Dirty double-crosser

So we’ve been trying to toilet train Noodle (I hate the word potty and refuse to use it). A couple of weeks ago, I pulled the little toilet out and put it in our living room. For four days, she was toilet trained. It was glorious. Then she changed her mind.

Noodle is stubborn and/or evil enough that she knows we want her to do it, so she won’t. The other day, I had the following conversation with her as I was changing her diaper:

me: Oh, God, Noodle. Your poop is so nasty. Won’t you just please use the shinte (Amharic word for toilet)?

Noodle: Nope. Never.

me: What if I got you a present?

Noodle: I like presents. I want a stroller.

me, thinking, Score! I was already getting you a stroller for Christmas! You have walked right into my evil plot!: Hmm, maybe. But only if you start using the toilet.

Noodle: Yes. I will pee and poop in the toilet. You will get me a stroller.

me: You have to do it every day, you know. You have to wear knickers (I also hate the word panties. Oh Gawd, it pains me even to type it) and no dappies (Diapers. Man, we talk weird around here) and use the shinte.

Noodle: Okay.

me: You have to thumb swear (sacred Ethiopian ritual wherein you click thumbs and then kiss them).

We thumb swear.

me: Yay!

Noodle: Yeah, I’m not going to do that. You have to buy me TWO strollers.

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Buy this now: Christmas Eve on Sesame Street

It has come to my attention that some (most) of you have never seen Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. I will not get into my feelings on this matter, except to say that it is a HIDEOUS TRAVESTY and YOUR LIVES THUS FAR HAVE BEEN WASTED. Other than that, though, I’ll keep quiet.

I think I first saw this brilliant piece of cinematic art in 1978, when it was first made. Since then, I have watched it almost every year. Sadly, PBS stopped showing it when frigging Elmo came on the scene and they started making all kinds of Elmo Christmas crap. My college boyfriend managed to find the VHS and bought it for me, and I have since bought the DVD for myself and made my siblings and Bucket watch it every year.

Christmas Eve on Sesame Street is a highly entertaining film, wherein Oscar (my favorite Sesame character of all, obviously) tells Big Bird that Santa could never be real, because a guy who’s built like a dump truck could never make it down all those skinny little chimneys. Of course, Big Bird freaks out and tries to figure out how Santa comes. Hilarity ensues, there’s song, dance, and some pretty amazing 1970s clothing. Also, Cookie Monster eats a phone, Oscar goes flying down three flights of stairs, there are some awesome scenes with tiny children (who are probably in their 40s now), and Mr. Hooper lives forever!

I love this movie particularly because it provided me with my first girl crush. I fell in love with Patty, Big Bird’s friend, who looked sort of like my childhood friend Hollie (who inspired me to adopt, at age three). I loved Patty so much that I named my favorite doll after her (despite the fact that doll Patty was blond and blue eyed and movie Patty was Asian), and I slept with her so much that I eventually drooled her face off. Whatever. I totally mummified that shit up. She’s fine now. Probably.

3. Christmas Eve on Sesame Street

I have watched it with Peeta every year since we adopted him (despite the fact that he doesn’t like Sesame Street and never has), and he loves this movie. Noodle only loves Cookie Monster, but she also loves this movie. I don’t want to scare you or anything, but if you don’t buy this for your children for Christmas, you are a terrible parent and they will never, ever forgive you. Assuming they ever hear of this movie, that is. (But I will make it my mission to tell them.)

For every no, there’s a yes

So this weekend, Bucket and I had our romantic weekend at XV Beacon Hotel in Boston, where we slept for something like 20 hours. Seriously. I do not joke about sleep. Anyway, we went out for dinner on Saturday, and we were happily walking down Boylston St. when a homeless dude walked up to us, clad in a long jacket, smoking a cigarette.

He started his sob story: durka durka food kitchen, durka durka praying to God, durka durka can we help? His voice was all trembly and I was all ready to give him one of the shiny golden dollars I have for when Peeta finally loses a tooth, but Bucket said no and we kept walking. I was feeling all guilty, watching him ask another woman for money, until she said no and he came walking past us. And this is what he said to us (loudly):

I don’t give a fuck! For every no, there’s a yes, and I’m already sitting on 300!

I was stunned. Imagine! A manipulative homeless person! Or a potentially not-even-homeless person who is such a sociopath that he begs for money from people, pretending to be homeless! To think I was going to give him one of Peeta’s shiny golden dollars!

We watched him approach a couple of young dudes with a totally different approach than the weepy voice he gave us. Same story, but no trembling. I told Bucket we should have given him some money for being such a good actor. And then I got all pissed. Suckers like me who give money to homeless people all the time do not like to be reminded that many of them are working the system (I’m not talking about the guys with the signs that say, “I won’t lie. It’s for beer.” I love those dudes).

So I was sitting at dinner, all pissy with the world, when it hit me. I could do that! That guy made $300 by 7:30pm and he didn’t even have kids?! People, I have found my calling. I already dress like a ragamuffin, so all I have to do is get Bucket to dress the kids in too small, seasonably inappropriate clothing and we’re heading down to Harvard Square. Peeta can bring his tap shoes and dance, and Noodle can accost people by giving them the stinkeye and saying, “Give me forty dollars,” the way she does to me. We’ll be millionaires! Peeta is very cute and Noodle is very scary, so I think it’s a winning combination. Failing that, Noodle is already a very good pickpocket.

If you see us in Harvard Square and you don’t give us money, know that I don’t give a fuck. For every no, there’s a yes, and I’m probably already sitting on 300.

Buy this now: Cuisinart immersion blender

So as you know, I make a lot of soup in the winter. It’s warm, it’s good, and it’s generally easy. When I first started making soups that required blending, I would use a blender. It weren’t pretty. Soup would drip everywhere, I would scald myself, and it often came shooting out of the blender. Same with the fancy food processor that I got to try to replace the blender. Also, both are a pain in the ass to clean (which isn’t my problem, because Bucket has to clean up when I cook, but I want to look sensitive to the needs of my husband. Did it work?). Two years ago, I asked for this for Christmas:

2. Cuisinart SmartStick immersion blender

Oh, mama. I love this thing. You snap it together, throw it in the soup, and it blends the hell out of it without a drop anywhere. You unsnap it, put the handle back in the drawer, and wash the blendy part. No hideous mess, and no trips to the burn unit. Done. Greatest invention ever. Also, they have all these rad colors now, so if you love the neon green, you’re all set. And it’s $35. $35!! Bargain!

You can buy it at Amazon. Go now, before they sell out. You won’t regret it.

Don’t forget: this post is in no way endorsed or encouraged by anyone but me and the people who eat my soup.

Buy this now: Canceaux sauce

So in journalism school they give you this big lecture on ethics and how you should never work for a big news conglomerate and you should never regurgitate the beliefs of your parent company and you should always be totally unbiased about everything ever, and you should never, ever shill. And also, here’s a bill for $40,000! Enjoy unemployment!

Guess what? I’m not a journalist any more. And while I’m not going to go so far as to shill, I am going to tell you what to do (I know, shocker). I’ve been thinking about Christmas and what I think you should have. Because I love these lists, I am going to make a list of 10 things (probably, because I am weirdly OCD about things and if it’s not an even number it will make me crazy) that I think you should get for the holidays, or just for life. They will be cheap, because we don’t have any expensive things in our house because of the mayhem. They will be useful or delicious. You will be happy if you listen to me. If you don’t listen to me, you are a mean jerk and I never liked you anyway.

1. W.O. Hesperus Canceaux sauce

I never ate anything spicy until I was 28 and I went to Iceland (I know, right?). I went to Reykjavik to visit my friend Erika and she had brought this with her from Maine. That’s right; hot sauce from Maine (I am blowing your mind today!). Erika and I would go out at night (which was most of the time, since it was November) and come home while it was still night and sleep until it was almost night again. During the few hours of the day that there was sunlight, Erika made me these amazing scrambled eggs with Canceaux sauce in it. I kid you not: this shit changed my life. Suddenly, I was spicy. I was in Hong Kong on my honeymoon, eating something that was so spicy I was practically sobbing and I could not stop eating it. (I can’t even remember what it was, just that it was delicious.) I keep Canceaux sauce in the house at all times. I eat it with eggs (esp delicious on scrambled eggs with feta). I eat it with macaroni (Annie’s, not Kraft). I eat it all the time. We have to have at least two bottles in the house at all times.

Buy it now. Thank me later.

$8.50 from W.O. Hesperus Co. in Maine, people!

P.S. It should go without saying that I am writing these recommendations because I am bossy. Please tell my j-school professors I am not a fucking shill.

Wherein I pretend to be a real blogger

So a few months ago, I went to a party at my friend Viola Cay‘s house. It was a chocolate and wine tasting, so obviously I wasn’t going to say no. The catch was that it was a party for bloggers. You know, real people who do this and sometimes make a living at it. People who have followers they haven’t known for 20 years and who participate in their giveaways and post hundreds of comments. I am not one of these people. However, I am physically unable to turn down chocolate and wine, so I begged my friend umommy to take me with her, and I went. I won’t lie: I was expecting the bloggers to be mean and judgey bitches like the journalists I know, who sit around and talk about how brilliant and important they are until I am contemplating a thousand ways to kill myself, just to see if they notice.

The women at this party were not like that. They were funny and smart and nice, and I wanted to be friends with all of them. And also, there was chocolate and wine. So hey, I thought, maybe this blogging event business isn’t all bad. Umommy has been trying to get me to attend blogger events with her for a year now, and I have always politely excused myself (I think I always had a real excuse), partly because I was afraid of other bloggers. So after Viola Cay’s shindig, I thought I should try to go to more of these things. Umommy hooked me up with a local group, and I was invited to my first party: a family holiday party at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge for the Boston Social Media group.

I RSVP’d yes, even though umommy and Viola Cay were not going. And then I had a panic attack. But then I realized that Diane, one of the nice women from the first party, was going to be there with her kids. And I made Bucket promise to come too. And then I started getting excited.

Last night, I started getting those delightful pre-flu chills. And then I had to find the stinking elf and hide him in the kids’ room, and I was convinced Peeta saw me, so I couldn’t sleep. And then, just as I was finally falling asleep at 3am, Noodle fell out of bed. So I went in to sleep with her and Peeta and fell asleep around 4. Kids woke up at 7:30. Bucket let me sleep until 9:30, and I came downstairs to the news that the refrigerator shelf I broke in the sink on Wednesday had clogged our water pipes and the washing machine had flooded the basement. Not the most auspicious start to the day.

But we went anyway. I shellacked some makeup over my raccoon eyes, got my eyebrows waxed, and blow dried my hair. Peeta was traumatized to see me with makeup and kept yelling, “Is that LIPSTICK?!! YOU’RE FREAKING ME OUT!!” We drove over to the hotel, left the car with the valet dudes (sorry guys! I promise, antibacterial lotion will kill whatever jumped on you in our car!), and headed up to the party.

And then, I had no idea what to do. And neither did Bucket. And neither did the kids. But they had a cookie decorating station, so we did that for a while. And then we played with Play Doh. And then I made the kids eat, but because we had arrived late due to the washing machine fiasco, the food had already been served and some poor lady had to go get them two more plates. I went to the grown up room and got some food, and sat down with Bucket and the kids. Go to the grown up room! Bucket hissed at me. The whole point of coming here is for you to network!

Fortunately, there were no seats available in the grown up room. Because here’s the secret, peeps. I am redonkulously shy in new situations (unless there’s booze, in which case I become even more entertaining than normal–at least in my eyes). I KNOW, RIGHT? Your brain just exploded. So I HAD to stay sitting with the kids. And also, let me just say that there was no way in hell I was going to go to a room where I knew no one, find one seat and sit down and introduce myself to people.

Some of the organizers came by and I introduced myself to them. They were lovely, just as I had expected. Bucket got his food and brazenly sat in the grown up side (seats had opened up and the kids were playing in the other room and he felt like a weirdo sitting alone at a kids’ table), so I went and sat with him. We met another blogger, who was also very nice. I had to tell her the name of the blog, though, which is always embarrassing. You never know whether people will laugh or slap your face. But here’s the thing: no matter what these nice people said to me, I stood there like a moron, with my mouth open, saying, “It’s wonderful, it’s really wonderful” over and over. I was highly impressive.

So I went to the event and talked to five people, two of whom I had met before. SHUT UP! I’m cool! The kids gorged on cookies and freshly made ice cream sandwiches, and Bucket got a fancy cocktail and we all ate delicious food and had a wonderful, really wonderful time. And we didn’t even go to the pool and swim like the rest of the kids.

And when we were leaving, they gave us about 100 gift bags, just for coming. We got gift certificates and t-shirts and books and games and a single-serve blender, which is just what I’ve been wanting forever! But it felt weird, getting all this stuff for doing nothing but coming to a fancy party. I think they give most of it to the people with the fancy blogs, who write nice things and don’t just bitch and moan all day (ahem), in the hopes that their millions of followers will read about it and buy it. (All 13 of you can go buy that blender now.) It also felt weird because I spend all day trying to get people to donate stuff to my nonprofit, and they don’t do it, even when I mention Africa! and Orphans! and AIDS! So then I had The Guilt. The kids were psyched, though. It truly was a wonderful, really wonderful event, and the organizers worked so hard, and the sponsors were so generous.

There is another, adult-only party for the same group on Tuesday, and I will go. Umommy is going too, so hopefully I won’t feel like such a freak, and hopefully I will find a synonym for wonderful (I am open to sugggestions). Hopefully, I will get used to the idea of getting something for doing nothing (because how hard could that be?). Hopefully, I will be invited to more of these events (assuming all of the previous hopeful statements happen). And hopefully, I will get more than 13 readers (not that I’m not grateful for all 13 of you wonderful, really wonderful people).