June 30, 2010

Wait, Is It Really July? Well, Almost ...

I came here today intending to blog about frittatas. That's right. Frittatas, and all their eggy goodness.

This post, sadly, is not about frittatas.

On the way to my blog, I got distracted by my friend the Diva. She posted her mid-year resolutions.

I like that idea. See, I did do the New Year's resolution thing. I kept them simple. And I did not make them public, because my resolution track record pretty much sucks.

For reference, here they are: my 2010 New Year's Resolutions, nearly seven months late.
  • Read
  • Sleep
  • Move
See? Simple. And I am reading more. But that's mostly because I'm sleeping and moving less. Funny how that one worked out.

So I like the idea of a whole new set of resolutions, a set of mid-year, hey-what-the-heck-is-it-really-July resolutions, that I might possibly be able to accomplish.

Here they are.
  • Finish the half gallon of Breyer's rocky road ice cream currently melting in my lap. Very doable, particularly as a half gallon container now holds a mere 1.5 quarts. (When exactly did that happen?)
  • Learn to say "yes." Ironic, since I spent my year plus in limbo learning how to say "no." Now I'm really good at no and realizing that I need a few more yesses in my life. I'm not talking about "Yes, I'll manage the whole soccer league," or "Yes, I'll make 84 cupcakes for tomorrow's bake sale." I'm talking about "Yes, sweetie, I'd love to play Polly Pockets with you," and "Of course you can have a hug," and "Sure I can read Wacky Wednesday 18 more times today." These are important yesses.
  • Find a sugar daddy who wants to buy me a brand new and completely bug-free house and send all three of my super-smart kids to college. (But only if I can keep dating my San Francisco-bound sweetie.)
  • Set a new family record by blowing up six - yes, I said six - bottles of Diet Coke with Mentos. This is hands-down my kids' favorite activity of the summer. Yeah, I know, six isn't really that many - particularly when compared with this YouTube classic - but since the kids usually get just the one bottle apiece, six is a big, big deal.
  • Write that frittata post. I even took pictures folks. Yes, pictures.
Stay tuned ...

June 24, 2010


You may recall my redhead being completely incapacitated by his fear of zombies and poison frogs.

(This is where I'd insert a reference to the Litany Against Fear from Dune, 'cause yes, I'm that geeky. I just can't figure out a way to do it gracefully.)

Anyway ... I convinced the little guy that neither zombies nor poison dart frogs could drive, and since they live too far away to walk, that took care of the worst of it. But he was still afraid. He slept with his magic, force-field wielding baby blanket every night, and he covered his ears and hollered whenever a sibling said the "z" word or the "f" word (the other "f" word -you know, four letters, ends in "g"). It was bad enough that I banned any discussion of zombies. Period.

This week, that all changed.

That's because this week, the kids and I are on vacation. Amongst our other adventures, we spent a day at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Way cool place, chock full of dolphins and jellyfish and a bunch of other fascinating sea creatures.

Oddly enough, they've also got a whole mess of poison dart frogs. Not so much with the aquatic, really. But, as it happens, very handy to have around. Because - guess what? Those frogs are tiny. Little bitty teeny tiny things. About the size of my little guy's thumb.

And eminently squishable.

I took a risk and introduced my fearful redhead to every single variety of poison dart frog in the place. I showed him their teeny tiny selves. He took one look at those terrifying beasts ... and he giggled. He actually giggled. Then he told me he would punch them all in the face and squish them.

Good-bye poison dart frogs.

Yes, I know they're endangered. I don't care. My kid believes he can squish them at will, and that is a good, good thing. And no, I did not bother to tell him that one of these puppies has enough venom to kill 10 adult humans. There are some things he does not need to know.

On the way home, we had this conversation.

"You know how I said I was afraid of poison frogs?"


"That was a joke. I was joking about the zombies, too," he added. "Because, you know, they're not even real."

Take that, fear. You've been squished.

June 20, 2010

It's All Fun & Games Until Someone Falls Asleep

Every so often, my kids and I engage in a game they call "Mommy Monster." I lie on the sofa in wait until some unsuspecting child walks by, and then I reach out and grab them and tickle them mercilessly until all three kids jump on me in a giggly, squealing, squirmy mass.

Today, I wound up underneath just such a pile of happily loud and wiggly kids.

And I fell asleep.

I woke up the instant one of the kids jumped off me and set off all those internal mommy alarms that blare when a child of mine is not readily present and accounted for.

But I'm still annoyed. They had all that fun without me.

Damn but I'm tired.

Stupid insomnia. I hate you.

P.S. I know I've got a pronoun/antecedent agreement issue in the first paragraph, but I'm too tired to figure out how to fix it.

June 14, 2010

One Good Right Turn

So, you know the question I dodged the other day? The one about whether or not I've got a boyfriend?

I do. But shhh, don't tell the kids.

He's a great guy. He's smart and funny and his hugs are better than Xanax. He asks intelligent questions about knitting and understands why cupcakes matter. He accepts that chronic lateness is a part of my character and knows that a conversation with me will generally involve a series of right turns and an occasional big old twisty circle. He always walks on my right side because I carry my purse on my left, and he points when he gives me directions because I don't get the whole left/right thing anyway (he learned that one the hard way).

He likes good food and interesting people and keeps passing me books I can't put down so that I'll have something fun to read when I'm wide awake at 2:00 a.m. He's allergic to mussels and mixes a mean dark and stormy, and you wouldn't believe what he can do with a cosmopolitan. He loves his family. And he once spent a whole day in the kitchen making a mole from scratch. I wasn't there for that, but gee it's fun to hear him talk about it.

We've been friends for 21 years.

I like him. I like spending time with him, just talking with him or being quiet with him. I like the sound of his voice, the strength in his hands, and the way he brightens when he's with me. He makes me brighten, too. His apartment is the only place in a 100-mile radius where I can get a good night's sleep because there I feel safe and relaxed and cared for.

Next month, he's moving to California.

I'm going to miss him.

June 13, 2010

Sex and the Single Aspie

I have this cousin who is One Smart Cookie, and who is also, for various reasons, interested in the subject of Asperger's Syndrome. We haven't talked about it much, but given that we're friends on Facebook, he sees my posts, and I see his.

He posted something today that, well, it was interesting. I'm not ready to share it with my own general public on Facebook. But I am very comfortable sharing it here, where I can give it some context.

The article, "Asperger's Syndrome Sex: Love's Outer Limits," was posted on CarnalNation.com. It's part one of a multi-part series.

And it's fascinating.

I can't speak for the other moms of tween Aspies. Mine is in middle school. He's learning about hygiene and puberty and how his body will change. And he's thinking about girls. He's asking about first kisses and why unmarried teens have babies and whether I have a boyfriend. (And no, those last two are not related topics.)

Sex and relationships are part and parcel of growing up, no less for him than for other kids his age. A lot of his coming of age will and should be private - i.e., not bloggable. But as his mom, I do have some thinking to do about how to talk to him about this stuff. And that thinking should be okay to share.

I don't know about other parents, but I want my kids - all three of them - to have healthy and fulfilling relationships. I don't care whether my kids are gay or straight or ambiguous, but I do care that they find a way to connect, a way to be loved, a way to get hugs and kisses and the fulfillment that comes from a loving physical relationship. I want them to be respected and respectful. To know themselves, their hearts and their bodies. To know what they need and be comfortable saying so. To know when to say no, and when to say yes. To make good and responsible choices.

And I've wondered how all of that might be different for my Aspie. Because it will be. Any interpersonal relationship works differently for him.

And it hurts me when I think that my Aspie, who already struggles so much to make friends, may struggle so much more to find love.

This article gives me a beginning, a place to start from when talking to him about this stuff. And I'm thinking I may forward it to the guidance counselor at his school, where there are eight other tweenage boys starting the same journey.

For the record? I had my first kiss at seven (apparently, so did my daughter ... the things you learn over breakfast!). And I successfully dodged the boyfriend question. The subject of teen pregnancy came up after the season finale of Glee. I told him that unmarried teens like Puck and Quinn have babies when they make poor choices. My older two then asked me what those poor choices were, and I said something like "it's called 'having sex'," and both of them promptly changed the subject. For which, I am thanking my lucky stars. And thinking madly about how to answer it when the subject comes up again.

June 12, 2010

Veggie Girl Conquers the World

It's official. My little diva is no longer a vegetarian.

"I'm just not cut out for it," she sighed. And then she burst into tears.

She got lots of verbal hugs (we were at the table - a real hug was a bit of a challenge). She felt defeated. But she shouldn't have.

In trying to be a vegetarian, even for a little while, my diva became much more aware of what she eats. She learned how to make healthy choices. She added countless new foods to her diet, including such rarities as tofu and brussels sprouts.

And she ate her veggies. Every single night.

But her vegetarian experiment didn't just affect her. It affected every single one of us.

Because now she's not the only one eating her veggies. Her brothers eat them too. Not huge servings. Not every bite. But they eat them. They eat broccoli and green beans, cauliflower and corn on the cob, carrots and cucumbers. And, of course, the aforementioned brussels sprouts.

Yes, that means I have three children who eat brussels sprouts. I am a blessed woman.

And they try things. I put something new on the table now, and not a one of 'em runs away screaming. (And yes, that did happen. We do have an Aspie in the house, after all.) In the last week, I've made shrimp with garlic, roasted pork tenderloin, and orange mashed potatoes (I added a sweet potato to to my Idahoes). They tried everything. Without complaining. Although sometimes with ketchup.

By the time I finished telling her all that, Veggie Girl was beaming. Because she did this. She ate her veggies and showed her brothers how it's done.

I love a girl who knows her own mind.

June 6, 2010

Lemon Jell-O Cake, or Why I Love My Sister

I like cake.

You're shocked, I'm sure. Because I've only blogged about cakes and cupcakes like 83,000 times. (And yes, I'm exaggerating. But not by much.)

My aunt makes a cake she calls Better Than Sex Cake. And there was a time when I might have agreed with her. You should make this cake. It may not be better than sex, but it is better than a great many other truly wonderful things. Including chocolate. I kid you not.

Good as this cake is, however - and it is extremely good - it is not the best cake ever.

The best cake ever is the stuff of memories. It's the cake my mom made for my birthday every single year growing up. It's baked in a Bundt pan, coated in a simple powdered sugar glaze, moist, with a blaze of lemony flavor that just zings through your mouth. We call it the Lemon Jell-O Cake.

I have not had that cake in nearly 30 years.

My mom's been ill for a very, very long time. When all that first happened, her brother kindly stored her things in his basement. There was a flood, though, and much was destroyed. Baby clothes she'd made by hand for me and my sister. Her original artwork. Mirrored pillows and other items from her travels to India.

And books. Many books. Including her cookbooks, and the recipe for the best cake ever along with them.

I spent years searching the interwebz for that Lemon Jello-O Cake. I never found it. I found cakes that stole the name, easy cakes, light and lemony. But not one was right.

And then, my sister's birthday came. I was pondering how best to help her celebrate and decided to get her thoughts on her cake. I gave her a couple of options. First up, the tiramisu cupcakes I wound up making (awesome!). The other was Martha Stewart's lemon curd cupcakes, for the lemony memories.

Which is when she told me about her wonderful gift. She'd rescued my mom's old, water-logged Fannie Farmer Cookbook from the flood. And inside it, hand-written and just a little smeared, was my mom's Lemon Jell-O Cake recipe. (Which is apparently Paulette's recipe, only we don't know who Paulette is.)

My sister read it to me over the phone, because she is just that awesome.

I made it last weekend. It is every single bit as good as I remembered. And given how much flavor hindsight and nostalgia add, that's saying something. Still not better than sex, but definitely getting closer.

Enjoy. And remember to send a great big thank you to my sister.

Paulette's Lemon Jell-O Cake
1 package Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix
1 3 oz package lemon Jell-O
4 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup apricot nectar (my store didn't have it, so I used pear nectar instead - still yummy!)
2 tbs lemon extract

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a buttered and floured Bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes minimum, usually longer.  (45 minutes did it for me, but my oven is dead-on accurate.)

 2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh-squeezed, please!)

Mix and let stand. Pour over cake when it comes out of the oven. (I poured it along the inner and outer edges of the pan ... oh stars, but what that does to this cake ... you'll just have to find out for yourself.) Leave in the pan until it cools. Eat it.

Giving credit where credit is due: my mom once told me that this recipe came off a box of Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix. I've been all over their site, though, and couldn't find the recipe. I did find a similar recipe here.