May 24, 2009

Watch the Birdie

When I was in, oh, about 3rd grade, I learned a really funny joke at school. I raced home to share it with my mom.

"Mom, mom, look! I caught a bird!"

And then I flipped her off.

Now, this was the 1970s, and the world was a very different place. My mom, a bona fide hippie, took one look at my stiffly extended middle finger and said, "Oh, no, honey, that's not right." And then she proceeded to demonstrate for me and my kid sister the appropriate technique for flipping a proper bird. When she was done, we really had it down. To this day, I have such mad skills at flipping people off that I could make a living at it.

Last week, my darling diva came home from school and told me that the middle finger is very bad and that you should never show it to anyone. She attempted to demonstrate. She raised her hand, extended her middle finger, and pointed it - tip first - straight at me.

I did not laugh. Kudos to me.

I was tempted - seriously tempted - to correct her and show her what she was supposed to do. After all, it had worked for my mom.

Then, I had visions of my oldest flipping off all his teachers the next morning instead of waving a cheerful hello. He doesn't always get that when something's inappropriate you avoid it like the plague. Plus, he's a 10-year-old boy. In his universe, new gesture + big reaction from grown-ups = FUN.

So, my reaction? A very calm "Oh, no, honey, you can't do that. It means a bad thing, and you will get suspended if you do that at school."

You'll be shocked, absolutely shocked, to hear that the "don't do it" approach backfired. The middle finger became the one and only topic of conversation at the dinner table. All three of the kids started trying to point at everything with their middle fingers - particularly adorable in my three-year-old, who firmly believes that the term "middle finger" really means "thumb."

Clearly I needed a new approach.

I raised my right hand, two fingers on one side, two fingers on the other, thumb extended, and said, loud enough to get everyone's attention: "Live long and prosper!"

All three kids stopped dead in their tracks. This was way cooler than a simple middle finger. One might even say they found it fascinating. They spent the rest of the evening trying to figure out how to get their hands to do that.

Crisis averted, thanks to Star Trek.

Thank you, Mr. Spock, for keeping my kids out of detention.

May 20, 2009

I Love Rocky Road

Hello. My name is Rosemary. And I'm an addict.

Okay, so my name isn't really Rosemary - that's the name of my blog, or part of it anyway. Meant it to refer to an herb, but it could just as easily mean me. Right?

But I am an addict. An ice cream addict.

It's appalling, actually.

For the last four or five months I have been very capably managing my addiction. I successfully removed from my house any ice cream that is even remotely appealing to me. I have kid-friendly popsicles in a variety of neon colors and some artificially-greened up mint choco-chip - see, it's not even real chocolate! Who would eat that? Not me! No one over the age of reason, really.

I very consciously bought the Weight Watchers Giant Cookies & Cream Bars to deal with the occasional craving. They're like the patch. Not really ice cream, but I could make myself eat them because I felt fairly virtuous trying to stave off my craving for sweet and frozen with something so full of FIBER. I'd eat one. And stop. Perfect!

Then, two weeks ago, with company coming, I did the unthinkable. Breyers was on sale. And I bought one. Well, I paid for one. Really, I bought two. That's the problem with a buy-one, get-one sale. You buy two.

I know - most of you have more refined tastes. You want the Ben & Jerry's or the Hagen Dazs. Not me. I'm a Breyers girl, through and through. Love their mint chocolate chip. Real mint. No green. And their rocky road? Oooooh. They dip the almonds in chocolate. Really, need I say more?

I bought one of each.

I wish I could say I controlled myself. I wish I could say I put a single scoop in a demure bowl and ate it delicately from a demitasse spoon with my pinky extended.

That is not what I did. I took the whole carton, pried it open, plopped it next to me on the sofa as if it were my best friend, grabbed the biggest soup spoon I could find, and dug in while I watched American Idol (yes, I watch American Idol, too). I ate half of it.

The other half went during the results show.

And once that one was gone? I waited a few days. Tried to fool myself that I was back in charge. Clean and sober.

Then I ate the other one. And I baked a nice batch of brownies for my guests.

So yes, I'm an addict. And I have just fallen off the wagon. Hard.

I blame my dad for this. I love my dad. Smart man. Good man. And a good and loving dad. And when my folks divorced and he was trying to find a way to stay connected to his kids, he did a good and loving thing. He introduced the concept of Ice Cream Mondays. Every Monday, he'd pick me and my sister up at school, and we'd head off to the local deluxe ice cream shop for a decadent cone of whatever the heck we wanted. My favorite was the bubble gum ice cream. Pink and sweet and gummy. Yes, gummy, because there was real gum in it. I'd pair it with chocolate. Chocolate goes with everything.

Ice Cream Mondays were the highlight of my week. I lived for Ice Cream Mondays. Got to see my dad and feed my burgeoning addiction. I was eight. I couldn't possibly know that ice cream, for me, might as well be nicotine, Jack Daniels and crystal meth all rolled into one.

I did outgrow the bubble gum. But the chocolate ... oh the chocolate! I gave up three whole years of my life to chocolate ice cream.

That happened in college. At the start of my sophomore year, my friend Gabe had joined the student newspaper staff. I should come too, she said. No no! It was not for me. No time. But she'd been asked to do a story on the local Baskin Robbins. They were introducing 10 new flavors. And not just any 10 flavors. All 10 were variations on a single, luscious, irresistible theme. Oh, I can barely say it! They were chocolate. All 10 of them. I could not let Gabe go in there alone. So I went with her ... and spent the next three years sacrificing every one of my Wednesday and Thursday nights - and any other free time I might have - to the paper. They suckered me in with ice cream.

I have yet to forgive Gabe for that. Though I'm not sure she knows that.

Which brings me to the Breyers. I finished the second carton yesterday. I have now been clean for 24 hours. I can do this. One day at a time, right?

So, there is no more Breyers in the house. There will be no more Breyers in this house.

There are, however, Milanos.

May 14, 2009

Where's the Beef?

Yesterday, I threw out an entire pound of organically fed ground beef.

I was saving it for a lovely picadillo (and someday I'll share the recipe) - full of pineapple and raisins and tomatoes and rich, yummy Cuban spices that make my tummy and my tastebuds sing. It's one of my favorite dishes. Ever.

Not gonna get cooked this week.

I love planning meals. It's a luxury these days - life is still crazy, and the little bits of down time I have don't leave much room for it. But I love it. I love sitting down with my cookbooks and my recipe cards and my little food brain and figuring out how and when I'm going to play in my kitchen.

Planning doesn't make as much sense these days. I use a rotating menu for the kids - chicken tenders with rotini and broccoli, mac & dogs & peas, spaghetti with meat sauce, fish and rice and corn, ham with home fries and apples, chicken quesadillas with veggie sticks.

But for me - well, I don't have time to cook for grown-ups anymore, not when it's just me eating.

I still get inspired, though. I still buy fresh herbs and pretty produce, and the occasional cut of meat. And half the time I wind up tossing it all. Because, as inspired as I may be, at the end of a day of working and playing and mowing the lawn, chauffering kids and kissing owies, picking up dog doo, folding the laundry, tickling tummies and wearing stickers on my forehead, and cuddling up at bedtime - well, cooking isn't high on my list.

I miss it.

Tomorrow, I will have to toss the tilapia.

Of course, this could all be resolved if I would just clean out my freezer.

May 11, 2009

The Best Way to Burn Waffles

This life in limbo, it's a bit like a roller coaster. One where you can't quite see the track, so every up and every down comes at you at 125 mph with no warning. All you know is that you're hurtling through space with your feet dangling in mid-air, and you haven't the foggiest idea what is going to happen next.

I hate roller coasters.

So, this morning, I overcooked the waffles. The toaster waffles. Yes, that's right. I burned Eggos. Bet you didn't even know that was possible.

This after probably my worst Mother's Day ever.

It started off well. My not-yet-ex brought the kids to me late enough in the day that I had a nice sleep, and even better, he was armed with eight doughnuts and a carefully selected DVD all wrapped up in pretty paper. And my kids, they showered me with thoughtful gifts they'd made in school.

Then, all hell broke loose.

It was the doughnuts that did it. There was one pink one with sprinkles, and everyone wanted it. The battle for it began as soon as the gift-giving ended. For the entire rest of the day, they showered me with screaming tantrums, constant arguments, and lots of "No!" My Aspie had not had his meds, so he was spinning through the house like a top, into everything, pushing at everyone, not able to settle. My unnaturally strong three-year-old up-ended - and broke - the coffee table. Everyone was a screaming, whining, horrific mess.

Then, at dinner, as a cap to this oh-so-lovely day, I dropped a full two quarts of iced tea all over my kitchen. Splatters on every cabinet, under the fridge, inside the fridge. I used up 7 dishtowels cleaning it up. And I burst into tears, right there in the kitchen.

My kids did not even look up from the table. But I could hear their conversation.

My diva: "Um, is mom crying?"
My Aspie: "I don't know."
My diva: "I really think she's crying."
My Aspie: "Why is she crying?"
My diva: "I don't know. Maybe we should cheer her up?"
My Aspie: "Oh, yeah! Let's tell her a story!"

... and then the three of them launched into a massive screaming battle over who would get to tell the story, who would be in the story, and how it would end.

That is when I finally gave up. Trundled them off to bed immediately and hunted down the ibuprofen.

I think they remembered though. So, this morning, they met me with hugs and kisses and gifts of gorgeous drawings that "use up the whole page." I got a warm and sweaty matchbox car from a warm and sweaty little hand, and a sweet "Mommy, play with me!" from my three-year-old. My daughter wrote a song for me, then let me do her hair and didn't say "ouch" even once. And my Aspie gave me no complaints - not one - when I reminded him to finish his homework.

All that, followed by a three-part chorus of, "I love you! You're the best mommy ever!"

Mother's Day, take two.

So I burned the waffles. Too busy with the hugs and the kisses to get them out of the toaster oven. And my beautiful, smart, loving children? They ate them. Every bite.

May 1, 2009

Booger Soup and Other Goodies

The other night, I made turkey burgers for the kids. Very simple - wee bits of garlic and onion powder, a breath of worcestershire to make it taste more like beef, a little egg to hold it all together, and classic American cheese melted on top.

My older two love this. They ooh, they aah, they call me the best cook ever. Fun for me. As a result, they now get these lovely burgers every single week. So, fun for them too.

My little guy, though ... this is like torture for him. One look at a burger on a bun and he runs screaming from the table. Thing is, he's got a bit of a speech impediment. Can't say his r's too well. So what's he screaming, over and over again?

"I don't like boogers!!!!!"

It is very hard to make your cranky kid sit down and eat when you can't stop laughing at him. (Sorry, peanut!)

But it did bring to mind a few of my favorite dishes.

When I was a kid, I was constantly asking what's for dinner. And, like most kids, I was pretty much always hoping it would be Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese. And ice cream. Lots of ice cream. That was rarely the case. But as a kid, you're hopeful, and you cannot stop yourself from asking that question. Incessantly.

The daily conversation with my mom would go something like this.

Me: "Mom, what's for dinner?"
Me: "Mom, what's for dinner?"
Me: "Mom, what's for dinner?"
Mom: "Urgh! Stop asking!"

Until she got creative ...

Me: "Mom, what's for dinner?"
Mom: "Frogs legs and rubber mushrooms!"

Conversation over. Or, at least, on a totally different track. Kid laughs, doesn't ask again.

If you can be funny, your kids usually forget to be annoying. This is a huge mom lesson. And believe me, with my low annoyance threshold, there are many days when I wish I had a better sense of humor.

This line, though, is one of my favorite hand-me-downs from my mom. Now when my kids ask the big question, that's always the big answer. And they leave smiling every time. It's become the family joke. They beat me to the punchline. They don't ask what's for dinner. They say, "Frogs legs tonight, Mom?" We look for frogs legs at the grocery store. Then we spend time staring at mushrooms trying to figure out which are the most rubbery. They smile. It's fun.

And then there's booger soup.

Booger soup got its start one lovely cold and flu season when I couldn't get my kids to keep their fingers out of their noses, and then out of their mouths. Now, when I catch them with a finger in flagrante delicto, I say, "Guess what! No frogs legs tonight, guys. We're having booger soup!" A round of ew's ... and the finger-wielder usually stops what he (or more often she ... wait, did I say that?) is doing.

I tell you, laughter really is the best cure for annoying behavior.

So that's what's for dinner at my house. Frogs legs, rubber mushrooms, and a tasty bowl of booger soup. As my pal Rachael would say, "Yum-O!"