Can we really have it all? Can we be mothers with gorgeous well behaved kids AND be smoking hot wives, AND live out our dreams in out chosen profession? Can we really juggle these things without anyone or anything suffering in the process. My first instinct is to say NO. No we can't. Something at some point has got to give and that "something" will suffer, causing a trickle down to all areas of your life. Example (from several months ago): Over the past few weeks, maybe twice a week, Nora would complain about her butt.* On a dime just FLIP OUT. Squealing and screaming at the top of her lungs. Clenching her little tuchus as tears streamed down her face. This mysterious butt disease was magically cured by ice cream, me laying in bed with her, or an extra episode of Strawberry Shortcake. I know it was at least a LITTLE bit physical, but definitely was seasoned heavily with manipulation. A few days ago, it was...BAD. I came home from work for my two hour break to give the sitter a breather. Nora was screaming non-stop about her butt. Of course it was a Saturday. Should I take her to the hospital? Jeremy arrived home too and I figured she'd chill a bit. No suck luck. It just got worse and worse. Finally it was 6:38. I need to leave by 6:40. She was standing naked in the living room screaming bloody murder. And I just...left her there. To go to work. I was devastated. I left my baby suffering and could think of nothing else during the show, and therefor, my work suffered as well. Ultimately the whole situation ending in Jeremy and I have some ludacris fight. So Nora suffered (and I'm sure Pats, too as it trickled down), my marriage suffered, and my performance at work that night suffered because I was completely fixated on Nora and how she and her butt were doing. The night was made better-slash-worse when I got a txt from my sitter (who's AMAZING, by the way) saying that 5 minutes after I left she was fully clothed, laying on the floor calmly watching a movie before heading to bed without a fight. Um...SERIOUSLY? If I had stayed home from work would the night have gone the same? Or, would I have been ripping my hair out as she wailed until 11:00pm when Jeremy could relieve me. It's so heart wrenching. So frustrating. This was not a situation where I felt that "having it all" was all its cracked up to be. If this was having it all, I wanted absolutely NOTHING. Then, I started thinking about the word "all." Ya know, in regards to "having it all." Who decides what that means?? What's the measuring stick? Does Angelina Jolie have it all? Beauty, respect, arguably the sexiest man alive. Toting her brood all over the world on private jets throwing her endless income around on mansion in France, all the while managing to sustain her Academy Award-worthy acting career. Um, her kids still eat McDonalds. Or does Halle Berry have it all? She still has a strained situation with her baby daddy. Sarah Palin? Healthy kids. Loving husband. High profile. She has the utter disrespect of half the nation. Oprah? OWNs the world. No husband. No children. So maybe it's time to stop measuring our lives against others and redefine the word "all" for ourselves. And maybe that definition changes from year to year. Hell, maybe it changes from day to day. One day simply having a shower, remembering to brush your teeth, throwing in ONE load of laundry, and feeding & keeping your kids put of traffic might be having it all. The next day, getting everyone dressed for a holiday picture without a fistfight i having it all. Another day, a killer job interview and a quick spin around Trader Joes is having it all. And maybe another day you have a breakfast meeting, hook up with your glam squad, give the kids a home cooked meal, get them bathed and diapered before you head to the Emmy red carpet. It's all relative. Honestly if you're able to keep your children clean and healthy, your husband relatively content, and keep your own head above water before another night all too quickly turns to morning, I'd say: that's having it all. And if you can do all this without heavily self-medicating, more power to ya. I, however, say pass the Pinot Noir. And the leftover chocolate birthday cake frosting. All of it. And a spoon.
Having it All in various forms: Prego while performing in the Broadway hit, JERSEY BOYS. Celebrating my 21st Bday in Vegas (I was actually 30 1/2). Xmas morning cuddles with the babes. Nora reading the Arts Section of the NY times. With me on the cover. If I had any documentation of me make-up-less, yet ALIVE, after a subway ride with a double stroller after getting groceries trust me-I would've included it.
This recipe defines "Having it All" for me! Right before and right after Jeremy and I got engaged we were living in Las Vegas. He was working there and I was a kept woman for 5 months, consistently tanned to a golden shade not unlike the most delicious roasted chicken you've ever seen. When I was bored or we had late night plans, I'd drive down to The Strip and meet him. If I had extra time to kill, I'd always stop off for a glass of Cava at Emeril's TABLE 10 at The Palazzo. And there, is my favorite restaurant meal of all time. I would order a side of the lobster mac and cheese and a side if the grilled asparagus. It's beyond...so good! Shortly after Nora was born, I was craving it like nobody's business. Thats when I came up with this recipe. So easy. So affordable (well, certainly in comparison to Table 10), and just as delicious!
Creamy, rich goodness. Have it all, lady!
MERMAID MACARONI I lb box of medium shell shaped pasta 2 cups milk Wondra (In Canada you can find Robin Hood Easy Blend Flour-I just found this. So happy.) 8 oz havarti cheese, grated or finely cubed 4 oz havarti w dill, grated or finely cubed Panko (Japanese Style) read crumbs Grated parm (freshly grated from a chunk is best, but if the can is all you have no prob) Salt, pep, old bay I pound large shrimp, cleaned, deveined and shelled. (I buy the bag in the frozen section that's already cooked and all you have to do is thaw and remove tails. So easy.) Zest of 1 lemon Parsley Olive oil Boil pasta according to package directions. About 10 minutes. In another large pot, heat milk till its almost at a simmer and start whisking in the wondra. Bit by bit until it becomes thick. Like shampoo consistency. Yummy. Remove from heat and stir in the grated Havarti. add in the drained pasta and stir until evenly coated. Cut the large (fully defrosted) shrimp into thirds. Use your eye depending on the size of the shrimp. The pieces should be about the size that they could for into one of the cooked (pasta) shells. Fold in the shrimp and transfer entire mixture into a greased 9x13 casserole. Top with Havarti with dill, then panko, then lemon zest, then grated parm, then chopped parsley, then drizzle w olive oil. Bake at 400 for 15min then put under broiler for 3-5min depending on the strength of your oven. And KEEP YOUR EYE ON IT! I have a wicked strong oven and burn Mac & cheese about every 3rd time I make it. Pair this with some bubbly and a green salad- perfection. Or if you wanna try my asparagus: Asparagus, olive oil, montreal steak seasoning. Toss. Spread on baking sheet. 400 degrees. 15-20 min. Boom. Done. Easiest ever.
A 3 year old. Teaching me what LOVE is. On the daily.
Just an afterthought post LOVE DAY... SUPERMOM: 1) a gal who turns a snowman into a snow diva to help curb her extreme hatred for winter play in an effort to not extinguish the joy her child receives from such activity. 2) a woman with the ability to relinquish control in the area of confection presentation. And, the ability to recognize that it's ok if it looks like a 3-year-old made the cupcakes when indeed a 3-year-old DID make the cupcakes. 3) a chick who can get through any ordinary day with any number of squealing children without beating them, developing an illegal substance abuse problem, or completely destroying her mani. HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY SUPERMOMS! You are LOVED! May you stuff your face with drugstore chocolate like nobody's watching. Cheers! *We did take Nora to the doctor. There is nothing physically wrong with her butt according to a physician's opinion. It did, however, flare up yesterday and was instantly cured by playing on my iPad. During a trip to see the Rockettes this Xmas, "The Magic of Santa's lap healed [her] butt." Direct quote. Ringing through Radio City Music Hall. Not awkward at all.
Political and human rights issues aside, I've decided to adopt the new mantra: KEEP QUIET and CARRY ON. Unless someone is directly out to physically harm or psychologically take down your children or member of your immediate family, smile and ignore them. "Seriously? Just leave it? Someone's being a complete dick to me and I'm not supposed to retaliate or even stand up for myself?" Exactly. That's what I'm sayin. Just...be nice. Sounds easy right? It IS. Those who just can't seem to do it, that's their problem. There are sad sad people out there, that unfortunately some of us deal with on a daily basis, who some how get off on just being...miserable. Creating drama. Making others feel like shit to make themselves feel better. It's gross. And the best way to keep clean and come out looking like the honor student is to KEEP QUIET and CARRY ON. It's as insane as entertaining a two year old's tantrum in a grocery store. You can't reason with a child in the midst of a fit. The same way you can't reason with some grown ass woman who's trying to bring you down. And NEVER forget this: You can't reason with crazy. Someone who is a legit Wack-a-Mole is never gonna really realize that they are one. Even if they've "admitted it" by seeking help or taking medication...no. Trust me, tread even softer around these folks. Cause when push comes to shove, you'll end up getting so frustrated you'll freak out and they'll start crying about their horrible mommy or absentee daddy who made them this way and then -POOF- you're the bad guy.
My homegirls circa 2001 are reading this right now in UTTER SHOCK! Jenny Lee??!! "But wait. No. That sounds like I'm being fake. And if there's one thing I can't stand its a fake bitch who's nice to your face then gossips behind your back. Ugh!" That's what I used to think. For a long, long time. I took pride in the fact that I spoke my mind no matter what, and that people ALWAYS knew how I felt about them. Good or bad. If someone was pissing me off I nipped it in the bud right then and there, regardless of awkwardness or anyone else's feelings. I was the bass ass chick who told it like it was. And ya know what? Ya know what I got behind closed doors from every guy I ever dated who was on the outside looking in on my relationships with other women? I was MEAN. "MEAN?! No. Well, I don't care. At least I'm honest." Ah! Right. Cause that's what the world's been waiting for, right? MY opinion. MY judgement. How egotistical, selfish, and...disgusting. Cause guess what folks? NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR THE TRUTH. Not when it's negative. Why do you think the wife to husband exchange "does this make me look fat?" is such a cliche? What good does it do if Mr. speaks the truth and says to Mrs., "Yes. It makes your ass look huge. Ya know why? Cause you have a big fat ass and nothing is gonna change that babe." Um...just mean. Look, when it comes to my core of bessies it's a different story. My few really close, good girlfriends. Of course, IF ASKED, I would tell them. Because we have a history. A relationship. A trust, an understanding. And even then...unless I felt they were REALLY out to embarrass or hurt themselves...I still probably wouldn't say anything. Unless it was a real eye-to-eye-tell-it-to-me-straight moment...bottom line: its just none of my F-ing business. Example: mother of two under two asking, "Is my husband boning his supervisor?" TRUTH. Mother of two under two asking, "Do I look exhausted? Does my hair look like shit?" LIE. Smile and lie. Well, no, smile and help her fix her hair.
A few years back, I worked with a gal. She was just..SO NICE. To everyone. Well, to everyone's face. She always had a second or two for everyone in our company. A seemingly sincere, "How are you?" or "Great sweater!" Now when she was with us girls, her co-workers, she was...normal. She rolled her eyes about the people she had just taken time for in the hall, and chatted cattily about whoever. It annoyed me SO MUCH. (I was in my "If I don't like you, you'll know it" phase. Hardcore.) Ahhh! It seemed so fake! And I couldn't stand it! And then...she died. She got very sick. Very suddenly. And just...died. And ya know what people remember about her? Her smile. Her joy. Her zest for life and kindness to everyone she came in contact with. THAT's what people remember because thats what they saw. Thats what they felt. And this CHANGED ME. Big time. At this point, Nora was about 5 months old. I remember getting the news of Lindsay's passing and looking into my baby girl's innocent eyes. I didn't want her to be hard and tell-all like me. I didn't want her to ever be viewed as mean. Even if it was "funny." I wanted her to be like Lindsay. Kind for the sake of being kind. Always with a smile because it takes no more effort than a frown, so why not. I now say, it doesn't matter WHY you're being nice. Just do it. People who are nice just to get things out of others? I really don't care. Do you think your going to get what you want out of people by being nasty? No. I've decided there's no such thing in my mind as "artificial kindness." From here on out, there's no suspicion. If you're nice, you're nice. Done and done.
Here's the real deal: I've recently been in the presence of a person who was/is...mean. Almost all the time. To me. To others. Just an angry and sad human being who I assume feels better by being nasty to people. And ya know what? To be on the receiving end of that feels like shit. If you knew me in the recent or distant past and ever fell victim to my "truths" or "jokes" or just bottom line mean girl behavior and you happen to be reading this: I am so, so very sorry from the bottom of my heart. I probably thought I was doing you a service by being straight up and candid with you (that's how blind I was), but that is in no way an excuse. I hope you can accept my apology. That's all I really want (but don't need) in return. For this sad and disgusting bully to open their eyes to their behavior and apologize. To apologize and to know: I don't care how hot or pretty you are (or think you are) it's ugly behavior. And ugly behavior makes you an ugly person. Mirror Mirror on the wall, much? Eek. Wait. Did that sound mean? Haha. But seriously, I used to have a reoccurring dream where I would lose it
Me and Linds. My Earth Angel. I only wish I had the chance to tell her sooner how she changed me for good. Thank you, gal. See you at The Seabreeze.
and tell this person off and wake up feeling horrible and guilty. Awful. And in my dream I always came out looking like the villain. But still, I would fantasize about retaliating. Then, I took a moment. And I would think of Lindsay. And I would think of Nora and Pats. And ya know what? It's just not worth it. And it doesn't make me weak. And it doesn't make me fake. It makes me better. Its not my job to educate every D-grade wanna be bully. So I'm taking it off my to-do list and taking the high road. And somewhere, sometime in the murky future these meanies will cross the line with the wrong person and they will be taught a real lesson. Or better yet, they'll meet their Lindsay.
So what have we learned? KEEP QUIET and CARRY ON. And then bitch and vent to your true friends in the privacy of your own home over a bottle of wine while stuffing your face with amaze balls Spinach-Crab dip. It's perfection with pita chips, veggies, whatever. Leftovers would also be ridiculous atop a burger for a decadent switch up! Ooh! Fancy surf and turf with truffled fries! OMG. I'm getting starving. Ok, here we go--
1- 8oz block cream cheese 1/2 c sour cream 1/2 c + 1/4 grated parm 1 tsp Onion powder 1 tsp Garlic powder 1/2 tsp Old Bay Salt Pepper I lb frozen spinach, thawed & drained 8 oz lump crab meat* 8oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
Beat together cc& sc in large mixing bowl with spices until well blended. Stir in 1/2 c of the parm. Fold in spinach & artichokes then crab. Spread into sprayed glass pan. What you might make lasagna in. Top with reserved parm and bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve with pita chips, crustini, your fave crusty bread or veggies. *if you're vegetarian, just not feelin it, wanna save a couple bucks... leave it out. No biggie. It's just as delicious without!
Not the prettiest pic of uncooked dip, but here's a great tip: When taking this to a party, pack in a bigger tray with dip to one side. That way you heat and fill up with chips when you get there and don't have to bother your hostess for an extra bowl!