10 Days and Counting: The pity party commences

I don’t like it when my husband has to travel for work.

So, when he leaves, I often take the opportunity to throw myself a pity party.

I like to whine about the evenings that seem to stretch on.  And on.  And ooooonnnnn.

Or the weekends playing zone defense against Team “Let’s Drive Mommy Batty.”  I complain about the fact that I don’t get to pee by myself anymore.

Wait.  That last one happens all of the time. 

Oh yeah, where was I?

Poor me.

But the worst part about him being gone?  My kids miss him.  A lot.

And I’ve found that the number of times I’m asked, “How many days until dad gets home?”  seems to multiply exponentially with the number of days he has to travel.  Example:  When he travels for one day, I sometimes get asked the question once or twice.  Two days=5 or 6 questions.

So when I got wind that my husband was going to be gone for ten days this time, I did some quick calculations.  Approximately 526 questions.  My math might be a little off there.  But it’s definitely in the ballpark of 100’s.

However, I was prepared for this trip.  As soon as dad left yesterday morning, I came up with a brilliant strategy.  We pulled out a pad of sticky notes, and made a little countdown calendar.  Kind of like an advent calendar.  Except when you got to the end, there was no scary bearded guy coming down our chimney.  Just dad, coming home.

And, because I was feeling a little sorry for myself, I snapped a photo of our calendar, and posted it to my personal Facebook page.

T-minus ten days. But who's counting?

And then I sat back, and waited for my Facebook friends to shower me with well wishes and encouragement.  Because that’s what you do when you’re having a pity party, you know.

I did get a few sympathetic souls willing to play my little game.  Like this lovely lady:

(By the way, Old Tweener, I will send you my address later in the day.)

But some of my other friends seemed to take more interest in the weekly menu that was posted right next to the countdown calendar.  Those comments went something like this:

“I like your menu. Jay is missing out on some good grub!”

Or, “…At least you have some yummy meals planned. I assume J would never condone corned beef in January.”

Or, my personal favorite:

Yes, people.  My corned beef soup is delicious.  But the point of my Facebook post was not about our menu, but rather, about me and my pity party.  Sheesh.

For the record, my weekly menu planning was done before I realized I’d be flying solo this week.  I have a strict “no cooking” rule when Jay travels.  And by “no cooking,” I’m referring to the use of the stove, the oven, or any sharp knives.  The microwave, I can do.

So this morning, I reposted on Facebook a more accurate reflection of what we’ll actually be eating this week.

And now that the issue of the menu has been addressed, let the pity party recommence!

Those of you in the area are more than welcome to come join me for the festivities.  I would be grateful for the adult conversation.  And you can even stay for dinner!

I just hope you like Spaghettios.

An Oldie but Goodie: The Turkey Said Google, Google!

Thanksgiving is next week.

I know.  I’m in a bit of denial myself.  I can’t believe how fast this holiday season has snuck up on us already. 

I’ll be hosting the festivities at our house this year, which means that over the next week I’ll be busy cleaning, ordering a premade turkey from New Seasons cooking delicious homemade food, and generally making sure the house is picked up enough so that my guests don’t break a leg by tripping over random matchbox cars lying around.  And because I’ll be unusually busy with the domestic chores that I typically neglect, I’m resurrecting an old post about my first experience hosting Thanksgiving.  Enjoy.


Everything was all ready.

The tables were set.

The 16 paper handprint turkeys Bobo and I made were cut, glued, and set out as placecards.

The pies were cooling on the rack ordered and picked up from the bakery.

It was my first Thanksgiving dinner at my house, and I was determined that everything would be perfect.  There was just one thing left to do.

The turkey.

I had planned meticulously ahead.  I had researched spice recipes on the internet.  I had called my mother earlier in the week and grilled her about how to cook the perfect turkey.  (What kind of roasting pan should I get?  What are those little tinfoil snakes used for, anyways? How does your gravy turn out so good?  No one can make turkey gravy like my mom.)  I actually remembered to defrost the bird.  I had set the alarm to an ungodly hour so I could pop it in the oven.

I was fully prepared to cook the dickens out of my first turkey.  Or so I thought.

The morning of Thanksgiving the alarm went off at the crack of dawn.  I stumbled downstairs and groggily turned on the oven to preheat.  With one eye open, I lugged the turkey out of the fridge.  But when I took it over to the sink to wash it out, something fell out of the middle of the bird.

When I saw it lying in the sink, I yelped and jumped back a bit.  For the love of God, what WAS that?

And then I knew.  Obviously, someone had left the frank and beans in the middle of my turkey.

A slew of questions raced through my mind:

What kind of sick joke is this, anyway?
Am I being Punk’d?
What exactly am I supposed to do I do with that?
Cook it up?
Throw it away?
Use it as a garnish?

It was too early still to call my mom.  And I was more than a little embarrassed to try 1-800-BUTTERBALL.  So I turned to my old standby.  Google.

In the wee hours of the morning, I sat at the computer, Googling the phrase “turkey penis.”  Not how I envisioned starting my Thanksgiving.

Eventually, Google straightened me out.  And, suffice to say, the meal (and the turkey) turned out just fine.  But I learned a few things that Thanksgiving day.

I learned that there are some phrases you should never, ever type into Google.  Oh MY.

I learned that you can cheat and use the pre-cut, frozen mashed potatoes.  And, if you add enough butter and cream, no one will know the difference.  As long as you carefully dispose of the packaging.

I learned that my mom really does make the best turkey gravy I’ve ever tasted.

I learned that being able to have four generations of family sitting down at my dining room table is something to be thankful for, indeed.

I learned that tryptophan has no effect on children under the age of four.  Especially after three pieces of chocolate pie.

Most importantly, I learned that store-bought turkeys come with the neck and the gizzards inside the bird.  And I learned what a turkey willy does not look like.

Thank you for that, Google.

I hope you all are endowed with a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Who stole my bacon?

It’s been a trying week in our household. I’m sorry to say that, over the past week, our family has been a victim of a terrible, heinous crime.

The perpetrator?

I know.  It looks harmless enough.  But don’t be deceived by the appearance.  Most recently, it’s been committing the most audacious of acts known to our family.

It’s been burning the bacon.

Point of clarification: the perpetrator I’m referring to is the microwave.  The poor little attached oven unit gets very little use.  Unless you count cooking tater tots as “baking.”   But the microwave gets a lot of use.  Especially when it comes to cooking up our breakfast every morning.

You know those boxes of Oscar Meyer microwaveable bacon that you pass by in the grocery store aisle?  Well, they are a staple in my house.  We go through maybe 3 to 4 boxes of that artificial, sodium-laden goodness every week.  Which may account for why our cholesterol levels top the richter scales.  But, that is a tale for a later date.

Anyway, this past week, “The Perp” suddenly and without warning started overcooking the bacon.  As in, goodbye, sizzling, perfectly brown slices of goodiness.  Hello, smoky, burnt pig aroma wafting throughout the house.  I can think of no greater crime for an appliance to commit in our house.

Getting rid of the microwave was a mixed blessing, actually.  In general, our kitchen has been a personal eyesore for me since we’ve moved in.  However, being the tightwad I am, I simply couldn’t justify replacing the outdated, yellowed appliances until they had run their course.  And in the age where everything breaks down immediately after their one-year-warranty expires, these suckers were 15 years old, and were still ticking.

So we waited.  For the day when they finally met their long-overdue doom, and we could finally replace them with something we liked.  When that day came last week, we gleefully and immediately removed the offending appliance, and set into motion a plan to replace it.

The only problem?

The new unit will not be delivered until Wednesday.  Which means we will be looking at this for the next three days:

And it also means I have approximately 72 hours to ponder some truly important thoughts.  Stuff like:

  • Which is the lesser of two evils: burnt bacon, or no bacon?
  • Will my kids go through pork withdrawals in the next few days?  Will I?
  • Can you cook microwave bacon on the stove top?  Where IS that frying pan, anyways?
  • It really is a good thing that I have this whole situation in perspective.  And that I am not at all dramatic.
  • How good is that bacon going to taste come Thursday morning?

The Very Hungry Momma

In the light of the moon, a little egg lay waiting.

One candlelit evening, after a romantic dinner and a few martinis, the egg was, well, bombarded.  And… pop!  It started to grow.

When the egg was discovered, the parents were ecstatic.  They immediately dubbed the little egg “Chip.”  Because, as they explained to their daughter, it was only the size of a chocolate chip.

But as “Chip” grew and grew, it created a tiny, and very hungry little momma.

She started to look for some food.

The first trimester was rough.  She ate through 6 boxes of Saltine crackers, a dozen 2-litres of Ginger Ale, and a ginormous bag of lemon drops.

Alas, even though she felt like ralphing all the time, she was still hungry.  It’s just that nothing sounded appealing.

But by the second trimester, her appetite returned with a vengeance.  She ate through 10 rotisserie chickens, 23 Big Mac Meals (super sized, of course), countless slices of pepperoni pizza and a 5-gallon tub of Red Vine licorice.

And she was still hungry.

By the third trimester, she was on a roll.  She was eating through a jelly donut every morning, as well as any other food that dared stand in her way.

But she was still hungry.

Sometimes, after hoovering all of the non-perishable edibles in the house, she’d have a tummy ache.  Her doctor called it heartburn.  She ate through one bottle of Tums.  After that, she felt much better.

And after that, she wasn’t hungry anymore.  Because there simply wasn’t any room on her little frame left to accommodate any more food.  And she also wasn’t a little momma anymore.  She had gained almost 50 pounds, and was now a big momma.  She was ready to burst.

So she made a nursery and decorated it lovingly with stars and cowboy hats fitting for a little buckaroo.  She nested.  She cocooned.

One night, she was awoken by some strange stirrings from within the cocoon.  They made their way to the hospital.

Where they waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Through multiple episodes of Cash Cab.  Through a dozen games of solitaire.  Through nine hours of watching the lines of the contractions make pretty little hills and valleys up and down the paper.

In the midst of this she felt a familiar rumbling in her stomach.  She was hungry.

She asked for food.  A banana, a cracker, a jelly donut… anything besides popsicles and water.  She pleaded.  They denied.

“It won’t be long now,” they told her.  “Just a little while longer, and then we’ll get you something to eat.”

So she waited some more.  And, finally, it was time for him to arrive.

And when he emerged?  She suddenly forgot getting something to eat.  She instantly forgot about the months of morning sickness, and the pain.  She forgot about how tired she was, or the ravenous hunger that gnawed at her belly.

All she could think was that he was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

Happy belated birthday to my sweet Chip.  How did two years fly by so fast?

The day my heart melted

My husband knows that there is another man in my life.  Someone I love, and who fulfills me in a way that he cannot.

His name is Joe.  Trader Joe.

I might just leave my husband for him.  In fact, I do leave my husband for him.  Every Sunday, I traipse over to Trader Joe’s.  I romp around in the produce section.  I get lost in the depths of his wine aisles.

But the thing about Joe that makes me just go weak at the knees?  His very well-endowed frozen food section.

I’m a big fan of frozen foods.  After a long day at work, it’s so easy to just take something out of the freezer, pop it in the oven, and enjoy a hot, delicious meal in about 20 minutes flat.

The only problem?  I sometimes go a little overboard.  I’ll come home after a trip to Joe’s place, and will be laden with bags upon bags of that yummy frozen goodness.  Last month was one of those times.

“Clearly, your mother’s stocking up for a bomb shelter, kids,” my husband announced as he helped me unload the car.

I gave him a dirty look as I lovingly loaded up the freezer with the cute little Mexican quiches.  The Mandarin Chicken with tangy shoyu sauce.  And finally, the creme-de-la-creme:  the Mini Mint ice cream sandwiches.


But when I went to close the door, I got a surprise.  It wouldn’t fit.  I had to sadly admit that Joe, in all of his glorious frozen splendor, was just too much man for my puny little freezer.

But still I tried.  I rearranged, shoved, and packed things in, shut the door, and walked away.

Little did I know that Joe couldn’t be contained.  Somehow, in the middle of the night, he burst forth from the confines of the freezer, and the door became ajar.   By the next morning, everything had melted.

All I was left with was a wet spot.  A very wet spot.  All over my kitchen floor.

The worst part about it wasn’t the money.   It wasn’t the 150 bones I had dropped the day before… although that did sting.  Trader Joe’s lovin’ ain’t cheap, you know.

The worst part about the whole incident was parting ways with all of the uneaten culinary delights that morphed into a warm, dripping mess inside my Frigidaire.

And as I emptied the freezer, I said a tearful goodbye to the treasures from Joe that would never be consumed.

Farewell, Mandarin Chicken.  Adios, cute little quiches.  So long, Mini Mint ice cream sandwiches.  I think I’ll miss you most of all.

Needless to say, I learned my lesson.  Somewhat.   Even though the frozen food section at Joe’s still makes my heart go all a-flutter, I do try to restrain myself.  Somewhat.

I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that, while my love for Trader Joe may have no limits, my freezer certainly does.

I’m a strong woman.  But I know I just can’t handle having my heart melt like that all over again.

Mama's Losin' It
#2. The last time my heart melted...