Monday, April 6, 2009

I am not Bakerella

and after today I can also say that I am not Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray or Donna Reed.

Pioneer Woman had Bakerella out to the ranch a few weeks ago and they made really cute cakepops. It looked pretty simple so I thought I would make them for Grace's not-really-her-birthday birthday celebration at school.

It turns out that it may be simple but it's also really messy and it's kind of precise which is not my thing in the kitchen. It also turns out that my cupcake pops look remarkably similar to my regular cupcakes. That is to say... messy.

Another thing about these cakepops is that they are made with something called cakeballs which are made by baking a cake, crumbling it, mixing in a container of prepaped icing and then rolling the mixture into balls. I'd never had cakeballs before today and they are kind of gross.

But I guess the important thing is that Grace is thrilled and so excited about taking these to school that she can't sleep.

Another adventure I had in the kitchen today was setting Charlie's lunchbox on fire. He asked for a hot lunch, I boiled some water, cooked some noodles, and then for some curious reason unbeknownest to my conscious self, I tossed his lunchbox on the burner and walked away. The smell of it burning drew me back to the kitchen where I was able to throw it in the sink before it burned our house down.

And finally, extending my stellar parenting skills into the living room, I sat down to read Grace this library book and by page 5 was sobbing while both children looked on in alarm.
This is a heartwarming story about a little girl exchanging letters with her Grandpa. Except Grandpa is sick and can't visit like he promised, daddy gets laid off, mommy gets pregnant, the family gets evicted and then Grandpa dies. I cried and Grace said "but mommy, he was really old."

This was one of those days where I had to tell myself several times "this is what I do." And be thankful that no one can fire me.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Twi-crack (or how did I become addicted to this crap?)

This is a post I've started and abandoned in my head a dozen times over the last six months. Started it because it's something I want to talk about and abandoned it because it seems so shameful. But a series of e-mails I've exchanged with a fried over the last few days is drawing me out of the Twilight closet.

This friend has spent the better part of the last 8 years keeping us safe from terrorists and weapons of mass destruction and important things like that. I count her as one of the most intelligent people I've ever known and was not surprised that she was immune from all things Twilight. Another friend and I kept insisting she read it but she held firm until last Saturday when she decided to "dip her toes in." If you know anything about the Twilight phenomenon, you know what comes next. It culminates in the groggy, middle-of-the-night e-mail I got last night saying that she had just finished New Moon, lamenting that she doesn't own Eclipse yet and it contains profanity.

This sums up the Twilight enigma for me perfectly. How can a frothy, poorly written (more on this later) teenage romance novel so completely suck out the brains of formerly well-read, intelligent, professional women? It's a question for which I've not yet found an adequate answer.

I think it was my friend Brandy who first suggested I read Twilight. I recall she said something like "it's not as good as Harry Potter but it's good in its own way." I ignored her. I was not going to read a teenage romance novel. I think I had visions of Judy Blume's "Forever" in my head. And then one morning I must have been emotionally vulnerable from reading some mass-produced spy thriller drivel and I happened up a scrapbooker's blog (Layle Koncar to be specific) where she gushed about discovering Twilight. I popped into a bookstore over my lunchbreak and picked up the first 2 books.

I was at the bookstore the next morning when it opened so I could buy the 3rd book. I read those books twice that first weekend. Then I gave them to my mother. She read them quickly but her initial response was "eh." (More on this later too.)

At first I kept my shameful secret to myself. But one of the things about being a Twilight crackhead is that eventually you'll want to talk about Twilight and to do that you either have to convince people you know to read the book or you have to go onto Twilight message boards. I was not quite at the message board level of addiction so I set out to convert my friends. My mom hadn't come over yet. My husband read it for me and declared it the worst book he ever read. Things weren't looking good.

Stephanie was my next target and I had low expectations. She's also smart and well-read and all of that so I figured she would laugh at me. I think I mumbled something about it under my breath while we were eating lunch and then was afraid to bring it up again. But she read it. And then started recruiting our other friends to read it. Soon she had created a local Twilight moms army.

Next up was Kathy. Kathy is the sort of person who can cut to the heart of the matter with the most droll witticism or dry observation that normal people will still be trying to figure out 2 days later. She is also the only person I ever met who actually thought organic chemistry was fun. But she gave the book a chance and overnight she was hooked too. Now I didn't have to keep my secret a secret any longer and about this time, Stephanie convinced me to go get Breaking Dawn at midnight the night it was released. That was a jarring experience. In complete honesty, most of the other Twilight people in the world scare me. So I almost went back underground with my addiction. Then the movie came out.

Have you seen the Twilight movie? It's pretty bad. Actually, it's shockingly bad. Some college students with cameras and a few thousand dollars could probably give it a run for its money. But here is the part of my confession where it gets really ugly and starts delving into scary territory. The movie gives a face and a voice to the characters and one of those characters happens to be the Byronic hero Edward Cullen played by Robert Pattinson who is my one true celebrity crush now and forever amen.

So I went to the opening day of the movie with the local group of Twilight moms and then started reading the books again when I got home at midnight. The next day I asked my mom to go see it with me and to my surprise, she agreed. To my further surprise, she liked it. She called me at 11:00 that night to ask if she could borrow my books again. At this point I sensed something was going on.

When a few days later I decided that I needed to read the books again (we won't even talk about how many times I've seen the movie at this point), my mom went out and bought her own copies. Have I mentioned my mom is a 50-something marketing executive for a huge multi-national corporation? She is also not a teenager. She is converting on her own these days. Just today she relayed a story about the Twilight discussion she had with our optometrist's wife and medical assistant. She uses her English degree to make a fairly convincing counter-argument to anyone who says the books aren't well written. She called me in anger when she discovered "Midnight Sun" on Stephenie Meyer's website - she couldn't believe I was holding out on her.

There are scores of Twilight fan sites and message boards out there, including one devoted entirely to the Twilight mom phenomenon. But like I said, most of these people scare me. Perhaps I'm just more comfortable keeping my addiction relatively close to home rather than discussing "the sadness of Edward" (it doesn't keep me from reading about the sadness of Edward though.) Perhaps I just don't want to see myself as a manic-eyed, messy-haired, borderline psychotic fanfreak. And yet, I sense, I'm already there.