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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sacred like nap-time

Taking care of toddlers who are transitioning from one to zero naps can be like taking care of a drunken roommate who needs to pass out in the hallway, grocery story, street corner... oh you get the idea. I have gone grocery shopping and left the store with two bodies fast asleep in the cart; grocery bags in the front and underneath compartments. Dylan falls asleep sitting up in every store I take him to. Dylan's nap schedule is from 1-3pm but if we go out and he falls asleep at 11:30am my day is screwed. Alex at 3yrs old rarely naps but maybe every week there is a day where at 5pm he passes out into a childlike (more like drunken-like) coma sleep. That all leads me to children all day. Too much children. Children who won't go away and take a rest. A mom who at 11pm is still struggling to get a kid asleep so she can finally watch The Bachelor. Dylan also is having middle of the night "freak-outs" where he wants to be held. Just held. And the milk?! He chants for it. I make it. He never drinks it, but holds his bottle so tight. He needs closeness and Mommy's comfort. He's 20 months and is now going through this phase? Sure, I comfort my child. Sure, I love waking up to be Mommy. But, there isn't a Daddy home more than two nights a week and sleeping through the bight is super necessary for everyone. So, after Dylan's time in the middle of the night  Alex, my 3rd old, starts the shouting out from nightmares of monsters and robots. I'm starting to have monsters and robot nightmares too because dude.... there are no monsters, robots, or anything scarier than me without sleep that anyone needs to worry about. Before I know it Alex calms down, needs milk (usually finishing his brothers already made bottle), has to go potty, and I fight myself not to read or check Facebook but to go back to bed even though I am wide awake most days at 4-5am. My days with my kids seem never ending. And I'm not asking for a vacation, a few hours alone, even to shower alone... but nap time and/ or early bedtime is quite sacred to me. 7am-11pm straight through the says are long shifts to pull. And while I am pulling them I often don't sit down and watch a show with them while they rest if not nap. While I am pulling these crazy long days I do laundry, tidy up, cook, and do all the Mommy things I can so that I can pass out with my kids and ensure hours of sleep. 
     The advise I got when having children that was the most valuable was all about how easy raising babies is.... besides eating and sleeping. The rest is a breeze. It's so true and it's an always changing always rearranging challenge. The boys always go through food phases. Alex right now is driving me nuts with that he doesn't eat "red or green things." This somehow out of the blue includes tomato sauce. The kid somehow got turned off. He was raised on Italian cuisine and its delicious. So... we are working on this. And Dylan isn't eating much lately. He was the biggest eater ever, but now he only picks. He picks on strawberries, avocado, raisins, tomatoes, and hash brown potato patties the most. That's actually pretty much all he'll eat. I'm working on eating his diet to loose weight. I'm sure that'll do it! But check these meatloaf cupcakes out! They are so yummy and you can hide anything in them! These are turkey and quina meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato icing!!! You can't not LOVE them!!!
1 package ground turkey (or meatloaf    mix)
1 onion chopped
3 pieces moistened bread (I use what I have- wheat or multigrain)
2 eggs
Dash of milk
Squirt of ketchup
Package onion soup mix

Mashed potatoes 

Break up bread into small pieces. Mix. If too watery add a piece of bread. If very dry add an egg. Put into greased muffin tins. Cook on 350 35 minutes. Take out and spoon mashed potatoes on top to look like icing. Put back in oven to heat 10-20 more minutes depends if potatoes were cold or warm. 

*Broil for a few min to brown tops if you want to. 
*If making it with quina like I have use a cup of premade quina and add an extra egg. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Long Decmber

My newest friend Jessica has an almost three year old daughter named Crystal.  Jessica can't enroll Crystal in 4-hour a day preschool until she's potty trained.  Like Alex, Crystal is almost there.  She pee's on the potty regularly and on occasion will drop a deuce on it.  Jessica comes into work the other day freaking out to talk to me and I take a deep breath just knowing it's a story filled with shit. She bought Crystal her own pretty pink big girl potty. It sits on the floor and plays music when you go...  but Jessica didn't show or tell Crystal that part.  So Crystal really loves this thing and she actually sits down when it was her time to drop a deuce. So she drops one.... and the damn thing starts singing, "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!" The little girl went bananas. She didn't get or like music playing. It's scary for a child to experience controlling a turd coming out of their own assholes. That's a very big thing and the last thing a kid needs is to get the shit (yep literally) scared out of them. What a bad idea. What a very bad idea. But we live in a society where it's easier to reward with a toy that sings when a kid shits rather than rewarding with a hug, lollipop, or a cookie. Isn't it warm loving relationships, confident children, and wonderful memories we're building? I don't think potty's that sing and books that read themselves and the fucking threats of Elf on a Shelf are great or good. I think they're dumb and gimmicky and kids are smarter than any of it. Jessica wasted $30 on a potty. I wasted $30 on Elf on A Shelf and it pretty much ruined my whole Christmas spirit.  Like Jessica, I had GREAT intentions.  Since Thanksgiving everyone I talked to started asking me if I am doing Elf on a Shelf.  Hugh?!?!? Elf on a Shelf this and Elf on a Shelf that. I never heard of the monster.  So after hearing about it and people swearing by what a WONDERFUL activity it is for the family I got excited, drove to Barnes and Noble, and started to feel VERY reluctant to spent $30 on a book and a 8-inch (maybe) little ugly Elf. If I only listened to my gut.  Here's what happened: Alex named the Elf Mouth.  We read the book like 4 times.  That night Alex woke up screaming, "MY MOUTH! MY MOUTH! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!" I could not imagine what the hell was going on in his mouth I thought the exorcist was really happening to my child and he was going to anytime start hissing.  But, he started babbling more as I somehow calmed him a bit.  "Mouth is looking for me.. he is scary.. he is watching me.. I am a good boy, Mommy!" OMG MOUTH THE ELF. After an hour of my kid's night-terror asleep-not-with-it-ramble he fell asleep.  In the morning he remembered NOTHING of his night of hell or dreaming and ecstatic to get his brother up and go looking for where Mouth moved to. He remembered Mouth moves every morning after reporting to Santa when the kids are asleep.  He remembered every detail of the story.  And so every night Alex would have CRAZY night terrors about Mouth, being good for Santa, being watched... it just got ugly.  I tried to get rid of Mouth in so many ways. I even instagramed him in the blender. I tried EVERYTHING. When Alex couldn't find him he wouldn't eat breakfast. He'd act out. He became obsessed with finding him. He is also the most determined person I have ever met, so he lived to find Mouth. I never after reading the original story mentioned being good because I learned a BIG lesson for myself.  I became determined to get Mouth the hell away from our house and our lives. Toys for Tots set up at my job donation boxes. I took Alex and Dylan to the toy store which is ALWAYS a disaster that ends with my both kids weeping. We talked A LOT about how they were going to pick out two toys each to give to kids who can not get presents from Santa and have had a very difficult year. To my BIG surprise they both picked out toys and left the store fine.... like we walked out of a drug store.  No big deal.  Then we went to my work and they were to put them in the box to send to the kids who need help buying presents.  Alex looked in the box and found a train of cars. He took it out and was very excited naming the colors. He really liked this toy someone else left in the box.  He said, "A little boy will like this toy a lot. I love cars. Can I put my toys in the box too Mommy?" I said, "Sure, put them in."  Then I took Mouth out of my purse and added, "I think Mouth needs to watch over the other kids too because you and Dylan are such good boys he will never need to watch either of you again." And the voice of an angel said the best thing I ever heard, "Mommy, that is a GREAT idea!!!!!" ALL CHILDREN ARE GOOD. They may be a pain in the ass, but they are good.

I am anti cell phones and tablets at mealtime. However some lunches and dinners my kids and I watch tv. If I cook and dinner is ready while their shows are still on we watch it and eat... sometimes even picnic style on the floor. Other nights we play music. Some nights we color. Some nights I am working and the kids have dinner with their Dad or Grandparents. Last night we played leapfrog into our soup bowls whole we ate. But they have a sit down dinner and sometimes more meals with whoever is home with them. I judged parents so badly who I have seen on their phones at a restaurant while their kid is on a tablet. I judged families that never eat together. I judged how disconnected kids are at mealtime but I've had a BIG change of heart.  You know, even if its disconnected it's still together.  One kid Alex plays with eats dinner on the couch and their parents eat hours later.  I asked if they ever eat together and they laughed how stressful that sounds.  I laughed too that it is stressful.  It's sometimes VERY stressful and it is a LOT of work. I also told them I pour a pint of wine to get us through most meals.  Everyone is different and every household functions differently.  That family I am friends with really can not do dinnertime stress, but they ALWAYS have the best picnics by the pool in the summer and always invite Alex and I over for hot coco and cookies on chilly days after the playground. So, that's their family memories and they are great. On other play dates I've found out a lot about other kids and how they do meals.  One little boy eats meals at daycare and snacks on cereal at home, another is home with an older brother until her parents come home after she's in bed 6 nights a week, and my good friend and her 3 year old daughter go out to eat together all of the time.  Lucky is having a caring family. I don't want my kids to ever complain about what they don't have because I am giving them all I do have.

I thought I was VERY lucky to able to spend $30+ whenever for my kids in NYC to do some Mommy and Me's where we sang songs, cuddled, and basically sat around on a rug. I also took Alex to rooftop swimming, 3-Man-Band baby music class, Toddler and Me cooking class, Toddler gymnastics, and enrolled him in Baby Picasso Scribblers: an arts and crafts enrichment class and a two day a week Mom led playgroup where we taught lessons. Dylan either was in my belly or was coming along since he was wee weeks old. We loved our NYC community and now that Alex is in preschool I want to do some things with Dylan. On Sundays in NYC I taught Sunday school at a non denominational church that took kids out of mass to teach them bible stories: Christian influenced. We taught through play. New York has this way of keeping busy Mom's extra extra busy. Super Mom's going uptown, downtown, and into other boroughs to take their babies on play-dates. In Jersey, I've worn myself to the ground. First, I am more of a single mom as my husband primarily lives in NYC 5-6 days a week. Second, I am now working late nights and 10 hour shifts. I got sick one too many times. I had a cold, pink eye, a stomach bug, then a week later hit with the worst cold/ laryngitis ever.  I went to the doctor thinking I had an upper respiratory infection or sinus infection, something. My doctor told me I'm unrealistic. Really?!?! Me?!?! Well I kind of did build my life on being unrealistic !! Seriously. I've never been realistic. Ever. But, as I'm telling the doctor how I can't make it through a day without feeling tired and I'm getting sick a lot he gave it to me. "Mary, you can't work late nights, be up early mornings, have unrealistic to-do lists to finish too, and not ever relax. You have a very bad cold. You are exhausted. You need to be realistic." He is absolutely right.  This is going to be a VERY change but I want to slow down.

For Christmas Santa got me a slow cooker.  Instead of stressing over a dish and side dishes and making extra veggies for me all for one freaking meal I am going towards the "throw it in a pot and see what you get" mode.  Today I threw all my leftover produce and some cans in the CrockPot and this medley is the first of many garbage pail soups.

1 cup uncooked barley
1 can great northern white beans rinsed* or cannelloni beans rinsed
1 can corn
1 package wild heirloom tomatoes
32 oz veggie stock container
1/2 package baby carrots
4 stalks chopped celery
1 onion sliced
5 cloves garlic slices
a few pieces of fresh ginger
1 10 oz bag kale** add last 20 min of cooking.
1 squirt Siraicha sauce
whatever herbs dried and fresh i had i put in
salt and pepper

Throw everything except kale into crock pot and cook on low 8+ hours or on high 4+. Add water or more broth at the end if it is too thick. Add kale for the last 20 minutes.

Monday, September 23, 2013

No time for a naughty chair!

So... Alex decided to store some wooden blocks in my oven when I wasn't looking and when I went to preheat my baked ziti smoke billowed through my house. Starting to choke, I ran to open the windows and they wouldn't budge. At this point the smoke alarm is going off loudly and the kids are screaming in terror. The dumbass painter I paid $500 for (out of pocket even thought my landlord should have picked up the entire tab) painted over the lock latches. Bastard. I had to open the front door door that has no screen. There is a chipmunk we've had issues with whom lives in the shrubbery just outside of the door. Alex named him Hooper just like the one he is obsessed with on PBS. The chipmunk friendship began a few weeks back when Alex opened the door and all I heard was, "Hooper come on it!!!" Hooper came in. By nightfall I had to call Honest Abe. I know of Honest Abe because my brother lives in my parents basement. One day last year my brother fell asleep on the couch after work and woke up to a squirrel on the arm of the couch, directly at his feet. They both panicked. The squirrel jumped off the walls downstairs until my parents yellow-paged Honest Abe. He came to the rescue. So again Honest Abe came to my rescue and got Hooper out. He released him into the wild woods of my backyard, but he must be a front of the house type of chipmunk. Or... Abe is not really honest as he would have driven him to an undisclosed location miles away and text me a picture of Hooper loving his new habitat. Anyway, Hooper is back. Waiting for Alex to allow him entry once again. So... ok.... back to the smoking fire in my oven and here I am opening the doors, pumping the ceiling fan, the smoke alarm finally deactivating, me chugging from my pint of wine, and using tongs to take the charred blocks out of the oven like all at once.  I spent the next 20min prying off paint and opening my windows with a flat screwdriver and butter knife. (All while cursing my landlord and the dumbass painter) But the windows eventually opened. The smell of smoke barely lingered. The kids and I spent dinner talking about not touching the oven and how things that get hot can hurt people. Alex is two and a half years olds. Shit like this is bound to happen happens. Today though... oh today was a bit different. Dylan is getting really good at crawling. At 11 months he is a mighty boy with what I like to call Hulk-like-strength. It's developed all at once. He was a big fatty who laid around and rolled. Now he's a solid boy who crawls and pulls himself onto everything. So he was eating a crayon and as I went to take it away the lights went out.  Blackout.  Shit.  Just as I start to call out, "Oh no where's Alex?!" I hear, "Oh no Mommy! Look!" Dylan and I grabbed a flashlight and ran into the bathroom. And to my horror Alex took my keys, climbed onto his step stool, and stuck the key into the 4ft+ high electrical outlet!!! Shit!!! Ok the fuse box is in the outdoor storage shed. Thank God it's outside. Super smart. BUT it's smoking... And it looks unlike any fuse box I have ever seen. Shit. I go to to Greek's next door and sure enough my dear friend's husband who I always just thought was a delivery guy is a licensed electrical engineer in Greece trying to get his certification here. God bless them. He came to our rescue with a flip of a switch, something old and something new, and an IOU of a BBQ dinner soon. Great. Twice this week my two year old has done some very naughty things. Twice this week he has managed to remind me to stay on my toes. He sure got me to to back to using my oven as additional storage space like in NYC because emptying it to cook was an always guaranteed safety check.  And he showed me I need to cover ALL electrical outlets, not just the ones close to the floor.

Simple food is comfort food. Even though my kids live on salmon, corn, and spaghetti and clams (seriously... live on) they LOVE LOVE LOVE fun things. A Hole In The Bread breakfast is so great. I haven't eaten one in years and its delicious! I use a glass to cut out the holes. Butter the breads and I sprinkle cheese over the hole cut outs because let's face it... egg and cheese are meant for each other. Cook the egg till it doesn't jiggle. Salt, pepper, flip for a few seconds and serve. So easy.

And Micky Mouse pancakes. Oh dear yummmmmmm. I buy a batter that only needs water and add choco chips or blueberries. Pancakes with real maple syrup!!!! Prunes make the best lips for faces!!!

A hole in the bread with cheesy cut outs.  Awesome for dunking.


My mom always took me to Chuck E Cheese as a kid so the first time I got to take my kids I took her along.
I think she had the most fun for sure!!!

Dylan LOVED the show and Alex thought the characters were scary.  Typical.

After like 5 turns on the Bob THE Builder ride I got Alex to try something new.

These little boys are truly the men of my dreams.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The great outdoors

I traded in a fabulous family vacation to Hilton Head to move into our new New Jersey digs. I'm learning a lot after an adulthood of solely city living. Not only have I figured out how to use a non commercial washer dryer and central air correctly, but there are a few other things I learned in my first week in my new home that I would love to share. 1) If your kids shit in the middle of the night and you can't walk to the dumpster, don't leave the bag on the back patio. Raccoons will come. 2) Learn how to properly use your car because it sucks if you are driving on a sunny 90 degree day and you can't get your windshield and rear windshield wipers to stop! 3) If you think you are a natural at organic gardening... rabbits are coming. 4) There are huge cockroaches outside of NYC except they're outdoor insects (not indoor pests) that climb into your car if you can't put your shit and kids in quick enough at night. 5) Take advise from #4 and consider not going out at night. 6) Detours are a real pain in the ass. 7) If you forget to turn the valve of an outdoor hose off pressure blows it up. Boom! 8) If you don't put your hose away before lawn care people come they cut it with your lawn. 9) If you can properly install a car seat without cursing you deserve a tech degree. 10) Spraying babies and toddlers with "Off" and repellents to go out at night is weird to me and Alex suffers from eczema too so it's not even an option. Mosquitos are the state bird in Jersey, you know. Making a concoction of orange peels simmered in water for 10-15 minutes, cooled, and put into a spray bottle will repel probably any insect biter. Score!

Years ago I went through a faze of infusing liquor. I use quart size mason jars and/or little glass corked bottles. Besides gardening (which is so addicting) I've rekindled my love for infusing liquors. Luckily it's to serve others and not me since I don't like drinking liquor. So far I've got 4 bottles ready and strained. My menu is:
1) Cucumber and mint infused gin
2) Habanero infused vodka
3) Cherry infused vodka
4) Cherry infused bourbon
5) Coffee Bean infused bourbon
They are freaking delicious and if my husband doesn't devour them all I will have a few bottles on hand to serve and make cocktails for guests on hand all summer!!! They are so easy and all natural. The trick is experimenting and tasting. Example: habanero's infuse for 3 hours, cherry's 3-4 days, cucumber's 4-6 days. Some batches I like smaller than others, but what a great project! I am dedicating my recipe this blog to liquor infusions. I did use the habanero vodka as a base for Bloody Mary's on Sunday and they were crazy good.

Wild Cherry Infused Vodka or Bourbon

Take any airtight canister, jar, bottle and fill it 1/4 with pitted and chopped fresh, ripe, and washed in-season cherries. Fill almost to full with desired liquor. A cleaner liquor but not too fancy tastes best. I use Stoli for Vodka and Jim Beam for bourbon. Shake and store in a cool dark place for 4 days. Shake well 3-4x a day. Strain and pour back. Serve straight or with mixers. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dr. Mom

My latest resume includes: house cleaner, personal chef, cookie chef, massage therapist, physical therapist, nutritionist, bartender, teacher, student, toy assembler, toy mechanic, boo-boo kisser, singer, nurse practitioner, and doctor. I am a jack of all trades. Before I started smoking, drinking, and discovering musical theatre I was VERY young with this crazy idea I would be a doctor when I grew up. At first I thought I would be a veterinarian. Then I realized animals just don't like me very much. Ok ok animals hate me. I've been bit by 5-6 dogs, a police officer's horse in Times Square, and attacked by 2-3 cats. My gerbil hated me and would sink his little teeth into me every time I went to feed/pet him... ew! My dog even attacked me and all of the time. (May he rest in peace my favorite little Stoli.) Clearly being a vet and being a doctor is not for me although I really like helping other people and I read a lot about health and practicing medicine. So, now I have been dealing with my very sick toddler who I am slowly nursing back to health. After way over a month of bullshit, Alex has had 2 colds back to back, an ear infection, rushed in ambulance because he couldn't breathe and wound up having the croupe, hospitalized again Easter weekend testing positive for the flu, he got better for 2-3 days, and then he was just so sick he was in and out of the hospital for all together 15 days with high fevers 105.8 being the highest and crazy swollen tonsils. His tonsils are still huge, but they have gone down. They still have a bit of puss on them, but they no longer look like he ate a mouthful of cottage cheese. His throat was fire truck red. The cheesy puss all over my little boy's ganglia-globs have scared me for life. Never will I ever eat cottage cheese. I had my tonsils removed when I was 5 because they were so infected and nasty for a year. My husband should have had his removed as one is always bigger than the other and they swell and are nasty. I don't know about you medicine people, but when I was a kid if my mama took me to the doctor and I even complained of a sore throat I was swabbed for strep and given an antibiotic; strep or not as long as my throat looked red/inflamed. Not anymore apparently?!?! At the hospital I kept getting told, "It's viral.

You are being discharged with a dose of Motrin." So the conversation goes like this:

Me: How do you know that my sons pussy, crazy inflamed tonsils are due to a virus?
Doctor: There are 20,000 virus' and 20 kinds of bacteria. Chances are its viral.
Me: Ok so if my kid is walking around with an infection and needs an antibiotic what signs should I look for to bring him back?
Doctor: Not being as active as your kid is. Really sick kids with bacterial infections do not run around and play. They are very sick and his activity level makes me sure that this is a virus.
Me: Right... this is him medicated after getting Motrin in the waiting room for a 105.8 fever. If you saw him before that he sure as hell wasn't playing around. Buddy, my kid needs a fucking antibiotic and I'm not leaving without one.
Doctor: Parents always want answers and they want doctors to over-prescribe antibiotics when it's not a bacterial infection. It will do nothing if its viral.
Me: How can we be sure it's viral when he tested negative for most virus?
Doctor: It is almost impossible to tell if tonsillitis is bacterial or viral. We observe the child. You know, if a child has too much antibiotics in his lifetime it can throw off his genetic makeup and he can become immune to some antibiotics. That is why we are hesitant to prescribe them.
Me: Could he have abscessed tonsils?
Doctor: Yes
Me: And if he does?
Doctor: Then he needs an antibiotic
Me: Sir, my kid has been on antibiotics two times in his two years. And I am willing to bet his genetic makeup and his resistance that this time it is necessary.

I walked out of there with a perscription. And what do you know? After 24 hours, three doses, I was finally free of not acting like a child medicating maniac. I was giving my kid Motrin every 6 hours but shoving a tylenol suppository up his ass every 4 so that he would stop shaking as his fever spiked from 101 to 104+ in the 1-2 hour window before I could re-administer Motrin. So if that's not more harmful than prescribing a 10 day course of fucking bubble gum flavored ammoxicillin then I really don't know what the is going on or what I am doing!!!

And I was right. Of course I was right. Alex's tonsils abscessed. They're still bad, but he's fever free. He still has a lump sized swollen gland in his groin. Two days before coming down with the croup and all that jazz that followed he had his MMR vaccine. After loads of research i held off on this vaccine until Alex turned 2. I am super pro vaccinating kids, but my Dad is super susceptible and prone to shingles from radiation so I had to wait until I wouldn't see him for a month to vaccinate Alex. I am convinced, without a doubt, what happened is that Alex got a light case of measles from the shot mixed with a virus/flu he picked up somewhere and all together this little boy developed a terrible reaction somewhere somehow. The MMR causes swelling especially of lymph nodes in the groin. The croup is seen typically accompanying the measles. Coincidence? I think not.

So. Why don't all Mom's have an opportunity to get a sort of medicine practice degree. I'm not talking about being able to prescribe a lot, but let's say if there was a course that Mom's could take to properly diagnose the basics and write their kids a prescription so many doctors offices wouldn't be packed and health care costs would never be as high. I'd take the class. Wouldn't you? I'm talking about when a doctor checks for an ear infection they just stick that light up in there, look around, and say yes or no. What the hell do they see in there?! If I am out of town or its in the middle of the night (my kids never complain of ear pain when they had have an actual ear infection or do the tug on the ear) I can check for myself, find a pharmacy, and not have to resort to a hospital, a walk in, or wait it out. If I could write a prescription for extreme diaper rash beyond butt-aid's abilities, an ear infection, a sore throat... the basics... I don't think that's a bad idea at all. And I don't think it's a bad idea for day care centers to have a sick room where sick kids go and lay around watching movies all day; with a nurse on staff. I don't know that much about day care except that I have personally heard first and second hand account stories of moms who have had their kids not feeling well and running a fever when they just couldn't take off of work. So they pumped their kids with Tylenol, dropped them off at day care, and prayed nobody noticed if they ran a fever later on in the day. I've also heard of day cares having rules "No fever above 102." Are you fucking kidding me? Is that what our society has come to? Since the stay at home mom is almost non existent and the working mom has limited sick and personal days... Why aren't better plans available for everyone with sick kids? In France they pay you to have kids. Then they pay for your diapers. If you work hard in America and your kid is sick in day care they should be waited on hand and foot by a registered nurse.

Caprese Lasagna Roll Ups
Alex and my new favorite dish!
Serves 5 (I make for 4 and have 2 leftover)

10 lasagna noodles uncooked
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan/ Pecorino
16 oz bag shredded mozzarella
4 plum tomatoes
1 egg white
2 cups tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Bring pot to a boil and Under-Cook lasagna noodles by 1 minute. While they're cooking put ricotta in a bowl and add the white of an egg.
Mix till fluffy. Add Parmesan and 3/4 the bag of mozzarella. Mix and add pepper NO salt. When noodles are done lay them out on parchment or wax paper. Spread the cheese mixture on. Put 4-5 tomatoes next. Then top with basil and roll till seam-side down. Place in already prepared pan/ pans with the bottom lightly coated in some of the tomato sauce. Top each rollup with two+ tablespoons sauce covering the ends so they don't burn and remaining mozzarella. Bake 30 minutes. Garnish with more basil.

Monday, April 29, 2013

When in doubt make meatballs

One of the biggest movie/theatrical villins of all time sings, "Some women are drippin with diamonds. Some women are drippin with pearls. Lucky me. Lucky me. Look at what I'm drippin with... little girls." - Miss Hannigan
So what, she wanted to make an extra dollar. So what, she wanted the floors to, "Shine like the top of The Chrysler Building." This lady was underpaid, overworked, and had like 20 little girls abusing and torturing her during her 24 hour a day job. She didn't have an assistant. She never could have had a boyfriend, lover, or who would even want to be her friend?! She didn't have anyone else to take over when she needed a cocktail and a bath. And you damn well know when one of those little girls got sick... everyone got sick. Wow. Saint Miss Hannigan. Annie got it all wrong. How mean could one woman be who dedicated 24hours a day to orphans? Just in this month alone I have suffered an almost broken nose as I took a head-butt in the middle of the night from my two year old, a broken toe from him dropping his ride on toy on my foot, a bite, YES a bite from when he bit me as they drew blood from him in the ER so nasty I considered getting a tetanus shot, I always have loads of bruises, Dylan who's 6.5 months literally rips my hair out all day, and he scratched my almost broken nose today. Last night while I was sleeping Alex woke up around 4am and decided it would be funny to put his toy train down the back of my shirt. I jumped and screamed. That woke up Dylan in hysterics who has zero tolerance for noise. We all had some milk and wound up watching Thomas and Friends until 6am when they passed out on my lap and I had to do my homework, make coffee, and be in school by 9am. And I only have two little boys. Imagine 5 or 6. The more I think about it the more I can't believe how much Angelina and Brad must really be a team. They seem to really have their shit all together with 6 or 7 kids. Marc and I don't work very well together, but we're working on that. After 13 years of living in Manhattan I am moving back to Jersey. There is no way I can schlep my kids on crowded subways; dealing with elevators that don't work so I can get angry..curse.. then have to walk 10 blocks with a very full fucking bladder to the next station where I then (excuse my massive run on sentence please) can take 2 elevators that do work to the platform, wait for the next train, and take it 30-40 minutes uptown home. Fuck that. And people do this everyday! Sure most days go smoother. They check the MTA website to make sure it doesn't have an elevator outage reported. Anywhere you go shit does happen. In Jersey, yes, my new car might break down. We might get stuck in traffic at times. We might get lost on a detour. But we can take care of it a hell of a lot easier and a hell of a lot quicker. Do you know that the good pre schools all over Manhattan cost $10,000-$12,000 a year for 2-3 year olds to attend 3 days a week for 3 hours? Before throwing in the towel I stressed how I can send my kid to Columbia Hospital's really good pre school down the street and justify the $800 a month price tag when we live in a 1 bedroom apartment and are not millionaires. Even if I did fork over the cash for that preschool or any other one, I have to take him there by subway with Dylan in toe. In rush hour. Rain or shine. Elevator working or not. No thank you. Because after preschool comes kindergarden which isn't even legally necessary in NYC. Could you imagine?!?! That shit show comes with a gamble that even if you are lucky to live in a good school district there are always more applicants than seats. So there is a chance your kid will get re-zoned to a shit school. In my neighborhood the "A" rated school fills up and the kids get re-zoned to a "D" rated school that is awful. Big difference. There's other options like spending that whole summer attending lottery drawings hoping your kid gets into a charter school so they can go to school and you can schlep them back and forth by subway in rush hour. It's too hard. I don't want to do that. I know what I want to do. I know I will be perfectly happy blogging while drinking a margarita in my backyard this summer. I will be happy in a community where pre-school and going to school in general is simple and the school district is great. I'll be even happier if I can get Alex and his trains to sleep in their own bed in his own bedroom. I'll be so freaking happy having a washer and dryer in my home. I'm not even asking for that much. Just a few materialistic luxuries that I feel are unrealistic in Manhattan and a necessity through out most of the rest of the modern world. I spent a year following the motto that, "It doesn't take more to make you happy but the people who you surround yourself with." Ok, ok but tht is just to an extent right? But for fuck sake take care of our children. Right? And take care, good care, of ourselves. Eat a little bit better. Take more walks. Stop and pause to look and enjoy more. Practice patience. Make meatballs. It's ok to slow down.

Mama Mia Mary's Meatballs
1 package mixed chop meat (veal, pork, beef)
1 dash milk
1 small onion chopped
5-6 cloves garlic chopped
Handful parsley chopped
2 handfuls Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
2 eggs
3 slices moistened crumpled bread
Salt pepper

Mix. Heat veg oil till hot. Roll meatballs by handful into balls as lightly as possible don't pack them tightly at all. You want them to be light and airy inside. So barely roll them. Gentle. Drop into oil. Turn onto all sides 5-7 minutes a batch.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sunshine Coast

I thought it was a great idea to take my two kids under two, my mother, and my 93 year old Grandmother to Florida this year.  Ok I'm going to repeat that. I thought it was a great idea to take my two kids under two, my mother, and my 93 year old Grandmother to Florida this year. Like every other year I take Grandma down to Deerfield Beach and help her settle into her home to escape the cold New Jersey winters; why would this year be any exception? Are two little monsters quite literally attached to me, longing for every second of my undivided attention, any reason not to want to board a plane and go on vacation?? Absolutely not. My children are angels and I can take them anywhere. I am full of shit. OH MY DEAR LORD WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?!?!?!?! Packing was easy I took one suitcase to check, a carry-on wheelie with Alex's car seat rigged to it, Dylan's car seat, an umbrella stroller, and a backpack. I rented a crib, double stroller, ride on car for Alex, swing for Dylan, and a bathtub for Dylan for under $250 for 3 weeks from BabyBorrow which is the best service in the freaking world and everything was put together and waiting for us when we got into the apartment. So the day of travel starts with my monsters and I getting into a Carmel car service and heading to good ole Newark airport where my Mom and Grandmother are waiting. Judy is outside smoking and ready to help get us out of the car. We breeze through check in. We breeze through security. We breeze through double diaper changes in the bathroom. We get sandwiches and beers at the fabulous bar next to our gate. Thank you JetBlue for making the boarding area so much more fun. I'm super proud as my kids are the best behaved in the skies. Then we board. Alex is screaming, "All aboard!" He's so freaking excited. I've built this day up for weeeeeeeks and it's here. The gate check lady gave Alex wings. Great now I'll give you the rest of the flight in chronological order. Our seat numbers on our boarding passes differ from the ones on our confirmation. Perfect! We've been moved to the last row. Seriously best seats in the house with kids. Row 24 A,B,C = three adults + 2 lap infants = not enough oxygen masks = never should have been assigned or reassigned these seats = Grandmother gets moved across isle = Alex gets his own free seat. The plane takes off. Dylan eats the whole way up and passes out. I hand him to GG to hold. Alex is screaming "GO! GO! GO!" AND I'm like "Yeahhhh up we go." AND DEAD SERIOUS EXPRESSION... "No Mama, potty NOOOOOOWWWWW NOWWWWWWWWWW POTTY! POTTY! POTTY! POTTY!" It felt like forever with him SCREAMING POTTY MAMA as we're taking off. Arms are spastically waving, feet are kicking the poor people in front of us, and a screaming chant of "POTTY! POTTY! POTTY" can't be tamed what-so-ever. He could just go in his diaper, but NOPE. So as soon as we could possibly get up and go without risking tsa coming on board and arresting me in Florida for disorderly conduct we go to the bathroom. We even get escorted by a flight attendant who wasn't very impressed and should have probably still have been seated too. Alex isn't tall enough to pee in the toilet without a step stool. The kid uses a step stool. He absolutely will not sit and pee. "No sit Mama. No no." OK So I figure I'll just hold him, right? So, here's the sequence of events as they unfold: I put down the changing table (which falls over the toilet if you never used one on an airplane) thinking Alex will stand on it, I'm going to pull his pants down, diaper off, push the table back up, hold him over the potty, and let the kid take a piss mid-air. Good plan, right? Well, no chance. As soon as I pull his diaper off he starts pissing ALL OVER THE god damn sink, the counter, me, it splatters off the mirror onto his shirt, then onto the floor, and on the paper towels. It was THE LONGEST, most never ending, piss that I have ever seen. I've never seen anything like it and doubt I ever will again. I wipe the mess up with pissed on paper towels the best I can, wash our hands, wipe a tear and sweat off of my face, take off his shirt, and shirtless, Alex and I return to our seats. I put on his extra shirt and like nothing out of the ordinary happened he sang through his repertoire of every single song he knows which is close to 20 the ENTIRE way to Florida at the top of his lungs. Dylan woke up in a meltdown only wanting to be held by me. His ears bothered him. I ordered a hummus+crackers plate and drank 2 glasses of wine. We land. We got a Go-Shuttle van to take us to Deerfield. When I couldn't take another minute of journey our driver Danny turned out to be super gay and obsessed with musical theatre. We played Miss Saigon, Cats, and Sunset Blvd the entire way.

"Why the hell don't I live here?!" In the last year I have been hypothetically moving to Brooklyn, Jersey, Staten Island, every single neighborhood in Manhattan, North Carolina, and a rented town-home upstate NY, and again to why not just move to sunny Florida? Four days into my trip I have major complaints. 1) I've read six local newspaper articles in four days about people who got pissed off at someone while driving and shot the person or shot at their car. FL law let's you drive with a gun in the glove compartment (nobody keeps gloves in there who the hell are we kidding) and it comes out ALL OF THE time when people get road rage. Or cut off. Or some bitch takes the parking spot they were waiting on. And that brings me to 2) FL DOES NOT give a shit if you drive and talk on your cell phone. I don't know if there's a law but I'm going to go with no because I haven't seen ONE car pass me by where the driver isn't on a cell phone. Young people, middle aged people, and seniors. I mean you're giving other people reason to get mad and shoot you! What a bad idea- a shit load of people driving around on cell phones with guns in the car. Holy shit. Is it me or is that freaking bananas?! 3) We have gone out to dinner every night and Alex and I have had off-the-beach lunch dates and I still have not seen 1 other baby/toddler/child eating without being on an iPad or an iPhone. Maybe I just don't go out much and this is the new thing? My son and I have so much fun going out to eat. Usually we order a few appetizers and share them and talk about things. Simple things. And our conversations always resort to the potty since the potty, trains, cars, dinosaurs, and airplanes are our world summed up. That's another thing. After one of our off-the-beach lunch dates at the Patio Bar at the Howard Johnson I took Alex to potty and there's a kid using his potty with his mom while waiting to check in to the hotel. But this was no ordinary potty. As he stood waiting to pee it seemed to take forever because it had a build in ipad holder with a splash guard and all and he was VERY busy. WOW.


On our way!

Waiting for take-off 

Dylan and GG (can u believe she's 93!!!)

My skinny little beach bum

Alex, always so happy

Dinner at the corner beach bar

Mommy and Dylan time

Shark hunting on a long fisherman's pier

Sandy people!

Taking a break from the beach to go to the Patio Bar for lunch

I figured recipe-wise I would answer some of the questions I've gotten: the most common being; how the hell do you cook everyday with two babies?! Well, I do NOT cook everyday. I HEAT everyday. In three months I have had takeout 2-3 times from a restaurant. Having kids does not make you have to resort to picking up McDonald's!! Trust me, nobody loves McDonald's more than me and I don't eat there more than 4-5x a year because as tasty as that filet of fish is,  it probally isn't really all fish or fish at all. I don't want my kids eating McDonald's so why take them there to get toys with their french fries fried in crap?? We eat all meals home and I have more than enough time to try new recipes and enjoy being a foodie. If you love something you make time. My New Year's resolution was to eat a much more plant based diet. Tonight for dinner I am having an organic herb salad with poached leeks, lentils, blood orange slices and dressed with lemon and a FABULOUS California Olive Oil. Yum.

Poached Leeks
Cut off stem and leaves
Put 3 tablespoons veg broth in skillet
Poach leeks 3 minutes
Season w EVOO + Lemon Juice

I am obsessed with these as a side dish and added to soups, salads, anything. Health benefits are similar to their cousins garlic and onions and are overlooked often although they're known to keep what imbalances cause heart problems in check and have so many other great benefits. Serving size should be at least 1/2 cup per recipe. When they're done I'll throw them on top of this salad with some green lentils. 

Fake you out spaghetti bolognese 

Instead of making spaghetti with traditional bolognese sauce I made Alex a sauce of my regular tomato sauce, lentils, veggie crumbles and topped with cheese. The way lentils and veggie crumbles mix gives the sauce a great meaty texture and its simple as I had sauce, lentils, and veggie crumbles prepped in the fridge.

Apple brown betty


2 green apples skinned and chopped
4 pieces whole wheat bread 
brown sugar
maple syrup

Preheat oven 350. Grease casserole dish. Layer 1 of the apples, 2 slices bread chopped into bite sizes, sprinkle sugar over it, a bit of cinnamon, then a few drops of maple syrup, then a few slabs butter. Drizzle about 2 table spoons water over top. Gently press down a bit to mold. Repeat. Bake 30min. Add raisins to get fancy. Serve alone, with a bourbon sauce, or ice cream. This is the cheapest, easiest, can't destroy, most impressive dessert ever. Serves 4-5.