Archives for July 2010

Mommie Dearest and the Summer Boredom Blues


I’m having a day. I’ll be completely honest here and will probably offend someone in the process (or at least make you wonder if I should really be mothering three small children). But really, who hasn’t had one of those days where, by 3:00 p.m. every sound emanating from the general vicinity of your children makes you want to hop in the mini-van with a suitcase full of your favorite shoes, a pack of smokes and a copy of On The Road? Come on. Tell the truth. You’ve fantasized about a covert nap time escape, haven’t you? I have.

On many occasion, I’ve wondered exactly how stay-at-home moms can homeschool. You mean, you’re always with your kids? 365 days a year????!!!! 24 hours a day..7 days a week????!!! (What I’m saying in my head is, “Lady, you’re looney toons.”)

Can you tell that we’re on the downward swing of summer vacation and all of the fun “stuff” has started to lose it’s appeal? We’re almost at the new school year (28 days, 13 hours and 54 minutes to be exact). If that yellow bus doesn’t pull up soon I might just loose my mind. The most alarming part of this situation is the fact that the kids are only entering 1st grade and pre-school.

They’re bored. Boredom = problem behavior = mommy needs prescription meds.

Oh, the poor little things. They’re bored. Let’s bring them to Funtown/Splashtown, the beach, buy them a pool, go to Toys-R-Us, library, buy them a stinkin’ puppy, get them ice cream, go to the park, blah, blah, blahblahblaaaaaah.

What does a Mommy do when faced with such a challenge? Hmmmm..let me look for some ideas on the Internet! Oh look, here’s a blog entry titled “Bust Summertime Boredom”, I’m sure this nice lady will have some excellent pointers. Plus, it says that the ideas are also wallet friendly. Excellent!

 1. Family Dance Party.
Okay. I can do that..I’ll just turn up the stereo and get everyone to dance. “Look! Guys…look at Mommy. Hey! Let’s dance..guys…guys?”
Joe: “Mom, you look crazy. Can I have a treat?”
Gwen: “Can we go to the beach?”
At least Kate humored me with a wiggle.
2. Fort Building.
“Hey guys, wanna build a fort?
Joe: “YEAH! Hey Gwen, we’re going to build a fort!”
Gwen: unintelligible words followed by a delighted shriek.
Me: “BE QUIET THE BABY IS SLEEPING!!”  deep breath… “okay, now just go into the living room and use whatever cushions you need. Blankets too. Have fun!” Fast forward 2.5 minutes. A piercing scream comes from the family room. I enter to find that Joe has built a fort, turned on Transformers and banned Gwen from entry. The baby is crying because I yelled.

3. Family Cookbook.
Susan, the Blogging Wonder-Mommy, says that this is a great way to share your favorite cookbook with the children. Plus, all that measuring keeps their math skills fresh. She goes on to say that I should let my children pick the recipe they would like to try. Um, Susan? Won’t will also entail a trip to the grocery store? My favorite cookbook is Gourmet and the kid not glued to Transformers can barely count. I’d like to throw Gourmet at Susan.

4. Listening Game.
Susan, who is clearly doing a much better job at child rearing than I am, suggests lying down in the backyard to “listen”. What do we hear? Can you make that sound? This is what I heard:  “I hear a poo.” giggle. “Gwen, pull my finger.” Kate picked that moment to back up and plop her smelly bum on my head and Joe followed with, “Can we go to Funtown /Splashtown?”
5. I’m too bored with Susan to keep reading. I wonder what Susan would think about drawing on each other…
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Welcome, To Fantasy Island

Alright, so I just have to throw this one out there and set it free. Things are about to get absolutely bizarre at my house over the weekend. So bizarre, that it took me about half of a day to process and recognize the weirdness. Is weirdness even a word? If not, it should be. It applies to this situation.

Those of you that know me well know that I’m the product of a broken home. Yeah, yeah, it was the 80’s and, frankly, who isn’t the product of a broken home? (Humor me). Trust me reader-person, this isn’t going to be a tragic recount of the past 30 years and how my parents ruined my life. This is about the comedy that my parents unwittingly subject me to every few years.

Inevitably, some family event happens that requires Mom and Dad, sometimes along with significant others, to gather together and celebrate said event. My sister’s wedding in the early ‘90’s was the tester for behavioral problems. Luckily, we discovered that brief stints of togetherness are tolerable and, if the stars are properly aligned, quite entertaining. Okay, scratch the stars…mostly alcohol and music tend to do the trick.

Let me catch you up a bit. We are all lucky to have my mother staying with us for the summer. It’s been great. The kids love having a Grandma in the house, I love having Mom in the house, Dave loves that Grandma is in the house. Jeez, I think that the dog is even in love. We’re in Grandma Heaven around here.

So, a few months back my father sent a brief e-mail (he keeps it REAL brief) telling me that he’ll be in NY for his 50th class reunion…will be visiting my sister on such and such dates and then up to us in Maine on such and such dates…frankly, I just spaced because, well, I’m a bit spacey sometimes. Also, in my teen years he had a tendency to not show up, but I promised you that I wouldn’t go there.

Fast forward to this morning.

Scene: my kitchen.

My mother enters saying, “Your sister called. Your father will be here on Sunday.”

Pregnant pause while she waits for me to react. Of course, I’m absorbed in some minutia so lamely respond with something to the effect of, “Oh, really? That’s nice.” Awkward pause…“Oh wait, so where are you going to stay?!” Not exactly tactful, am I?

Mom responds, “I have to work, so I’m staying here.”

For some reason, my brain processes this tidbit as A-Okay. My mind says, “Hey, she seems cool with that…let’s go to the beach!” We went to the beach.

Fast forward to mid-afternoon. There I was, bumping around the lawn on the riding mower when, somewhere between the front porch and the playset, it hit me. My mother and father are going to be staying at my house. At the same time. They’ve been divorced for like, 29 years. How stinking funny is that?! Seriously.

This has all the potential to be like a bad Fantasy Island episode. Picture Mr. Roarke standing on the dock with Tattoo, greeting this week’s guests, when the fabulous 30-something woman (me) with baggage is forced into a “fantasy” where her parents reunite and kill/fall in love again/have crazy monkey sex with each other. They go through some kind of hellish/euphoric experience and then they go home (after pushing Tattoo into the lagoon).
The whole scenario is entirely fitting of the chaos that surrounds me and my growing family. Really. We need a film crew around here. And while we’re at it, I’m taking suggestions on how to explain this to the kids. Excuse me while I go look for my happy place.


Yep. It’s HOT out there and by mid-Summer the absolute last thing I feel like doing is whipping up a meal. However, I have three tiny (and hungry) people depending on me for some good, hearty grub at the end of a long day. Normally, I happily fire up the grill, but somewhere around mid-Summer I get tired of charred  food. To be completely honest, it probably doesn’t help that the ignite button on the grill has literally fallen off from constant use. Let’s hear it for the Home Depot products..Whoop Whoop!!

My point, you ask? My point is this: I am going to share an easy, yummy and fresh-from-the-garden recipe with you. Yes, it requires a bit of indoor cooking, but it is fast and easy. The best part? It’s both kid and grown-up approved.
Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables
1 tbs olive oil
2 zucchini, (approx 2 lbs) – quartered and sliced
2 garlic cloves
course salt and ground pepper to taste
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
15-16 ounces gnocchi
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tbs grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tbs butter
2 tsps fresh lemon juice
1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add squash and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is crisp-tender, 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until juicy, about 2 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook gnocchi according to instructions. Reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid, drain gnocchi and transfer to skillet. Toss gnocchi, adding enough liquid to create a sauce. Remove from heat and stir in basil, cheese, butter, and lemon juice.
3. Serve and enjoy! Oh, and thank you Everyday Food, Issue #63.

Reality Bites

For the past week, the obsessive-compulsive amateur interior designer in me has been clawing her way out. This is the kitchen at our new house. Its nice, right? It has a nice island, a window seat, butler’s pantry and that fantastic fireplace! Here’s the rub… The colors just aren’t mine. We’ve been here for seven months now and the colors are now SCREAMING at me. The walls were rag painted gold, the wainscotting is Sherwin William’s Thyme Green, the cabinets and all trim is Sherwin Williams Cottage Cream, the island is barn red and the fireplace is black. Now, maybe its just me, but that is a whole lot of color for one kitchen. Besides, I’m more of a “neutral” kind of lady.
My eyes glaze over and I drool just a little bit as I think about my kitchen’s future. What I want to do is paint the cabinets a nice antique white, put some soapstone on the counters, subway tile backsplash, carrera marble on the island with the base glazed a French Gray (a la Farrow and Ball)….insert the sound of a scratching record here as reality sinks in. With three small children and having just finished a kitchen re-do last year in our 150 year old house, my brain can’t handle another foray into plaster dust and painting cabinets. I think I have been able to reign myself in enough to deal with painting the walls, island and wainscotting until I have the drive (and funds) to jump into the carrera marble and soapstone pool. There’s just one small problem… that darn SW Cottage Cream on the cabinets and trim! Its so yellow. Yellow is really killing my vision. This is my ideal kitchen done by Nicola Manganello of Nicola’s Homes.

Off to find (obsess over) a nice creamy neutral for the walls that will pair well with my Cottage Cream (yellow) cabinets and wainscoting. The good news is that I’ve determined that either French Gray or Blue Gray will still work on the island. Whew. It’s just paint, right?

Who am I?

Okay, so there was a time that I could clearly define who I was. My career, my clothes, my car, my hobbies and interests were all wrapped up in a tidy little box that said, “30-something, career girl, well-traveled, groomed and funny.” No strings attached. I would have described myself as spontaneous and just a skosh sarcastic. That is, until my husband entered my universe. Of course, after a few years we added a baby to the box, then two and, woops..make that three!

So here I am desperately attempting to define this “new” me. Am I simply a stay-at-home mommy now? I have to admit, it is sometimes painfully clear that old spontaneous, no-string-attached girl hopped on a plane to paradise and isn’t coming back. EVER. She took her plane hopping, sleep-until-10-on-the-weekend-self and ran like the wind. (Someone should tell her that she forgot to take her fabulous shoes.)

Mom…Mommy…Mama…whatever “label” the beasties attach to me, I’m having one heck of a good time. Sure, I miss my daily shower and no, I don’t like these dark circles under my eyes, thank you very much! Yet, there is nothing more beautiful than my 18 month old, sporting her newly acquired pigtails, running on chubby legs and wrapping her tiny arms around my neck. I’ll take that and all the moments these three children provide, over that no-strings-attached girl anytime!

For now, I’m going to sit back and take my time figuring who the real me is. Mom, neat-freak, wife, obsessive-compulsive amateur interior designer, sarcastic, happy, sad, angry, creative…Maybe you can help.