Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Super Moms Rule(d Out)

A couple weeks ago, a USA Weekend insert in our paper featured a cover story titled "6 Super Moms Share Their Top Tips." Out of curiosity, I looked at the article. I wanted to see how to be a Super Mom, of course. Plus, that mom on the cover with her daughter looked really happy...

Here's what I learned:

  • Super Moms do yoga with their kids before breakfast.
  • Super Moms do lunges and crunches while holding their babies.
  • Super Moms shop at J. Crew or Ann Taylor instead of spending on designer fashions.
  • Super Moms use moisturizers that come with UV protection and a touch of color.
  • Super Moms stick with classics like black trousers and a crisp white shirt -- and customize with jewelry.
  • Super Moms feed their 2 year olds ethnic food.
  • Super Moms add rosemary and Parmesan to their popcorn.
  • Super Moms take their play groups to retirement homes around the holidays.
  • Super Moms review the expiration dates on their first aid supplies.
  • Super Moms don't give up on challenges.

As I said above, this article ran a couple weeks ago, and I still can't stop being annoyed by it.

First, what's with the label Super Mom? Are there also Garden-Variety or Lesser Moms?

Second, these are lamest and most superficial set of Mom tips I've ever seen. Where's the tip about how to best clean up cat vomit? Or how to get your kids to remember their coats? Or how to make a wholesome dinner from pepperoni, carrots, and yogurt?

Third, these tips cannot possibly bring true happiness, success, or superness. I'd bet my next paycheck that I'm just as super wearing unaccessorized sweats and eating plain popcorn.

Backing up a little, I'm sure the editorial content of USA Weekend isn't of critical standards, so I shouldn't have expected much. But I didn't expect to get so fully bonked on the head with a big rubber mallet of vacuous blabber.

Oh, Mr. Media. When will you stop trying to make us all feel so incomplete and ordinary?

I can't get this song out of my head:

"Little Boxes" (by Malvina Reynolds)

Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses all went to the university
Where they were put in boxes and they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and there's lawyers, and business executives
And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course and drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children and the children go to school
And the children go to summer camp and then to the university
Where they are put in boxes and they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dear Max

Dear Max:

You turned 6 a few days ago. It was a low-key birthday -- cupcakes at school, presents, pizza, and Beatles Rock Band -- and you seemed very happy. So I'm glad we didn't plan for more.

You are a funny little 6 year old. I'm pretty sure you don't think you're 6; rather, you were born 9 in your mind. Like Will. You've never seemed like a little boy. Physically, you've always had great balance and coordination. Mentally, your amazing memory is your gift, to be sure. Emotionally, you're as steady and predictable as a train schedule. And when you walk into a room, people smile. Probably because of the rascally look in your raven-black eyes.

That all said, you have your quirks. You make paper underwear. You won't wear shirts with buttons or zippers. No interest in group activities such as soccer or Cub Scouts (though you did give in to t-ball this past spring--because Will plays baseball, I'm sure). You have little interest in friends or playdates beyond those of your brother. No dirty hands or maple syrup drips on your shirts from your morning pancakes or waffles. Like your sister, you seem to prefer order to chaos, and I don't think we'll have struggles with you over homework, as you're completely on task with all things related to school. So far. You don't strike me as a typical absent-minded, off-in-another-world adolescent boy.

Games, games, games are your world. I'm not sure we've done right by you as parents by allowing you so much access to video games. But you're #3 -- you've been granted the Many Freedoms of Birth Order -- and the World of Kids is a new place these days, so it all is what it is. I have visions of your college days including lots of late nights in some online gaming world or playing poker.

When you're without your siblings, you're rather quiet, easy going, hardly noticed. You also play shy in social situations, but you are no wallflower. In any family discussion, your voice is heard -- loudly and clearly. In school, your teachers also tell me your voice is heard -- more often than they would prefer, actually. (You also say "actually" a lot.) When you called the class bully a "turd" last year in Kindergarten, we knew you'll have no problem holding your own in any social structure or conflict. I just hope that hutzpa doesn't get you in too much trouble.

My hopes for your next year are that you can establish a solid first-grade groove at school, enjoying learning and succeeding at new responsibilities like homework. I hope you can establish some good friendships that are all yours (e.g. not Will's). I hope you don't provoke bullies. I hope you still reach out to hold my hand when we're walking out to the garden together. Of course, staying healthy is always at the top of the wish list. And I hope you hold strong to your "Party of One" happiness and stride. It's a perfect way to tackle being 6.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ode to Julia

Below is my ode to Julia Child, after seeing the delightful movie Julie and Julia a few weeks ago...a tomato galette from Baking With Julia:

While the galette looked pretty, Husband and I both agreed that we prefer a flatbread to a galette in this sort of a treatment. Galette dough is rather sweet and buttery -- though easy to make and roll out. I would also have preferred feta cheese to the called-for cheddar.

(Did I just say I preferred something over cheddar cheese? Shame on me, I know.)

The cornmeal we used in the dough was also quite grainy, so certain bites felt like they were bruising the fillings in my teeth. But that's no fault of the recipe, of course (or maybe, of coarse...)

I wish I could tell you the tomatoes were from my garden, but they've fallen to the late blight. So these tomatoes are from Farmer Paul Mazza. The basil we used was from out back however.

So while we enjoyed but didn't love the galette, I did love the movie. The blogging theme hit close to home, the acting was terrific, the historical view of cooking was very interesting, and the story was sweet. Go see it.

(204 words)