Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Friday, February 20, 2009

Going Batty

Our kids' obsessions seem to progress in lockstep fashion. Both kids were totally gone for Thomas the Tank Engine until just after their (Thomas-themed) fourth birthday parties; then, at four years plus one day, we abruptly transitioned into "all Justice League, all of the time." While PJ is channeling Superman in this photo, both boys are in total and complete agreement that Batman beats all. Connor was Batman for Halloween two years in a row (okay, technically he was Batman the first year and Batman Beyond the second, and if you have boys in your life then you, too, know that the former is Bruce Wayne and the latter is Terry McGinnis, but I digress) and he enjoyed wearing his costumes - well, everywhere. The highlight was the evening trip to Walgreens with his dad: Connor, sporting the "old- school, non-muscle-chest" gray, black and yellow getup, refused to hold Parnell's hand in the parking lot ("because people will know that I'm not really Batman") and then serenaded folks in the office supply aisle with a very loud rendition of "Play That Funky Music, White Boy." Complete with choreography. Guess the anonymity of the mask and cowl is a bit empowering?

My oldest (at the age of four and a half) explained the appeal thusly: "Superman is a superhero because he was born an alien. Spider Man got lucky and was bitten by a radioactive spider. But Bruce Wayne is a superhero because he is smart and good at business." (Those of you who know Connor understand that he was born a miniature Donald Trump with better hair, so his opinion on the subject? Really, not all that surprising. However, we were quite amused to hear the Sheldon character on "Big Bang Theory" advance the same theory last season. Come to think of it, Connor's got a lot of Sheldon in him as well - but I digress again.)

Mom's also a Batman fan, but for another reason. See, the Justice League Unlimited version of Batman/Bruce Wayne? Totally and completely hot. Broad shoulders, barrel chest, piercing blue eyes, sexy-as-heck voice . . . definitely not the "kind of effeminate/hangs out WAY too much with Robin" Batman from my childhood. Clearly, the JLU people were marketing geniuses: if Mom happens to find the show less grating then - well, Scooby Doo, for one (Freddy and Shaggy - definitely not hot), she's less likely to protest when the kids chunk the DVDs in the basket at Super Target, right? To up the mom-friendly quotient, they've scripted it so that everyone hooks up with everyone - Wonder Woman is crushing on Batman, Green Arrow's got a thing for Black Canary, Green Lantern's involved in a love triangle, etc. It's like "Grey's Anatomy," only McDreamy can shoot laser beams out of his eyes.

Anyway, I've begun putting my Batman obsession to good use with Parnell. When he gets out of line, I throw the spectre of Bruce Wayne in his face. As in: "Bruce Wayne would not break his arm hanging Christmas lights. Bruce would have Alfred hire the whole manor done. Then he'd fly me to Tahiti for the holiday." Hey - it could happen.

Retail Therapy

Things I'm digging in February:

New scents from Bath & Body Works (Blushing Cherry Blossom and Dancing Waters), and old favorites like Enchanted Orchid
Slatkin & Co. Fresh Bamboo candles
Wide-legged denim trousers
My new Nicole Miller sunglasses with amber-tinted lenses (but I don't dig them as much as Lindsay's purple Lacoste shades, which she stubbornly refuses to give me)
My new hot pink Skullcandy earbuds (purchased to replace the old pair that the cat chewed through); they are total noise-cancelling awesomeness, plus they are cute, and none of the males in my family will go near them because they are pink
"Butterfly" and "Make It Mine" off of Jason Mraz's latest CD

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Mardi Gras Tree

I came, I decorated, I was satisfied . . . for awhile. And then I decided I wanted the darned thing out of my house. But it was up for the first three weeks of the year, and it made me feel very subversive. The gaudy tinsel is now filling a trifle bowl on top of a bookcase, various of the gaudy ornaments and the excess beads are filling vases throughout the house, and there it all will stay until the 24th. The mantel is similarly bedecked (don't have a photo of that), and I've tucked Mardi Grad coins and "dollar bills" into picture frames here and there for a little extra "purposeful whimsy." Oh, and the dining room table is rocking a MAH-di GRAH centerpiece, too.

We're taking the grandparents (great-grandmother included) to Ridglea's jazz brunch this weekend, I've got some of my girls coming over on Fat Tuesday night and then we're thinking about venturing to Buttons for more jazz and some late-night crawfish done Ken Hicks style. This is one of the recipes I'm planning on making on Tuesday - it combines two of my all-time favorites, King Cake and bread pudding:


4½ ounces Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate
4 cups king cake, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
½ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325ºF. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and egg yolks until well blended then set aside. In a large saucepan, combine whipping cream, milk and sugar. Bring mixture to a low simmer then add chocolate. Whisk mixture until chocolate is completely melted. Remove pot from heat and, stirring quickly, add whipped eggs to the cream mixture. Blend thoroughly to keep eggs from scrambling. In a 8" x 8" baking dish, place king cake cubes. Pour chocolate mixture over the cake. Using your fingertips, press cake gently allowing the cream mixture to be absorbed evenly. Cover dish with aluminum foil and allow to soak a minimum of 30 minutes prior to baking. Bake, covered, for approximately 1 hour. Remove foil and bake 20 additional minutes or until top is golden brown. This bread pudding is actually better if chilled in the refrigerator overnight, after baking, then cut into squares and heated in individual portions in the microwave. You may wish to create a chocolate sauce for topping the bread pudding by combining 8 ounces of melted chocolate and 3 ounces of heavy whipping cream. This may be done in a double boiler or microwave. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Happy New Year . . . A Tad Late

Okay, so it's February 18th . . . better late than never, right? Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned: it's been two months since my last post (although I did draft a Valentine's Day shout-out the other day, which I am publishing along with this one; see below).

We had a fabulous Christmas chez McGlinchey, broken arm notwithstanding. If your biggest complaint is that there are too many presents and too many celebrations (Christmas Eve with Parnell's family, Santa and "immediate family" presents at our house Christmas morning, and Christmas dinner with my folks), then you have nothing to complain about. Uncle Alex and Aunt Dahna won the prize for best gifts this year - Connor finally got his big robot (prior to Christmas '08, he'd been forced to make do with the small, non-programmable Robo Sapien and Robo Panda - however did he survive?), and Parker got, among other items, a carton of light-up Tonka vehicles that elicited a very enthusiastic, "I've been waiting for this gift MY ENTIRE LIFE." Our next door neighbors and good friends the Flynns also scored major points with a giant glow-in-the-dark "pinpression" toy (big enough to create a mask of your entire face; cool!), among other creative play toys. (Mom particularly appreciated the "I TRIPLE DOG-DARE YOU" bag, a la "A Christmas Story," in which the bags arrived.)

Parnell and I had as much fun giving gifts this year as receiving them. Always stumped for ideas for his brothers, we decided to send Zan and Patrick bungee jumping, and all of the males over the age of four (sorry, Parker!) received paintball park passes. (My sister-in-law and I plan on tagging along to take pictures and make fun of the crybabies.) I also particularly enjoyed giving Connor his Cub Scout "badge blanket" . . . until the iron-on job that I did on the badges decided not to hold, and they all started coming off. Whoops. Learning to use a sewing machine - it's on my bucket list.

Parnell got his cast off mid-January and is none the worse for wear. And I got my Mardi Gras tree (see the next entry) . . . .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Hearts Day

We celebrated our first anniversary in NYC, and, while there, purchased a Brian Andreas
"Storypeople" print (from the gift shop at the Public Library, I think?) that summed up our relationship to that point. It reads: "I was waiting for such a long time, she said. I thought you forgot. It's hard to forget, I said, when there is such an empty space when you are gone." We framed it and hung it by the front door of our apartment, and it occupies a similar place in our home today.

Fast forward twelve years . . . . Last year for Valentine's Day, Parnell bought me a new laptop. (Unromantic, you say? Did I mention that it was red? Did I also mention that I love it, love it, love it?) This year, we agreed to stick with electronics - a new VCR/DVD combo with burner, so all of the various kid VCR tapes that we are reluctant to part with can be burned to disc and stored in a binder, rather than taking up a drawer in our bedroom and one in Connor's. (If you've been married for a long time, and have kids, then you understand - reclaiming two large drawers' worth of space is a very big deal - quite liberating, and maybe even a little sexy?) We've been picking up other little things along the way (Parnell has to have his Valentine's chocolate - not the kind in a heart-shaped box, but a big gift bag filled with Hershey bars, Reese's cups, etc. - and he bought me a beautiful tulip arrangement, knowing that I don't like getting cut flowers as a gift; I'd rather have something living), but we agreed that grand sentimental gestures are no longer strictly necessary.

Then I stopped in Artful Hand after leaving the hair salon yesterday (same shopping center, and the salon was burning this really great candle that they got at AH), and right next to the candles was a Storypeople display. I ended up getting one for each of my "boys," and they are all totally sappy (and one had the indirect effect of making one of my boys feel like crud; see below):

For the husband: "Tied together by stuff too difficult to explain to someone new." (Note: This is not to be interpreted as, "I'm sticking with you because it would be too difficult to break in a replacement." Again, if you've been married awhile, with kids, you should get the message.)

For the 'tween son: "There has never been a day when I have not been proud of you, I said to my son, though some days I'm louder about other stuff so it's easy to miss that."

For the baby: "The first time his laughter unfurled its wings in the wind, we knew that the world would never be the same."

The "proud" one made Parnell wince a bit, because it's kind of been World War III at our house for the last few days. After years of playing short order cook to our very picky oldest child (whose tendencies are beginning to rub off on the youngest ones), Dad drew the line in the sand, and the new rule is "everyone eats the same thing for dinner, no exceptions, and if you don't finish your dinner, no snacks will be offered." (This constitutes a revision of Dad's first, rather hastily - and angrily - conceived rule of "you WILL eat this cheeseburger macaroni, even if it's for breakfast tomorrow morning, or dinner tomorrow night, because I'm not letting you eat ANYTHING ELSE until you eat THIS, and we're NEVER bringing another snack in this house, EVER." After he calmed down, I persuaded him that the first draft of the rule was a bit Draconian, totally unworkable, and likely to get us in trouble with Child Protective Services.) The first night, Parker forced himself to throw up (and by "up," I do mean "up" - it got in his hair somehow?). The second night, Connor reluctantly consumed his small helping of chicken, vegetables and penne pasta in Alfredo sauce, and we all learned that (1) yellow bell peppers are better than red or orange ones and (2) he actually kind of likes zucchini - "scratch that, Mom - I just don't mind it as much as some of the others." (Hey, I'll work with what I can get.)

Meanwhile, Drama Boy threw himself on the floor, moaning, "Do you WANT me to kill myself? Because I WILL kill myself, on the count of 1 - 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 . . . 2 . . . um, 1. Because I really WILL kill myself. I'm not kidding about this."

So Connor finished, and - per a previously negotiated agreement - he and I headed out to Curly's for drive-through fro yo (Mom), a root beer float (Dad) and fruit punch slush (Connor). Dad stayed home with Parker, since Parker had not touched his food. As Connor and I approached the house (after a five-minute round trip - Curly's is blocks away), we saw Dad's car pulling out - he rolled down the window and announced, "We're going to Curly's - see you in a minute." Apparently, seeing big brother get a reward was all it took. Parker consumed his now-cold dinner in seconds flat (and, after the first bite, said "Oh - this is actually really good").

Long story short - we haven't won the food fight, but we're on the attack, and gaining positive ground.