Crazed In the Kitchen: March 2012   

Saturday, March 31, 2012

All By Myself...

A little less than a week ago, I left my husband and kids.

Well, ok, the truth is somewhat less dramatic: A little less than a week ago, I kissed my hubby and boys goodbye and left for a vacation. Without them.

And, as I sit here on day 2 of my Florida vacation, full of pancakes and coffee made by someone else (the best kind!) and coming off two full nights of uninterrupted sleep (the best kind!), I am struck by the fact that I have managed to pull off the ultimate Mommy stunt—a truly relaxing vacation without my kids.

But no child-free vacation is complete without a little (or a lot of) mommy guilt. The lovely beach that lies before me is peppered with kids of all ages, digging happily in the sand, jumping in the waves, and chasing hapless seabirds. My kids would have loved it. The beach, the pools, the adoring grandparents…how could I deprive my darlings of such delight?

Can't. Stop. Reading.
I thought about bringing them, really I did. But my husband and I priced airfare, and it wasn’t pretty. And the logistics weren’t easy, either: I was flying into one city, staying with relatives who didn’t have children, then driving 2 hours to the beach and a lovely but not-so-child-friendly rental condo with my dad and stepmom. They would have loved to see my kids, of course, but I couldn’t help but think that their vacation would become a little less play and a little more work if all of us showed up. We’re not always an easy crew. Some of us don’t sleep well (Rascal), some of us don’t eat well (Stinker), and some of us realllllly wanted some time to herself to read “The Hunger Games” (um, that would be me).

All of that was reason enough to leave the little guys home for some quality time with their (by now sleep-deprived) dad, but my memories of our last family trip by plane were what sealed the deal:

We were flying to Detroit, changing planes in Chicago. I sat with my then-3-year-old, while my husband and 1-year-old sat in the row ahead of us. Throughout the 4-hour flight, it appeared as if I had gotten the better deal. In front of me, Rascal flat-out refused to nap, and squawked off and on for the whole flight. Next to me, Stinker quietly watched Yo Gabba Gabba dvds for an hour, then fell asleep. I patted my husband’s shoulder sympathetically, half-heartedly offered whatever help I could possibly provide from the confines of my seat, then pulled out a magazine and relaxed for a few hours. But the tables turned as we began a bumpy descent: Rascal finally nodded off, and Stinker woke up extremely unhappy. After a couple of minutes of complaining, the worst happened.
The kid began barfing. Like, everywhere. I remember, when it began, grabbing an airsickness bag from the seat pocket. I managed to get it open, then found myself waving it around the poor kid’s face, trying to catch the awfulness as it spewed out in every direction. (Apparently, a kid’s first instinct when a paper bag is shoved in his face is to dodge, leading to a substantial widening of the disaster zone.) Before it was all over, he got both of us pretty well covered in puke. Of course, we were landing and couldn’t get out of our seats for 10 minutes, so there we sat. My husband patted me sympathetically, handed me some wipes, and pulled out a magazine. (He denies it, but I SWEAR I saw him smile, just a little.)

I thought things would get better when we landed. We had packed a change of clothes for the kids in our carry-on bags, so I was able to get poor Stinker wiped off and changed before we even got off the plane. I was stuck wearing puke-y clothes, but figured I could live with it for the quick flight to Detroit, where we’d retrieve our checked bag and a clean outfit for me.

Yep, that’s what I thought. Until they cancelled our flight to Detroit and oh-so-helpfully rebooked us on a flight the NEXT DAY. When asked where we could pick up our luggage, the gate agent tapped at her computer then said brightly, “Oh! It made an earlier flight! It will be waiting for you when you arrive tomorrow!” I gritted my teeth and smiled, sort of, while I nonchalantly waved my shirt toward her, giving her a whiff of the magic that covered the only clothes I had. Lucky for us, my dad and stepmom lived nearby and we arrived on their doorstep an hour later, stinky, hungry, tired (hubby and me), and completely hyper (the kids). I borrowed some clothes, started a load of laundry, and raided the liquor cabinet. 

So. You can see why I hesitated to bring my kids on this trip. Plus, as a stay at home mom, I really looked forward to the idea of having no one to take care of for just a few days. Maybe it was selfish.  But I like to think that after a few days of relaxing I was able to come home refreshed, ready to take on the stinky litter box and the toddler with yet another cold. That is, if I can put down “Catching Fire” long enough to see what’s going on around here…

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Barbie Was Right: Math IS Hard

Remember that talking Barbie doll that caused a media firestorm a while back because one of the several phrases she uttered was, “Math is hard?” I stomped around with everyone else condemning Mattel for peddling such a bad role model to young girls. But secretly, I wanted to give poor beleaguered Barbie a high five and say to her, “Rock on, sister, with your bad math self. We gorgeous, long-legged, mathematically-impaired blondes need to band together!” (Yeah, ok, so I’m not gorgeous, long-legged, or blonde. But I am bad at math. And I do lead a rich fantasy life.)

Like Barbie, I have never been a math whiz. In college I took a class that students jokingly called “Math for Trees,” because even a tree could pass it. Well, I’m proud to say that I did indeed pass “Math for Trees,” but barely. JUST barely. Since then, however, I have managed to get through life just fine with my mediocre math skills. I balanced my checkbook, back when checkbooks were a thing. I double recipes with relative ease. I even taught math to poor, unsuspecting 8-year-olds for years, and did a damn fine job at it.
T-shirt from

Then I became a mom. And I discovered a secret sub-field of mathematics so tricky, so insidiously nonsensical, that I doubt even a math genius with a full night’s sleep could crack it. When I try to describe the mathematical challenges I face each day, they sound like those dreaded story problems I hated as a kid, but with a maniacal twist. For example:

·      Let’s say you have had just 3 hours of sleep, thanks to a sick toddler. And let’s say you absolutely MUST stay awake later than your children (pesky buggers have to be tucked in and all that). If you drank your first cup of coffee at 5:30 am, at what times throughout the day should you drink MORE cups of coffee so that you can be awake enough not to do something that lands you on the evening news but also tired enough to fall into a dead slumber at 8:30 pm?

·      If your child has a diaper rash that requires Desitin cream, how many times after applying the Desitin must you wash your hands to get rid of the smell?

·      A toy comes with 20 marbles. Child A takes 7 marbles into a closet (why??), loses 5 and finds 2. Child B takes 8 marbles into the bathroom (WHY???), loses 7 but finds 3. The cats chase probably 3 but maybe as many as 5 marbles under the stove. How many marbles do you have now? How long before you lose ALL your marbles completely?

·      Now let’s talk about Girl Scout cookies. If a = the number of Samoas in a box, and b = the number of people in my family, and c = the number of cookies I want to eat, and d = the number of cookies I can realistically blame my brother-in-law for eating on his last visit, then how do I calculate how many cookies I can eat with my glass of chardonnay tonight while still leaving enough for my family members to each have one and not be mad at me?

·      Speaking of Girl Scout cookies, how many pounds can you gain before having to buy larger jeans? How does your answer change if you give up on jeans and just wear yoga pants? What if you wear yoga pants with a long shirt tied around your waist?

·      If Child A needs to take 5 milligrams of Amoxicillin for an ear infection two times a day and Child B needs to take 7 grams of Amoxicillin for HIS ear infection one time a day, how do you keep track of who has taken how much medicine from which bottle and when? If you screw it up, what percentage chance do you have of creating a “Superbug” that is resistant to all antibiotics and will plague all the juvenile residents of your home with repeat ear infections throughout the entire winter?  If you do manage to get all the doses right, what percentage chance is there that everyone will STILL get repeat ear infections all winter?

·      And speaking of antibiotics, exactly how many doses of Amoxicillin must a two-year-old take before his digestive tract revolts and you must buy stock in Clorox wipes and laundry detergent?

·      Finally, if you and your husband want to eat Trader Joe’s Sweet and Sour Chicken that needs to cook for 20 minutes at 425 degrees, but your children insist on Trader Joe’s Breaded Chickenless Nuggets that need to cook for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, how on earth do you get your family fed on time and all at once without spending more than 5 minutes standing in front of the stove holding two boxes of frozen food wondering WTF you learned in Math for Trees that you still can’t figure this out?

If you know the answer to any of these questions, please let me know. I’ll be over here scraping charred Breaded Chickenless Nuggets into the trash. Again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Did I Marry Mr. Wrong?

I came to an unsettling realization recently: I married the wrong man.

Don’t get me wrong—I love my husband. A lot. He is my best friend, my soul mate, an amazing dad, the whole package. But there’s just no denying that marrying him was a huge mistake. Another man would have been a better choice.

I should have married a pediatrician.

One of my all-time favorite pediatricians.
Think of all the worry I could have avoided! All the questions I could have had answered with no copay or waiting! Like, does my one-year-old wake up 5 times a night, every freakin’ night, because something is wrong with him OR because he’s a pain in the butt? And, is my preschooler hearing impaired or do all kids his age talk so loudly they scare the cats? If I had just married a pediatrician, the whole why-is-my-newborn’s-poop-dark-brown-instead-of-yellow-like-the-books-say-it-should-be fiasco would have just been a sentence in our parenting story, rather than a whole chapter. If I had married a pediatrician, the latest period of our lives—The Ear Infection Epoch—would have involved a lot less time watching Toy Story 2 in 20-minute increments in the doctor’s waiting room. (I think I have now technically seen the whole movie, in jumbled up bits and pieces.)

BUT…on the other hand, we are lucky to have access to good pediatricians. We have health insurance for ourselves and our kids, so seeing a doctor doesn’t necessarily break the bank. I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom for now, so we don’t have to rearrange work schedules to get the kids seen.


Never mind. Forget marrying a pediatrician. I should have married a veterinarian.

Chris O'Donnell--hot vet on Grey's Anatomy
Again, think of all the worry I could have avoided! All the questions I could have had answered without paying outrageous fees or having to shove snarling balls of furry fury into the cat carriers! Like, should I worry when my cat sits in the corner staring at the blank wall like there’s something there? And, really truly what is a normal number of times for a cat to barf in a week? If I had just married a veterinarian, maybe he’d have some idea about how to deal with the girl cat—a gorgeous, long-haired calico who is also a raging b*tch who won’t let anyone but me and, inexplicably, just one of my two sisters, get near her. (Since that sister lives about 2,000 miles away, she can’t be relied upon to help with fun things like applying flea medicine and cleaning the cat’s, um, “bikini area,” which the cat is too fat to groom properly. How great is that?)

But wait. My cat hates everyone. She stares daggers at my kids and hisses at my actual husband whenever he dares to get within 10 feet of her. Who’s to say she’d be friendlier to my fantasy veterinarian-husband? He’d still probably have to use general anesthesia to so much as listen to her heart, like my actual veterinarian has to do. While I’m sure we’d get a family discount on the drugs, there’s only so much of that stuff he could give away for free. And I’d still be risking life and limb (OK, mostly just fingers) every time I had to get Her Highness into the carrier.

(Are you thinking right now, “Um, Molly? It’s the 21st century. Why are you bemoaning the fact that you didn’t marry into all this expertise when you could just as well have become a pediatrician or veterinarian yourself?” Well, you just may have a point there…)


Good news, everyone! It turns out I married the right man! He is funny, tall, smart, kind, and just about all-around wonderful, despite his woeful lack of medical expertise—either human or veterinarian. (Did I say handsome? I meant to say handsome. WOW, is he handsome. I should have said that first. Babe, if you’re reading this—whoo hoo! Are you a handsome devil!) I am a very lucky woman. After all, who else is married to a man who explains to our kids why our toilet clogs by making up a game called “Big Poop, Little Poop?” Who else is married to a man who—thanks to his Xbox and a fervent love of sci fi—could keep us all safe during a zombie apocalypse? Who else is married to a man who has managed to ensure that our sons’ favorite songs are by Creedence Clearwater Revival, rather than Raffi? Turns out I am very lucky, indeed.

Oh yeah. Since I’ve decided to keep him, I guess that means I need to come up with a gift for our fifth wedding anniversary later this month. Anyone have any fabulous ideas to show the man of my life how much I appreciate him?