Category Archives: children

Yes, It’s a Thing. 

Took three of the kids to the dentist last week for cleanings and checkups. It broke my heart when my ten year old girl had two (small) cavities. It broke my heart because she spends 45 minutes brushing and flossing twice a day. The heartbreak was especially acute because my twelve and fourteen year old boys once again had no cavities. 

I don’t know if my fourteen year old actually brushes his teeth, but I know that something is going on because on most days he smells like a combination of deodorant and mouthwash. As for my twelve year old, it’s less clear. He brushes his teeth at night if I remind him, but I know for a fact that he does not believe that brushing his teeth in the morning is “a thing.” How do I know this? 

Me: “Brush your teeth after breakfast.”

Him: “I don’t think that’s a thing.” 

Me: “What’s not a thing?” 

Him: “Brushing your teeth in the morning.” 

Yup, as far as he is concerned, the morning brushing falls into the same dodgy category as the daily shower, the winter coat and utensils. (I’ll take Things That Exist, But Not For Me, for 500 please, Alex.)

Hence my heartbreak as those two boys high-fived each other in the waiting room while Little Miss Dental Hygiene made an appointment for a follow up. 

The dentist assured me that dental chickens always come home to roost. I’m not so sure. I’m not paranoid or anything, really I’m not. But let’s just say that girls who work hard only to be bested by boys who wing it…. Let’s just say that THAT better not become a thing. 

Unless it already is.   

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Filed under children, Dentist

Do you hear the people cringe? 

Sometimes something so awful will happen that I’ll need several days to process it. By process, I mean write about. That’s really how this blog started, and for the most part, that’s its function — to help me process all this parenting shit. 

On Sunday, on the last day of winter break, I took the boys and my oldest girl to see Les Mis. On Broadway. I could have saved all the money and bought myself one of those Canada Goose coats that just about everyone in New York seems to be wearing, but which I cannot justify. I can, however, justify dropping a wad of cash on my children in the name of musical theater. 

Never again. 

My boys were grumbly from the start, especially a certain 11 year old. I told them that there are fewer days more depressing than the last day of vacation. Why not get out of the house and spend that day on Broadway, I said. I kept my hands firmly planted in my pockets, to avoid using jazz hands. I do that whenever I say “on Broadway.” (Shoot me.)

We could also spend it watching football, he said. 

Fuck off, I said. 

Ok, not really. But I wanted to. 

I bribed them with sushi. I also told them that Les Mis has a few cool fight scenes and some singing hookers. Yes, I did. I am not proud. It was not my finest hour. Not by a long shot. But I am beginning to wonder if there are any fine hours in parenting.

He grumbled through sushi. Mumbled about his fantasy team. His older brother seemed game, though, as did my nine year old girl. (GOD BLESS HER COTTON SOCKS.)

We showed up at the theater and took our very good seats. I was jittery with excitement. I couldn’t show them though because if they saw it, if they smelled my eagerness, this whole thing was over. I played it cool, or at last as cool as someone who does jazz hands can muster.  

 Five minutes in he turns to me and yells, “WHEN IS INTERMISSION?” 

I shut him up. I promise him it will get better, because I know that it will. I know every bloody word in this show. 

Ten minutes in he yells, this time even louder, “YOU NEVER SAID THIS WOULD BE ALL SINGING. THIS STINKS. THIS IS WORSE THAN PHANTOM.” 

By now, people are looking. They’re wondering how these spoiled effing brats got to see both Phantom and Les  Mis. On Broadway. Christmas week. They’re wondering what all their friends will say, back in Iowa. We saw Les Mis and these spoiled New York brats were there too, whining the whole time. 

At some point, he started up with me again. Apparently the fight scene was lame. So lame he had to announce it to everyone around us. 

“TAKE A NAP!” I hissed. Frankly, I had given up on him seeing the show, not to mention getting anything from it. I just wanted to avoid embarassment. Or at least, further embarassment. I saw him trying to read the playbill, so he could figure out when intermission was. His brother got in on it too. I jabbed them when the hookers came on, hoping this would at least get them to sit still. Not so. Those ladies are a lot less lovely than even I remember. 

When intermission finally came they turned to me. So did all the Iowans. I just shrugged. 

“This sucks,” said his brother. 

“Yeah.” 

“You never said it was all singing.” 

“Yeah.” 

“We’re missing football for this.” At this point I think the Iowans almost fainted. I could hear them thinking to themselves, “ALL WE HAVE IN IOWA IS FOOTBALL! WE COULD NOT WAIT TO GET OUT! DO YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE?”

“We’re going.” 

“You’re what?” I felt my eyes begin to burn. 

They huddled, searching their phones for the nearest Starbucks. Before I knew what was happening they were gone. The nine year old and I just looked at each other. I could not make eye contact with the Iowans.

Luckily, in Les Mis, all the truly sad crap happens in Act 2. I could hide in my tears for all the bodies that fell at the glorious barricade. I could have a good, solid weep when Jean Valjean goes to meet his maker, holding the hands of Fantine and Eponine. Nobody had to know I was weeping for those damn boys. Not to mention my Canada Goose jacket. 

They were waiting for me in the lobby. They looked very guilty. As you may expect, they spend a lot of time looking very guilty, so it had little effect one me. By little I mean NONE.

We walked to the subway in silence. I kept trying to lose them in Times Square but it was not my lucky day. Once we were on the train, I fell apart. 

If there’s one thing my boys apparently hate more than historical musical theater, it’s when their mother cries in public. I took the stage and made my biggest scene yet. Mama Rose had NOTHING on me. It was my turn now. 

I told them that I sit through endless games for them, not just the ones they play in, but the ones they want me to watch on TV. I told them a good friend once told me I could either beat them or join them, so I chose to join them. Hell, I even ordered the NY Post for them. (Do you know hard it was for me to bring that shit into my house?) I told them that as their mom it was my job to meet them where they were, and that they didn’t owe me anything. They didn’t need to come to the theater because they owed it to me. I was bringing them to show them how much I loved them. That’s what you do. When you love something, you share it with the people that you love. (By now I was REALLY crying, snot and all.) I didn’t need them to like it (lie); I just needed them to let it wash over them. It was three hours for heaven’s sake.

“Three hours on a Sunday. In football season.” 

I almost smacked him. 

“And they pulled Peyton Manning in! Last minute!” 

I almost smacked the other one. 

Hell, I don’t know if they learned anything, but I certainly did. Next year, I’ll be buying the damn coat. 

 

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Filed under Broadway, children, parenting, theater

Garlic

I know this much to be true: 

1. If you are a nine year old girl, you should NEVER prank your older brothers.

2. If you are a nine year old girl, you should NEVER prank your older brothers if they are slightly unhinged and given to manic fits of vengeance. 

3. If you are a nine year old girl, you should NEVER prank your older brothers if they are slightly unhinged, given to manic fits of vengeance, and there is a bucket of crushed garlic in the house. 

The facts: 

I think it’s safe to say that I blame Costco for much of this. Costco and our gene pool. Someone thought it would be funny to prank her brothers by pulling a trick from their playbook and putting saran wrap on their toilet. 

Exhibit One:  

 
Said nine year old was ratted out by a witness before anyone peed on saran wrap. Many hours later, when her brothers were actually babysitting and she could not figure out why her room smelled so foul, she learned that they had EMPTIED A JAR OF CRUSHED GARLIC INTO HER BED. 
Exhibit Two: 

 
There is now very little left in this jar.

That is because there was garlic under the sheets, on the mattress, in the pillow cases, and once I began to toss sheets hither and yonder, there was also garlic on the floor, under the bed, and shortly thereafter, all over the laundry room. 

While I was definitely not yelling at them, I asked them both what possessed them to be such complete and utter asshats. 

Child: “She has to know when you’re pranked you have to fight back with a bigger, meaner, crazier prank.”

Me: “Yes, you do. Unless you are getting pranked by your nine year old sister and she just wants some attention.”

They felt awful. I didn’t yell, not because I didn’t want to (sadly, I always want to),  but because I didn’t have to. I left them on their hands and knees (in the company of a poor friend who happened to be sleeping over) scrubbing the floor, windows wide open, fans blaring. 

I did several loads of laundry. It turns out that it takes a few runs in the wash to get garlic out, and if you happen to wash garlic, you will be smelling it everywhere for days. 

I believe there was also a Costco-sized can of Pam involved, but I am trying not to think about it. 

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Filed under children, food

Me on TV. (Or HOW I GOT FAMOUS ON THE JERSEY SHORE.)

M and I were on a mini break, sans enfants. But there was nothing mini about the monumental nature of a trip alone. We never do it. Ever. This year the stars were aligned, kids were at camp, sitters were game, and we took the plunge.

We plunged all the way to the Jersey Shore. We started our morning by running on the boardwalk. We started a little late, it was a hot day, and by the end of our run we were completely verschvitzed. (Sweaty just doesn’t begin to describe it.)  

 As we are walking, trying to cool off, we see three kids harassing a homeless man. 

“Beg for it,” one says, holding a dollar in front of his face.

The homeless man begs for the dollar, says whatever they tell him to, but apparently he’s not doing enough, because they tell him he needs to “work harder for it.”

Before I know it, I’m in the middle of things. I’m ranting and yelling and waving my sweaty arms, telling these three fuckwits that they should either give the man the money or move on, because they certainly can’t dehumanize him.

“Why shouldn’t he have to work?” Asked the snot-nose girl in the trio. “We work for our money. He should too.”

It didn’t look like these kids worked on anything but their tans. M quickly pipes up: “this is a You Tube nightmare waiting to happen.”

This went on for a while. The man was willing to say whatever he needed to and the three kids would not budge. M and I continue our yelling and arm waving.

A big guy approaches us. He asks the homeless man if the kids are bothering him. The guy starts to say no, but unable to shut my pie hole, I scream YES! He tells the kids to get lost or he’ll call the cops. 

As he calls them, suddenly cameras and the people that carry them come swooping in. Before I know it one of the cameras is in my face and the Shoreites around us are screaming, OH MY GAWD! ITS JOHN QUINONES

John Quinones is apparently the host of a show called What Would You Do, a show neither of us had ever heard of but was known to all the very tan people around us. This was a set up. They were all actors.

I hesitated on the post incident interview, mostly because if I know one thing about reality TV  it’s that even though Mr. Jon Quinones assured me that I was a hero, on TV I would come across as a mere asshat.

An asshat covered in sweat and clad in running shorts. No, I was not ready for my close up, Mr. Quinones, not at all. 

 

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Filed under children, travel, Uncategorized

Cakes of Fish.

The word fish-cake seems sort of unfair. Maybe fish-fritter would be better. Because the last thing you really want to do when you think about cake is to think about (or even worse, taste) fish.

But when you have leftover salmon there’s not much you can do other than throw it in a cake. I am not a lover of leftovers in general. But few things say revolting to me more than congealed fish in my fridge.

They are very fancy fish cake recipes. But any recipe that is more than three steps long confuses me. And the whole point of a fish-cake is to be easy. Thus, if I have to start boiling and mashing potatoes, or grind oat flour in the food processor which lives in my basement, then I’m out.  

 I just mash up the fish, throw in some sort of breadcrumb action, toss in some eggs, and squirt in the happy sauce. By happy sauce… I mean ketchup. I firmly believe there are a few things in life that cannot be improved by many layers of the red stuff.

I also, as a rule, do not fry.  I do not fry because I cannot fry. Frying to me means burning the pan, burning the food in the pan, melting the spatula in the pan, setting off smoke alarms, and living with the smell of the offending burnt food for days, not to mention tossing said food into the garbage, and eating cereal.

Therefore, the fish-cakes, like the chickpea fritters, are baked. The cakes do not in any way resemble peanut butter cookies, so nobody will be confused and wronged. 

 

As you may be able to tell from the picture, even if you forget about the fish-cakes, and only remember them when the smell of burning fish fills your house, they are still quite good.

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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? 

I’m quite thrilled about my first ever guest blogger. One of my favorite things about my husband is his first cousin, Hanna. I absolutely adore her, and have from the moment we met. We truly bonded when we were both pregnant with our now eleven year old boys, and I had horrible insomnia. I’d call her in London while it was the middle of the night in LA, and we’ve been talking ever since — sometimes daily. 

Hanna is a remarkable cook, her recipes are fool proof, and if you don’t believe me – she blogs at http://www.buildingfeasts.com. (I know, I know, the pictures are INSANE.) 

Here is Hanna’s contribution to Meatless May. We had it for dinner last night, and I won’t pretend I wasn’t a little annoyed at what rave reviews it got: 
————

Firstly, I would like to say how totally honoured I am to be guest blogging here today. 

Despite being divided by an ocean (and for many years a continent to boot), Lea and I share a mutual love of books, art, shoes, dark chocolate, the colour lime green and the beach.  However, while she loves to run (I only ever run out of necessity), I love to cook (she claims only to cook out of an obligation to fuel her team).  

Three of our children are the same age.  In my early years of motherhood, this was somewhat anxiety producing for me.  Those Geller children would chow down on lentils (all pulses to be precise), quinoa, seaweed, tofu and devour every colour of the vegetable rainbow. Daily. Mine, on the other hand, had a very consistent white diet – fish and chips, grilled cheese, macaroni. Not even a stick of cucumber or a lick of pesto would pass their lips. 

During our almost daily catch up, we would discuss at length any recent shenanigans and of course, the menu. So here I was, in a cloud of shame and envy, a failed mother, giving recipe advice. I just did not understand. There was nothing I loved more than to cook.  And my children rejected it all.  And here was Lea, who claimed  that meal prepping was the bane of her existence, and hers ATE ANYTHING SHE PUT ON THE TABLE.
However, as the years roll on, I have come to the realisation that Lea secretly loves a little culinary endeavour. And here is how I have slowly come to that conclusion:

1. She always makes 57 items for the table (I make 3). 

2. There is always a backup option.

3 I have had many meals at her house, all of which are excellent. (Ed.: THIS IS A LIE.)

4. Only someone with a larder (pantry) as well stocked as hers actually loves putting meals together.  And it means that whenever I give her a recipe she always has every ingredient on hand.

5. She goes to the supermarket at least 5 times a week.  

Out of deference to this apparent (but not quite true) dislike of cooking, I want to share what I consider to be my most basic recipe, and assist the Meatless May campaign. Miso Salmon is loved by all (even my own boys who have finally increased their repertoire).  It has only two ingredients (I used to make it with a lot more), takes seconds to throw together and minutes to make. Et voila! Dinner.  

 Miso Salmon

I used to make the miso grilled salmon recipe from John Ash’s book, Cooking One on One, a staple in my collection and given to me by Lea many years ago.  But after my last baby, I was short on both ingredients and time and made this.  And it stuck.  It is so simple it is almost embarrassing to share.  But here goes.  It’s a winner.

Note:  I used 8 salmon fillets as the Geller family is larger than most.  But the general formula, is 1tsp white miso per fillet so it is a cinch to scale up or down. 

8 salmon fillets, skinned
8 tsp white miso (this is approximately 1/4 cup or 70g)

Take the salmon out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking to allow it to warm up to room temperature.  
Line a sheet pan with foil 

Rub 1 tsp miso onto each fillet and allow flavours to merge until ready to cook

Preheat broiler/grill

Place each piece on the prepared sheet pan and cook approx 3 minutes

Turn each piece over and grill another 3 minutes until just translucent in the middle.

Enjoy!

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Filed under children, food, technology, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

A Meatless Monday in May

(First of all: I refuse to believe that the runs that have afflicted several members of this family have anything to do with our current meatlessness.)

Meatless May really launched this evening because this weekend we were all out at various events. Some of us were meatless and some were not. Because I failed to plan properly, I had to cook what I had on hand this evening – like a contestant in one of those game shows (What’s in YOUR Pantry?), albeit a vegetarian version.

I made a sweet potato and red lentil soup that was mildly revolting. I threw some quinoa together for backup (as if everyone would eat it), and then I had a brainstorm: frittata! 

 Success! Although I wonder what it means when every single egg in the carton had a double yolk. Is that a sign of the apocalypse?

Sidney, true to form, refused all of the above and laid waste to six fish sticks I found in the back of the freezer. I don’t want to think about how long they had been there but I suspect they may have been a desperate purchase of the house’s previous owner.

Tomorrow I will be more organized. That’s a promise. And I’ll start making some of your recipes…

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Filed under children, food, parenting, Vegetarian