Martha Stewart, I am not

Last night, despite the fact that I had a ton of homework, I decided to make cupcakes for Clooney to take to school for his birthday. And I wanted to make them look kind of nice, so I busted out the two-year-old frosting tips from their factory-sealed packaging and gave it a go. A little awkward at first, but better than usual. And then I put a few confetti sprinkles on there for good measure.

I put them into this big plastic container I had bought (again about two years ago) in anticipation of an opportunity such as this one. The contraption is called “The Cupcake Caddy,” and it has a handle and little circles (12 regular-size, or you can flip the plate over for 24 minis) to hold the cakes. I had made the mini-cakes, and they looked so precious beneath their protective plastic dome.

I was feeling pretty good about myself, even though I ended up doing homework until 10:30.

Then, after all that — the cupcakes…well, let’s just say that the Cupcake Caddy — not so good. It looked like the cupcakes had thrown their own party on the way to school, and a fight must have broken out or something. By the time we got there, (and mind you, it’s not a far trip; there are no hills or potholes along the way) most of them had put their petite icing heads together. I had to smooth over all my fancy work with a plastic knife Clooney’s teacher had on hand.

They tasted the same though, and that was a good thing.

Somebody’s got to say it…

It might as well be me.

I was looking for a welcome mat the other day, and maybe a nice duvet cover, and I stopped by PotteryBarnKids for some reason, which happened to be having a sale on a limited edition PotteryBarnKids Barbie doll. Here is the doll:

Now, is it me, or are those some of the bitchiest looking Barbie dolls ever?

And check out this photo they had on the site of a little girl playing with one of them:

It’s downright heartbreaking. I mean that doll looks like it is bored to death! Who wants to play with that? I wouldn’t want those things near my daughter. The last thing I need is a disaffected five-year-old.

I’m not anti-Barbie, by the way. She’s got her permanently arched foot well-wedged inside our door. In fact, I think there may currently be more Barbie clothes than people ones in my house. (There are surely more Barbie shoes.) I’m just saying these particular Barbies have the oddest expressions. And what’s with all that eye shadow?

One other thing I want to show you that’s actually pretty cool. My friend makes these awesome cookies, and she baked special ones for Clooney’s birthday that look just like the axe he got:

And you know what? It’s pretty frickin’ yummy too.

Happy New Year, by the way. Thanks for stopping by. I know I haven’t been keeping you up to date regularly. I am still coming to terms with the whole new working schedule and all. But I promise to make more of an effort in the coming year.

Be good, now.

Good to Be Home

Just got back from a fabulous week at the beach.  Good family time, with near-perfect weather.

One of my mental snapshots is a moment when I was getting dressed for the beach, and T3 pointed to my exposed bikini area and said, “Mom, you’re growing hair. Are you going to become a man?” 

It was a surprisingly relaxing vacation though.  The kids got into a groove on the beach, playing with other kids and boogie boarding.  Ee would play a bit, then get her ice cream before sacking out totally under the umbrella for like three hours.  It was awesome.

At night, after the kids were in bed, Manfrengensen and I got into Mad Men, every night ON DEMAND, which was really compelling. We watched the whole season in a week. Reminded us a lot of The Sopranos in its tone and sense of morality.  We both found the character of Peter totally sleazy and disturbing. Kind of wished Don had gone Tony Soprano on that guy and kicked his ass.  All in all, very well-written with interesting characters and attention to authentic period props and sets. Can’t wait to see the new season starting June 27th.

In addition to the quality TV-time, Manfrengensen also read a couple of books, and I got about a third of the way into Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

The boys started camp today, and they both loved it. I had thought that just having Ee all day would be so easy, but it turned out that we had QUITE A DAY together…I think she wanted to stick close to home, but I had to go grocery shopping. She was not at all happy with me, even though I took her out for lunch. That was the best part of the day, the only time she was smiling at me.  Just sitting next to her in the booth as she ate her grilled cheese was so much fun.  She was happy, and every once in a while, she would lean over and press her forehead against mine, smiling and looking deeply into my eyes.  Then when we left, she was back to asserting her independence, which is good, but you know, it takes patience to deal with sometimes.

She spent the rest of the day pulling out things (with a preference for things with multiple parts) and leaving them on the floor. Then when I asked her to help clean it up, she would say, “No, you.” Pretty much anything I asked her to do, get her clothes, find her cup when she wanted more milk, whatever, the response I got was, “No, you.” And in between that, she would stall with this kind of escalating sing-songy two-syllable “Why?” as in  Ee can you please put your shoes on? “Why-y?” Because we have to go out. “Why-y?” Because we need groceries. “Why-y?” Because we need them for dinner tonight. “Why-y?” And the line would continue until…until she broke me.

The day flew by, and then the boys were home again.  She was thrilled to see them, and the three of them went right upstairs to play with cars, dolls, and other toys they’d been missing.  It was great!  Whatever they did, they all got along and didn’t need me to mediate at all.  It’s great when everyone plays nice.


The Summer Begins…

Haven’t written in a while.  I guess there’s not much going on.  We are about to close out Week Three of the Great Shower Tile Project. The end is in sight, but only if I squint really hard.  At this point we are waiting on six pieces of accent tile, that the tiler ran out of, leaving a 4″x2″ space.  He says we can still shower in it while we wait for them to come back, but is that really a good idea?  Doesn’t matter anyway, because it turned out that even though the shower door guy told me to call him when they were finished and he would “come right out to measure,” he can’t come until Friday afternoon.  We were also missing some pieces to the plumbing fixtures, not crucial ones, but necessary nonetheless.  The plumber said “maybe” he’d be back Friday with them.  Maybe…


The kids are finished with school, though J has to go back Friday for a “moving up ceremony.”  After that, he and T3 can devote themselves, as much as I will allow them, completely to Wii.

miisToday T3 actually went on a hunger strike, taking to his bed when I asked him to stop playing and come down for lunch. He is particularly fond of creating “Miis” and has populated a large city full of them. His break today turned out to be a lot longer than it would have been had he just come down and eaten.

Manfrengensen says not to worry about the Wii addiction.  It will run its course.  And I have faith that it will.  Letting it go is better than battling all day about the number of hours they play.  Besides, it’s raining.  What else are they going to do?  Nice days, we’ll be in the park.  Today, they are working those thumbs.

Ee has her own addiction, a bit of a substance abuse problem.  And that substance is powdered sugar donuts.

Don’t worry, I’ve got stuff planned.  Swim lessons, camps, piano lessons, trips to the beach, parks, museums.  I know what I’m doing.


Ee, T3 and J

On a completely different note, Manfrengensen let me read a few pages of the novel he started in November, and damned if it wasn’t really good.  I’m not the kind of person who would think his writing is amazing just because he’s my husband. That’s not how I roll.  I’m actually a little jealous of how good his manuscript is.  My own is like “chick lit,” which isn’t what I want it to be, but it is what it is in terms of the story and voice. I can’t just abandon it just because it’s not Michael-Chabon-esque, no matter how much I wish it was.  His book…it’s got that thing, that voice (of a man?), just good stuff.


Monkey keysSo this morning, Ee asked me to help her take out a toy McDonald’s cash register that my mother-in-law had given her. My mother-in-law has bought the kids like four cash registers, all complete with annoying sounds.  Anyway, when I picked it up off the shelf, the thing rattled, which was unusual.  Upon closer inspection, I found all the missing spare keys that had disappeared from the junk drawer recently.

Somebody’s kids are grumpy this morning.  Manfrengensen and I went out last night, left two of them with a babysitter and took the other one to a moon bounce birthday party.  We dropped him off and went for Mexican.  Damn, those Mexicans can sure cook up some tasty vittles!  

After that, we had some time to kill, so we took a drive through a neighborhood near our own where the houses are, shall we say, a bit more expensive.  austen mansAnd some of them were ostentaciously huge. Some of them were certifiable compounds. One looked like something out of an Jane Austen adaptation.  Another looked like a building on an Ivy League campus. But others looked more reasonable. Manfrengensen said, “This looks like the kind of neighborhood where afternoon tea is obligatory.”  I said more like afternoon cocktails. We pulled up in front of a gorgeous brick number with a FOR SALE sign on the lawn, that looked like it might almost be in our price range, but the fantasy in my head dissipated just then, when the Talking Heads sang  “This is not my beautiful house” on the radio. Kind of reminded me of when Manfrengensen bought a Jetta in 1999.  We signed the papers at the dealer and got in.  As he turned the key in the ignition, the radio spat out Cracker: “A million miles, a million miles…” A lattice of coincidence lays over top of everything…

I don’t necessarily fantasize about having a nicer house.  It would be nice to have just a little more room though.  And a basement that doesn’t breed cooties.

In any case, I guess everyone went to bed too late and got up too early.  I know I did.


rocket science

Moments from Parenting

Ee brought her toy camera to me this morning.  It has Buzz Lightyear on it and was, at one time, filled with candy.  “Cheese,” she said.  Then she went to her brothers and did the same.  To me, she reported that she had “cheesed” them.

Last night, T3 came over to me and furrowed his brow.  “Do you know what kind of face I’m making?” he asked.  I guessed: angry? thinking? “No,” he said, “I’m retermined.”


A Brief Movie Review

Manfrengensen and I watched this really great movie the other night called Rocket Science.  A small, indie-movie about a stuttering teen who joins the competitive world of debate teams in order to win an illusive love, it was really cute, hilariously funny, and took us in a completely different direction than we expected it to.  Highly recommend.


Today I am retermined to go to the gym and not to get stressed about anything.

Five More Hours, Please

Ee woke up last night a little before 3 a.m. Don’t lecture me — first of all, she’s two and a half, and she still takes a bottle. I don’t really care what she “should” be doing with the bottle. I know today’s parents are all hyper about what their kids should be doing when, but I try to chill about that kind of thing. She’s smart, she’s not lagging in any developmental capacity. She does take a cup most of the time, so I’m not worried that she’ll still be taking the bottle when she applies for college.

But I am trying to dial the whole bottle experience down. First of all, she used to call for a new bottle in the middle of the night. So that got old fairly quickly. First I switched from milk to a mixture of mostly water and juice. Then, to keep her from calling in the middle of the night, I started leaving it for her when I went to bed. That worked for about two weeks. Next, she started drinking that whole thing and then calling for more at 3 a.m. So, I cut out the juice and just put water in the bottle. That’s been working for a month or so, and she hasn’t even been drinking much of the water. Victory!

…as always, is short-lived. Last night, she started calling for milk at 2:50. I dug in my heels. I wasn’t going back. I wasn’t going downstairs. She cried. She screamed. She woke up one of her brothers. I went in a few times. I let her sleep with the light on (another issue, for another post…), I rocked her. Still she screamed.

I found myself lying in bed, applauding her tenacity, but also imagining that the applause was the sound of one of my hands clapping against her ass.

I won a hollow victory when she dropped off to sleep around 4:30. I lay there for another 20 minute listening to the gentle rhythm of her crying hiccups. I love that sound.

Finally Friday

It’s the last day of the longest week ever. It started out quite motherly, when T3 woke up with strep. I didn’t know it was strep at the time, but he had a fever, and he said his “mouth hurt.” I swung into action, fluffing pillows, utilizing the thermometer, bringing in drinks and ice chips. Since he’s five, I figured “mouth” meant his throat, so I called the doctor. Strep is, after all, always going around.

I got him all situated with his beverages, let him have a popcicle for breakfast, set him up in bed to watch 101 Dalmations. dalmationsHe seemed so miserable. I never bothered to check his forehead again, just waited for his afternoon appointment. So we made it to the doctor, Ee (who’s 2) in tow. When we got into the exam room, he mentioned again that his mouth hurt and he pulled it open to show me what appeared to be a canker sore. Freaking great, I thought, I’m paying three figures for a pimple in his cheek. (We have an HSA and haven’t hit our deductible yet.) At that point, he had no fever either, so I really worried that I was going to look like a looney mom. Turned out he had strep though. Woo-hoo! Was it wrong for me to be psyched that I wasn’t wasting time and money?

He went back to school on Wednesday. He seemed ready, but then in the afternoon, he was something else entirely. While he was there, I took the morning to run a few errands that had been on the shelf for the first part of the week. I took Ee to the mall, and she basically went insane there. First of all, she didn’t want to sit in the stroller, so she took off running. She was running in the racks, pulling out all kinds of crazy stuff and demanding I buy it for her. No way I’m buying an umbrella for a 2-year-old. Also, I’m not buying her Strawberry Shortcake underwear. She doesn’t even like Strawberry Shortcake, in fact, I doubt she even knows who the hell Strawberry Shortcake is. But more importantly, she’s not even potty-trained.

calgonAfter school, I still had to make a quick trip to the grocery store, that ended up taking me an hour. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken a five-year-old and a two-year-old together to the grocery store, but if you haven’t had that “pleasure,” let me tell you, you might as well just hit your hand with a hammer, because it’s just about the same amount of fun. I went to the second-closest, and coincidentally also second-dirtiest grocery store in town, where T3 proceeded to bounce down the aisles like a pinball. He wanted this, he wanted that. Don’t you want this, Mom? Don’t you want that? I couldn’t hear myself think. At one point, he dropped the cap to the bottle of water I had gotten him, and after chasing it across the floor in front of the meat section, he picked it up and put it in his mouth. Aaaahhh!!! Just lucky he was already taking antibiotics. Meanwhile, waiting for cheese at the deli counter, I looked over, and there was Ee, licking the back of the seat in the shopping cart. Aaaaaahhh!! I wish I could tell you it got better from there, but basically the day was just a wash…of stress.

Thursday I was a little more “in tune” to what he really needed. He was so tired after school, that he just wasn’t making sense. I had walked to pick him up from school. I knew he’d want a snack and a drink, so I brought him water and a baggie full of goldfish. We stopped by to see his stylist down the street, who said she could squeeze him in for a cut if we could wait fifteen minutes. While we were waiting, I polished off my own water bottle, and he freaked out. “Thanks, Mom,” he yelled. “Thanks for finishing off my only bottle of water!” But he was holding his own bottle (3/4 full) under his arm. No amount of reasoning could make him see that it was there. He was just so out of it. I took him home and put him to bed, where he snoozed for three hours.

Overall, tensions were high all week for all of us, even with the good weather. We are finally starting to get outside, and we need that. We need outside, and we need our naps.

We’ll see what tomorrow will bring.