comfort food

Is it good or bad that life continues to evolve in a constant state of change? I suppose it could be either, depending on the nature of the change...

I love watching my children grow, but hate seeing their baby days gone, one by one, forever. Quinn will begin preschool next week, and she will absolutely love this new adventure. This is so exciting, but marks the end of one stage and the beginning of another.

I am elated and ever-appreciative of my husband's decision to start from scratch in his career in order to make our family a priority. As wonderful as this change has been, it is still a daunting challenge to remain patient as we wait for the consistent, yet very gradual growth in his new endeavor. Show me the MONEY! Okay, honestly it has gotten better with time, but like I said, I am impatient.

I appreciate my employer for making a perpetual effort to better our place of work, but the immensity of 'new and improved' policies and procedures sends my mind reeling, and can be slightly irritating.

My sister, who has struggled to find peace in her life for many years is embarking on multiple significant changes at the moment, which brings a sense of hope and yet also ambivalence and worry.

A good friend who has been an amazing source of support for me during various junctures in my life has recently learned her father has stage 3 lung cancer. This places me on the other side of the court, hoping to offer her the same comfort and friendship she has given me in the past.

And as we try to adapt to all of these transitions, our environment reminds us that it too must change. Temperatures have dropped, signaling the end of summer and beginning of fall. Thanks Mother Nature. I am not done shopping for fall clothes yet.

Overall I think I'm doing pretty well with all of this crap, considering I am usually thrown off quite a bit when it comes to transition. My mind has been trying to wrap itself around it all, and I haven't gone nuts (as far as I know). But as always, my evil arch nemesis (food, food, freakin' fatty food) has crept up on me again. Damn! I have been doing pretty well for the last few weeks. Barrage me with a few bumps in the road and my ticket to self-esteem hell is right there waiting.

This week that snakey, paunch subconscious has slithered back into my mind, and I never saw it coming. It convinced me it would be perfectly fine to make my loaded baked potato soup from scratch. It said, "go ahead, eat TWO pieces of birthday cake." It opened my recipe collection and assured me that making meatballs and mashed potatoes was necessary. And that sordid serpent even wreaked havoc on my lunch one day and dished me up some Scooby Doo macaroni and cheese.

Disclaimer: In my own defense, I must say I did prepare these things as scaled-down, low fat, low calorie, as I possibly could. But really, there's no excuse for that 2nd piece of birthday cake [and the two margaritas I never mentioned, but they were in celebration of our anniversary so they didn't count] other than it tasted GOOD.

The slate (err....plate?) must be wiped clean again. I'm banishing the snake and the cake. Back in the groove, I hope. Why can't I find comfort in carrots? Nevermind. I don't even like carrots.


a manipulating maneuver

The instant you become a parent, joy and amazement over each and every milestone becomes part of daily living. Your identity is now forever linked with your child’s, and witnessing their ability to learn and grow is one of the most rewarding aspects of parenting. Heartwarming, isn’t it?

Heh. Yep, that sponge housed beneath their cranium sure is porous. I admit I’ve succumbed to those sweet feelings more than a time or two. Those first smiles get me every time. New teeth, first foods, crawling, you know the list.

The present state of affairs in our humble world consists of our daughter who is only weeks away from becoming a preschooler, and her wannabe-toddler brother, who only months ago was my baby. Damn they grow like weeds! Even as my children outgrow their baby ways, those milestones keep-a-coming. And yes, most times these benchmarks are celebrated, photographed, videotaped, facebooked, blogged, emailed, and documented in every way humanly and technologically possible.

Most times, I said. Not sure about your life, but in our home there are certain achievements that we feel less-than-amused about. While we may share these little tidbits with family or friends, these are the types of events we tend to opt out of reporting to the pediatrician at a well visit. “Oh, yes doctor! Liam is walking, running, climbing like a monkey on crack! In fact, the other day when I wasn’t watching him he climbed onto the sofa and nearly scaled the blinds in the living room. Imagine my horror! Thank God I yanked him down before the blinds were damaged!” (Which YES, is really what I was thinking when I pried his sweaty little palms off my expensive window treatments). “Yes, Quinn’s vocabulary is simply flourishing each day! Just the other day we had the television tuned to an action movie on HBO, and she said, ‘Mommy! Daddy! That man just said FUCKER!’” (You guessed it, true story).

Fearless toddlers are meant to test their behavioral and physical boundaries by exploring their environments from floor to window blinds to ceiling. It’s how they learn to act and move in this world. I get that. And from the moment our children can speak, they can learn any word, so I get that too. Child-proofer, conversation-editor, and constant observer are all listed next to bullets under my trusted copy of the Mommy job description.

And beneath those job duties is listed another very important skill that must be honed—(lest you be overtaken by your children beyond the point of no return):

· Master of escape from parental manipulation

Seriously, how can children learn to be so manipulative? And how can we as parents actually fall victim to the manipulation of a three-year-old? Quinn is GOOOODDD at manipulation. Even great, really. She’s got a GIANT bag of tricks that I would love to steal from her to save my soul. Although her “tricks” bug the crap out of me (and often cause me severe anxiety and make me feel like a sucky mother when I give in), I am always impressed by her creativity and persistence.

Which brings me to the inspiration for this blog about spongy intelligence laced with manipulation…this occurred tonight about 15 minutes prior to dinner being ready:

Quinn: Mommy, I really need something small to eat. (Exhibit 1—using the word “small” indicates she is aware that it’s nearly time for dinner, and that my likely answer is NO—a bargaining tool)

Me: No, honey, dinner is almost ready.

Quinn: But my tummy is hurting! (Exhibit 2—feigned illness to elicit sympathy)

Me: No, sweetie. Dinner will make your tummy feel better. Just wait until dinner.

Quinn: But Mo-om, I NEED something, even TINY to eat NOW, because......I GOT A TIRED ARM! (Combining strategies now, Exhibit 1 again, followed by Exhibit 3—feigned injury)

Here is where I burst out laughing…God, this girl is funny! I am just cracking up, and she’s making her bashful face, trying not to smile when she totally realizes she is caught in the act of concocting some fake drama for the sake of a snack. This lasted maybe an instant, after which she snapped back into MASTER MANIPULATOR MODE,

Quinn: Mo-om! I need a snack now! My tired arm is just waiting!

She drives me crazy, but I love her dearly. She didn’t get a snack. She and her tummy ache and tired arm waited for dinner. Somehow by the grace of God her ailments were cured once we ate.


water resistant

I often feel as though I’m struggling to keep my head above water, nearly drowning in my endless sea of parenting, household, and career. One thing’s for sure, I’m never bored. This week has brought a fun new challenge in our world: swimming lessons with the kids. Considering these are the very first swimming lessons for both kids, we chose to do a parent-child swim so we could assist and protect our little fishies-to-be.

Looking in a mirror, Q is the carbon-copy, feminine version of her dad. Her eyes, lips, body shape, and even her fingernails don’t lie. She is daddy’s girl. But her brain, on the other hand— she got that from me.

Our personalities are so similar it’s almost frightening. She's dramatic, sensitive, opinionated, shy but outspoken, always under-stimulated but leery of change, and amazingly creative yet in need of direction. I’m thinking it was because our personalities are so alike that I assumed she would love the water from the start as I did when I was a child.

Ah, but for some reason I forgot the essential rule of parenting my Q: NEVER assume anything, because undoubtedly the unfortunate assumer will be thwarted. Side note: I looked up ‘thwarted’ to be sure it was the most accurate terminology to describe my never ending struggle. Thwart (verb): 1 – to oppose successfully, 2 – to frustrate or baffle. Yep, that’s the right word.

So, our first lesson began with my darling girl squealing, “I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared!” the very second our toes touched the water in the zero-depth entry to the pool. I assumed that as our lessons went on, her confidence would increase. [Yes, the joke's on yours truly].

Sometime during the first lesson, Q slipped a little somehow, and her head accidentally went [barely] underwater. After a small sputter and cough, she screamed and cried for about one minute. After that, she was fine. She even told us later that night that she thought the little mishap was “fun”. Ummm…okay.

Before our second lesson, we were informed by our sweetie that she would not be going underwater EVER again. And boy has she achieved that goal! Mission accomplished--by clutching our necks in a nearly unbreakable death grip. And again, with the "I'm scared!", only this time in more of a shrieking manner, followed by “I WANT TO GET OUT! GET ME OUT!” Thank God the pool is noisy and there are a ton of kids doing lessons at the same time, so only half of the parents (whose children, by the way, are all swimming like fish) were staring at us.

Another side note: the death grip and shrieking were accompanied once by a BITE on my chest that I think surprised Q as much as it did me. I can’t explain why she did this, and I think it was involuntary but worth mentioning to emphasize her ghastly fear.

Oh dear. Seven more lessons to go, and at this rate we’ve taken a huge step back each time. Looking on the positive side, she still looks forward to going each night, so at least we have that. And by the way, little 15 month old L love, love, LOVES swimming lessons. He is instantly calmed by the water. He laughs throughout the lessons, and shows not the least bit of fear or ambivalence. The child is a dream in the pool.

So what can I learn from all of this? Yes, I need to stop assuming anything. And I suppose I’m going to have to be patient for her trust and confidence to develop. Maybe while I wait, I should try to trust in my family, my friends, and my God to build my own confidence—as a wife, mother, and nurse—and somehow in the process ward off my own “can’t keep my head above water” feeling. Either that, or I just get crazier.

what's with the crazy noodle?

Maybe you're curious [or don't give a crap at all] about why I'm calling this blog 'my crazy noodle.' First off, I must say I am probably partially crazy, so that part is accurate. Second, I do love pasta. And lastly, the blog is about what's in my head, AKA: noodle. So there you go.

But of course there's more to the story.

A few years ago, err...maybe more than that...okay, I'm sad to admit this likely occurred prior to having children. Anyway, a few years back I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered a culinary delight like no other. A cheesy, green and orange delicacy with a taste that is out of this world.
Of course, I'm talking about Kraft Macaroni and Cheese -- Crazy Noodles!

In the words of Rachael Ray: Yum-O! I have been a fan of mac and cheese since forever. After this amazing discovery, the crazies quickly became a staple in our cupboard. Oh, and the [not so] witty and hilarious digs from my husband were immediate as well. I was often referred to as a 'crazy noodle' because of my obsession with the mac. I didn't mind. I was happy with my status as a crazy noodle fanatic.

Sadly, this story doesn't have a happy ending.

The crazy noodles were apparently a limited edition, as only 5000 boxes were ever produced. (Really I have no idea how many were produced but I wanted to add some drama here).

Imagine my bewilderment when I went to buy my cherished mac and it was nowhere to be found! And whenever I go to buy mac and cheese to this day, I seriously check to make sure the Crazy Noodles have not been resurrected. (I told you I'm partially crazy). Because my husband is such a loving guy, my old nickname does pop up every now and again...and my response is always, "HEY, I LOVED Crazy Noodles!".

So now you really know the whole story. I hope you feel enlightened.

P.S. You, yourself may want to keep an eye out for the reincarnation of the Crazy Noodles. If you need some visual guidance, here is a photo of my beloved: