I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Culinary genius

I am a great fan of culinary experimentation - heck, it's how I learned to cook in the first place. Which reminds me, here is a little known fact. When I was a kid, one of my favourite after-school snacks was sauteed mushrooms. Now I had NO idea this is what it was. I just came home one day, found some mushrooms, sliced them and then decided to fry them in a nob of butter. I then ate this on toast ... ooohhh, bliss! I didn't know that I was essentially eating a fairly classic French delicacy. I just knew it tasted damn good - seriously drool worthy, especially on a circa 1970's bright orange square shaped plastic Tupperware plate. (Part of a set. The other three colours were brown, burnt orange, and mustard yellow.) While we're on the topic of "why Michelle has been fat her whole life" another of my favourite after school snacks was this: Take a mug and fill it about 3/4 full with milk. Then take a packet of (Original) Chips Ahoy cookies and shove about 5-6 in there. Wait a few minutes, and then mash those down with a spoon. Then put in another few cookies - maybe 3-4. Wait (but not quite as long) and mash. Then proceed to eat the entire mushy, milky, cookie-squashed mess, and take great excitement in the fact that most of the chocolate chips fall to the bottom. Reason # 3 would be Wonder Bread and Best Foods mayonnaise and Hebrew National bologna, but let's not go into that right now.

So my young self was right into the culinary experimentation, at least on a snack level. We were blessed to have a series of underpaid but well loved maids from various third world South American countries working for us, so I never did much in the way of actual COOKING a meal, per se. Snacks, though? Right up my alley. Actually this is true to this day - I adore snacks much more than actual meals. There is just something so comforting about snacks. Not pre-made, processed snacks - just the idea of having a tiny meal rather than a big one. Strangely, though, I never got into that "eat six small meals a day" diet thing. Where is the romance, the excitement, the thrill, the comfort and the joy if EVERY meal is a snack? PUH-leeze. I want to eat a steak with 3 veg and some carbs and then 30 minutes later have a 'snack' of ice cream and/or dry cereal.

But I digress. The point of this post is to say that if blogs and websites were as prevalent in the early 80's as they were today, I surely would have been addicted to this website. True genius, I tell you. TRUE genius. (I suggest starting your viewing with the Top 20 on the right hand side. I *heart* the Oreo one...)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Where do I F.I.T.?

On the weekend I read about two new acronyms. The first, coined by American Helen Kirwan-Taylor, in this article, is SMUM: Smart, Middle-Class, Uninterested Mother. Essentially it describes mothers who aren't all that into parenthood - they'd rather be out with friends and doing non-parenting stuff rather than be with their kids. The title of her story says it all, really: "Sorry, but my children bore me to death." Needless to say there has been a backlash to this (of course requiring another acronym): SCAM - Smart, Child-Centered, Active Moms (term coined by Erika Schnickel in this article). I read the descriptions of these parents, which are:

Example of a SMUM: "blowing off birthday parties to get her highlights done, text messaging friends through Disney movies and using work as a means of escape from {children}..." (Helen's description)

Example of a SCAM: "superachieving moms who hand-letter birthday invitations, spend their days in imaginative play with their toddlers, bake from scratch and joyfully embrace each moment spent with their supergifted offspring." (Erika's description).

Since I'm sure this issue has been Mommy blogged to death, I'm not really going to enter into the fray. The question I AM going to ask is, where do *I* fit in with these? Would I blow off a birthday party to get my hair done? HELL YEAH. Would I text message through a Disney movie? HELL YEAH. Do I often want an escape from my children? HELL YEAH. Do I hand letter birthday invitations? HELL YEAH. Did I spend days of imaginative play with my toddlers? HELL YEAH. Do I bake from scratch? (Excuse me while I just laugh at this one.) Do I joyfully embrace blah blah blah? HELL YEAH. I won't ask if they're supergifted. Hello, people, they're MY kids. 'Course they are.

So, then, what am I? Truth is, kids were never part of my original life plan. We all know that, right? So as a result, I don't find Barney enthralling. I fall asleep during Blue's Clues. There is no worse torture for me than attending kids' birthday parties (and I include my own kids' parties in that.) Sometimes the noise and chaos and plain ol' stress of being a parent means that when the kids are not home, I sigh an enormous sigh and think, "OH THANK GOD!" My time at the gym is my selfish time, when I don't have to listen to kids asking me for stuff, or getting in my personal space. I adore them - but I'm glad to have my time away from them. So clearly I must be a SMUM, right? Heck, we all know I'm smart, I'm pretty much middle class, and I'm a Mum. There are definetly times when I am completely uninterested in my children.


I hand write invitations - shit, I even GLUE stuff on and fold them and decorate them and do stickers. Stickers, people! I make stuff from scratch. Like as in ALL THE TIME. I play imagination games with them, I get excited for and about them, and in general I try to be as attentive a parent as I can be. Why? Because I'm only going to have ONE SHOT at this parenthood biz. ONE. That's it. I made a very distinct choice to have children - it wasn't a natural decision for me, it wasn't an extension of the usual married/house/kids pattern. On top of all that, DH and I paid a FORTUNE for the kids. I endured no end of medical poking, prodding, and PAIN to have them (and this was before I was even pregnant, mind you.) Now while the above parents may or may not have gone through what we did, they still MADE A CHOICE to become parents. So if you choose to bring another person onto this earth, why in heaven's name would you then choose to ignore them, or not bother to enjoy them? Seems like such a waste of effort .

So where, dear blog readers, does this leave me? I'm an actively involved baking-from-scratch parent - who will gladly trade playdates for hair appointments. I'm BOTH of these parents, but without the extreme bits which go crusty around the edges. I'd venture to say that MOST of the women I know (and men too) are a mixture of these parents - which is to say, totally, 100%, completely normal. Why do women insist on beating one another up for the choices they make? Why do we have to come up with some bullshit acronyms to justify our parenting style? Can we not just agree that everyone does it differently, but most of us end up with happy and well-adjusted kids?

This reminds me of the ONE piece of advice I give to parents of new multiples - or really, parents of ANY kind who ask my advice, or say things like, "How did you cope?" My answer is actually two-pronged. First, I say, you have to only do TWO things every day: LOVE THEM, and FEED THEM. Then, I say, you need only do WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. Parenting is not a cookie-cutter skill. Parenting each child is SO different - hell, I'm parenting 3 at the same time and can safely say that I parent them differently. Very differently, because they are different people.

Maybe Poppet's Mum is right. Clearly, I'm a SMUCCAM:

Smart: Often. Check.
Middle Class: Pretty Much. Check.
Uninterested: Sometimes. Check.
Child Centered: Often. Check.
Active: Absolutely. Check.

Mum: ALWAYS. Check.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm also damn proud of it. To celebrate I'm going to go bake something from scratch with my trio of overachievers, then take the snacks and the kids to the playground. While I'm there, I'm going to send text messages to Poppet's Mum while the trio play. Know what that is? It's called real life parenting. (or RLP, if you must.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I am so not cool

For years now, my friend Danielle has affectionately referred to me as a "dag." Now the sad thing is that literally, this term refers to the dirty, smelly, flap o' wool which hangs off the back of a sheep's ass, and gets covered in shit every time it does it's business. No, I'm not kidding. Now in this totally strange country, a "dag" also refers to someone who is (according to Wikipedia) "a likably goofy or unsophisticated person."

Hmmm. Now for a long time I knew this wasn't a compliment, but I also knew it wasn't entirely NOT nice either. Dani herself is a nice person, and every time she said it, it was with a smile and a laugh and a good-natured rib. So I never really got insulted. After all, I KNOW how supremely uncool I am. I KNOW that I am not on the cutting edge of fashion (I *heart* Birkenstocks), technology (my mobile phone is 5 years old), social scene (I'd rather see Billy Joel in concert than the Arctic Monkeys)...etc. In fact I'm so far from the cutting edge, you could say that I am just the crappy knife at the back of the drawer which, when you get it you say, "Why haven't we thrown this stupid thing out yet?" I've never, for one solitary second, been COOL. I've always had friends, I've always been pretty outgoing (except when it comes to the damn small talk), and basically I think I'm either well-liked or well-pitied. But I've never been cool. I'm too fat for cool clothes. I'm too organised and rules-oriented to attend or throw cool parties. What little manners I have make me too un-cool to be mean to people for no reason.

This past Saturday night DH and I got invited to a cocktail party. It didn't take long to realise that frankly, my uncool and very 'daggy' self shouldn't have even accepted the invitation. Uncool Revelation#1: I'm allergic to alcohol and can't drink. I am uncool before I even walk in the door. It's a cocktail party, fer'cripessake! Uncool revelation #2: I asked about dress code, which immediately revealed me as being so uncool as to have to ask that, and then extra uncool when I was surprised to hear that jeans were fine. Uncool revelation #3: We got there an HOUR late and the cool people still had yet to arrive. I even tried being fashionably late and I failed. Uncool revelation #4: I didn't really know anyone except the host and hostess. This requires small talk. Ummm, you already know how I did on this front. Uncool revelation #5: Come midnight, DH and I had to go and rescue the babysitter, while everyone else continued to get slowly smashed and talk about totally inconsequential stuff. Clearly, this party was way too cool for DH and I.

So. Given the choice between a party where everyone is very late, drunk, smoking like chimneys and talking about shit-fuck-all - and being the bit of wool hanging off a sheep's ass....well, I proudly say:


Monday, November 20, 2006

Ugly Shoes Rock

As proof that I am a slave to fashion, I bought the each of the kids their own pair of these today. What the hell, they're not too expensive, come in cool colours, and can get wet. So what if they're ugly? Hell, I've spent a majority of my life wearing these:

Clearly, Ugly Shoes totally ROCK, and the apples don't fall far from the tree.

ETA: 30 Minutes

If you're running on emzee time, then you know that it takes exactly half an hour to get anywhere or do anything. It takes half an hour to bake a cake, cook dinner, bathe the kids, get dressed, have a shower, put on make-up (yes, I do that sometimes) and in general there is nothing which cannot be achieved in half an hour. This magical mystical half hour can then be used in a number of ways, as an excuse for things not getting done. "I didn't think it would take longer than a half hour." "I left 5 minutes late, so I had less than a half hour to get there" "I can do it in half an hour. Why can't you?" and so on and so forth. It's also good to make you seem superior, "Of course I'm early! I left a half hour ago!" "I allowed 30 minutes but it only took about 10." (and so on.) It's a very useful time frame, the ol' half hour. I even use it as a way of deceiving myself when I know I am late for something, but I'm trying to convince myself that I won't be. "Hmmm," I think as I look at the dashboard clock (which shows 6:43 and I need to be there at 6:45 and I'm several kilometers away), "I'll make it. It's hasn't been a FULL half hour yet!"

It's a very flexible half hour.

The half hour can be FULL: precisely 30 minutes, but not including the minute that I left the house in, because when I looked at the clock I can't say for sure if the minute started just then or if 40-odd seconds had gone by or not. Plus it needs to include the minute after I get there, for the same reason.

The half hour can be SHORT: must have been less than 30 minutes because otherwise I SOOOOO would have been there on time.

The half hour, best of all, starts when *I* want it to. Yup, it'll only take me a half hour to get there...but the half hour starts AFTER I've had a shower, gotten dressed, sang a few bits of songs off-key, read just ONE more chapter, wandered around the house in my undies, called a friend and had a snack.

I love living on emzee time, and it's high time others understood it. You want to see me? Gimme a half hour...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Oldies but Goodies

Old people totally creep me out.

There, I said it. Oldies make me uncomfortable. I don't like the smell, the leathery skin, the mumbling, the shaking, miserable, totally creepy house-coat wearing old people of the world. I really hate it when they stretch out a bent, twisted hand in order to stroke your hair and they get their mangled fingers stuck. I don't know what to say to them. But that's just me. I didn't grow up with very many old people. My grandparents (who I adore) lived far away. I didn't have a whole stable of Great Aunties and Great Uncles - thanks to the Holocaust, extended family just didn't happen for me. In some ways this is a good thing, as I rarely had to experience any loss, attend any funerals, or deal with people dying very much.

DH, on the other hand, grew up with a selection of oldies. Some were related to him, some were not, and some (famously) would adopt him in supermarkets and demand rides home. As a result, he is tolerant of oldies. Hell, he spends HOURS researching the oldies we were related to. Since I've been with DH, he's introduced me to a number of really great oldies. Some he is/was related to, others that his family has picked up along the way. Plus, let's face it, his own parents are oldies by defintion. After all, DH himself is not far from being an oldie . So in my own way, I've gotten used to being around oldies. I don't like it, but I can handle it without running from the room and feigning a deep interest in the ceiling tiles in the hallway outside. The thing is, intellectually I know that oldies have a lot to offer. Experience, knowledge, insight and often great comedic moments - the oldies of the world are our true treasures, if only the young 'uns would appreciate them as such. But we don't - or at least, I don't. I can't get past the gnarled hands.

The trio spend a fair amount of time with their beloved grandparents. The grandparents who at the moment are ballroom-dancing, daily-gardening, young-whipper-snapper like in their everyday lives. They aren't crusty. They aren't leathery. They aren't gnarled, bent over, or smelly (except maybe after a day in the garden.) Sure, they have their medical maladies, but on the whole the g'rents are pretty okay. Someday they won't be, though. As much as it pains me to think about it, the g'rents are going to get crusty. And gnarled. And, well...ancient. I'll deal with it - because I knew and loved them in the Days Before Gnarled. The trio will also cope just fine, for the same reason.

Maybe my feelings about other people's children is the same as other people's oldies. In general, I can't stand them. In specific, I might be able to cope with the more mature ones.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bonus, Shmonus

So you know how I worked lots and lots recently? As a thank you for all of our hard work, the owner of the company has invited everyone out to the movies next Monday night. The movie? Keeping Up With The Steins. Essentially it's a movie about the planning of a Los Angeles based Bar Mitzvah. I'm sure the movie is funny. I'm sure I'll be able to relate to it. And I'm damn sure I don't want to go and see it with a bunch of jerks I work with. But it's a free movie, you're saying...and you love movies, emzee! Yes, actually, I do love movies, and given that they cost a fortune to see, how could I possible say no? Well, let me tell you. Here are the reasons why I have no intention of going:

    1. I am the only Jew in the entire company and I grew up in Los Angeles. . At various times, "jokes" have been made about Jews, and the laws of keeping kosher, and how annoying we/it are. The company does cater for Kosher events, and yes, it is somewhat painful to have to only use certain products, to have to kosher an entire kitchen for the purpose, and so on. At the same time, it's so NOT COOL to make anti-Jewish remarks at other times. When the movie choice was announced, there was rather a lot of elbow-nudging and laughing and "Oh, SERIOUSLY? We gotta see a movie about JEWISH people?" Yes, this flick will probably be funny and I'd enjoy it, but there is no way in hell I'm spending my night with jerks like this. I'm guessing the movie is funny because it plays on a number of stereotypes about Jews. The last thing I need is my workmates assuming that my family and I must be *just* like that (even if, maybe, we are, just a little bit... like that).

    2. I spent several weeks working long hours with these people. The BEST way I can think to celebrate would be to go HOME and spend some time with my family. You know, the ones who helped me to actually do those hours you demanded. The ones whose own lives were put on hold or rearranged or whatever, just so I could make your damn sandwiches. You'll excuse me if I don't want to celebrate my achievement by spending MORE time with the people I already spend MORE time with.

    3. Not only do I not want to spend more time with my workmates, but if I'm going to have a (fairly rare for me) night out on the town, I'm going to spend it here - not going to a movie YOU pick, at a theatre YOU pick, at a time YOU pick, because this is what YOU think I need as a "hey thanks for working your guts out." I'm going to sit in that glorious dining room for 5 hours, eating AMAZING food, with some completely remarkable women, and we're going to walk out of there $400 poorer, but millions of dollars richer in laughs shared. THAT is my idea of a celebration.

Now to be fair, the company I work for treats all it's employees very well - we got lots of perks which most food-based businesses don't provide. This whole movie thing, though ....ugh, it just irks me. Theoretically, I suppose, I should be grateful. Hey, they're offering me a night out, and a free movie! However the reasons above pretty much describe why I've now been labeled a "party pooper who doesn't want to be part of the team" by my kitchen mates.

They can all get stuffed. With a gefilte fish.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Who Me? Stage Mother?

DD2 will be performing in her very first ballet recital in two weeks. This is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, it reminds me that she clearly did not get her coordination from moi. I don't *do* dancing, people. I shake and shimmy my boobies and butt around but that's about it. Rhythm? Fuggedabouddit. She, on the other hand, is pretty close to being one of the best students in her class. This kid has style, she's got grace and she really has got those damn light-as-a-feather arms which ballerinas are supposed to have. Her mother has arms which are as light as a small vehicle. Secondly, as the one who demands and needs the most separation from her siblings, this is a real declaration of her independence. She is the only one enrolled in ballet, and this performance is all about HER. Nobody else. To that end she has invited her family and various friends to watch the performance, and has declared that she wants to be in EVERY dance (never mind that her class is only doing one, she wants to do them all.) This is her moment to shine and she is milking it for everything it's worth.

So on Sunday was the dress rehearsal for the show. Here I was thinking I would be the calm, level headed, "yeah so my kid is Barishnikov but so what" self. I could not have been more wrong. First, I was totally stressed out about her hair and make-up. Kids in her ballet class (being no older than 6) are not required or allowed to wear make up, but dammit, my kid was going to have lipstick. AND baby pink eye shadow. AND sparkly lip gloss. AND I was going to re-apply it at the slightest hint of it being crooked or wiped away or - heaven forbid - not sparkly enough. Then the hair. DD2's hair falls between her ears and shoulders, so it's not really long enough for a traditional ballerina bun. However, the costume (and Oh.My.GOD. are they cute) includes a red satin ribbon. So I had to get that ribbon into her hair if it killed me - and mind you, DD2 is the kind of kid who HATES her hair being messed with. She considers tucking her hair behind her ears a travesty. I managed to get the bow in (with a half ponytail). She only got peeved when I straightened the bow for the 3,000th time that morning.

So she was all dressed and ready to go, and we're waiting for her rehearsal to start, and she says, "Mummy, my tummy REALLY HURTS and I want to GO HOME." Now normally, laid back me would have gladly whisked her away to the comfort of home. I'm not a psycho-beauty-contest Mom. I feel no need to pressure kids into activities they don't want to do. I knew, though, that this was DD2's first case of stage fright - all the excitement of the costume, hair, make-up, etc just kinda stressed her out. I get it. But there was NO WAY IN HELL I was leaving that dance studio. DD2 was going to get into that room and she was going to plie and feather-arms and prance around like a freakin' ballerina IF IT KILLED HER. I consoled her with stories of my own stage fright..."You know, sweetie, when Mummy was 16 and she had the worst part in the high school play..." After all, this Mummy didn't do dancing as a kid. In part because I had (and have) 12 left feet and small vehicle arms, and in part because my parents just didn't bother. DD2 begged, pleaded, cried (not real tears) to go home. My crappy "I had stage fright too" consolation stories weren't helping in the slightest bit. She failed to realise that if we'd made it this far, she had no chance of backing out. I didn't re-apply that sparkly lip gloss 14 times to have her GO HOME. I didn't brush, re-brush, and re-re-brush her hair and straighten, re-straighten, and re-re-straighten that damn bow....only to GO HOME. I finally got a girly girl through whom I could live vicariously, and I wasn't going to give up that easily.

It took 10 seconds of her friends realising that their costumes were slippery - and thus enabled them to spin around on the shiny studio floor on their bottoms with their feet in the air - for DD to forget her nerves. She looked at them, looked at me, asked if she could have another application of shiny lip gloss...and took off to spin.

Shortly thereafter her rehearsal started. I stood behind the one-way mirror and watched my beautiful, graceful little girl dance her heart out. I cried tears of pride. Not only were her arms floaty as can be, but her hair and make-up were perfect, and she had a grin which stretched from ear to ear. When she eventually came out of the room, I dried my tears, snatched her up and gave her the biggest, most enormous hug ever, and told her just how proud I was of her. "Mummy?" she asked, "What does immensely mean? You said you are immensely proud of me but I don't know what immensely means." "It means, sweetie, that I'm so proud of you that my heart feels like it will burst."

She did what any self-respecting diva in the making would do. She wiggled out of my arms and said, "Hey! Don't squeeze me so tight! You'll ruin my lipstick!"

Still Got It

Last night, as a gift to myself (and I was very nice and let DH come with me), I went to the Billy Joel concert. Really, after 50+ years, several stints in rehab, a couple of wives, and god knows what else happened to this man, you know, he can really, really KICK SOME MUSICAL BUTT.


Thursday, November 9, 2006

If I Never See Chicken Salad Sandwiches Again

So for the past 10 or so days I have been mired in a world of food, food, food and did I mention the food? Melbourne is in the grips of the Spring Racing Carnival, which means oodles and oodles of hampers, horses, hats, and of course, fashion faux pas. It's a colourful, lively time of year when Melburnians celebrate the fact that gambling, drinking, and acting silly are all national past times to be immensely proud of. Plus there are some weird little skinny guys who actually ride the horses. From am emzee point of view, it has meant that I am working an enormous amount of hours (to feed the revellers), but I'm also making a small fortune.

That being said, I've had one day off in 2 weeks (spent nursing sick DH and DS, mostly) and I've varied in work hours from as little as 9 to as many as 12 and back again, and some mornings I've been up at 1 AM (!!) packing chicken salad sandwiches into expensive shoe boxes and making sure not a single solitary mark is on the $150 box. Yes, $150 for some finger sandwiches in a mark-free, perfectly aligned sticker, fancy-shmancy this is the best sandwich ever hamper box. I shit you not. This is why I love my job. For the record, I did stuff other than chicken salad sandwiches, but ya know, the olfactory assault of chicken and mayo at 1 AM, well, it's something one doesn't forget too easily.

The madness ends on Saturday, after which I will return to normal blogging (instead of collapsing into a heap every day) and I can reclaim my life from the several thousand (literally) chicken salad sandwiches I have had some small part of making. If you think I'm exaggerating the amount of these things, let me assure you that the other day I was involved in the chopping up of 90 KILOS of poached chicken - and that was only for ONE customer, for ONE event. We are talking chicken which weighs as much as four anorexics after a binge, two average sized people, or just one hefty person.

So while I carry on with all the pomp and circumstance of one who is always the chef and never the jockey, amuse yourselves with this.

PS: For those following the "I lost a chunk of thumb in the meat slicer" story - all is well now. After 16 days of constant band-aid wearing and cream shmearing, it's healed nicely.