21 Months: Toddler Time

Lucky lucky me got to spend another week with Angel Boy 2.0.

AB 1.0 asked me to bring some of his favorite childhood Christmas tree ornaments that his grandma and I had collected over the years so they could continue the tradition.

We brought home a seven-foot Noble fir and spent my first night decorating the tree with Theo. It took a while, but he finally understood the concept of leaving the ornaments ON the tree and not pulling them off and throwing them like a major league pitcher.

Although it had been raining for a few days, while I was there, the weather was beautiful but FREEZING, at least for this SoCal girl. I was wearing about a dozen layers, perfectly suited for Pacific Northwest arctic temps.

The next morning Mr. T and I went on a walk to the marina. He was all bundled up and you can see the snow on the Olympic mountains in the background.

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On the way to Ballard Locks.64F334D4-FE48-441F-9658-D72E7951B705

After a power nap, Theo and I made a pizza, helping me roll out the dough and scattering sliced zucchini, green peppers, and broccoli over tomato sauce.  With lentil soup, it was a perfect winter lunch.

For some reason, I became his sole choice for ALL diaper changes…AmmahAmmah had to do them all, and there were NO complaints from mom or dad. Besotted as I am with this little human, even THAT melted my heart and I gladly complied with his request.

These moments are so fleeting – one minute you’re changing a diaper and the next you’re sending them off to college. I learned a long time ago with the original Angel Boy to appreciate each and every detail along the journey. Even diaper changes. Yes, even that.

When he was here for Thanksgiving and we walked to the park and he was kinda balky, I created the game of “Puppy” with each of us holding something (or a pretend something) as a leash to encourage him to keep moving, and he remembered (!) which meant there was lots of puppy play and kitty play. And tea parties.

Yes, I am the ULTIMATE playmate. Laser focused attention. HEAVEN. BLISSFUL. JOY.

EF00EA0F-55A4-43BB-9777-2D1BEB561D83As the sun set in the evening, he’d choose a few books and we’d snuggle on the sofa and wind down with Peppa the Pig or Postman Pat or his new Hannukah book or my favorite ones about animals.

He’s memorized so many stories that have already been read to him a billion times.

It’s an important interactive pre-reading experience.

To engage a bright young mind with a lifelong love of learning and reading is a goal we all share.

One of those priceless moments I’ll forever savor and never forget is the heavy weight of a perfectly relaxed little boy nestled in the curve of my protective arm, feeling his excitement as he points to the picture of a wolf when prompted and howls when asked, “what does a wolf say?”

The next day we went to his Gymboree class, which was so cool for me because I had taken his dad there when they first started franchising in the 1980s.

It was amazing to observe Theo’s interaction with the instructor and other children. He is so much like his daddy was at that age, it’s a great response to the debate of nature versus nurture. When my son was very little, a brilliant woman told me “he sees the world in his own way” and I saw those very same characteristics in Theo. He’s not shy, he’s exceptionally self confident, but like his dad, he’s reserved; a thinker and an observer, absorbing everything and filing it away in his mind to process in his own way, but he’s not much of an active participant, although he very much enjoyed himself and helped pick up and put away the musical instruments when it was over. This week was the culmination of Beatle’s music, so when we went back home, I played the same songs that we heard in class, Yellow Submarine, All You Need is Love, and Hello/Goodbye. Theo sung along and shook the maracas exactly the same way he had paid such close attention to. With all children, it’s a great idea to take their lead in situations like this and let them guide their level of participation.

His verbal skills are on fire now, parroting dozens of new words and learning sentence structure. I call it the Helen Keller moment. Two-word directives like “Theo down” …Choo choo loud” “Daddy home” is being expanded upon. DIL and I both heard him clearly say “I want Abby’s cake” when we had a little birthday party for a friend. OF COURSE he was rewarded with the cake that he wanted. OF COURSE. It’s all about positive reinforcement, right?

My brother came to visit from Portland for a couple of days and one of our excursions was the zoo. As you might imagine, I hate zoos. I hate caged and captive wild animals. I hate that their very existence is used to make money as entertainment. I HATE seeing them in their unnatural habitats. But I figured that if I went to the zoo, later on at the appropriate age, I could begin a discussion about all of that, so I did. Theo especially loves gorillas and flamingos, so that’s what we saw. I can’t tell you how sad it was to watch those magnificent gorillas who should have been SOMEWHERE ELSE and I actually thought they seemed depressed. I felt like I shouldn’t be looking at him. Tragic.

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The very best part of the day was on the way out.

I noticed a woman crouched on one knee pointing a camera into a tree. I looked up and saw a magnificent OWL, also one of Theo’s fave animals. When he followed my gaze and saw the owl, he was transfixed. We stayed there for a bit and he called it Daddy Owl because it was so large. The sun was going down, so this isn’t the best pic, but it was a spectacular sighting.

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Although he gifted me with a nasty sore throat and the beginnings of the flu or some type of upper respiratory infection, it was once again a magical time; although flying home to vicious Santa Ana winds and out of control fires, loss of homes, dozens of horses perishing, and emergency notifications from the city to prepare for possible evacuation brought me right back to reality. The winds have died down for now but are forecasted to be gust at 50+ mph on Sunday.

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“Put on your yarmulke, it’s time for Chanukah!”

Happy Chanukah!

(In case you don’t know how to pronounce the word, if I spelled it like this, “Hannukah”, that’d give you a hint.)

Eight days of prezzies, what could be better?

I (really) am aware there’s another more serious reason for the celebration called Festival of Lights, but nothing compares to the sparkle of a diamond in the candleglow of a fully lit menorah.

AMMIRIGHT?

Have you heard the new version of Adam Sandler’s Chanukah song with references to Jared Fogle and Adam Levine?

Funny as always.

So enjoy your Kugel, already!

Click here for a link to my mom’s famous recipe, Not Kegel, But a Kugel-licious Recipe

And Hannukah Hairy Harry, let’s not forget THIS little guy…

Click here: Hairy Hanukkah Harry and The Story of Hanukkah 2012

Hannukah candles

And…it’s just possible that on the 8th day of Chanukah I’ll receive a HUGE gift in the form of a big old hairy sexy blue-eyed tugboat man!

Keep your fingers crossed for me and light your candles!

חנוכה שמחה


Not Kegel… But a KUGEL-icous Recipe for Thanksgiving

Sounds like Kegel, but it’s not.

It’s KUGEL!

Another carb-filled recipe for holiday entertaining!

And why not? Carbs are awesomely satisfying  — once in a while — tugboat man and I don’t eat like this very often, but everyone LOVES my Kugel!.

This is not a vegan recipe, but it’s delicious, and my son and DIL request it every year for Thanksgiving and Hannukah. To vegan-ize it, just delete the eggs.                                                                                                             

What IS Kugel?

Kugel is a savory or sweet pudding of potatoes or noodles usually served as a side dish. It’s of German/Jewish origin.

Our family’s traditional Kugel is the sweet noodle kind and my mom’s version is to die for.

Really. It’s spectacular hot or cold.

It’s one of those recipes you can make a day in advance and it keeps getting better and better.

If you have any leftovers– which we never do — it freezes pretty good.

I limit myself to making it only a couple times a year and I eat as much as I want and just work out a bit harder and a bit longer to burn off the calories, so there’s really no guilt.

Angel Boy’s Grandma’s Kugel

Ingredients:
One large package wide egg noodles
One large can fruit cocktail in juice
One small can pineapple pieces in juice
One large can canned peaches and pears in heavy syrup, yes, you read that right
At least 3 Granny Smith apples, sliced with about 1/3 cup sugar and 1-2 TBS cinnamon
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
One lemon,  juiced and zested

Directions: This is a good dish to make in advance especially if you’re also planning to make apple pie (which I am) ‘cos you can just prepare all the apples for both dishes. The secret to this dish is a LOT of cinnamon. If you think you have enough, add a little bit more!

1. Cook a whole package of wide egg noodles and drain.
2. Add 3 beaten eggs with vanilla; it will be super slippery.
3. Add the lemon juice and zest to the apple slices.
4. Drain all the canned fruit but keep the juices; you will need them.
5. Mix together all the canned fruits.
6, Butter one large and one medium deep baking dish.
7. Add a layer of noodles, then a layer of canned fruit, a layer of apples, then another layer of noodles, a layer of the canned fruit, sliced apples, more noodles, more canned fruit and apples, ending with a final layer of noodles.
8. Pour over any remaining egg mixture, and a cup or so of the fruit juices. Be very liberal with the juice. It will all get soaked up as the kugel bakes.
9. Jason’s grandma would dot the whole thing with a bunch of Crisco, like ¼ cup, which sounds gross, but I still follow her recipe. Some people use butter, but we don’t. Other recipes add cottage cheese and raisins, but I’ve only made it my mom’s way, although I’m sure it would be delicious.
10. Bake covered at 300 degrees for about an hour or so depending on the pan size. Take cover off for final 15 minutes. Excellent reheated and/or cold.

Bon apetit!

Beachy December Festival of Light and Color: Photos

Even though it’s the beginning of December and was the fifth night of Hannukah, here in Southern California we enjoyed a brief summery Sunday before a massive winter storm barrels down the coast from Alaska.

A late afternoon beach walk in Carlsbad with my tugboat man…magnificent sunset, boats, seagulls flying home. Not such big waves though, or he’d be surfing and not walking!

Maybe that’s why I get so excited for the WordPress snow to appear.

It’s the only snow I see unless we go skiing!

These photos have not been retouched. This is exactly what it looked like. AMAZING, right?

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Hairy Hannukah Harry and the story of Hannukah 2012

…or the continuing saga of my life. As my first husband’s mother said to my mom, “isn’t it such a shame you wasted so much money on her education. She doesn’t really seem to do much of anything, does she?”

Looky here, readers, you all need to stop whining right now. Right now, I say!

I’ve peeked inside your private lives. Here’s a typical scenario:

8:00 a.m. You’re home with your spouse before leaving the house to go to work or he goes to work while you “stay home to take care of the kids” which really means you’re going to Tweet and shop all day and change a diaper or two, only if necessary. Not all of you, but enough to make it true. And I know it’s true ‘cos who do you think I tweet with all day?

Spouse: “I’ll home home at six. See ya.”

{Smooch goodbye}

crzy cat lady bathrobe

This is awesome.

Wife pulls the ratty bathrobe a bit tighter and rebelts it because an important message is acoming…

“Now you come right home after work, don’t stop anywhere; no bars, no strip clubs, nothin’. You come right home, ya hear me?  I’m making something special for dinner tonight.”

Spouse: “OK”

He walks out to the car. Five seconds after leaving the house, before the car even backs out of the driveway, he totally forgot everything his wife said. Typical, right?

6:00 p.m.- no hubby

6:15 p.m – no hubby

6:30 p.m. Here it comes…the power texting, phoning, emailing commences.

{no response}

burned dinner in oven7:00 p.m. Dinner burns. wife drank all the wine, spends time sharpening knives. Candles burnt down to nubs, the smoke of one burnt out candle with its acrid scent floats through the air.

The scissors come out to make a few strategic alterations in his favorite t-shirt.

She opens another bottle of wine.

8:00 p.m. His car drives up, front door opens, “Hi honey, I’m home!”

“WHERE. WERE. YOU.”

‘Wha? Why is it so dark in here?”

Where. were. you. I called. I emailed. I texted.”

“Ohhh…didn’t I mention I’d be late today? I -uh- thought I did.”

-End scene-desperate housewives

OK, I could go on and on but the point is that when 99% of you get mad at your significant others when they’re late; when work or whatever–delays their arrival at the appointed hour–you all need to STOP WHINGING AND WHINING about it!!

Since the world revolves around me, take a walk around South Coast Plaza in my shoes (not the Gucci ones, tho. I wear a 5 1/2 and your feet’d stretch ’em all out.) I was expecting the captain tomorrow, Thursday. I cleaned the house, washed the windows, planned and anticipated the whole homecoming–even made a new welcome home sign–and he called and said he’d be LATE.

HE’S GOING TO BE A MONTH AND A HALF LATE!

HE WON’T BE BACK UNTIL SOMETIME NEXT JANUARY 201THREE!!

I’m not saying not to be pissed at your inconsiderate spouse–I would never think to deprive you of that joy–just think about ME next time.

OKAY?

Your “late” and my “late” are two different things altogether.

Ahem. Now, to give equal time to my cultural background as a full blooded Jewish American Princess, may I formally present to you my Hannukah installation….with the one and only Hairy Hannukah Harry holding the torah. Eight candles represent the eight days that I had to wait before I could spend more of the captain’s hard earned money and buy a huge bottle of Chance by Coco Chanel (of course.)

Hannukah candles

Forget Elf Shaming, try Hannukah Harry!

Chance by Chanel

Of course I got the larger size. ‘Cos I’m worth it.