Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vacation is....

Lets see....according to dictionary.com, vacation is: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday. According to the media: "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." (anyone who has discovered a glittery glass bauble on their left hand while trying to find the advil under the mountain of tequila bottles has found this is not necessarily the case) According to one of my neighbors it's "free baby-sitting when the whole fam-damily gets together!" (there would be bloody hair-pulling over that one)

Are we running away from our lives? Living out repressed urges? Resting? Recharging? Or merely finding an excuse to take pictures of the kids other than Christmas morning or Easter dinner...

And so I set out for the first real vacation my new husband and I have ever had together. It's been....well, waaaay too long since I left home without turkey stuffing recipes, bottles of brandy stashed to spike my egg nog, protein bars to supplement frightening "casserole" meals and a trunk full of gifts. (i.e. going to your sisters/parents/in-laws for holidays does NOT count as vacation. An exercise in sneaking sex at naptime or in the bathroom while hollering "hang on grandma--just brushing my hair!", dealing with constipated children, or contemplating the benefits of powdered prozac you could carry around in splenda packets for emergencies--yes, these are holidays, but not vacations)

Seven lovely sun-drenched days in St. Croix....

Vacation is....

An excuse to not wear a bra at all. Though this will not come as a surprise to those of you that know me, it did seem to come as a complete shock to every gawking male and judgemental female I sat with, walked by, or accidentally flashed in the airports we traveled through. Six flights of boobilicious fun.

A reason to buy multiple bottles of $6 rum that line the grocery store isles next to the tp and cornflakes...Y.U.M.

Cooking with one knife, two spoons, and no potato peeler.

Arguing over the absolute STUPIDEST of things.....the stress of traveling with 3 boys under 10 on six flights when someone always has to "go"....or sand in the bed, wet towels, "where is my camera?!", "I have to eat THAT?" failing deodorant, peeing in the bushes, and "WHO DRANK ALL THE RUM!?!"

Playing cards till 2am all the while marveling at how your sweet dear mum has transformed into cutthroat Sammy-the-bull before your very eyes---she's even squinting at you!

An outside shower that has a very large toad living under the slat floor.

Spiny lobster. Bowls of melted butter, rare steak and single malt. (does it get any better?)

Sitting for four HOURS next to a woman who swears that the 6 month old baby in her LAP usually "sleeps like a darling" on all flights.....but ours.

Picking avocados off the tree and making guacamole for every meal. Yes, guacamole for breakfast rocks.

Baby hermit crabs the size of your pinky nail that skitter across the floor while your children peal with laughter.

Having a panic attack when your darling friend back home calls to tell you that she can't get the spare key to work to get into your house to feed your cats.....your two semi-psychotic, completely neurotic, outside felines that are trapped inside most likely WWF wrestling and eating the carpet like they did last time the boys forgot to feed them.

Tree frogs that sing when it rains.

Rediscovering the thrill of sneaking smooches behind kitchen cabinets and trees cause you and your babe haven't been alone in like FOUR DAYS.

Seriously considering.....even pondering....living in a treehouse. If it meant you could stay.

Perhaps I will never tear it up in vegas, never "ooh la la" it in a Parisian cafe, never run away and pretend to be someone else for a weekend.....but I do know the soul piercing joy of watching my children play in the surf, giggling while my 10 year old holds onto the biting gecko to prove he's tough, the wonder of mangoes we picked from the tree on my ice-cream, and the simple joy of not thinking about the bills, the schedules, e-mail or the neighbors.

I mean, who cares if they see me naked?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


This morning I had an omelet for breakfast. Nothing particularly amazing about that, I do most mornings as I completely lost my taste for sweet things with my second pregnancy. (yeah, doc--explain that one to me! lol) But this morning's creation consisted of half a serving of some seriously spicy jambalaya--shrimp and hot sausage included. Diced onions and red peppers, crushed garlic.....all tossed into that sizzling pan and then doused with scrambled eggs, sprinkled with adobo, and don't forget the cheese.....yum. (hungry yet?) Two day old dinner suddenly morphs into delish breakfast with what??--the magic of scrambled eggs. Truly, is there anything you can think of eating for dinner that doesn't make a killer omelet? I've had taco omelettes, roasted lamb with rosemary potato omelettes, thanksgiving turkey and stuffing, seafood alfredo (even tore up the cheddar biscuits and tossed 'em in--thank you red lobster) and can anyone pass up a chili omelet covered in shredded cheese and topped with green onions? Way beyond Denny's "ham and cheese" or your average "western" creation--there is an endless world of possibilities! Omelettes let you take the bits, the pieces and leftovers as well as the gourmet choices (I still will do personal favors of a questionable nature for a goat cheese and caramelized onion slice of heaven...) and create scrumptious joy.

So what's your scrambled egg? For some it's their children--anything goes better with giggles, right? One of my dearest friends cannot live without her camera--it takes the mundane and makes enthralling documentaries of her life. I think my sister has an umbilical cord to her phone; our old neighbor doesn't do a thing without beer, seriously! For me, it's my husband. I can take the gourmet moments of very intentional life--vacations, candle-lit dinners in the back yard, football games, concerts and parties--and without him they would be tasteless. But I can also search through the leftovers and chopped onions in the back of the fridge--cold pizza on the living room floor watching re-runs, nights the power goes out and we play scrabble with flashlights. Winter mornings when I'm just too cranky to get out of bed--even those indie films you rent 'cause they look cool--and they turn out horrible? I can take them all and add him.....and voila, superlative pleasure.

So here's to scrambled eggs. May you find yours.....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Damage Control

You know.....I daresay that five days of child-free gallivanting about Pittsburgh is costly. Yes, I packed the boys, teddy bears in tow--and kissed the darlings good-bye as my ex husband growled at me. (his usual capacity of social interaction) They drove off down the street--little white palms frantically waving through the rear window.....(sniff) Ah yes, the bitter sweetness of "YEAH--GLASS OF WINE AT 3:30 IN THE AFTERNOON WITH A GOOD BOOK ON THE PORCH!!" What--who me? Thrilled to be able to eat saltines, cheese and fresh basil for dinner? (my husband was working late) A quarter of the dishes, no smelly socks in the living room--hell, I could get up and wander NUDE down the hall to the bathroom in the middle of the night! Glorious vacation in my own home!

And then.....the return. Five days of being the absolute center of attention. 120 hours of "what do you WANT to eat sweetie?" instead of, "here's dinner....take it or leave it." Amusement parks, late nights, tractor rides, movies--a civil war reenactment!! What DIDN'T they do at gramma's house? Did I mention the "blueberry popover pancakes with chocolate sprinkles" yet? (I heard all about them while I was toasting ye ole Eggo waffles this morning...) The whining...the complaining..."we have to go to Walmart with you--awwww, man!!" The topper was when my eldest actually said, TO MY FACE, "whatever mom." The gasket was officially blown. Poof. There she was, the crazy redheaded woman in the hair care isle lecturing her 10 yr-old about respect and kindness and this is NOT how you treat your mother and......and......

Yeah.....stellar moment there. (I knew I had crossed some kind of line when the pale mouse of a woman at the end of the isle took her little girl's hand and whispered loudly, "honey we'll come back and get you some new shampoo later..." glancing at me like I might assault them as she snuck out past the pantene)

My mother used to tell me the times my half-sister went to see her other mom were hell afterwards. She actually said Terri would be rotten till she spanked her--and then it was all back to normal. (sigh)

Do I dare? "Hi guys, I missed you---bend over?" Umm......it's tempting.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday Morning with NPR

Now if you'd like to fill your mind with enough disturbing information that you may very well become distracted in the oddest of moments--begin your day with National Public Radio. (I'm scrambling eggs thinking, "can you really put solar panels on your lawn mower?") I'm addicted, completely. One of my greatest pet peeves with people is how small their vision is. I believe strongly that the wider the lens, the higher chance you have of not only understanding the world--but appreciating your small place in it. At this very moment there are over a million people in China that have had their entire world swept away in a storm....right now, this instant there is a woman over there sobbing, trying to even comprehend what has happened....what will she do...where will she sleep? How will she feed her children? And here I sit in my lovely dining room, the smell of ripe peaches drifting from the bowl on the table...do I make a cobbler? Shall I pack 2 or 3 dresses for vacation? I must force myself to really look at the world--to see the sadness, pain, hunger....for it is the very slap in the face I need to stop the entitled barrage of complaints that pop into my head. It's too hot--not enough money for a new tv--the neighbor's ridiculous dog and his issues.....they all suddenly seem quite pale.

One particular story on Sunday morning has lingered in my mind. They were discussing how they were changing the law to include violence against homeless people as a hate crime. (and please--this is my muddled memory of the article, look it up for the absolutes) Did you know that the definition of a "hate crime" is violence not motivated by personal gain or angry exchange? In other words, it is a crime done for "sport" or out of "personal belief." So as I'm digesting this, they start throwing out the numbers for how many homeless people are murdered every year.....and then they talk about the murderers. Nearly 50% of all homeless violence and murder is committed by children under the age of 19. 73% total by people under the age of 25.

I had to sit down. Literally. Hundreds of people....brutally murdered...for no gain, and for no wrong done. By our youth! What has become of us? I have my own beliefs about family and politics and such--hours of good-hearted debate with friends over burgers and beer.....but there are moments when there is this sickening thud in my soul. When you realize that the arguments and explanations and rationalizations are all rather useless against the facts. There is something wrong with our world.

My boys have been gone for 5 days--I will pick them up tonight. (cannot WAIT!) The house has seemed so empty and the cats have followed me around like friendless puppies. But I find myself motivated even more to face parenthood with passion. There is no wishy washy ground to be had here unless you want to fall on your ass! (lol) There is a right and a wrong. There are kindness and hate in this world.....and every day, every moment is a choice. Parenthood is exhausting, overwhelming, and utterly amazing. In it I face my own demons, see my own bad habits, and strive to open my children's eyes to the ugliness in the world--while empowering them to NOT be part of it.

Take a deep breath; we are incredibly blessed...but we are also responsible.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I can think of 14 different uses for caramel......not all of them involve the kitchen.