Monday, December 3, 2012

Disney Junior Scalloped potatos

It's been a while since I have posted anything.
Not because I've not had anything to write about. I have.
I've interviewed and gotten a new job. So I now have 2 1/2 jobs not including Mom.
It's all good. I still have time to spend with Ella, and being a real live music teacher (not just private lessons) is super fun.
A shit ton of work, but fun. When I got the job it was sort of like when Broadway called that one time. Exciting and terrifying all at the same time.
I digress.
Because of our busy schedule I've tried to stock the freezer with all things tasty for dinner. But I don't defrost every night, because sometimes I figure out short cuts to super yummy things that will take you only a 15 minute episode of Mickey, Doc, or Jake and the Neverland Pirates to make.

This will be my first blog post with actual recipes. I've avoided this in the past because I think it's sort of over done in the mommy blog-sphere. But maybe I have a different point of view....

I'm not crunchy enough to keep chickens. We don't live in the suburbs. I think it would be looked down upon to keep them on the fire escape. AND I let my kid watch TV, and don't apologize for it. She doesn't watch it all the time, and she knows how to play by herself, dance, and color, we just like TV, and there are some pretty darn good shows out there these days. 

I also let her have sweets occasionally. Mostly stuff I've made, or we have made together, but she gets sugar sometimes, she's not addicted to it. It doesn't make her act like a lunatic. It doesn't keep her from eating her broccoli.
Yep! I've outed myself.

Here is the recipe for Disney Junior Scalloped potatoes for two. You could add more potatoes and make it for 3 or 4

2 medium red skinned potatos
Shredded mexican blend cheese
Smoked Spanish Paprika (to taste, a sprinkle per layer)
Salt and Pepper
Panko Bread crumbs
Cooking Spray
Olive Oil

Peal (or not) the potatoes and slice thinly.  Spray individual ramikens with cooking spray. Layer the potato slices with the cheese in the ramikens adding salt, pepper and paprika as you layer. Toast the panko in a skillet with a small amount of olive oil till golden brown. When you have finished the layers of potato and cheese, pour a small amount of milk in the ramiken, just enough to keep everything moist in the oven. Sprinkle panko over the top, and bake until cooked through and bubbly about 20 min covered, and 25 min. Uncovered at 350*.

The handy thing. And what I did. Was let Ella watch an episode of Mickey this morning while I put these together and then I pop them in the fridge to bake off later this evening before dinner. They will go along with the turkey breast that I cooked yesterday wrapped in bacon and seasoned with Herbs d'Provence.
With Salad, not bad for a Monday night.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Into the Deep

Today (in my mind) marks the day where we begin the delicate, strategic, and sometimes terrifying navigation through the New York education system.
Ella had her first day of what I like to call Preschool Lite. A 90 min. class broken up into large motor time (that's preschool speak for the playground,) snack and free choice (Ella chose art and lining up farm animals.) The morning is guided by a teacher and the parents.
Since we are enrolled in the parent toddler program we don't have to line up at 6am like a chorus call for Lion King at the Apollo for regular preschool registration in January. We get a week head start. Which is why we are doing the class, well... And other things like academics and stuff. This place was on my radar before I was even married let alone had kids. All that being said I still have a list of other places to look at and tour. I even have a list of elementary schools although Ella is not 2 yet. Looking ahead is imperative.
I am convinced that we can give Ella a good education without spending 35 thousand dollars a year to do it.
Yes friends. 35 thousand dollars.
Here we go New York! I accept the challenge!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blessings for Baseball, bananas, and Boker Tov

"Back in the olden days before Jews lived on the upper west side. They lived in tents and were kind of like cowboys. They wore boots and stetsons, and in the morning (when there was a bright golden haze on the meadow) and before they would even say boker tov they would come outside of their tents and shout Yeehaw!" said the Rabbi this morning.

I love Rosh Hashanah. I love making all the food, it's better than the January New Year. It's a wonderful time for reflection and renewal as we go into the fall and winter months. Since Michael and I have been married we celebrate with our urban family, our wayward Jewish and non Jewish friends here in New York. The last two years we have celebrated as well with the lovely Ella.

Today we went to the children's service at our Synagogue and had a great time. This year the parents were on good behavior and there were much fewer women wearing stilettos that would puncture the little darlings toddling across the floor. Not so last year.

Last year the hard working Rabbi's didn't stand a chance against the upper west side elite. The children's service was fashion show/social hour. Meh

This year, well meaning adults and their children and grandchildren did their best to listen and enjoy the wonderful child centric service. When it came to the part of the service to talk about what everyone was thankful for one mom raised her hand and said "I'm thankful for a wonderful children's service that we can enjoy with our kids." I second that, lady. Her son was thankful for Banana's. To each his own.

The rabbi was funny, and engaging. He told the tales behind the prayers that we say, and told them in a a way that everyone found the humor, terror, and wonder of the old stories. We had warm ups, and snack time, and Ella's timer was up just after the Torah parade, but luckily they did the shofar portion of the service (the Shofar player dude had just a quick min. to spare away from the adult service.) So we hit the highlights this year, and didn't have to fear for Ella's fingers and toes!

Happy New Year!
L'Shana Tova!

I am thankful for my family and friends, our continued good health, and that we have jobs, and a roof over our head.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Mystic Crystal Revelations

For weeks now I've tried to figure out how to say thank you to my parents, to CATCO, to Columbus, for such a magical wonderful summer.

As Brian says to Kate Monster at the end of Avenue Q. "Just say, thanks."

Thanks. Thank you, The whole Monster Community thanks you!

This summer has been one of big revelations, and discoveries for me. And thank you, if you were a part of that.

On the family end of things, it has been a truly amazing summer for Ella. She has gotten to know her grandparents (all 7 of them) and various cousins and aunts and uncles in a way that will ensure that she
most likely will remember them come holiday time. With the aide of skype for the in between times.

She has enjoyed playing in the backyard every morning with the dogs, and been a regular at the pool.

And most importantly she has had amazing bonding time with Daddy. This summer would have not been possible with out Michael playing Mr. Mom. And when he had to return to the city while I was in tech, my parents and Anna of course did a bang up job covering!!

On the job end. Avenue Q was one of the most rewarding theatre experiences for me. I have enjoyed playing with old friends and making new ones. Furry ones, and of the people variety. I've learned so much and had so much fun in the process.

We/I am very glad though to be back home in New York. The city has become home for us and our little family and this summer has made us realize that fully. The biggest question on everyones mind when they saw us in Columbus was "Oh! are you back?" or "Oh! Are you moving back now that you have a kid?" And the answer is.
We have learned to appreciate our small space, we realized how much we really don't like driving, and while the city smells in the summer, and is slushy in the winter, you can get any and everything delivered, and things are open all the time.
We love it.
And besides we are kind of tied into our quirky money pit of an apartment.

But what about the schools, you say? Where will Ella go to school?
We don't know.
BUT! We have a plan. I have lists! Of preschools, of elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.
Middle school, now that will be tricky.... but maybe not.
We have some time.

Now that we are home the biggest question by the regulars on the corner is "where'd you go? We thought you hit the numbers!!"
We wish.
You've got to play them to win them.
Good Night and Good Luck Columbus, see you next time.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bryden Road Express

I miss the subway.
I never thought I would say that and mean it.
Particularly during the summer when the smell and heat of the New York subway platforms burn the inside of your nose, and eyeballs.
I miss it.
Well, not the burning sensation. But the ease at which you can go to and from, and can read while doing it.
Ella likes the Subway too. The weird people, the attention from little old ladies. The car just doesn't offer the same perks. Only Raffi. Which she sometimes needs to hear so that she forgets the restraints of the car seat. She loves going places, but doesn't like to be in the car to get there.
I have to agree with her.
Does this mean that I am a New Yorker now?
I wonder.
Does it also mean we're full stop new yorkers when Michael and I talk about how less space is not such a bad thing with a toddler around.
Maybe so.
The backyard is great, the quiet at night is wonderful, and being able to be in an amazing show with amazing people has been really terrific.
We open this week, and I am so excited! My shoulder blades are smarting, and I have one giant bicep from all the puppet work, but the anticipation of an audience overrides all of the pain and lack of sleep. It has been one of the most rewarding rehearsal processes I've ever had and I'm looking forward to a successful run.
In the mean time we'll keep driving the BRE in the Chevy SUV the two miles to the theatre, and quarter mile to the grocery. And know that when we get back to the city in September cooler weather will be close, and the burn of the stench will begin to wither away, and I'll be whisked away through a whole in the ground once again. It'll only be a matter of time when we will pine away for a giant car to shlep things too and from storage, or go to the New Jersey IKEA.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Belting before noon... Day three.

It turns out I can still bring it before noon.
Singing for preschool kids in the classroom doesn't count.

I'm talking full on belting my face off at day three of Avenue Q rehearsal.

After a five year hiatus I have found that getting back into rehearsal and performance mode is just like riding a bike.
However, it's just a bigger heavier bike!
I am grateful for all of it. The job, my entourage consisting of Ella, Michael, and of course Luna who are willing to part with me for the majority of the weekend, and weeknights. And my parents for putting is up for our two month adventure.

My reality is just so extraordinarily different than it used to be.

All that being said I have found in the last few days that this job, this whole experience might lead to my best and most rewarding work on stage....
Stay tuned.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Deli Wars: Let me pop in for some foie gras and a forty.

Delis, bodegas, convenient stores. Whatever you want to call them, they are a booming business in our neighborhood.
And they are at war.
Fierce competition. New ones pop up everyday. Some provide Halal options, some are beginning to jump onto the organic/soy/good for the environment band wagon. All provide coffee that is like drinking scalding hot petrol.
At the Red Apple, they tell us every time they order soy milk and Seventh Generation dish soap that they think of us when they are buying it.
For the record. We don't drink soy milk.
We just fit the demographic.
For our area, the sign of real gentrification is not who is moving in, moving on, or moving out. It's what you can buy and where.
There is a huge difference between El Presidente beer and Magic Hat Number 9. We will walk an extra 2 blocks for the Magic. At the Majestic. The Red Apple doesn't have it.

Zam Zam has beef bacon, and I must say I was skeptical, how can anything be as mouth watering as the swine, but it's truly amazing stuff. BUT Zam Zam doesn't have the ice cream treats we like so it's back across the street to the mustachioed man at the Red Apple.
Every day a man next door walks to the Red Apple for a can of cat food, a lithe one eared black cat following along, not his cat exactly, but lives around his building and so he has taken responsibility for it.
Speaking of cats, all the bodegas have them. It keeps down the rats, and mice.
I'll take that.
They never used to mind if I carried in my little Stella when I was out for a walk and realized I was out of milk. How could they argue a little dog when there is always a giant orange cat lounging on the top shelves amongst the bottles of soda.

The newer joints are also being named Gourmet.
Well. That's a stretch.
I don't think the block boys on the corner are going to run to the deli to see if they can get some toast points for their dinner parties, or they just happened to run out of foie gras and cocktail napkins and thought the Zam Zam might just have what they need.
"Oh! If you all will excuse me please, I'll just pop down to the store and see if they have any truffle oil, I seem to have run out!"
Gourmet my ass.
Just because you put down new tiles, some wood paneling, and sweep the floor more frequently, does not make you Citarella. (For those non New Yorkers Citerella is a extravagantly expensive gourmet market that sells things like kangaroo meat and elk ribs)

Most delis these days offer premium cold cuts on their sandwiches, and are becoming more and more varied in supplies. You can choose your own adventure with the sandwiches, we will get them at some and not others, we inspect the layer of dust and grime on the deli cooler before we choose. But they are all slinging eggs, bacon, and toast in the mornings, and smelling bacon cooking while walking down the street with the dog and baby is not a bad way to start the day.
As the days, weeks and months go buy the layers of dust and grime are becoming less layered in our tiny shops. They are stepping up their game.

They have to. The times they are a changing and these places are going to have to be able to compete with the brand new GIANT Duane Reade that is going in down the block.

Rite Aid or Wrong Aid as we call it has never in my opinion been much competition for the little stores. They are inefficient, very often rude, and certainly will not extend credit when you realize you're short a dollar.
Not that Duane Reade will give you credit either, but the new ones have sandwiches, artisan bread, fancy baby food, AND nail polish.
So my little stores, watch out, and keep those counters clean, keep the cats, but keep them out of sight. We love Duane Reade, but we love you more. We love that you are interested in what we buy, that we can catch up on the neighborhood gossip. Who's gone to jail, who had died, when the memorial is, or who had a baby. I love that you will extend the kindness to a harried mommy who needs an ice cream treat for herself, and the baby, but is 25 cents short. Most of all we love that if we need you at midnight for ice cream, beer, or Pedialight, you are open and ready to do business.
And if we ever decide to start drinking soy milk...
We know you're lookin' out.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Grimace Ate...

Ella turned one then decided she only liked certain things.
It was inevitable I know.
I also know that this is normal, and blah blah she'll eat when she's hungry I just need to continue providing healthy nutritious things. I know all of these things. But. The inner workings of a mothers mind are not always logical, or free from "did she get enough?" "She seems to exist on air." Etc. And then there is the extra peer pressure from other moms who don't have the same issue, or they just force feed their children without regard to if they are hungry or not.
Yeah, I've seen you.
Good luck with that.
And then there is the doctor telling us at her appointment to carb load. Well no problem there. She loves her carbs.

I have to say it made me sad a little, her adamantly refusing things that I really thought she would love! I thought I was on the road to having a non picky eater. She liked fish, all sorts of lovely veggies, brisket! I was a horribly picky eater as a child, and really it's only been in the last 10 years that I've become more adventurous.
I still don't like feta or goat cheese.
Clearly this is more my problem.
This I know.

She'll turn it around (she is only 14 months) but right now...

She likes Mac and Cheese. Who doesn't.
Blueberries, Strawberries, cheese, peanut butter, crackers, pasta with red sauce and spinach, ice cream, and bread. We have also added yogurt back into the repertoire because she realized that was a little like ice cream, and so therefore an acceptable food to be helped with.
Note: Since she was 8 months she has refused any help with eating.
Independent little fart.
I smile at that despite the frustration that it gives me at times.

So, who is Grimace. Well.

My mom came to visit.
She knew that Ella had been particular lately.
The teething, the growing, the too too busy to eat. So one day when I was out, and she was feeding Ella, mom had an idea.
What if Ella had a little "friend" she could feed. NOT the dog. A pretend game. She is into pretend these days. Making up whole imaginary scenes with her bear and grocery cart.
So mom picked up a plastic purple walrus (tub toy) named (by us) Grimace. And pretended to "feed" him. All the while making little tasting sounds, and saying how much he liked his cheese. So Ella caught on and did the same. Sooo funny. And she was so excited to do it. The munchy sounds and everything.
It worked. And provided endless entertainment for everyone.

Well, as with all things this too shall pass. Grimace is now retired. It worked for a week. I'll take that. Now because of the awful teething, little miss has decided it's a great idea to nurse every two hours again. Yay!! She had two teeth for 6 months, and then 4 more decided to come in all at once.
On to yet another phase....
I wonder how she'll do with Matzo's.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mom Jeans

Every Wednesday we get Time Out New York.
I read the sex column, which used to be funny and entertaining, but now it's just lame. If people can't answer their own questions about some of the things they write about then they should not have sex.
I also read about the people they spot on the street. That's still interesting and sometimes makes me laugh out loud. A few weeks ago they had some dude with who had recently decided he had no real gender identity (okay) and twirled ribbons for a living.
Reading that was awesome.
Every once in a while I'll read about some new restaurant that isn't in the East Village or Williamsburg that I may put on our list of places to go. Particularly if they are above 100th street.
But lets face it, it's a big weekend if we make it below 59th. It's become our goal to do that once a month. What's the point of living in Manhattan if you don't live it up and take advantage of going downtown once in a while. Or Brooklyn or even Queens for that matter.
I basically ignore the movie listings, dance, comedy etc. I don't like to admit that, but, it is, what it is.
I don't really care.
What I did peruse in addition to my regular columns this week was the section devoted to this weeks magazine topic.
Most Stylish New Yorkers.
Actors, comedians, artists, and some drag queens.
Well. As I pondered over the contents of my closet I thought maybe I need an update? Maybe this is the issue for me!
I think of myself as maybe bohemian chic? Or that's what Michael says anyway. But that's when I really get it together.
And what does that mean anyway.
Bohemian chic.

These days my clothing consists of shirts and jeans from the gap, and a few pieces (maybe from some c list designer, my attempt at being a Maxxanista) that are wearing thin with multiple washes from kid snot and paint. Not just Ella snot,  I have a class of 24 little darlings that are walking petri dishes and snot machines.
So, can I take any tips from this weeks Time Out New York? Can I update my closet without breaking the bank? I think it may be already broken but that's another story. Can I realistically turn in my gap centric wardrobe for something more chic and sophisticated?
I thought the answer would be no. According to what I see in Time Out I'm a real dud. I am too practical a girl to wear a long dress made of lace and combat boots just because TONY said it was cool. I don't want my hair to be pink. Wearing yellow jeans with a tutu overtop, a flannel shirt and gogo boots just shouldn't be anyone's style. I don't care how much you need to express yourself! I exaggerate a bit, but you see where I'm going with this.
What is it that needs to change?
I don't care about what these yahoos say about fashion!
We have to stop getting Time Out New York.
That's it!
We are not hipsters who live in Williamsburg. We live uptown and have a kid. So I will stick to my skinny corduroys in navy that hide snot, paint and dirt remarkably well, and I will relish getting that one beautiful piece of a fashion risk every so often. Recently it was a furry vest. I'm not Ann Taylor Loft and I'm not Urban Outfitters. The Gap has good sales...I'm somewhere in between.
I'll read the get naked online if it gets better. And here's the thing THIS is New York, I spot plenty of interesting people on the street in my neighborhood. I don't need to read an exposé about a gender neutral ribbon twirler.

I am mature enough to know when it's time to switch from Time Out New York to New York Magazine...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Adventures in Snack Cake

Hello, My name is Carmen, and I am addicted to cake, cookies, and doughnuts. All manner of treats really for that matter.
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem right?
Well, I have a problem.
I love the chewy apple and warm cinnamon of the apple fritter. The buttery snap of a chocolate chip cookie, and the way the chips melt all over my fingers, and Ella's face. Most of all, I love love love the very moist, and tart taste of the most highly caloric fattening thing that you can possibly buy at Starbucks.
The lemon pound cake.
490 calories friends. Yuck.
Starbucks isn't my only haunt. A small upper east side bakery that makes fresh croissants, and amazing muffins is a frequent stop as well. So you see, it's not just the sweets. The croissants are a constant temptation as well.
My excuse is I'm still breast-feeding. I NEED that extra 500 calories a day, and frankly I weigh less now than I did before I was pregnant. I lost the baby weight and then some. But the honeymoon wont last forever. I cannot go on like this!
I needed a solution, and fast. I can see how this is getting out of control.
I did some research. I looked up the most delicious recipe I know for lemon pound cake. Ina. The Barefoot Contessa makes an amazing cake that of course is far better than the Starbucks fare. I  looked for a similar recipe, just less fattening. Voila!  Google produces the A low fat lemon yogurt cake that just tweaks the Contessa's. Then I tweaked it some more....
I added some white whole wheat flour (yes mom, I understand the need for plenty of fiber) and choose not to make the glaze. I think next time I'll try using honey to sweeten, and use less oil. But I have to tell you, the lemon cake problem is solved. The texture, the taste are all that I could have hoped for. I have cut it placed it in zip locks and will arrive at work tomorrow with my trusty piece of cake in my bag.
Yes my friends you can have your cake and eat it too.
Now what am I going to do about that ice cream at 10 o'clock at night problem I seem to be having.....
One small step at a time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Can he still be the King even if he is in Heaven?

Can he?
Well... King is actually his last name, like Smith, or my last name Keels. He's not actually a King.
Oh. And what was his wife's name? CorettaAnd his kids? (I'll have to look that one up,) and his dad? Martin Luther King Sr.

The questions continued.

My co-teachers and I were blown away by the discussions in circle regarding Martin Luther King Day.

The whole time line of the civil rights movement, and when Dr. King lived exactly didn't seem to register, the importance of it did. That's the crucial part anyway, right? They understood that things used to be very different, very unfair, and sometimes dangerous if you broke the laws.

For the full day children I played a clip of the I have a Dream speech. They were speechless.
For the first time that morning!
They are a chatty, chatty bunch.
I'm not sure if they really understood exactly what Dr. King was saying, and I did have to explain that it wasn't a movie clip, it was real, just from a long time ago, before we had color TV.
They did understand that it was important. And that his dream was that we would all work and go to school together and things would be fair between African Americans and Caucasians.
And permit me to get a little political here. We spend lots of time belly aching about how much more work needs to be done for equal employment, marriage equality, heath insurance etc. Of course.
But really from the perspective of a child? Things are okay. In their eyes Dr. King's dream is here, and they are apart of it.
I digress....
We had covered with them the fact that if it had not been for Dr. King and others like him, I would not have been able to be there teacher because I was African American, and that we also would not have been able to use the same drinking fountain or bathroom. AND we would not have Barack Obama as president. It would have been against the law!
And that in the south like where Ms. Simmons was from the laws were even worse.
They were very upset by the unfairness of it. Being fair is really REALLY important when you are 3, or 4, or 5 or 35 for that matter.
The greatest excitement and ability to understand Dr. Kings message was through the songs we learned.
(sung to Twinkle)
Freedom Freedom Let it Ring
Let it Ring said Dr. King
Let us live in Harmony,
Peace and love for you, and me
Freedom Freedom Let it Ring
Let it Ring said Dr. King.
What better way to teach his message than through song.
Right? Right.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pass the profiteroles please.

This weekend I embarked on my quest to find something to do.
I know.
I have lots and lots to DO. Needs to be done, places to go people to meet yadayadayada.
I have at least two and a half jobs, and that doesn't even count the mom job. But over the last year our lives have changed so drastically, so completely, and wonderfully with the addition of Ella. I have realized that I have been so engrossed in being a mom, and a teacher, and cleaning the house and... You get my drift. I've realized that all of the sudden I have a sort of void that needs to be filled, where did Carmen go?  I'm not unhappy, quite the contrary,  I'm quite happy. Tired. Overwhelmed sometimes. But happy. I just need something to do. I think most moms can relate. We get so bogged down with the everyday that we forget that we liked to do things independently of our children and partners. I used to not care back in the days when I kicked up my heals an sung and danced for a living.  Being able to do all those things for your job was plenty. But now. Things are different.

Some Moms push it aside, drink more, and get Botox. Some moms start businesses on Facebook. Some moms scrapbook. That's not for me. Too much stuff and i don't have wrinkles to Botox even if i had the money! I wish I could find a book club, and let's be honest most book clubs are wine clubs (yum wine,) and who doesn't like a nice glass at the end of a long day?! But with a book club you have to be on a group time frame. Trying to plan to be through a book by a arbitrary Friday night and then fall asleep on the train and miss my stop cause I'm so fried from the week. Nope. No can do right now.
So what what am I going to do?
I decided to take cooking classes. No. I'm not enrolling in the French Culinary Institute. And no. I have No desire to be in the restaurant business. And no, I'm not looking to cook my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking and get a book deal. I just thought I'd take a class maybe once a month on a Saturday or Sunday morning and learn some different stuff, with a group of strangers.
So today was my day! French Pastry!
It was wonderful.
The teacher was funny, encouraging, and cooks for one of my favorite Food Network personalities. Her assistant makes thousands of crack pies at Momofuko Milk Bar.
And who wouldn't want to spend a morning piping profiteroles, rolling palmiers, and poaching pears.
I now know ( I had an idea) of how much work goes into puff pastry, and why even the fancy smancy cooks sometimes just buy it.
Here's the thing. I could have figured out most of these things in my own kitchen.
But it was worth the money to be able to ride the train without my baby necklace. Be in a classroom with adults (not four year olds) and just plain doing something that I wanted to do.
Now Michael, Ella, and our friends can reap the benefits of my class.
Sunday night dinner: Tuscan White Bean Soup, with spinach and cheese profiteroles anyone?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year

I don't do New Years resolutions.
This year however being our first year of parenthood made me think, maybe I should do a little resolving. Certainly not to loose weight. The breast feeding has thankfully taken care of that. So. I resolve to write.
I want to write notes to Ella, to write down recipes that I come up with or tweak, or to write about crazy things that happen to me, my family, or at work. I want to write to remember. Because, since having Ella there is less time to remember things, and I find that there is so much more that I want to make sure I don't forget. Now since there is less time for remembering, I hope I find time to write. And maybe someone will want to read what I write. Probably just my mom, but that's okay.

For example: I teach preschool. The first week back at school the children were sharing fun adventures they had had over break. One little girl said. Well. I had a lot of sleepovers, and Lady Gaga fell on the floor. I thought Lady Gaga had fallen in a concert she had watched on TV or something. No. The little girl said, Lady Gaga is a chicken. We named our chickens, I asked, A live chicken? No, she said the cooking kind. Ah, I said. So then what happened. Well, we had three, Lady Gaga fell on the floor, Ostrich was in the cooker and Dillan was on ice. Ah, the magic of four year olds. I can't imagine what Ella will come up with when she's four.

For us, it was just exciting that Ella turned one. We couldn't believe a year had gone by so fast, and we are continually amazed at how everything has changed, all for the better. Except for the lack of sleep,but really sleep is overrated when you are greeted with a toothless grin at five in the morning, on a Saturday.

As Ella's birthday got closer we were peppered with questions. Are you going to have a party? Do you know you could rent out such and such space for only 500 dollars? Are you going to give her a "smash cake?" Huh? A smash what? Hold the phone. She's one, right? Like she's not going to remember this birthday? We will, but do we want it to be a reminder that we over spent and now wont be able to afford birthday's three, four, and five? Ones that she might actually remember and have friends to invite? Humm. So we started with the basics. On the actually day, Cake, Champagne, and a few of our friends. One couple who actually have a baby. Her "friend."AND an early celebration, for the Grandparents. That solved the 500 dollar birthday venue question, and the are you going to have a party question. Yes. But you're not invited, sorry. All these questions answered, but then the biggest and maybe even weirdest in my opinion was this notion of a "smash cake." Well. We didn't have one of those. She did enjoy her cake though, and it eventually made it all over her face, and a little up her nose. The party was a smashing success, it lasted an hour, and by nine-thirty Michael and I had a beer, watched our DVR'd How I Met Your Mother and fell asleep.