Celebration & World Domination



It’s birthday party time around here.

Don’t worry — there are no kids’ birthday cake disasters in the works.  And I’m not still attempting to extend my 40th {well, not much}.

Nope.  This birthday belongs to the blog.

That’s right, folks — The Fordeville Diaries meets The Terrible Twos.  I’ve somehow learned to crawl and walk over the last two years in Blog Land — so now I guess it’s time for unpredictable public tantrums.  Let the fun begin.

This is my 208th post on this site — 80 of which were written in the last year.  I won’t bore you with everything that I covered in the last 12 months, but here’s the Reader’s Digest recap:

  • We unknowingly undertook the longest basement renovation in modern American history — pending final ruling from the people at The Guinness Book.
  • I drank wine.
  • I dreaded turning 40.
  • I embraced turning 40.  This entailed taking my deep denial on a series of road trips, both domestic and international.
  • I almost kicked our General Contractor in the kneecaps somewhere around the eight month mark of the basement project.
  • I drank wine.
  • I had an apocalyptic swarm of bees in my yard, which resembled a National Geographic episode and a scene from Candyman. Which led to self-imposed house arrest and, ultimately, more wine.
  • I began to deny the very existence of our basement.  Except that I was dragging dirty clothes to the laundromat for six months.
  • I kept the 40th birthday party going.
  • I harbored an unhealthy amount of rage toward my basement.*

{*Note: The final, final approved basement inspection JUST OCCURRED LAST WEEK.  So if your wager on the completion timeframe of our “5-week” project was 54 weeks — you win!  What you’ve won exactly is still TBD, but I have a ton of items in our storage pod you can choose from.}


Now that you’re up to speed on the riveting excitement of my life, I’ll tell you a secret —  in the spirit of the blog’s birthday:  I never get tired of writing here.

If I had more spare hours in the day, I would spend many of them doing exactly this.  The blog is one of my favorite things in the world.  And every time, with every post, I’m so thrilled — and sort of surprised, and certainly lucky — that someone will read it.  And even comment.  And then — sometimes — come back to read more.

Some posts are better than others.  And it’s always fascinating to see which ones generate more comments and traffic {all you closet 50 Shades fans, I’m looking at you.}

These are my favorites from this past year.  Because a birthday is a good time to look back.

How to Lose Your Will to Live at the DMV

The Days Are Long

Out of the Office

Lawyering Up

Say It With Tape

I Might Be Scared of These Families

Hibachi PTSD

The Problem With House Hunters


A birthday is also a good time to look ahead.  And though the terrible twos can be tough, I’m confident we can get through them together.  With wine, of course.  And coffee.  And some unconventional parenting.

If you want to celebrate this birthday with me, I’d love it.

What’s that?  You want to bring a gift to the party?

Oh no, I couldn’t possibly accept a gift.  I don’t really need anyth–

Wait a minute.

I know what I really want.  And you can help me get it.






I’m kidding.


What I mean is this:  I love to write this stuff, but I’m bad at promoting it.  Really bad.  There are bloggers who excel at catchy, attention-grabbing titles and witty tweets to spread the word and attract more readers.  I’m more like, “Uh, hey, if you guys have time and aren’t totally busy, maybe you could read this.  I hope you think it’s a little funny.  OKthanksbye.”  

I was never a marketer by trade.

So, remember those Faberge Shampoo commercials from the 80s?  “And then she told two friends, and she told two friends.  And so on.  And so on…”  {If your answer is “Oh those were made before I was born,” just keep that to yourself, ok?}

That Faberge Effect is the best gift you could give me.  If you like what you see around here — please pass it along to someone else who might enjoy it too.  Because if my chronic mis-steps in parenting and, well — life in general — can help make one person feel less crazy, more normal and like Mother of the Year — then my writing is not in vain.

Not a fan of the Faberge model?  How about this instead:  If you’re not already following along on Facebook, please do.  Because you get exclusive bonus features* over there beyond my blog posts.  If I were a real blogger, I’d have some birthday giveaways or contests or something for all of you.  The truth is, I’m just not that organized.  But I suspect you already knew that.

{*Bonus features = mainly snarky photos about my kids or life in suburbia.}

But in all seriousness — thanks so, so much for your readership, your comments and your support.  And your wine suggestions.  You guys are fabulous.

So, if you’ll have me for another year, I’ve got a lot more up my sleeve.  I can’t reveal everything, but I’m told that good marketers use teasers.

  • Will we renovate the kitchen next?  Or maybe tear down the whole house?  And who will live to tell?
  • How will Señor and I resolve our legal battle around the annual Halloween costume debacle?
  • In which states will my kids vomit this year on road trips?
  • And — last but not least — how many people will I accidentally poison through the new couples’ dinner club I’ve joined?

You’re all on the edge of your seats, aren’t you?  I can feel it.

Year Three awaits.  After I have some celebratory cake and wine.  Join me, won’t you?


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Three years ago today I had this meeting for the first time.

Like every child does, my daughter stole my heart the moment I saw her.

Today was all about her.  Turning three.  Or maybe twelve.  It’s hard to tell sometimes.


You may know that I get a little nuts with my Birthday Cake Baking Guilt affliction.  But I let it go this time — mostly because my daughter didn’t have a strong opinion about it.  And, like most aspects of parenting — if I can get a loophole clause, you bet I’m going to use it.

So I outsourced the cake.  Which considerably slowed down my aging process.  Order, pay, pick up.  Wow.  That’s 40 hours of my life I got back.

But look who is calling my bluff.

At three, she is ready to take on the world.  She has a distinct sense of adventure.  Of joy.  She is her brother’s biggest fan and also his greatest agitator.  And, she has enviable comedic timing.  She’s not just in on the joke, but she’s in charge of it.

She is well on her way to taking over this household.  And then, possibly, the universe.

Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet girl.  I’m so excited to see what this year brings you.

Right after you recover from today’s sugar overdose.



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De Madrid al Cielo



I think I might be ready to accept the fact that my vacation is over.

It has become increasingly obvious over the last few days that the laundry and grocery shopping are not going to get done on their own.  So I suppose it’s time to put my Spanish holiday in the “this happened a million years ago” files and return to real life.

But.  Let me just say, it was a heavenly trip.

In fact, there is a popular phrase in Spain that sums it up:  De Madrid al cielo {“From Madrid to the heavens”}.

Meaning, once you see Madrid, heaven is the next best thing.  And I get that.

As I suspected, Madrid did not disappoint.  Yes, of course some things have changed in the 19 years since I lived there, but so much is just as I remembered it.

I was gone for a week.  It felt like a month and it felt like a day all at once, if that makes sense.

If you don’t mind, I think I’ll just dump a bunch of photos on you.

* * *

The trip was sort of divided into phases, which worked out really well.

Phase One:  The Good Old Days.

I flew over with my close friend Rebecca, who had studied there with me back in 1993.  We had 48 hours there together, and we walked every inch of the city — taking it all in and remembering old times.

We also met up with our Spanish friends, whom we hadn’t seen in 19 years.  These guys were so good to us when we lived there — they showed us their city and taught us how to act like Spaniards.  And they basically partied with us every night of the semester.  They were dear friends.  Rebecca and I knew what a special time that was for us, but I don’t think we ever understood how fondly they remembered it as well.

So imagine, all these years later, to be able to see them again, and to meet their wives and sons.  To hear about all they have been doing.  To see that they are still the kind, generous souls who want to make us feel at home in their city.  Their hospitality was beyond measure, and it was amazing to feel as though we could pick right back up again.

And strangely, I found my Spanish coming right back to me in conversation.  On day one, I was hesitant and intimidated.  By day three, nearly fluent.  Which I totally did not expect.  Could I pick up every word?  No.  But I had an 80/20 rule that worked out pretty well, as long as I didn’t miss a key point in that 20% gap.


Phase Two:  24 Hours in Zurich.

While the impetus for the trip was to celebrate Rebecca and me turning 40 (though she still has a precious few weeks holding onto 39), the timing also worked out spectacularly that our dear friend Alicia — also part of the original study abroad group — just had her first baby.  In Zurich.  So, what’s a little side trip?  We were already across the ocean, right?

I’d been to Zurich once before to see Alicia.  It’s a fascinating place.  Not only is it textbook-gorgeous, but, as Rebecca said, it’s like visiting the future.  Everything is super-clean and super-efficient.

The irony of this is not lost on me.

It’s always great to have the three of us together, though it happens so infrequently.  Nothing is off limits in our chats.  You know those friends?  The ones you can have TMI girl talk with at turbo-catch-up-speed?  It was that.  A little unfortunate for Alicia’s boyfriend, whom we may have traumatized.  But he was a total trooper.  We had a fabulous and much-needed 24 hours together.


Phase Three:  The Newbies Arrive.

Rebecca had to fly back to the US from Zurich, and I headed back down to Madrid just as my husband and our friends from Boston arrived for the second half of my trip.  Of the three of them, none had been to Madrid before.  So it was in my hands to show them the city and make sure they loved it as much as I do.

It’s fun to be a tourist.  To walk and wander and discover something fabulous at every corner.


To join silly bus tours.


Oh, and to stop every hour or so for food and drink.  Because it was flaming hot.  About 104 degrees.  Basically, it was the Sunscreen Olympics I’d been training for my entire life.

So I ate and drank my weight in the following:  Spanish ham.  Churros con chocolate.  Cafe con leche.  Wine.  Cheese.  Times one thousand.

And we had some culinary adventures too.  Like eels.  And sea urchin.  And blood sausage.  Delicious, every one of them.

Truly, the Spanish lifestyle is one I could embrace in earnest.  They know how to live.

{Side note:  Why has nobody made a fortune off of a proper churros franchise in the US yet?  How the hell has this not happened?}

Anyway.  My husband loved Madrid.  So did our friends.  I couldn’t have asked for anything more.  Except, maybe, to have the Euro Cup Spanish victory occur one week earlier, when we were still there.  Instead, we watched at home with Spain’s newest fans.


* * *

So now I’m back and, somehow, my kids seem to have grown six inches each and appear a year older.  It’s funny how a week will do that.

I feel somehow like I never left home, while I wash dishes and pack lunches for camp.  And at the same time,  I feel myself still clinging on to the photos in my mind of my week-long adventure.  It’s odd how a place can feel so close to you and so far away.  How real life automatically hums and buzzes back into gear while your memory holds onto what was a temporary alternate reality.  Sometimes you need those photos just to prove to yourself that it actually happened.  That you were really there not that long ago.

It’s a strange feeling, the re-entry to real life.

But, above all, I feel lucky.

Lucky to have gone.  Lucky for how well it worked out.  And truly lucky that Spain has stayed in my soul after all these years.


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Morning TV & Mr. Zero

I’m having a little problem with re-entry into the real world after my week in Spain.

Where is room service to clean up this mess?

Where is my wine with lunch?

And, for the love of all that is holy, where are the churros con chocolate for breakfast?

{On a related note, does anyone have a tarp or a drop cloth I can wear for the next few weeks?  Preferably something lightweight.  Just until I shed the 671 vacation pounds and am able to resume life with buttons at the waistline.}

But I’m not ready to post much more about my trip yet.  Because that would mean it happened in the past and it’s over.  And that can’t be.  So please indulge my denial for a day or two.

Let’s instead talk about current events.  Two in particular.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to raise a health care debate.

1)  Ann Curry: Don’t Let The Door Hit You in the Ass on the Way Out

I mean, who says Christmas only comes once a year?  Finally, I can resume watching my morning show of choice after a year-long, self-imposed exile.  I returned from vacation to find out that, at long last, the NBC News execs had come to their senses and dropped Ann.

It was like getting a pet unicorn.  Wrapped in a rainbow.

OK, now go ahead and be mad at me.  I know, I know.  Poor Ann.  

Here’s the thing: I’m not saying she’s not nice.  I bet she’s lovely to have dinner with.  And I do love her hair.  Yes, I feel sorry for her — it has to be brutally embarrassing to lose your job this way.  Except for that, um, $10 million parachute.  That might cushion the blow, if it were me.  I’m shallow like that.


I’m sorry, she was a terrible fit for the job.  I actually felt physically uncomfortable watching her.  I suspect that, over time, her bosses also felt the same way.  But instead of enduring the publicity associated with firing her, I’m somewhat convinced that they have discreetly been trying to kill her off for the past few years instead.

  • We need someone to scale an actively erupting volcano and report from its mouth:  Let’s send Ann.
  • That incoming tsunami needs someone on low-lying ground to see the impact:  Get Ann a small dinghy to report from.
  • Angelina Jolie wants to convince America she has a soul:  Ann will go visit the belly of the beast.  Or its exposed leg.

But Nine Lives Curry just kept on bouncing back and showing up for work.  And screwing up every other word on the news.  So the messy public firing eventually happened.

That’s just one theory, of course.  Call me prone to exaggeration.

And fear not, Ann Curry fans.  She will still be all over NBC.  But I can safely digest my morning coffee again, which is nice.


2)  Nora Ephron:  Say It Isn’t So

Far more sad is the news that Nora Ephron passed away.  What an amazing writer.  Silkwood.  Heartburn.  Sleepless in Seattle.

And of course, When Harry Met Sally.  It was the first movie I ever went to see more than once in the theater (four times, to be precise).  Maybe because it borrows heavily from my very favorite movie, Annie Hall.  Or maybe just because it’s so smart and continues to be one of the key romantic comedies that set the standard.

When I went to grad school for screenwriting (see: “How to set money on fire”), I tried so hard to write a decent romantic comedy.  And it’s incredibly difficult to do.  I suppose that’s why I’m sitting on my couch typing about basement renovations and pre-school.

Anyway, Nora Ephron did it exquisitely well.  And since I never miss an opportunity to swap movie quotes with other willing participants, can we just talk about When Harry Met Sally for a minute?  Here are some of my favorite lines from this movie.

  • “How long do you like to be held after sex? All night, right? See, that’s your problem. Somewhere between 30 seconds and all night is your problem.”
  • “Mr. Zero knew you were getting a divorce before you did?”
  • “Sheldon can do your income taxes, if you need a root canal, Sheldon’s your man… but humpin’ and pumpin’ is not Sheldon’s strong suit. It’s the name. ‘Do it to me Sheldon, you’re an animal Sheldon, ride me big Shel-don.’ Doesn’t work.”
  • “Eventually things move on and you don’t take someone to the airport and I never wanted anyone to say to me, ‘How come you never take me to the airport anymore?'”
  • “Someday, believe it or not, you’ll go 15 rounds over who’s gonna get this coffee table. This stupid, wagon wheel, Roy Rogers, garage sale COFFEE TABLE.”
  • “Six years later, you find yourself singing ‘Surrey With a Fringe on Top’ in front of Ira!”
  • “Oh but ‘Baby Fish Mouth’ is sweeping the nation.”

And, let’s not forget…

YouTube Preview Image

OK, so maybe that’s not a quote as much as the entire end of the film.  But still.  It never gets old.  {Plus, I got married in the building where they shot that scene, so I have a real weakness for it.}

So thanks, Nora Ephron, for doing what most of us could never do.


And can we all pretend that I’m still on vacation?  Thanks.


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I’m Really Going


Well, it’s almost here.  My big trip.  The one I am giving myself for that 40th birthday celebration I keep extending.

I’m off to Madrid for a week!

I can’t even believe it.

Here’s the thing:  Madrid has a special, special place in my heart.  I studied there for a semester in college and fell in love with it.

Like many others who studied abroad will tell you, I think this may have been the best time I ever had (except, of course, for meeting my husband — and having my kids — and whatever else would cause someone to be offended by omission).  I went with four other classmates and we were together all the time.  Not only because we liked each other and needed all five brains to form a Spanish paragraph, but because we shared the smallest apartment in the history of the world.  And I stand by that statement after living in New York City for 16 years.

It was a crazy and lovely time.  We learned to speak Spanish (mostly).  We attended class from time to time.  We traveled around Europe with backpacks as long as our bodies, sleeping on train station floors and staying in highly questionable youth hostels.  We wreaked havoc on various foreign cities.  The world seemed to be quite literally at our feet.

But above all, we had a love affair with Spain.

It’s a place that has just stuck with me, and I’ve been wanting to go back for 19 years.  But it never happened, for various reasons.  There were other places to go that I’d never seen before.  There were logistics.  And kids.  And work.  And bills.  And life.

But now, I’m going.  With one of my best friends, Rebecca, who was in that original study abroad group with me.

Here we are, amidst our 1993 European escapades.  Apparently, we thought that a mere scarf would make us look less American and more fashionable when standing outside the Roman Colosseum.


This time we’ll try not to look like unfashionable twins.  And we’ll shower more than we did the last time.

We’re also meeting up with two of our native Madrid friends who showed us the ropes of their great city back then.  I’ve kept in touch with them sporadically via Facebook, Twitter and {thank God} Google Translation.  So it will be fabulous to see them all these years later.

And then we will see another one of the original Study Abroad Five {aka “Somos cinco“}, who now lives in Zurich.

And my husband will come over for part of the week too.

And our good friends from Boston.

It’s a pop-up birthday party in Spain.  I feel so, so lucky.

It’s hard to know what it will be like to go back.  What I mean is that obviously it’s different to visit a place than to live in it, to know it day in and day out.  When we studied lived there, we had our daily routine, a way of life dictated by attending school.  {By “attending school,” I mean planning the next excursion over cafe con leche and churros when we should have been in class.}

But a seven-day visit, almost 20 years later, is surely going to be much more touristy in nature.  Just the highlights.  Although we will likely be found with cafe con leche and churros pretty frequently again.

In my mind’s eye, I remember how magnificent Madrid is.  Very chic and yet very traditional. I remember the Spanish sky.  I remember the food.  The coffee.  The people.  The wine.  The cheese.

I’m going.  Holy shit, I’m going.

Yes, I’ve built it all up in my head from nostalgia overload, though I highly doubt Madrid could disappoint me.

And of course, we all know that Spain is experiencing some serious economic issues right now, which is very unfortunate.  However, I am taking it as my personal challenge and responsibility to jump-start the economy through seven days of wine and cheese consumption.  Possibly with a side of shoes.  I can do it.  I know I can.  Rebecca will also be contributing substantially.

Then there is the issue of language.  My Spanish is rusty, to say the least.  I was once nearly fluent.  Now I can get by.  Kind of.  My husband does not believe me — he thinks I’m being modest.  So let’s just say he’s in for quite the surprise when I can only manage to order us a taco or direct him to the bathroom.

But, thankfully, I have been watching enough Dora and Diego with my kids to get some key Spanish skills back, though the topics at hand are somewhat limited.  For instance, I can basically name all jungle animals, which will help if I see an urban tiger roaming the streets of Madrid.  And I can also name a few landmarks, Dora-style {“Lake, cave, murky mud puddle — say it with me!”} in Spanish.  But also wine.  And cheese.  And, “Excuse me, how much for those stunning leather shoes that will look terribly out of place at pre-school drop-off?”

But I’m going.

I’ve been conditioning myself to leave my kids for a full week.  And they’ve had enough behavioral episodes recently that I feel pretty good about bidding them adios for seven days.  Of course I’ll miss them, though.

But I’m going.  My SPF 5,000,000 is packed.

I have visions of urban roaming with no real agenda.  Just some wandering, some wine, some food.  Taking it all in.  Relishing a very different place for a week.  Embracing a break from the daily grind.  Remembering a nearly perfect time in my life and being grateful to revisit it with my husband and good friends.

I doubt I’ll do a blog post while I’m there, mostly because my hands will be too sticky from the churros to type.  But, fear not, my international data plan is purchased.  So if you want to follow along, I will definitely be posting photos on Instagram and Facebook.  They will probably include various shots of cheese, and perhaps Rebecca and I revisiting our favorite spots.  And my husband’s confused face when I’ve directed him to the wrong restroom, as he finally realizes that my Spanish is que horrible after all these years.

But I’m going!

This turning 40 gig may not be so bad after all.

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Tales of a Former Kitchen Bitch

Everyone had a hideous first job, right?

I was thinking about mine yesterday, as I tend to do whenever I hear the phrase “Holy mackerel!” {Which, thankfully, is not often.}

Because — and you can file this under Sad But True Facts About Me — that is the name of the little seafood restaurant where I was first gainfully employed.  Oh yes, the now-defunct-but-once-legendary-in-North-Jersey Holy Mackerel Seafood House.  Complete with a fabulous cartoonish fish logo sporting a halo.

My official title:  Kitchen Girl.

My unofficial title:  Kitchen Bitch.

I had to wear a paper hat shaped like a sailor’s cap, coupled with my oldest, grungiest clothes and an apron. It was very glamorous.

Basically, the other Kitchen Bitches and I had to ensure that all of the items were prepped for the cooks and the wait staff.  Here is a list of my job responsibilities in the kitchen, to the best of my recollection.  I may have blocked some of them out.

  • Open huge barrels of pickles (about knee-high), fish out said pickles from freezing and stenchy pickle juice.  Slice into spears and store in fridge.
  • Get yelled at by the cooks.
  • Clean, peel and de-vein hundreds and hundreds of cooked shrimp.
  • Get yelled at by the wait staff.
  • Prepare all desserts.  This entailed hanging by one’s waist over the side of an industrial freezer to scoop out hard ice cream from the bottom of large buckets.
  • Get yelled at by anyone who hadn’t yelled in the last five minutes.
  • And my personal favorite:  On an as-ordered basis, retrieve live lobsters from the tank with bare hands without sustaining a flesh wound.  Deliver to chefs for impending death by boiling water.  Let’s not forget prepping the butter and lemon on the side, along with the dignified lobster bib.

In sum:  I smelled like fish, ice cream and pickles.  While wearing an apron and a paper sailor’s cap.  Oh, and it was about 129 degrees in the kitchen, which gave my skin a nice sheen.  You know, I was basically living every 16 year-old girl’s dream — especially when all of the bus boys and dish washers in the kitchen were my classmates.

But there was an upside (besides the free seafood dinners):  I was friends with the other Kitchen Bitches.  And there were two of us working each shift, so we had a great time in the midst of pickle-slicing, shrimp-cleaning, ice cream-scooping and lobster-chasing escapades.  It’s a good thing we got along, because I can assure you that none of our friends outside of The Holy Mackerel Seafood House wanted to see us after we got out of work.  We just smelled.  Despite our very best efforts with a change of clothes and copious amounts of Aqua Net and Love’s Baby Soft, the scents of The Holy Mackerel were not easily shaken.

So we worked hard in that sweltering kitchen.  We made minimum wage, of course. We built up a unique yet freakish ice cream scooping muscle in our wrists.  We learned the words to Led Zeppelin songs that the cooks would play over and over.  We ate free stuffed flounder for dinner.  We chased the occasional fugitive lobster across the dining room floor while patrons were looking the other way.  We rubbed lemon all over our shriveled up fingers in a futile attempt diminish the fish smell.

And, best of all, we picked up the phone and said, “Holy Mackerel! How can I help you?”  

As bad as all of this sounds, I can honestly say I enjoyed my time as a Kitchen Bitch.  Maybe it was because of my secret  romance with the older bus boy who had a mullet.  Or maybe because I was nearly in the running for the Shrimp Peeling World Record when, on Christmas Eve 1989, I was called in on a “special assignment” — and spent all day peeling 3,000 shrimp for a private party.  Because I had talent.

I did parlay the skills from my first job into some real valuable life experience that I carried with me.  For example, I was well-prepared for an unfortunately long string of sitcom-worthy waitressing gigs in my college years. And if you’re having a lobster bake and need someone to handle your crustacean guests of honor — well, look no further.  I’m your girl.

Don’t be jealous of my rite of passage.  Not everyone can look good in a paper sailor’s cap while sweating profusely and handling shellfish.

In my next life, I’m getting a newspaper route.  If there are still newspapers.


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Training & Conditioning


In a few weeks, I’m going on a big trip.  A great trip.  One that I’ve been trying to take for 20 years.  I can’t believe it’s almost here.

And while I’m beyond excited to get going, it will also be the first time I’ve left my kids for an entire week.  Although I tell myself around 7pm every night that this will not be a tough separation, the reality is that it may prove to be harder than I am anticipating.

So there’s really only one prudent thing to do:  Train and condition for this separation from my kids.

I mean, you can’t just run a marathon without preparing for it, right?  Or, as my sister would say, you can’t spend eight hours reaching across a roulette table without stretching your calves.  Same principle applies here.

With this spirit of logic and responsibility in mind, I’m heading to Manhattan tonight with a few of my good friends for a girls’ night out.  We’re going to a great restaurant that is far cooler than we are, and we’re leaving our husbands behind in the burbs for the evening to hang with the kids.  In my absence, it will be solely up to my husband to do the Saturday evening essentials.  Like position oneself strategically on the sidewalk around 7 or 8pm, while appearing to do outdoor chores, to get all the neighborhood gossip.

All women need this change in routine and scenery once in a while, and this just happens to be well-timed with my Kids Separation Preparedness Plan.  Everybody wins.  Well, except for the hipster twenty-something waiter who will roll his eyes at the lushy group of socially deprived moms seated in his section — as he wonders how the hell we scored this reservation at 8pm on a Saturday.

As this is just a baby step in my training program, I’m keeping my goals small and manageable this evening:

  • I will shower before dinner and wear clothing that has no remnants of ice pops, goldfish crackers or chocolate milk.
  • I will eat dinner without cutting anyone else’s food.
  • I will drink wine that was not brought out to my car in a case by my favorite Trader Joe’s employee.  
  • I will, when participating in catty gossip, curse freely without spelling.  As in: “I mean, what the F-U-C-K was that about?”
  • I will not listen to any music in the car that involves The Fresh Beat Band or any character created by Disney or Nick Jr.
  • I will not worry if I miss an opportunity for a life lesson when an emaciated 22 year-old in stilettos crushes my feet in an attempt to get to the bar first. {You’ll never win that race, my pretty.}
  • I will not wait on anyone.  Or rearrange food on a plate to ensure that the pasta and the ketchup ARE NOT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TOUCHING EACH OTHER. 

{Note to husband on that last point: The kids will go apoplectic if you don’t do this while I’m out.  Just FYI.}

These seem like reasonable goals, no?  I’m totally open to suggestions if you think I’ve missed anything.  Because training properly is important.

And I’m taking it very seriously.



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27 in My Head

Bad news:  It didn’t work.

My petition to change my birth year, in a last-ditch effort to avoid turning 40, has been rejected.  For no good reason.  Something about permanent, reliable records or some such nonsense.  Personally, I suspect I was blocked by my nemeses at the New Jersey DMV.

Fine, Time and Space.  You win.

As I type this, I have just under eight hours remaining in my 30s.  But don’t you worry — I intend to spend them doing some really crazy stuff.  That’s right, I’m going to not one, but two grocery stores.  And the wine store too.

I have a Cinco de Mayo birthday.  This meant nothing for the first 20 years of my life.  Then, Corona made this a big bar holiday and, well, that has worked out really well for me over the years.

But 40?  I don’t know about this.  Let me walk you through the Five Stages of Grief I’ve been dealing with recently on this issue.

Denial:  In my head, I am 27.  It is impossible that this is not also my actual age.  Who do these children belong to?  And who the hell is going to clean up after them?

Anger:  This is bullshit.  Some combination of multiple leap years and daylight savings time has robbed me of at least a few more days in my 30s.  I want them back.

Bargaining:  I will take better care of myself if I can stay 39 for a couple of more years.  I will cut back on caffeine and wine.  Well, on Mondays when the moon is full.

Depression:  How can this be?  I am half way to 80?  Maybe I will just sit here and be upset.  Oh, wait, my wine is out of reach from this spot.  I’ll move closer to it and then sit and be upset.

And finally, acceptance.  It is what it is, right?

Uh, no.  I accept this birthday by dealing with it my own way.  By extending the hell out of it and having a great time. I will get together with a bunch of friends who will graciously lie and tell me I don’t look a day over 39. And, soon, I will go on a trip that I’ve been trying to take for 20 years.  I even have some birthday gifts arriving here on the blog over the month of May — you’ll see.

I know I have everything I could want.  A great husband.  Two healthy kids.  Fabulous extended family.  Amazing friends.  A Keurig in my kitchen and a wine fridge in my basement.  It’s all good.  I’m grateful.  It’s just kind of shocking, this thing about getting a little older.  Somehow it snuck up on me, that’s all.

So I’m done sulking now.  If I have to turn 40, let it be a big, drawn out party.  And if I’ve given you an excuse to have an extra Cinco de Mayo cocktail on Saturday (or anytime in the month of May), even better.

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He is five years old today.

So it has been five years since I nominated the epidural as The Eighth Wonder of the World.  Five years since I held that baby for the first time and became a mom.

And now he’s so clearly not a baby.  He is a little boy (or a big boy, as he reminds me).

His curiosity is boundless.  Which car is faster?  Which whale is bigger?  Which dinosaur is older?  Can we count to infinity?  Well, can we try?  {If anyone has a good response for that last question, hit me up. Otherwise, you can find me here in the family room, attempting to count into the hundred quadrillions.}

He has his father’s astute attention to detail and love of how things work.  He has my goofiness.  And my love of chocolate.

He is stubborn — so stubborn (hi, DNA karma) — and a distinct creature of habit, yet is also sweet and sensitive.

His train obsession has slowly tapered off.  He’s not quite ready for us to move the engines and tracks out of the house yet, but he now equally loves animals, dinosaurs, all modes of transportation — and, of course, pirates.  It’s nice to spread the love beyond the toy railway gig, because, frankly, I think some of those engines in the Thomas the Train franchise are kind of assholes.  And don’t get me started on Sir Topham Hatt.  Just don’t.

So this year, the birthday request was all about pirates.  And I made the catastrophic mistake of letting him see some of the unachievable cake designs I was browsing online one day.  Because he can’t fathom that carving a cake into a boat is not really in my wheelhouse.  Or that the thought of going into a craft store nearly gives me hives.

But it’s my self-imposed Annual Baking Challenge to make my kids a decent birthday cake.  Probably because I don’t feel I’ve punished myself enough over the course of the year for any and all sins of my past.

So there was a practice cake first.  I could tell you that this is all in the name of striving for perfection, but really — it’s just designed as a way for P and I to shamelessly eat cake.

We don’t have room for the practice cake in the fridge and all the party food.  I guess there’s only one thing to do…”

We have clear roles in the cake quest.  I am in charge of design — which means ripping off the great ideas of others on Pinterest.  And because P is an engineer, I always enlist his help in the structural integrity component of the cake.  Here’s the thing:  When you ask for someone’s help, you kind of have to let them do it their way.  And when you ask an engineer to build a cake and make sure it stands, he may or may not bring tape measures and protractors to carve that practice cake into a proper boat.  But it stood like a champion.  It might have even sailed — but we were too busy eating it to find out.

The real cake was unveiled on Saturday when we had our extended family over to celebrate.  Its structure was a little more questionable than that of the practice cake, so I was forced to bind it together with toxic amounts of frosting.  It was basically a glucose overdose on a cake tray.

But it looked good!

The pirate captain approved.  Complete with his imaginary eye patch.

Come. On.  Can you believe I made that cake?  {FYI, the only acceptable response to this question is “Holy shit!  I can’t believe you made that cake! I don’t even know you anymore.”}  I mean, if you see my former self somewhere, can you show her the cake?  Because I’m pretty sure she will pass out.

{And I must credit the real cake designer — I lifted her fine invention from here.}

More importantly, can you believe I’m writing about this?  About how desperately I wanted to bake a fun cake? Again, tell the Girl I Used To Be that I said hi.

But it’s not really about the cake.  It’s about this guy.

I have big dreams for him.  Not necessarily about his career path or his level of success.  But about him always asking all those questions he likes to ask.  Always wanting to know more.  Always looking for what’s around the corner.  And always enjoying the ride.

He has had some bumps in the road over the last year, but now I can see him beginning to grow into his own skin.  I can see his confidence building, his patience slowly expanding.  I can see that it’s all starting to come together for him.

And I know — the way that a mother can know more than anyone else — that five is going to be great year for him.

Happy Birthday to my sweet boy.  I couldn’t possibly love you more.


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The Easter Candy Consumption Pyramid


Easter always feels like a hallmark of Springtime to me — even after an unusually warm March around here this year.  Although, now that I think about it, it is kind of ironic to welcome the warmer weather with this holiday — as we consume baskets full of candy that won’t allow us to comfortably fit into our summer clothing.

Easter, for many folks who are far better souls than I am, also means the end of Lent.  This year, I went as far as giving up sacrifices, which I think went pretty well.  Certainly I was more pleasant than in my past Lenten efforts to give up things like cursing, chocolate, coffee and wine.  I’ll let your imagination take it from here.

The Easter preparations are pretty much done around here in Fordeville.  Earlier this week, my youngest sister made her annual Dye Eggs With Auntie visit.  This is also known as Auntie and I Drink One Glass of Wine for Every Egg The Kids Crack.

We all had a great time.



And then there was my son’s class Easter party.  My friend Jen and I signed up to do this party back in September.  I figured it would be the usual — cupcakes, a goodie bag and a little project.

By “little project,” I did not foresee us dyeing eggs with 17 pre-schoolers.

But Jen pulled the “I’m Jewish and never get to dye eggs” card.  She felt it was her only chance.  Something about if I was really her friend, I would  not deny her this experience.

Because we like to keep the parties all about the kids.

But Jen did promise to make the cupcakes for the class party.  And when I texted her to ask what kind she was making, I got this.

It’s a good thing I am fluent in Baked Goods.  Obviously, she was making vanilla Funfetti cupcakes with vanilla frosting and colored Funfetti sprinkles.  Duh.

Anyway, the party went really well.  I don’t have any pictures to post because my hands were sort of full.  But if Jen ever talks me into this again, remind me to bring my hip flask.  And to steal hers as a back-up.

And now that all the prep is finished, it’s time to think about this weekend’s candy consumption.  People have fiercely loyal opinions about their Easter Candy preferences, and I’m no exception.

Here’s my quick and dirty Easter Candy Consumption Pyramid.



Yeah, I’m a dark chocolate purist.  I don’t see the point in contaminating the goodness of the cocoa bean in its perfect form.  Just give me the dark chocolate bunny — solid ears and hollow body, please — and I will be happy. {This tracks closely with my Hershey’s Variety Pack rankings:  1) Special Dark 2) Krackel 3) Milk Chocolate and 4) Mr. Goodbar.}

Before you go all Occupy Fordeville on me for my Easter candy opinions, let me also just say that I think white chocolate has no place in the Easter Candy aisle.  And though I respect any cult candy following, I remain confused by Peeps and Cadbury Eggs.  They kind of scare me.

But, look.  We can all agree to disagree.  Candy is a personal choice.

And, if you like white chocolate and Peeps and Cadbury Eggs, this works out well — because you are one less person fighting with me over stealing the dark chocolate from my kids’ Easter baskets when they are sleeping.

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