Monday, December 21, 2009

Sick and Sitterless in the City

It was inevitable wasn't it? No sitter, no school? Someone had to get sick. The twist? The sickie is me!

I made this whrrl story with few of my (new favorite) comfort things. They are all awesome, if you don't have a stomach virus. Which is what I turned out to have! Back to the drawing board...

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What do you do when you are sick and home alone with kids?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Birthday Mello Roos

I've been a mom for almost 13 years. My kids have had all sorts of friends and playmates over those years. Nice ones, nasty ones. I've been aghast at the cruelty of five year old girls who make fun of fat people and I've been mesmerized by the charity of 8 year olds. But rarely have I been flummoxed as I was today by a classmate of my daughter's. Lets call her Chutzpasha.

Chutzpasha just had a birthday party this past weekend. A big gala affair with at least twenty or thirty kids invited. Including my daughter. My daughter decided she'd rather skip the festivities. Her own sister's party was at the same time, and she wanted to be there. She and Chutzie are hardly bff's. Plus the last time she visited this particular party bounce house palace, she broke her arm & the owners were very mean to her, accusing her of being a big baby. Hell if we were going back! But I digress. My daughter was an ixnay on the artypay.

Which was a relief. Because frankly, with the holiday season, teacher gifts, adopt a needy family gifts (umm, how needy is needy? Cause I am thinking we are two tanks of gas away from qualifying here), secret santas, school fundraisers etc, we are TAPPED OUT. Scraping the bottom of the holiday cashpoor bucket. I knit my husband a sweater for Hanukkah. I made toys out of old socks. You get the picture.

Apparently I was mistaken in my assumption that we did not have to get Chutzpasha a gift, however. A mistake that she has seen fit to correct quite vociferously. There are credit card calling centers in India who could use this kid to shake down defaulted accounts. Two text messages, a phone message and a few live calls came in rapid succession today. I think there were deadlines and vague threats of further action alluded to. My daughter was starting to twitch every time her phone bleeped in the same way I twitch when I think my Amex card might not go through. Like she wished a giant hole in the time space continuum would just open up and take her away from the consumerverse. If only for a brief moment.

I may not be an etiquette expert, but last time I checked, it wasn't mandatory to gift at parties for kids you are not close with, when you did not attend the party. But I admire Chutzie's well developed sense of entitlement which is why I have come up with the following options as gifts. Please vote in the comments and/or suggest other ideas?

1. Flaming bag of poo
2. Etiquette handbook
3. In Lieu notification (donation to Smile Train or local kid's charity)

I have to wonder what Chutzpasha's mom would thing of her daughter's demands. She'd probably be mortified. I know I would be! But one thing's for sure. The next time anyone is late paying me? I'm calling that kid.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fry me to the moon

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It's day two of Sitterless in the City. The evening before Hanukkah. Not a present is wrapped, the beds are unmade. The dreidels are lost somewhere under the couch and the bills are unpaid...

Oh wait. I don't have to write the entire post in rhyme. Thank god.

I'm happy to report that despite our home and holiday being somewhat in a shambles, no-one has lost an eye yet. All that could end however, when Hanukkah commences tomorrow and we start to fry things. It's traditional to make latkes for the holiday but since I am not fond of potato pancakes (or the accompanying smell that takes ten years to go away, only slightly less time than say, fried fish) I am going all middle eastern with our holidays and making Sufganiyot. AKA Israeli Jelly Donuts. Now that's a holiday treat!

Meanwhile I decided to come up with a top ten list of fried foods to try in future years. The tradition is to eat foods fried in oil, but it doesn't say what kind of foods. Who knows, we could start a whole new tradition! Why should carnies and Christmas celebrators have all the fun. It's time to light your menorah, spin your dreidel and consider the following:

Top Ten Foods Destined for Chanukah Frying Greatness?

1. Snickers
2. Ice Cream
3. Twinkies
4. Pickles
5. Oreos
6. Poptarts
7. Fried Chicken in Donut sandwich
8. Fried Bacon (lets call it fried turkey bacon, for the sake of our kosher pals)
9. Fried Mac & Cheese (I have it on good authority that this is delish)
10. Fried Maccabee Christo - lose the ham, double the cheese.

Did I leave anything off the list? Please be sure to tell me in the comments below!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sitterless in the City

You know how everyone has some kind of secret to their superpowers? Mine is our babysitter. She works part-time for us, half housekeeper, half baby wrangler and occasional carpool driver. Without her I'd be driving three plus hrs a day to get all my kids where they need to go, when they need it. I'd have mountains of clean laundry that never gets put away (I wash, she folds) and little kids that get bathed half as often. My floors would not be as swept and my countertops even more cluttered, which is almost alarming to imagine. Her not being here is like kryptonite to me. I lose all ability to function. I shrivel and twitch like Superman in the crystal cave. Eventually I am rendered useless.

She's not just helping me with the basics, she's saving me from myself. On a daily basis. Left to my own devices, without assistance, I inevitably obsess. It's not enough for me to just clear off the kitchen counter. I must clear every. last. scrap. of clutter and then I must disinfect and scrub the grout. Afterwards I will guard that space like an angry tiger ready to dismember the next person whose cereal sploshes a little. Rinse and repeat with the garage, the bedroom, the laundry room, the hall closet.... You can imagine how much my family enjoys seeing me like this. It's really a good thing when I delegate housekeeping. I can disengage from the mess and tantrum slightly less frequently.

The sitter also saves my marriage. Because for three or four hours a day, it's neither one of our "turns" to change a really really nasty shitty diaper. Instead we both get to go on a quick Starbucks run. This, at the moment is more magical than hot sex at a hotel, let me assure you.


Our sitter has taken a much deserved, well earned, month (MONTH!!!!????) off to go visit her family. I've gone through the requisite five stages of grief since learning about her plans to leave us and decided there is only one thing that might get us through. I'm going to blog about it. Yep. I'm using my sitter's absence as blogfodder. Whee!

It's Day One and I am sitting on the couch. I'm trying to resist the housekeeping pull of the clutter on the counter and the unmade bed upstairs. Must. Get. Work. Done. My husband and I have split the days and the carpool driving in a complex calculation or "You're on, I'm off" time mostly revolving around the 22 month old who requires constant attention. Off time is when we are supposed to get work done. So technically I am off, so I am on. Online, anyway.

Staytuned for reports from the front. It could get ugly...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Caveat Swiner

After all the hype and hoopla about Swine Flu, I'm not shocked that my house has been hit and hit hard. I was expecting it, taking into consideration my four kids special talent at catching every bug to circulate at their loverly place of infection /education, I was already resigned to the inevitable.

And so I did the sensible thing. I went out and bought some new jeans in a size smaller than usual. I got some tiny tees and made plans for some family photography that would feature the new, post swine, svelter version of me.

Come on. We all know that the one single silver lining of dealing with flu season is the post flu jeans try on, right?

Well I was duped. Swine flu is not your friend in the dieting department. It turns out that I got the non barfing, non high fever version and as a result, was able to eat lots and lots of halloween candy as I convalesced with my fellow sickies. Sure I coughed almost nonstop for two weeks, but coughing all day seems to only burn off one or two snack size Snickers. It doesn't even begin to address the Starbursts or Jolly Ranchers that were a medical necessity at the time. No wonder this disease is named after a pig. I think I've gained close to 10 lbs with all this laying around and getting better!

I know there is a lot of public health info out there on Swine Flu, and I suggest you read it so you will be prepared, should you come down with the dreaded disease. A little information goes a long way and can save you cash. Cash that you might have spent on a new pair of skinny jeans online, if you thought you'd come out of this minus a few LB's. Caveat Swiner.

Good luck to all of those who are currently convalescing, and those who are doing their best to ward off the disease. If you're looking for a shopping distraction to get you through this, best you stay away from clothing and candy and check out the Swine Flu Retail Therapy "Shop Yourself Sane" guide on Popshopology. If nothing else it will make you laugh. And a good belly chuckle is the best medicine of all. Plus it burns more calories than coughing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Old Fashioned Community Fun at the Journey School

It happened. I finally gave in. As if I am not busy enough with four kids, the blogging and clothing businesses... This year I also am on my school's "parent cabinet", our school's equivalent of PTA. It's unclear whether I am a control freak or a glutton for punishment (equal parts of both?) but I've volunteered for the Harvest Faire committee as well. And though it's hard work, it's been a blast.

We've all been working so hard to put together a festival that is magical, and quite unique. This Harvest Faire that we've all been working so hard on is definitely different than anything I have experienced in the OC. I almost wish I was not working a booth so I could take advantage of the many craft projects (fairy house decorating, hat making, apple stamping, felt gnome creation, candle making), and activities (hay bale maze, pixie potion creation, cake walk, potato sack races). There will be live music, a hearty lunch courtesy of Soup Plantation, and treats and sweets and coffee for sale in a whimsical Fairy Cafe.

This event is a marked change from the various elementary school fundraising fairs I have attended at other schools in the past. These other events usually revolved around commercial enterprise, rather than craft and, and business often eclipsed pleasure. What says Harvest about a dentist handing out toothbrushes and a closet specialist showing off organization tips? Water bottles from realtors and frisbees from flooring companies do not a fun Saturday event make. These events were not so much about making and doing as sales demos and spending. This is not good for community, and I realize now that community is one thing we as a family have been lacking.

My kids' school is a Waldorf inspired School and what this means for us as parents is a much more eco-friendly campus, with a decidedly noncommercial, non media bent. Sometimes it can be challenging, as it was yesterday when my daughter was sent home admonished for wearing a shirt "branded" with characters from Sesame Street. We've had to wean ourselves off of ziploc baggies in order to comply with the waste free lunch rules, and we're still struggling with media free weekdays (the school asks that kids do not watch tv, use the computer or play video games on school days).

But the trade offs are rich. We've found the atmosphere at school to often be quite magical. This was especially evident on Halloween when the children dressed up in mostly handmade costumes, all of which related to their classroom studies. It was a kinder gentler sort of Halloween, free from pop stars, cartoon villians, dastardly superheroes and bloody gross out suits. I didn't miss the licensed characters one bit!

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If you live in the OC and are looking for something different and a little old fashioned to do this weekend, please do stop by. The Harvest Faire is taking place from Noon till 4 at the Journey School: 27102 Foxborough in Aliso Viejo.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009