending with 2 scoops of gelato. Yum.

See… only gaining 4 lbs is pretty much a miracle.  Maybe I sweat off the rest of the weight on the night the hotel air conditioning broke.  Don’t ask.

7.  Spent hours and hours walking around the small Italian town of Cesenatico in the middle of the night when my jet-lagged and over-excited daughter didn’t want to go to sleep.  AND kicked my flip-flop an impressive distance when a cockroach crawled on my foot during one of these walks.

8.  Sang Itsy-Bitsy Spider in every single accent my husband and I could think of (British, Southern, Gangsta, Spanish, Indian,  Rastafarian, Alien, the list goes on and on…) in a desperate attempt to entertain my daughter after 5 hours in the car.

9.  Saw more peni (is this the plural of penis?) barely concealed in thin spandex speedos in one day than I ever hoped to in an entire lifetime.  I’m still recovering.

10.  Learned to let it go (kind of), take a breath and just laugh when my daughter didn’t behave as I would like.  She was in a new place with new food, new people, new schedule… new everything.  Is it any wonder that she doesn’t want to sit in her high chair for a 2-hour 4-course dinner, stay seated and silent after 9 hours on a plane, or sleep when WE wanted her to even though her body was telling her otherwise?  When I would get really frustrated, I forced myself to take a step back and just laugh.  Usually.  If that didn’t work, there was wine and gelato.

Until next time… Ciao!

Mar 242012
 

“Sometimes when I reflect back on all the wine I drink, I feel shame!  Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the vineyards and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink this wine, they might be out of work, and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, “It is better that I drink this wine and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver”

― Jack Handey

Mar 112012
 

Sometimes I think that baby food doesn’t actually seem that bad.  In fact, it kinda looks good!  Of course, that’s usually at the end of a long day when I am thinking about having to make dinner.