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Thursday, January 31, 2013

let's bowl, let's bowl, let's...rock and roll

after a quick conversation with lilcee, we discovered that the girls had both been clamoring for a playdate.  it'd been a couple of weeks or so since they'd seen each other, and comparing schedules showed that we all had a free day that weekend.

we'd originally discussed heading to disneyland, but quickly nixed that idea after finding out that they were expecting some sizable crowds that day.  boo.  instead, i suggested something i'd been wanting to try with the bean for a while:  bowling.

we arrived at the bowling alley first, and looked around to kill some time.  the bean was instantly drawn to the wall o'video games.

now that i look back on it, i'm surprised she didn't question the need to change into shoes that weren't hers.

she and mini cee were pretty excited to get started.

with the bumpers in place, i helped her take the ball down the lane to bowl her very first frame.

as she watched her sister, the teen went up to the front desk to request a gadget that would make the whole thing more fun for the girls.

i'd never seen such a thing before, but it was like a little ramp.  you positioned it near the line, plopped the ball at the top, and pushed it off - giving the heavy ball some added momentum that sent it rolling down the lane at a much speedier pace than doing it manually.  it was cool.

and yes, lilcee and i joined the fun too.  we didn't use the rail, though.  heh.  i hadn't been bowling in years, and had a blast.

in between turns, the bean relaxed.

snack time!  man, i love bowling alley grub.

 when our time was up and we were all bowled out, the girls got to play some of those arcade games.

when i say "girls," i mean all the girls.

another successful playdate, check!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

bean, the musical fruit

the bean has been taking piano lessons since september.  it's really only one half hour session, once a week - and i seriously cannot pay/bribe/threaten this child to sit down and practice at home.  like, there's nothing that i've discovered thus far that she's deemed worthy of plunking her little tush at the piano and banging a few keys out.

so when a notice came home a couple of weeks ago about a recital, i was mucho skeptical.  even knowing she'd be playing a song in front of fellow students and their families, she still had less than zero interest in practicing her ditty of choice - "b-i-n-g-o."  she was pretty blasé about it, and i figured if she wasn't worried about it, i wouldn't be either.

on the morning of the recital, i decided to try something new with her hair.  as always, many thanks to the awesomeness that is pinterest:

such a ham, my kid.

although i'd anticipated a jammed parking lot (after all, the teacher told me that there were 25 kids performing that morning.  yikes), we arrived just a few minutes early and found a spot quite easily.  either we were really on the ball, or everyone else was just running late.

as soon as we set foot inside the music room, she was ushered away for a couple of pictures.

one by one, the rest of the performers arrived with lots of parents and bored-looking siblings in tow.  the hub and i managed to secure front row seats, and a quick glance at the program told us that the bean was one of the first five to play their piece.  good thing, too, because as she sat quietly in her seat next to one of her friends, i kept an eye on her as she took in her surroundings and the number of people who were coming in to watch.

and sure enough, after the first two kids had done their parts, she looked over at us with eyes as wide as saucers and the threat of tears beginning to well up.  poor little thing.  stage fright is no joke, especially at 5.  we motioned her over for a quick hug and some words of support, and after we'd reassured her that all she had to do was give it her best, she walked back to her seat and waited for her turn.  and i'm not gonna lie, i was getting nervous for her too.  my heart was pounding probably about as hard as hers was.

when it came, she got right up and took the microphone without hesitation to introduce herself and her song.  in a clear, confident voice she said "hi, my name is bean, and my recital song is b-i-n-g-o, BINGO!" she made a funny little gesture as she said it with gusto, and grinned as the audience laughed at her antics.  and then i knew that she was going to do just fine.

well, mostly fine.  playing the actual song was actually a rather slow process - something she'd been really worried about in the days leading up to the recital.  "mommy, the teacher says i need to play faster and i just CAN'T!" she'd say.  even knowing this, did she sit her little butt down to practice?  what do you think?  heh.

i breathed a sigh of relief when she finally struck the last note, and then got up, paused, and did a little curtsy as she'd been instructed.  i love shit like that.  and i could tell she was relieved as well as she plopped down on a seat next to me.

it took the better part of an hour to get through the rest of the kids.  thankfully, mine was clearly not the only one who needs to work on bringing up the tempo.  and then they each received a medal and a certificate.

the next big thing is coming in march.  that's when the junior high's drama department puts on their annual play, and they tapped the cheer squad to join the performance as oompa loompas.  the teen and i watched them practice their routine the other day, and it's shaping up to be a really cute little addition to the play.

it will be EPIC.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

playdate puppy chow

when the bean and i were invited to a playdate at rocky's house, i figured it was a good idea to try out a fun recipe from my pinterest food board.  i always pin so many tasty looking treats, but don't really get too many opportunities to make them.  well, i suppose i could, but the hub and the teen would yell at me for the constant flow of muffin top-busting snacks.  and i don't like getting yelled at, so there you go.

because i didn't have a ton of time to play with, i settled on something quick and easy - cupcake-flavored "puppy chow."  we're all familiar with this concept, yes?  take a bowl full of chex cereal and add all sorts of yummy ingredients to it and voila!  [insert random flavor here] deliciousness.  and i was happy to finally have a reason to use a bottle of almond emulsion i've had in the pantry, just waiting for the perfect recipe.

the recipe called for either white chocolate chips or candy melts, and i had both.  because i've always had no issues with melting them in the microwave, i popped my pyrex right in and hit start.  except that i ended up with a really weird-looking mixture, since i followed the instructions and added a chunk of butter to melt with the chocolate.  thinking that maybe i'd done something wrong, i scraped the goo into the trash and started fresh, this time the old-fashioned way with a pot on the stove.

and ended up with the very same result.

now, the directions did state that it would be thick - i just didn't think it would be like that, exactly.  i'm so sad to have finally stumbled upon something that butter doesn't make better.  and not wanting to waste another batch of perfectly good white chocolate, i forged ahead and mixed it into the cereal.  after it was sufficiently coated, i poured these in:

the whole shebang went into a giant ziploc bag to be tossed with the requisite powdered sugar, and it finally started to look like it was supposed to.  sorta.  at least the ribbon made it look festive.

i never thought i'd have so much trouble making a batch of freaking chex mix, man.  sheesh.  but i was pleasantly surprised to find that with the addition of almond and butter extracts, this stuff really did end up tasting like a cupcake.  a crunchy cupcake.

odd, huh?

Monday, January 28, 2013

one hell of a yay!/boo.

i can't believe it's damn near been a year since the teen and i visited the l.a. FIDM campus.  what's even crazier?  this visit was to conquer the first step towards enrollment - math and english tests.

during our visit with the admissions rep, we learned that housing is available at several local apartment complexes.  for those students, a shuttle is available for the afternoon/evening to and from the campus.

i'm super excited to report that the teen totally rocked those exams and is now working on her admissions project.  we completed the formal application and paid the fee, and now she's got an appointment in two weeks to submit her packet and meet with one of the school's directors.  eeeeeeeeee!  this is all so exciting, i can hardly stand it.

and that's where the fun ended for us that day.  we'd found super convenient parking right on the street, which we'd taken as a good sign.  parking in downtown l.a. is always a pain in the ass.  and when i looked at the sign, i took note of the hours listed - meters in effect until 3pm.  sweet.

uh, except that it wasn't.  in my haste to get to our appointment in time, i didn't notice the other sign posted right next to that one:  the one that basically said "no parking after 3pm."  uh-huh.  that's right.

as we strolled back to where we'd left the pri-YES, in a cloud of happiness and elation over the success of the testing appointment, we realized in an instant that our dependable little automobile was...GONE.


i seriously thought i was going to pass out.  at first, i thought that perhaps the car had been stolen.  and then as we looked all up and down the street and realized that there were no cars parked anywhere, that damn sign caught my eye.  as i read it much more carefully this time, it hit me - my effing car had been towed away.  i went through a rainbow of emotions:  helplessness, fear, panic, anger.  i scanned the street for another sign that might possibly tell me where exactly my car had been taken, and...nothing.  then in fine print on that hated sign, i saw it:  dial 3-1-1 to retrieve towed vehicles.  okay, fine.

i fumbled for my phone, dialed the number, and was greeted by the oh-so-cheerful voice of l.a. mayor antonio villaraigosa.  i kind of wanted to kick him at that point.  but then it got worse:  the recording told me that the 3-1-1 system was experiencing high call volume at that time, and could i call back later?


by the way, the worst part of all this was the crushing realization that this was all absolutely, completely, 100% my own damn fault.  gah!  there was no one to blame but me, and that's what made me most furious.  plus, the inevitability of emptying my bank account to get my car back was just the icing on this rotten ass cake.

with that wonderful 3-1-1 system being a total fail, the teen and i just looked at each other quite helplessly.  while i decided to try calling again to make sure i hadn't misheard the recording, she dialed up to our friend the FIDM admissions rep to see if she had any idea which towing company might have our precious prius in their hot little hands.  and as we paced up and down the street, something caught my eye:  a sign on a trash can for a 24-hour downtown l.a. help line.  when both of our phone calls turned up nothing to help our situation, i dialed the number and finally got connected to someone at the towing company.

turns out, in order to get the car back, i needed to present current registration (which is IN the car, you bonehead), my ID to prove that i was the registered owner, and oh - $272.15.  blah.  to make matters worse, the title is still in MIL's name.  yup, the very same beloved MIL who lives in TEXAS.  i told the guy that we had matching last names, but he didn't care.  instead, he told me that he'd need a letter of authorization to release the car to me and a copy of her driver's license.  that's when i started to sweat.  like, literally.  i think i may have scared the teen a little as she looked at the sweat pouring down my face.  ugh, it was so gross.  my heart was pounding like mad, and my head was spinning.

our first piece of good luck came when MIL answered my frantic phone call right away.  i began with "so i have a little story to tell you...." and the word vomit just poured out.  looking back, i'm surprised i didn't start crying as soon as i heard her voice.  she was sympathetic and quick to do whatever she could to help, and i was so dang grateful that i'd been able to reach her so easily.

the towing company was 2.3 miles away from where we were standing.  i don't know what came over us, but we looked at that map and decided immediately that we could walk it, easy peasy.  maybe it was the adrenaline from the insane situation we were in.  while i was on various phone calls, i'd had the teen get in contact with the hub so that he would know what was happening, and when i finally had him on the phone about a mile into our walk, he said "why don't you just take a cab?"  huh.  i don't know why we didn't.  my thought is that we probably just wanted to get there already, and calling for and then waiting for a taxi would've just taken too much time.  who knows - i told you i was delirious.

our walk took us past all sorts of stuff - shops, restaurants, city hall, the county courthouse.  we were walking at a pretty damn speedy pace, and it was starting to get dark.  and the last half mile was seriously sketchy as all hell.  that's when we really regretted not calling for a stupid cab after all.  a few minutes after we passed this:

we finally saw this.

funny, the last time i saw barbed wire up close and personal was for a very different reason.

i don't think we've ever been so happy to see a shitty office in all our lives.

after presenting my ID and car key, and forking over the debit card for the fees, it was just a few more minutes until an attendant pulled the car around for us.  and because we hadn't been hit hard enough that evening, there was a final "fuck you" from the city of los angeles tucked under a wiper blade:

it didn't take too long for us to be able to look back and get a giggle out of the situation, though.  as we drove home in standard los angeles rush hour traffic, the teen looked over at me and said "you know, if this had to happen to me, i'm glad it was with you."  and then we started cracking up as we imagined this scenario with, say, rock-ell instead of me.  and OMG, can you imagine if we'd had the bean with us?  what a nightmare that would've been.

needless to say, i won't be assuming shit about parking anywhere ever again.  i'll be reading signage so carefully, it'll be annoying as hell.  no way is this gonna happen to me again, dammit.  once was quite enough.

Friday, January 25, 2013

making it up as i go along

the bean woke up one morning with an odd request:  "mommy, can you make me a breakfast pizza please?" and punctuated it with a big ol' kool aid smile and a kiss on the cheek.

well, hell, who could say no to that?  definitely not me.  and so i whipped out my phone pronto and looked up recipes to appease my kid.  they were all pretty similar for the most part: crust, egg, cheese, meat.  i came across one that sounded right up our alley - it sounded like a tater tot breakfast casserole with a crescent roll dough crust.  ding ding ding!

except that when i opened the fridge, it turned out that i was all out of the dough.  all i had that could possibly work was a can of pillsbury buttermilk biscuits.  poo.  but i'd made her a promise, and so i made it work.  because biscuits usually get puffy as they bake, i figured i'd deflate the dough a little.  so i popped that can open, took a rolling pan to 'em, and macgyvered a crust.

i whisked some eggs and threw in some pureed carrots for good measure, poured the mixture on top, and added some cooked crumbled sausage and a few tater tots that i smushed up.  a good handful of shredded mozzarella cheese went last, and voila:

after baking, i was pleased to see that it had turned out just as i'd hoped.

not bad, right?  and the bean appreciated my efforts as she tucked into that slice happily, and then requested more when she'd devoured it.  i was pretty proud of myself, and so i think this may end up in the weekend breakfast rotation after all.

bean's breakfast pizza

small can of pillsbury biscuit dough
3 eggs
1/4 cup carrot puree
1/2 cup cooked crumbled sausage
1/2 cup frozen hash browns or tater tots
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

preheat oven to 375.  line an 8" round pan with parchment paper.  roll out four biscuits one at a time and create a round crust, pressing and rolling together to about a 1/4" inch thickness.  place in bottom of prepared pan.

whisk eggs with carrot puree (or, if you're lazy like me and keep baby food on hand for things like this, use any kind of light-colored mix of vegetables) and pour on top of crust.  sprinkle sausage and frozen hash browns on top.  if you're going the tater tot route, toss 'em in the microwave with a sprinkle of water and cover with plastic wrap.  heat for about a minute and a half until softened and then smush them till they resemble regular hash browns.  see what i did there?  lastly, top with cheese.

bake for 25-30 minutes, cut and serve.

don't you love my made-up recipes?  i do - at least when they turn out well.  and hey, if you have pizza or crescent roll dough, that would probably be pretty delicious too.  maybe i'll try doing it the "right" way next time.  or not.  you know.

squeezing in all the sightseeing

this was our NYC home for a whole week: it was one of only a few hotels that i could find that offered two beds in a room rather than, say, ...