Sunday, November 29, 2009

That [Manic] Time of Year...

(imagine what I'd do to a dog...)

This time of year is insane for me. Of course the holidays are crazy for every mom, but wedge in 2 birthdays and a huge church party and you too may find yourself mentally rocking in a corner in the fetal position.

Yet hosting 20 people for Thanksgiving turned out to be the eye of the storm. The fact that I had time to make festive gerbil headgear on Thursday morning speaks volumes. The key is inviting the right people. And making your friend Lindy set and decorate your tables. We had 3 turkeys (smoked, deep fried, and brined), mounds of sides, piles of rolls, and enough pies to induce diabetes in an elephant. We played games, read gossipy magazines, slept, laughed--in short, it turned out to be an amazing day. And Anne did all the dishes (she insisted, seriously she did).

On Friday my real work began for our church's annual wreathmaking party, which Dave calls Belmont Ward Prom (see my last year's post). I am in charge of food (pause for laughter). I think they called me because they are (once again) trying to scale things back and figured that putting a Hobo in charge of refreshments is one way to keep things from being too high-falutin. I really had to resist the urge to use a recipe that involved Velveta and Dave wanted me to serve squirrel. I don't speak Foodie, but I am well versed in Comfort Food so I planned on meatballs and bacon laden mini quiche and 450 mini cupcakes and every bar you can imagine (blondies, brownies, gingerbread, oatmeal bars, apricot bars, lemon bars, peppermint chocolate bars, coconut bars, caramel bars...). Tons of people helped so it was doable. But very exhausting.

I conned Dave into making the little cupcake trees for me and tossed the whole decorate the table stuff to Lisa and Christine who know how to work a pomegranate. So although we started out swearing we'd simplify things, it was just as fancy and over the top as it should be. But in my defense, I did do away with all utensils. No forks or spoons needed. Just toothpicks which again, are kinda Hobo.

Seriously there is a whole other post in my head about the "Anti-Wreathites" (tm Becca) who hate this annual party and almost succeeded in derailing it this year. And as my hand was cramping while decorating mini cupcake #411, I started to go to the dark side myself and had very Grinchy thoughts but I drowned them with a Big Gulp of Diet Coke. And then when the second giant batch of marshmallow whip cream frosting wouldn't set up and we added 2lbs of powdered sugar to stiffen it and it still fell and now tasted like a sugar cube dipped in Fluff, I was very discouraged and cursed my Boston Foremothers for instituting such a time consuming tradition. But then Brittany drizzled chocolate on the top and lo and behold, a Wreathmaking Miracle occurred. They were not only passable but by far the favorite cupcake. "How did you make this frosting?" "These white ones are delicious--I can't get enough!" Oh the bad frosting that was turned into manna. I can't believe I ever doubted.

Now that the huge Mormon Ladies Winter Extravaganza is over, I should be turning my attention to that little holiday coming up, what's it called? Oh yeah, CHRISTMAS. This weekend we got a tree and decked the halls watched Miracle on 34th Street, Mr. Kruger's Christmas, Frosty, and The Grinch (cartoon, not Jim Carey).

But before I can really wrap my head around Santa, our Millie has a huge milestone. On Friday she turns 8. For us that means she is old enough to be baptized an official member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My mom is already here and Grandma Dava and Grandpa Russ arrive this weekend along with Steph et al from Jersey and Lee et al from Albany to participate. Mills is really excited and so are we. If you're in the Belmont area on the 12th, show up at the chapel for a nice little programs and some yummy treats after. Probably some bars. Nothing too fancy, I promise.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Little Women/Little Men

My house has been filled with magic. Much to my delight, we've had house guests for the past few days and the ensuing chaos has been so enjoyable. Don't you just love it when some of your favorite people get their bathroom remodeled and turn life into a big sleepover? The magic is how well these kids get along. Ellie, Gigi & Bells blend seamlessly with my girls.

They pass their days playing Harry Potter, casting spells and working on their British accents. I'm not going to pretend it's been perfect. On Saturday I kept finding white powdery stuff all over the carpets. It turns out they used confectioners sugar as "floo powder" for magical transportation. And today they emptied 4 bottles of shampoo in their "potions" lessons. But it's all worth it when the 3 oldest have string practice. That Gigi is amazing on the cello, and I got all teary listening to Georgia and Ellie play "Away in a Manger." Of course attention hogs Bells & Bea had to then sing for us...endlessly. I felt like Marmie March watching Jo et al with pride & joy.

Jonah has loved having Peter here, sharing his room and his nerf guns skills with joy. But the spell was broken when Danny returned Monday nite with their new puppy, Thatcher. Jonah is so jealous he wouldn't even speak to me that nite. He puppy sat today for a while, and thinks he is wearing me down by repeatedly pointing out how cute Thatch is.

Which leads me to my next story. Monday morning Bea said to me: "Now that the Snows have a dog, they should get a cat. And the dog will get bigger than the cat, and then the dog will attack the cat and hurt its leg. Then Danny will have to shoot the cat, and it won't die, so Pop will need to go kill it. Then he'll pop it in a bag, bring it home, skin it and cook it so we can have cat for dinner. Won't that be yummy mom? Won't it?!"

I sat there wondering what evil carnivore had taken over my precious baby who was salivating over a house pet. I know where this came from. It's the damn squirrel thing. Danny shot that squirrel which didn't die, so Dave finished it off before serving it to the kids. Now she thinks everything is fair game. Dave is delighted. Having lived in Hong Kong he adopted the notion that anything lower than homo sapiens is fare food game. When we lived in China a kid we knew showed up one day with two fuzzy ducklings in a shoebox. I tentatively asked what she planned to do with them when they got big. She looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "I will cut off their heads and eat them of course." The implied "duh" was almost audible.

"Sweetie," I said, "we don't eat cats. Ever." Bea's face fell and she replied, "When I'm big, can I kill a squirrel and eat it all by myself?" I sighed, resigned that my Grizzly Adams husband had a tiny convert. "Yes. You can eat squirrel." She ran off happily, probably going to practice choking a stuffed animal.

But we are all a little warped in our house. It comes with being Hobos. This evening Georgia came into my room and said, "Mom, I found this in my hair." I literally lept off the bed and my scalp began itching uncontrollably. I saw something black between her fingers. When I got it under the light I sighed with relief, "It's just a tick--not lice!" What is wrong with me that the threat of Lyme disease is somehow preferable to having cooties?
All I know is that this Hobo Mama has loved the magical chaos of our temporary commune. Anyone else have a bathroom in need of remodelling? Come on over!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hits & Misses

Hit: Exotic meat. Tonite Dave killed, skinned, gutted & cooked a squirrel. The girls went crazy for it.

: Vermin. I tried really hard not to vomit just thinking about it. I barely do dark poultry meat.

: Lilyrose Florals ( is the flower business my friend Linda is starting. Not only should you check out her gorgeous arrangements, but those lovely models as well... If you live in Boston, hire this woman for your next event.

Miss: Sting-a-ling-a-ling. While at Target the other day, I saw that Sting had a new funky Christmas album out, "If on a winter's night." I was so excited (my first concert was The Police's Ghost in the Machine tour of 81/82--thanks Hon!). Until I listened to it. Has Sting started smoking 15 packs a day? There are one or two that don't suck. Made me want to cry. Not in a good way.

Hit: The new shows that we are lovin are Community (I could not stop giggling about "Mexican Halloween") and The Middle. Great acting. Great dialogue. The jury is out on Flashforward (it makes me miss Lost already). Too many Brits with fake American accents (I am NOT talking about you Simon Baker--I love how your Aussieness occasionally sneaks thru)
Miss: Nasty old ladies who ram into your car in the library parking lot, even though you honk like mad before she makes contact, and then accuses you of hitting her rust bucket.

: When people in uber liberal Cambridge use Republican as a swear word. For example, "You are a nasty piece of work and I bet you're a Republican to boot!!!" It's the "R" word.

Having kids get the swine flu. I know why it's called that. You spend so much time attending to whiny, needy kids that your house turns into a pigsty.

Hit: Getting everyone well enough to trick or treat and eating so many homemade donuts you feel like Homer Simpson.