The Crazy Suburban Mom: 2010-06-20

Friday, June 25, 2010

I'm getting a motorcycle...

In an effort to balance that kids are annoying, and because it's more fun than a day at the spa, I keep telling my son, "I’m getting a motorcycle."  

In an alternate dimension defined by too much eye-liner and tight leather pants (without feeling like a pile of Jimmy Deans)  I did have a motorcycle.  The bike is long gone but I clung to the pants by renewing the license.

  I may be comfortably settled into a minivan - And thanks to gravity; it's all pretty much settled, but that doesn’t mean I’m not the same person who owned the open road all those fourscore and never mind years ago. And since I still have my license the state of New Jersey considers me perfectly capable of straddling another monster and driving the suburban mean streets.

And they are really, really mean.


We’re talking New Jersey here; Route 22. Traffic Circles.  

Anyway, my kid was all, Really? And I was all, yeah.  And he was seriously ready to call me, Dude! and fist bump me some love when he realized  I was talking about a Barbie-pink Vespa and having Hello Kitty painted on the side. In one shake of Hello Kitty's tail I was mom again and so not Dude! and he left the room afraid I would actually do it and identify myself as his mom while driving through town on a pastel Vespa.

Which I totally would.

I dropped my fantasy figuring  the only thing more pathetic than a woman stuffed in black leather on a motorcycle trying to recapture her youth was a woman stuffed in black leather on a  Hello Kitty scooter. Period.

 But whenever I'm feeling it, I haul out the dream of popping me some Hello Kitty wheelies past Bernards High to annoy my kid. And even though I'm kidding, the kid sweats bullets.

Giant Hello Kitty shaped bullets.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Nineteen years ago I sought out every So you are pregnant  book trying to get a fix on my bloated, hormonal, weepy self. Armed with lots of knowledge about fetal development I stood in the mirror sideways day after day, waiting.  Since nothing of a bulging nature happened for quite some time, I read.  

A lot.

But before you could say hemorrhoids, I was sick of the Disney Princess version of pregnancy.  The talk of natural delivery so sweet it glowed moonbeams and dancing pink sparkly bunnies, the pregnancy good cheer; the chatter about sweet layette gifts and breast feeding and picking out a pregnancy bathing suit, and loving being pregnant...

...And never feeling more beautiful, set me to retching.  And I was pretty much up to my eye-balls in retching already. 

At the time I read about these Cinderella Castle pregnancy moments I couldn't quite decide what made me feel more beautiful;  my pretty new varicose veins working a map of the Mississippi towards my ass or the constant sweating.

I was looking for pregnancy advice; I got strawberry-scented glitter dust.

Nineteen plus years down the road I'm still puzzled by the articles and their singular dimension. Why did only woman with perfect pregnancies talk about bonding...  And breast feeding... And have the scoop on wipe warmers.... Yes, there were token I had the pregnancy from Hell stories, but that's what they were; token. 

As with all things there is no one way or the other, the truth lies somewhere in between Disney and Hell.

  My pregnancy, and birth of my son, involved more technology than an Apollo moon landing and was located more than a hop, skip and a jump from Orlando.  And don't even start in with, women have been having babies for millions of years and then got up and worked the fields.   That really isn't possible for everyone and for those of us that gave birth in the hands of technology instead of a doula; it's just smug.

As an aside here, natural childbirth was never appealing to me but I had no idea how awry things would go. When I announced I was pregnant, people asked if I wanted a boy or a girl, "I want a c-section."  I told them.   Part of my answer was about seeing their expression;  but just partly.  Here's the thing: I was employed in the hospital where I was delivering.   When you're an employee giving birth, everyone from your boss to the cafeteria ladies stop by to cheer you on.

Because of some bizarre decision in  labor and delivery rooms your cervix greets all visitors with a smiling, Hello there!   Maybe that's good if it's your family or your doctor but come on... I knew the next time my co-workers saw me in the cafeteria they'd  be looking at my face but thinking - Grinning girly parts.

They wouldn't want to; it's a hard thing to forget.

See, there was no place for me in those mommy-to-be  articles.  I had a lot of intervention; repeated hospitalizations,  preterm labor, monitors at home, ultrasounds three times a week.  All manner of electronic and pharmacological pregnalia.  

I made it to thirty-six weeks.  He was, and remains to this day, perfect.  Did I bond right away?  No, actually I didn't.  Did I have a C-Section?  Yeah, actually I did, but it wasn't planned; it was more like the cherry on top of the messiest pregnancy Sundae ever.  Pregnancy is just hard for some people.  That doesn't mean you won't bond or don't appreciate the experience;  granted for me, mostly in retrospect.  And it doesn't mean  you won't be a good mother.  You will be a good one, just like the Disney Princesses.

You just might have a few more stretch marks and a bit less glitter.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My pantry goes sweet and appley

 I'm expanding my pantry.


As I've said before, I need to keep everyone out of the grocery store. And hey, I'm not immune to the siren's call of a well stocked grocery but we are talking a matter of degrees.

While I might come home with the newest, improviest version of something I intended to buy anyway; other debit-carded parties might come home packing, oh, I dunno... A fifty pound wheel of cheese, nine boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, a push-mower, and a puppy.

Out of self-preservation (and because my dog, Ginger, hates puppies ) I'm expanding the pantry to include dessert items.  I used to focus on dinnerish-makings but a few weeks ago I realized, mistake.

I had a few, Surprise! We're here to show you 80 gigs of photos from our trip to the Ticonderga Pencil Factory, people over and needed something to go with coffee.

Since I didn't have the makings of a quick dessert I had two choices:

1.  Leave my guests and go get a coffee cake or

B.  Stay with my guests and send someone else which would result in the aforementioned coffee cake, a watermelon, 36 rolls of toilet paper, windshield wiper blades, three live lobsters.  And that puppy.

And believe me, Ginger here....


Wants nothing to do with puppies.

She's only got four teeth left but let a puppy loose in her home and she's like a hole-punch on a mission.

So I got the cake. 

Pantry items now include frozen pound cake, chocolate frozen muffin tops, chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk.

They last forever and go with things I already have in my pantry (like frozen fruit), and combine in tons of ways to make some great desserts. Around that time Mom Central asked, did I want to be part of The Tree Top Blog Tour? Apples? Oh, yeah...  I knew I could add those products to my new dessert pantry.  Go ahead and drop ship me an orchard!

And this is now a pantry staple...


White Chocolate - Apple Glazed Pound Cake

2 cups Tree Top Three Apple Juice Blend
1/2 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Frozen pound or other cake
Frozen blueberries

Add apple juice to a small pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce apple juice until you have about 1/4 cup - this will take a bit of time - at least 15 minutes but here's the thing.  When someone whips out 80 gigs of photographs featuring pencils?

I consider this 15 minutes well spent.
Let it cool a little; just so it's not boiling hot and then add the chips and condensed milk.  Cook on very low heat, whisking if you have a whisk - stirring frequently if you don't.... until everything is melty, smooth and yummy.

When you feel like you might want to wear this stuff.  It's ready.

You do not want this to boil, just come together.  A double boiler is probably made for this sort of thing... but I don't have one.  C'est la vie. 

Take your pantry pound cake out of the freezer, slice it artfully, throw on a few blueberries because... Well.  We all know dessert is primarily about getting in the antioxidants, right?  And spoon some of the sauce on. 

The sauce is really easy, sweet -  sort of vanillay more than chocolately with an appley finish.  I'm waxing ridiculous with the adjectives here so lets just say ambrosial and call it a day.

And because I was still in pantry mood  I made some pretty ice cubes with Mango Peach Trim.



A glass of seltzer and those cubes? 


With a few leaves frozen mid-cube...

 I didn't have mint so I used basil 'cause that's what I had and my life is about my pantry.  It used to be about going to the beach and buying eye-liner but apparently these days it's about pantry cooking.

I don't know what that even says about me but these pretty mango ice cubes sure made me feel special in a way eye-liner couldn't.

Okay, I'm lying.  Eye-liner made me feel pretty darned special but these cubes are a close second.

Those teeny basil leaves might sound funny but - they were really good.  Don't ask me why but the herby thing worked with the sweet mango, and the sparkly seltzer.  I packed up the rest of the cubes in a bag for another day.

And hopefully it will be a day that doesn't involve knowing more about pencils then I suspected there even was to know...

*I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Tree Top and received products necessary to facilitate my candid review. In addition, I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.*


Retro Tuesday with a really awful smell...

When my family walks downstairs on Tuesday morning and sees me sitting on the couch and the first thing outta their mouth is, Holy Crap, what's that awful smell?

By now they really oughta know it's Retro Tuesday.

Some of those magazines smell like thirty-eight feet, one-hundred seventy-two inches of years in a wet basement full of dogs.   It's a lot like experiencing every wet dog you've every smelled rolled into one matted, hairy noseful of damp stink.

  So yeah. 

I keep about five magazines in my house and the rest have to stay outside, which is such a shame.  I'd love to keep them at my bedside to flip through.  I just find them so darned appealing.  Even the odd parts.  Even the really weird stuff.

Even the creepy gelatin oddities and canned meat, yeah...  I love to turn the page and find those train wrecks.   But the real truth is - I find lots of good stuff.

In the 1940's it was common to find crochet pattens. For free, just there right on the page.



It's not common to find crochet pattens at all anymore. Anywhere.  Even for not free.  In fact most people are sort of embarrassed about crocheting. Like if they were really talented, they would knit.


Sometimes I feel like Crochet's viewed as Knitting's stupid little cousin, know what I mean?  Like Knitting tolerates Crochet because Knitting's Mommy said to... but man, if Knitting could ditch Crochet behind the school... It so would. 


I also love weird frugal recipes.  Things that at first I might look at and say, Um. No.  But on second thought I like all the parts involved, so why not?


Here's the thing...


There's nothing I don't like here.

Granted, half the weight of this recipe is in transfats but that can be managed.  And I wouldn't have thought of serving deviled eggs on ...

covered with

But I would so eat that...  And I don't know what to say about that except, I love that stuff.  We all have our little comfort foods that defy explanation.  One of mine's canned cheese.  I like it over spaghetti, too.

  I've learned to accept the things I can't change. 

This goes for my love of  this stuff too...

Don't poke fun about my weakness for canned cheese products, I get enough of that from my family....

delmonte corn pattycake

I think this has possibility...

delmonte corn pattycake

Without the corn...

delmonte corn pattycake

Even though I know corn was the point...

delmonte corn pattycake

It's sort of the one thing that stands out as not fitting in.

How would you even eat this without corny bits falling all over the place anyway?  And honestly, it might be better with mozzarella or provolone cheese... pepperoni.  I don't know.  But there is some good springboarding here. 

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Necessary Edges

Last Saturday me and my kid were potatoing on the couch, chatting about the year since his high school graduation, grooving on Sponge Bob and out of nowhere he said, "Thanks for making me stay at Guitar Repair school."


It shook me.  In one moment I saw a million rewinds of all the things I'd done wrong and it felt like a chop to the throat.

My son went to a Luthier Apprenticeship last September and since it's not a traditional school  there was no dorm, no meal plan; no nothing.   He moved into a small room at a stranger's house with no television or internet.  Those first few days were torture and we tripled our cell phone minutes.


He hated where he was living and once he started school and found himself face to face with power tools, hated that. There wasn't a wood shop in high school but really, if he had wanted to use a band saw I'm sure I would have said,GET AWAY FROM THAT IT'S DANGEROUS ARE YOU CRAZY YOU'LL PUT AN EYE OUT!

His life had been all about people watching out for him; making life, if not easy, at least less hard and now he was going to a working shop five days a week as the youngest, least experienced kid (which is what they called him - The Kid ) where he was expected to, for lack of a better way to put it - Man up.  About two or three weeks in his Grandfather called me in a panic, "I think he's going to bail!"


During most of those first painful days away I thought he was going to bail, too. In fact, I was going to help him after deciding, in a fleeting rational moment... moving in with him was a bad idea.   Plan B was to go get him like some sort of Maternal Special Forces Commando.

It was all just too much; his pain of living alone.  His pain of feeling like a failure.  I just wanted to make it all better.


Looking back, I was so focused on his pain I failed to see it was really my pain I couldn't stand. The pain of watching him hurt was excruciating and that's really what I wanted to end.  Had I pulled him out, saved him - It would have been for me.

I don't know where the strength came from but one afternoon I took a deep breath and told him, "You have to stay and finish." I told him I didn't care if he was last in the class and he didn't have to be a Luthier. If he couldn't tell a guitar from a can of tuna when it was over that was fine, but he still had to finish.


And really, that moment was the turning point for both of us.  Once I moved my big feet out of his way, he was able to avoid standing on them - And planted himself squarely on his own two.  The next few months weren't without blips and it's not that I don't help him, but I help him with things like laundry, and let him handle his life.


If he needs me I'm there but I know I made a mistake trying to take the bumpy edges and pain out of life because that is just silly. And crippling.


In the last few months he's seemed so much more grown up but I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was until last Saturday. The mature thing, the grown up part comes from knowing he can handle whatever life throws at him because being able to handle your own life is a greater comfort than having someone make it all better for you. It's knowing not all teachers are fair and not all people are nice. That there's no trophy at the end of races you haven't won and not all things you want are within your immediate reach and  sometimes pet guinea pigs die. It's his knowing that despite all those painful things, he will be fine.


And I was wrong about him; so wrong.  He's always been able to handle the painful bumps and hard edges of his own life.

It was me that couldn't handle them.

*My kid, my kid with his friends, and girlfriend, cousins and his guitars...


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