Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Passover's Coming

Passover and a house full of company arrive next week, so today's chores involve cooking. Lots of cooking. I've just printed out a bunch of Passover recipes to peruse, but the most pressing task is the chicken soup. I make my matzah ball soup (and matzah balls) from scratch, and the soup must be made in advance – so that it can be strained, cooled, de-fatted, and frozen to keep until next week. I can't stand fatty chicken soup!

Also on today's cooking list is the brisket . . . not that salty, overcooked shoe leather that passes for brisket in most families. No, this is adapted from David Rosengarten's Wagyu (Kobe) brisket recipe. I know, I know, you're screaming, "Kobe brisket? Are you crazy? It costs a fortune!" Actually not. The cheaper cuts of Kobe beef (brisket, chuck, etc.) are only a dollar or two more per pound than regular beef. When cooked, the cheap cuts of Kobe beef are unbelievably good. Trust me! Look for the recipes on The Need To Feed.

In the meantime, I need to review what I need for the ceremonial meals (Passover seders) and make my grocery list. My favorite aunt gave me her recipe for doctoring gefilte fish, and I need to get that going, too. The housekeeper will come twice this week; once to clean, wash and polish everything in the breakfront, and once to clean the house. I have no idea whether WineGuy's family will be staying here – my parents and brothers won't come. Last I heard, the in-laws had made reservations to stay at some crappy motel 30 minutes away. Don't ask, don't tell, I suppose.

Monday, March 26, 2007


WineGuy had a wonderful 50th birthday! The celebrations started a couple days early, when a drug rep brought him a decadent chocolate mousse cake from Norman Love's shop. The next day, WineGuy's office staff brought in food from his favorite Greek restaurant for lunch. They showered him with lots of funny "over the hill" gifts as well as a custom-engraved bottle of Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, a gift certificate to our favorite sushi restaurant, and a gift certificate to the fancy hotel restaurant where I hosted his party the following evening.

WineGuy's actual birthday dawned sunny and bright. His friends, The Radiologist and The Writer, got bumped from their connecting flight the night before, so they flew in and joined us at a MLB Spring Training game in the early afternoon. I had previously arranged with the stadium's PR office to broadcast a "Happy Birthday" announcement during the game. WG was tickled.

The big surprise came later that evening, when we planned to meet The Radiologist and The Writer at the fancy hotel for dinner. I had arranged for us to meet them in the lobby at the appointed time. WG and I got there a couple minutes early, and he started whining about hating sitting in the lobby when we could be comfortably seated at our table. I kept quiet saying only, "They'll be here any minute." They arrived right on time, and we walked over to the restaurant. The F&B Guy came over and asked for the name and reservation. He first said he didn't recognize the name, then he "found" the reservation. He noted that the dining room was full and led us to a private room. I walked in first, followed by our guests and WineGuy. "SURPRISE!!!" everyone yelled. And, he was. He looked so happy and genuinely touched. He was astonished to see our closest friends there, standing around drinking great wine and nibbling appetizers.

We sat down at the table, and there was champagne all around. I asked The Radiologist to stand up and make a toast. The Radiologist spoke about knowing WG for 30 years and sharing many of life's milestones together. The Writer added that she cherished a friendship that weathered time and tide. We ordered dinner and starting drinking and chatting. The evening flew by in a blur of laughter, good wine, good food and good friends.

Sometime between entreés and dessert, WineGuy stood up and made a speech. He is a terrific extemporaneous speaker. He acknowledged each and every person who was there, saying something nice or funny or poignant about each one. There were kudos to long-time friends and new friends, to drinking buddies, and fellow foodies. He reserved the loveliest words for me, his "wonderful wife," as he put it, "who arranged this great party and kept it a complete surprise. I couldn't ask for more." I was misty-eyed.

'Round midnight, the first of our friends rose from the table to leave. I couldn't believe how late it was, how happy WineGuy was, and how drunk I was. I thanked everyone for accepting the last-minute invitation and making it a memorable evening. A couple people stayed behind and helped us take down the decorations and collect the gifts. Hey people, I said "No Gifts!" We stuffed the huge bunches of balloons into my car and drove the two miles home s-l-o-w-l-y. We got home, unloaded everything, and crawled into bed. I was bone-tired from running around all day. WineGuy had "other things" in mind. Ahem . . . you can't refuse a guy on his birthday, after all.

[cut to Sunday morning] I was wrecked all day. Cole Porter was so wrong when he wrote "I get no kick from champagne. Mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all." Champagne bubbles are wonderful from the tongue to the toes, but they cause a murderous hangover the next day. I'm just saying.

Friday, March 23, 2007

This is Jeopardy!

I'm auditioning for Jeopardy! It's my all-time favorite game show, and I am finally getting a chance to try out. I am going to audition in Orlando, Florida in the middle of May. I am so excited, I'm sputtering.

How did this come about? Several weeks ago, the show announced they would offer tests online to try out. I missed the East Coast date and took the test online on the West Coast date. I had no idea how I did. Doc Thelma, an August96 Mom with a subscribers-only blog, told me she auditioned this year also. Several days ago, Doc Thelma posted that she was invited to the Washington, DC audition later this spring. I was happy for her but disappointed that I wasn't chosen. WineGuy was pestering me about something last night and prompted me to check my email.

Lo and behold! There was the message from the Jeopardy Contestant Department, congratulating me and inviting me to an audition appointment two months' hence. They are very strict about this procedure. I had to respond to their email within a specified time and in a specified format. If I failed to do so, I would probably lose the opportunity. They set the audition time and place, and it appears largely non-negotiable. Of course, Miami would have been two hours closer and a lot more convenient, but I can handle a quick trip to Orlando.

I've already informed WineGuy that he's taking the day off of work so I can go. I'll drive up to Orlando the night before and check into a hotel. My audition is not until 3:00 p.m., so I'll have some time to rest up and study (?) and practice. I'll drive home afterwards.

OMG, I have to study. And practice with a clicker. I am fully aware that there is a timing issue between the reading of the clue and the click to answer. Help, help, help! Does anyone have any tips on preparing for a Jeopardy audition? I need to do some research on the Internet and maybe Amazon.

Wish me (and Doc Thelma) good luck!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Design, Edit, Print, Print, Print

Yesterday, I actually did as I planned. I wrote all of Moose's thank-you notes for all his birthday presents, including the ones he received a month ago. I need to go buy some more stamps (before the price increases, grrr).

This morning I sat at the computer and designed placecards for WineGuy's party. I use Print Shop 2 for almost all my projects. I had problems centering the designs properly in the printable area. Then I kept turning the paper the wrong way and printing over sections that were already done. Very frustrating! I want to know why printing programs don't print things the way you see them on the screen. Particularly with Print Shop, I need to remember that the print image on the screen will come out upside down from the printer. For cards and things it's not a problem, but for printing business card templates – and selected cards at that– it's a hassle.

When I finished with the placecards, I made gift tags for the party favors to be set at each place. I'm giving out small boxes of Norman Love chocolates. Without a doubt, these are the best chocolates anywhere. Period. Don't argue with me. Norman Love used to be a pastry chef with the Ritz Carlton for years. A few years ago, he opened his own chocolate factory in an industrial park near the Fort Myers, Florida airport. He has since expanded into his own building, complete with a Chocolate Salon next door. These are the finest quality chocolates with the finest quality fillings you've ever had. I mean, when was the last time you had chocolate filled with passionfruit?? Simply exquisite. I'll head out to Norman Love's tomorrow after I go to the wine store to choose a special bottle for WineGuy.

Busy, busy, busy. Too bad my desk is still a disaster.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Potential Felonies Averted

Last night WineGuy got on the phone with his med school buddy (The Radiologist) to plan the dinners and outings while he and his wife are here. WineGuy insisted we could not go to the fancy hotel for dinner because we took The Radiologist and The Writer, his wife, there on their first night here last year. WineGuy sat here, breathing down my neck, until I called a different restaurant and made reservations for Saturday night, March 24th. Aieeeeeeeeee! I wanted to strangle WineGuy for mucking up my plans.

I thought The Radiologist raised the issue of the restaurant, so I very politely sent a "pointed" email to The Writer saying how much we are looking forward to their visit but that I was going to shoot The Radiologist for messing with my plans. She wrote back, very apologetic, and offered me a way out. The Radiologist called me this morning with the perfect ruse for WineGuy: tell him The Writer absolutely loved the fancy hotel and was anxious to go back there for dinner. WineGuy bought it hook, line, and sinker. So, I don't have to worry about any potential victims of premeditated murder. Of course, I might have been able to argue manslaughter, but that's beside the point.

I had a meeting with the assistant food and bev. director at the hotel today. He and I discussed the menu, and he was willing to make slight alterations to fit my needs. I have a meeting tomorrow afternoon with the sommelier to choose the wines. Their prices are high, but I'm going to ask them to knock off some money for quantity. I can already see I'll be spending a fortune on wine that night because all our guests are either avid wine drinkers or wine connoisseurs.

The hotel will design and print menus for me. I need to make a seating chart and place cards. F&B Guy will put up the few decorations I have and set out the balloon bouquets. I'm toying with making an iDVD or iMovie presentation on my Mac, but I don't have a scanner. It may be too much for me to do this week. I'll have to see. I think I'm going to make up a WineGuy birth year and life trivia quiz for our guests; I'll give away a bottle of our own wine for the high score.

Any other party suggestions? I'm open to them.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Moose's 5th Birthday Party

We had Moose's 5th birthday party on Saturday afternoon, March 17th. It was an incredibly busy day: WineGuy chanted his Haftorah portion during Sabbath services in the morning. Wizard and I left shortly thereafter to go to Wizard's lacrosse practice. Afterwards, Wizard and I picked up platters of chicken tenders and fruit at the grocery store and a bouquet of balloons at the party store. We drove home to change clothes and get everything ready for the party. Wild Thing and Wizard helped load the car and the cooler. Moose ran around wild and crazy. We finally piled into two cars and drove down to the local miniature golf course.

It was a breezy, sunny afternoon, just perfect for an outdoors party. Hardly any of our guests showed up on time, so I grouped the kids into foursomes as they arrived. Each child had at least one parent stay, so there were plenty of chaperones. The kids were so cute playing mini golf! Some got the hang of putting the ball. Others, especially the little girls, grew frustrated with the activity and chose to just kick or roll their golf balls on the course. It was too funny! I ran around trying to take some pictures.

After about 45 minutes of play, we gathered on the deck, where I set out the platters of chicken and fruit. The kids and parents had a late snack. By then, the wind had picked up, and the kids were getting cold. We went into the screened patio for birthday cake. The mini golf place took care of everything. They ordered Moose a pirate cake; they provided balloons and paper goods; they gave us free passes to hand out as party favors. One of the employees (an older gent) is a patient of WineGuy's. He and the young guys working that afternoon took great care of us and were just terrific. [I tipped them well.]

After cake, I handed out the custom-designed t-shirts and mini-golf passes. At first, my friends weren't quite sure what I handed them, all rolled up and tied in bows. One woman unrolled the shirt, and everyone just flipped over the t-shirts. "Where did you get them?" they all asked. "Wizard and I designed and made them ourselves!" Everyone was amazed. I had Tootsie Pop bouquets for the older siblings who joined us that afternoon. I figured they wouldn't want a t-shirt with a 5 year-old's picture on it. Those were a hit, too.

I had planned the party for two hours in the late afternoon, but we finished early. The party actually lasted about 1 hour and 30-45 minutes. We were packed up and on our way home at the two-hour mark. We opened Moose's gifts at home later that evening. He received a few board games – Operation, Clue Jr., Scrabble Jr., Great States Jr. – that look good. There were several Transformers. I don't understand their appeal, but Moose likes them. One friend gave Moose a 400-piece K'Nex set. It's going back immediately. Another friend gave Moose a frog Webkin, which he should like.

I need to whip out those thank-you notes before I get bogged down with WineGuy's party later this week. Our out-of-town friends are about to screw it all up – and WineGuy told me to change the reservation for dinner – but I'm not changing a darn thing. I'll make up some fib to get us where we need to be at the last minute. More details about potential felonies in another post to follow.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I Can Be Productive

I am a great procrastinator, but sometimes I can be really productive. Like today, for instance. I woke up early and baked another kugel for the synagogue's luncheon tomorrow. While that was in the oven, I printed up t-shirt transfers to make party favors for Moose's 5th birthday party tomorrow. Wizard monitored the printing and laid all the transfers out to dry while I ironed 14 white t-shirts. Let me tell, I don't ordinarily iron t-shirts, but the instructions said I had to. So I did.

After I took the kugel out of the oven, I began ironing the transfers on the shirts. This was a slow methodical process that was kind of hard on my messed-up hands. Center and align the sheet, then iron on high heat. Press, press, press carefully in one direction. Press, press, press, carefully in another direction. My brainstorm was putting the t-shirt on the cold tile floor to cool off. Once the transfers were cool, Wizard peeled off the backing and checked each shirt. Wizard wanted to try ironing, so I let him. He did a great job, finishing 7 shirts in the time I ran to Wal-Mart for more ribbon. We all took a break for lunch and then finished the shirts. Wizard rolled them up carefully, according to my instructions and I tied them with brightly colored grosgrain ribbon and tagged them.

Once that project was done, I turned my attention to Wild Thing's community project that is due on Monday, March 19th. He is supposed to use things around the house to create a building in our community. Not surprisingly, the teacher gave WT a hospital to build. I downloaded some pictures and logos of our local hospital and made little signs for the main entrance and emergency room. I taped two small boxes together to make a big building and cut out parts of the boxes to make WT's hospital look just like our community hospital. Then, I turned the project over to Wizard to practically do by himself oversee WT's work.

While the boys were building the hospital, I looked over the contracts and arrangements for the surprise 50th birthday dinner I'm throwing for WineGuy next weekend. I sat down with the menus and wine lists and threw caution to the wind. I'm going to spend a bundle on a man who never spends a dime on himself. He deserves it! I did something similarly extravagant for our 10th anniversary a few years ago: I personally chose a custom case of wine for him to enjoy. The wine store printed tasting notes on everything, and I wrote a poem to go with it. I delivered everything to the big, fancy hotel, and the presented it to him while we had dinner.

This time around I'm throwing a wine dinner for WineGuy. There will be us and five other couples. Most friends are local, but WineGuy's best friend from medical school and his wife are coming to town for a conference that weekend. I've told everyone it's a surprise and not to bring any gifts. I told WineGuy that we're going to dinner at the fancy hotel restaurant with the two visiting friends. He has no idea what's coming. I bought some cute decorations at the party store. I hope the hotel will put them up that afternoon. I've ordered two balloon bouquets with 50th birthday and Happy Birthday balloons . . . no "Over The Hill" or old fart stuff because that would offend WineGuy. I have a meeting on Monday morning with the hotel's assistant food and beverage director to finalize menu and wine selections. The last thing I need to do this week is to buy WineGuy one smashingly special bottle of wine as a present.

I'm confident the boys and I can keep this a secret for the next week. They're excited, too. I've got my party notebook all organized with dividers. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I am a mess. I've had nasty-looking rash on my hands for several days now. Yesterday and last night the itching was so bad, it nearly drove me crazy. I went to the dermatologist today. She said I have a classic case of dyshidrotic eczema. I have hard bumps under the skin of some fingers (tops, bottoms, and sides) and on the back of one hand. This condition can be chronic, acute or recurring. I've had episodes before, but not this bad. This is the first official diagnosis; I thought it was warts. Ew. Recurrences are caused by emotional stress, heat and humidity, and environmental factors. Let's see: stress? Check. Heat? Check. Humidity? Check. Environmental factors? They could be my soap or lotion or the dish soap or anything. The dermatologist prescribed a super-steroid, Vanos, and recommended I use special hand soap and cream by CeraVe. I'm supposed to switch dish liquid to Dove, instead of using whatever's on sale at the grocery store.

What else? I'm still coughing and dealing with bronchitis. It's been 6 weeks. I had to cancel singing in the seven chorale concerts next week. My doctor warned me I'd have another relapse if I didn't take it easy. I'm sleeping a bit better, but I still have black bags under my eyes. I've had a recurrent yeast infection that just won't clear up. Ew x2. And, I just got my period. Homerun.

Just shoot me.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Head, Meet Wall

It's just another manic Monday.
Wish it was Sunday,
'cause that's my fun day
My 'I don't want to run day'.
It's just another manic Monday.

The Bangles (1985)
Today started out like most other Mondays. The kids didn't want to get out of bed in the dark. Wild Thing was up and dressed and eating breakfast in no time, for a change. Wizard got up very slowly, and Moose needed to be pried out of bed with a crowbar. I got everyone's lunches made and off to school. I killed a little time before meeting my friend, Bird, for coffee this morning. We were having a nice little chat when my phone rang. School was calling.

Wizard's Social Studies teacher was calling me (for the third or fourth week in a row) with the report of what Wizard failed to turn in on his project. Wizard claimed he wrote a 10-page rough draft over February break and turned it in right away. Nope. Loooooong story short; it's a repeat of the science project fiasco from last term. Mr. SS assigned a months-long research project in December. The kids were supposed to turn in a rough draft on March 5, 2007. Wizard lied to us about doing the project. He lied to his teacher about the work and turned in 2 pages of handwritten crap. Mr. SS called to raise my blood pressure "keep me informed" about what Wizard was (not) doing in class. I quickly ended my pleasant morning and drove back to school, with that "mad Mommy" line deeply furrowed between my eyebrows.

I arrived at school and marched upstairs to Wizard's Language Arts class. I told the teacher I needed to speak with Wizard. Mrs. LA said the students were doing a timed essay, and she would send Wizard down as soon as he was done. We all go into Mr. SS's classroom and discuss the project. I repeatedly asked Mr. SS for a written assignment of this project, complete with deadlines and objectives. I never got anything from him. He says he wrote everything down on the board for the students to copy. Wizard never showed us his planner and ultimately lost it. Mr. SS and Wizard and I sat discussing this assignment – and the other missing work – for nearly an hour. Wizard claims he didn't understand the assignment. Mr. SS didn't believe that. Wizard lied to me and WineGuy about the work he'd done, and he lied to Mr. SS about the project. We went around and around all hour. In the end, once I understood the assignment, I explained it clearly to Wizard, who claims to understand it now. Then I find out that Wizard is two months late in presenting a "minute-in-history" assignment and a couple days late with a text outline. Wizard's Social Studies notebook has torn pages, doodles all over, crappy handwriting, and a half-assed outline of the textbook. Early notebook entries, from the beginning of the school year, are pretty neat and done as assigned. It looks like everything fell apart in December 2006, at the semester break.

Once I got the whole picture from Mr. SS, he recommended I go see the math teacher, who is also Wizard's homeroom teacher and the head of the Intermediate School (Grades 4-5). Mr. Math and I go to his office. He pulls out his grade book and tells me Wizard is 2 or 3 assignments behind in math, that Wizard lost his math workbook, and that his grade is slipping. I am so NOT happy at this point. Mr. Math gives me a new binder and planner for Wizard, and we agree that Wizard must have his planner signed by a parent daily. I haven't had to do that since the beginning of this school year. I leave Mr. Math's office and run into Mrs. LA as she's eating lunch. I apologize for interrupting, and we chat for a few minutes. Wizard is doing very well in Language Arts class, but she must constantly crack the whip for him to do his writing work. Wizard owes Mrs. LA one or two small assignments.

Ding! I'm getting the picture here: Wizard hates to write. He loves to read, but he hates to write. He is absolutely my child. I hated writing in school, too. It always seemed like busywork, particularly when the subject did not motivate me.

Now what? Ground the kid until the end of the school year? It's a distinct possibility. To begin with, he loses his computer/TV time until he's caught up. I haven't decided whether I'll pull him out of the lacrosse league he just joined -- his first sport ever. Mr. SS proposed giving Wizard another 2 weeks to get his rough draft done. I said, "absolutely not! He'll get it done in the next few days because it's gone on long enough."

We went through lots of drama like this with Wizard last year. I thought he had learned his lesson because he started off this school year so strongly. He seems to be getting along with the kids at school. He's not causing any trouble at school. Things at home have been fine, although there was that scare with WineGuy back in November 2006. WineGuy is fine now. I've been sick with bronchitis for 5-6 weeks, but that has had little effect on the kids. Mrs. LA gave me one small insight that Wizard feels like he has too many responsibilities at home and gets blamed for too much. Oh please. He has chores, like his brothers, do. He often has to help Moose in the morning because Moose won't get his lazy bones out of bed. I am not at my wit's end, but I am fresh out of ideas how to handle this.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Incontrovertible Truths

Ten inescapable facts of life:
  1. On the day you have artfully scheduled your bimonthly haircut, color, waxing and other bodily maintenance, your child will have to stay home sick from school.
  2. On the days you planned to hear interesting lectures about art or home decorating, your child will either be home sick from school or will have the day off of school.
  3. The week or so before you have 7 concerts in which to sing, you will still be suffering from an interminable case of bronchitis or asthma or be coughing like you have a 2-pack a day cigarette habit (even though you never smoked a day in your life). You will run into an acquaintance who said he had the same thing . . . for three months.
  4. The day you have tickets for the entire family to see an MLB Spring Training Game will be the same day your husband, the doctor, is on-call with 26 patients in the hospital. It will also be the same day and time your child has his second practice in a brand new sport which " I can't miss". It will also be the same day and time another child is invited to attend the birthday party of the child of one of the wealthiest families in town, whose home is directly on the beach.
  5. The day your spouse decides to reprise chanting his Bar Mitzvah readings will be same day more than half of the synagogue's congregation will be attending a Bat Mitzvah elsewhere in town.
  6. Despite your trying to plan for your spouse's 50th birthday months in advance, your spouse insists he does not want a party. And then, magically, less than two weeks before the big day AND in the height of tourist season, he thinks maybe he'd like to have a party . . . but not at home, or maybe at home . . . but not dinner, just wine and cheese. You call the local fancy hotel and say, "make a party for me!!" and then call a bunch of friends to come celebrate.
  7. When your child swears to you he has turned in all his assignments for class, including drafts of the big project, you will get a(nother) friendly phone call at home from his teacher saying he has not turned in a thing.
  8. Your children will clean their rooms after the housekeeper has been here but not before.
  9. Your youngest child, who is a great helper in class and always picks up after himself, is rendered limp and paralyzed when asked to clean his room at home. And finally:
  10. The moment you start to cook dinner, your mother will call just to chat.
What are the inconvenient truths in your life?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Too Much

Random thoughts here since it's been several days since I last posted.

The Great Hamentaschen Project rapidly expanded on Saturday morning. The boys and I made over 7 dozen cookies: poppyseed, prune, apricot, cherry, Nutella and lingonberry. They are almost all gone 3 days later! WineGuy's fave is the poppy, so he's eaten a bunch of those; he also took some into the office. The prune and apricot came out delicious. The cherry was forgettable: Solo's cherry filling is goopy. Next year, I'll try some cherry filling with more fruit in it. The Nutella baked up into a chocolate, hazelnut wonder. They were unbelievably good. The surprise this year were the lingonberry hamentaschen. Now, I know those of you of Swedish heritage are probably scratching your heads in confusion, but these berries (in a jar) were the perfect sweet amd tart combination to make the hamentaschen sing. Oh, and apparently the kugel was the hit of the synagogue's kiddush Saturday morning.

It was a weekend packed with diverse culture. I took the boys to see "The Lion King" musical at a local auditorium. The costumes and sets were amazing. The songs were forgettable, except for the few favorites from the movie – Circle of Life, I Just Can't Wait To Be King, Hakuna Matata, Can You Feel The Love Tonight. The actors and dancers were completely engaged with the audience . . . we had aisle seats in center orchestra and were captivated by the puppets and the actors' faces. The acoustics in this auditorium suck. Truly suck. The epitome of all suckiness: if anyone at Barbara B. Mann Hall in Fort Myers ever reads this blog, here is my advice. Hire professional sound engineers to completely gut and re-do that auditorium or blow the damn thing up. The seats and décor are dated, and the acoustical engineering must have been done by a trade-school dropout. But otherwise, the performance was magical, and the boys loved it. They sat and behaved like perfect gentlemen.

Our other weekend outing was a Spring Training baseball game: Boston Red Sox v. Minnesota Twins. Red Sox tix are impossible to get at their small, broken-down home stadium, so we usually opt for whatever we can see at the Twins stadium, which is new and beautiful. I was really hoping to see Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch that day, but he was off. The skies were overcast, the day was breezy. It was America's pastime at its finest.

More later ... off to chorale.

Friday, March 02, 2007


Did you see that mushroom cloud exploding over Southwest Florida this morning? It wasn't a nuclear accident. I was baking. I made (read "always make") a huge mess when I bake. Baking is not intuitive for me because it's straight-forward food chemistry. You must mix things in a certain order and make them a certain way; otherwise it's crap. I learned my lesson a long time ago NOT to improvise when baking as I do when cooking. Cooking is more forgiving. Baking is a dominatrix.

When the dust cloud of flour settled, I ended up with one sweet noodle kugel and six batches of hamentaschen dough. The kugel goes to our synagogue for its kiddush tomorrow, but the hamentaschen stay here. When WineGuy reminded the Wild Boys that Purim is this weekend, Wild Thing shouted, "HAMENTASCHEN!! Mom and I are making hamentaschen this weekend!" Wizard and Moose echoed, "Me, too! Me, too!" How could I refuse? Since they don't have the patience to wait for the dough to chill, I made it all this morning. That way, we can set up our assemblyline tomorrow morning: fill and pinch, fill and pinch. I figure we'll make about 5 dozen hamentaschen cookies by the time we're all done.

In addition to the traditional poppyseed, apricot and prune flavors, I'm going to try making almond, Nutella, cherry and lingonberry cookies this year. WineGuy's favorite is poppyseed. The boys and I like the fruit flavors. I spied the Nutella in the grocery store and figured I'd try it. We love hazelnut and chocolate; the critical factor is whether the Nutella blend will hold up in the oven or ooze out all over the place. Oh well, if I have to fail, it might as well be covered in a hazelnutty, chocolate mess!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Busy Boys

It's been a busy week here in The Zone. I'm feeling a bit better, but still not 100%. WineGuy is very busy at this time of year: it's the height of tourist season here in SW Florida, and there are lots of patients to be seen. Another doc is joining his practice this week, but the new doc has not wrapped up his old practice in a timely or efficient fashion. It has placed a lot of stress on the rest of the practice. A second new doc is supposed to join the group next week, but he can't make up his mind about his work schedule – although his wife has already called about the compensation plan – and this is no help.

Last Saturday everyone was supposed to be home at The Zone. WineGuy decided to drive to Miami for the South Beach Wine Festival hosted by The Food Network. He did not buy tix in advance because he was waiting for me to get a sitter to stay with the boys. My sitter never gave me an answer, and by the time WineGuy pressured me, there were no more tickets left. He was angry and grumbling and scrambling to find a last-minute ticket online. I told him to just go for it and drive to Miami and scalp a ticket. He reluctantly took my advice. As he walked up to the registration desk, another patron walked up looking to get rid of tickets he couldn't use. O, happy day! WineGuy paid the other man cash for his ticket and spent the entire day endulging his passion for wine. He stopped drinking early enough to be sober to drive home.

In the meantime, my chorale called an extra rehearsal for Saturday afternoon. I expected WineGuy would watch the boys, but when he took off for the day, I was stuck. Although he left early, I would not call the sitter until 10:00 because she's a college student. At that hour, the boys and I were supposed to be at Wizard's first lacrosse practice. I also didn't want to call at 10:00 for someone to come at 12:00 that day ... way too last minute and inconsiderate. So, I punted: I had each boy pack a backpack full of books and toys to occupy them. After lacrosse practice we had a big lunch at California Pizza Kitchen and headed to the rehearsal hall (a big church downtown). Fortunately, the church had two choir rooms. Our chorale was in one, and the other one was empty. The boys had a huge room to play in and plenty to do. They behaved beautifully for THREE HOURS!!! My rehearsal started late and ran long, and my boys were really good. I only had to go out once to quiet them down. I was so proud of them. Wizard did a good job of keeping the other two entertained. Wild Thing did a pretty good job of controllling himself and not getting too wild. Moose got a little tired and cranky and laid down to rest for a few minutes.

Since then, however, WT has been a first-rate PITA. He's whining about his homework and being defiant. Moose cries every time I tell him to clean up something or put his things away. I caught Wizard sneaking food upstairs one day and busted him. Wizard also blew off some homework assignments this week, so he was grounded from recess and band until he completed them.

This weekend will be equally crazy: "Lion King" tickets on Saturday, Purim services Sunday morning, Spring Training tickets Sunday afternoon. I had tickets to "Riverdance" on Sunday afternoon, but I sold them to Calvin. My boys want to go the baseball game instead. And, WineGuy wants us to go out for dinner this weekend. Yeah right: try to get a restaurant reservation at the last minute during the height of season AND try to get a sitter, too.

When you see that blur rush past you, it will be me chasing my tail!