Friday, December 30, 2011


2011 was a challenging year. It was a year where we saw a great deal of joy, and we were blessed in many ways. But damn it was hard. We had a lot of change. I was pregnant and sick, we moved to Oakland, had a baby and the boys changed schools. I quit my job, lost the nanny and went down to a single income.

Change can be wonderful, as in the form of a bouncing baby boy, but it can also be difficult as you navigate how to function under new circumstances. Moving from two children to two plus a baby has not been easy. It has pushed me to a whole new level of exhaustion and stress. There are days where even when I can see just how good I have it, I don't feel like getting out of bed and starting all over again. I'm tired.

And it isn't over yet. Julian is seven months. I figure I have at least another six to twelve hard months ahead, yet I am happy because we have started something. The Three Musketeers. Our family. We are now complete and we will hopefully have a lifetime of happiness before us. I expect that the years ahead will all have unique challenges, some of them more difficult then the ones we have faced this year. This has been a year of happiness where we have been blessed with good fortune, for that I am grateful.

2011 is a year that I am going to remember. For the birth of my son. For the sleepless nights, the fighting brothers, the stroller pushing, backaches and spit up. For the beginning of our journey as a family of five.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Screw you Santa

Santa sucks. You know what he brought the Kargas family for Christmas this year?

No, not a hamster, we worked that one out in advance.

It isn't anything you can purchase at a store or even put a ribbon on.

No Lexus, no diamonds, no Ipad II, no smart phone.

The stomach flu. That's what that fat SOB left under the dying tree of holiday joy. It came on fast and furious. I can tell you that at it's height I was contemplating calling an ambulance or a funeral home, it was that bad. Thus far Zack had it, which lead to no less than six loads of laundry because he has yet to master the art of puking in the potty. I have had it, Evan has had it and now, my father-in-law. My husband is a ticking time bomb. Tick-tock-tick-tock. If he comes down with it soon we could possibly still enjoy the New Year holiday and his birthday.

Sadly it has really put a damper to our festivities. This was the first year in many that we celebrated Christmas at our house with the extended family and I am afraid that it will be remembered as the most dreadful holiday on record. Bummer.

Thanks Mr. C, see you next year buddy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dear Santa, Call me a Grinch

We had a list. For Santa that is. We worked on it, solidified it, confirmed it and sent it off to the North Pole. We agreed on this list. A smart list. A reasonable list. A fun list.

A Globe

Sponge Bob Legos

Star Wars Pajamas



Razor (scooter)

Lightning McQueen stuffed animal

Star Wars books

Check, Check and Check. Holiday Shopping done. Budget managed. Ho. Ho. Ho!

And then what? Yesterday the kid informs us he asked Santa for a hamster. A HAMSTER? A live hamster? One that needs to be fed? One that poops in his cage? One that might run away and get lost under our sofa before being eaten by our cat? Oye Vey. I had to nip this one in the bud. There will be no hamster. We have three boys. A dog. Two cats. We have enough living beings to care for and clean up after.

But he asked Santa for this. Directly. If Santa doesn't come through what does that mean for my little boy? An end to the magic? Dashed dreams? A future expectation for disappointment? This could be life changing.

How do I deal with this? What the hell do I know? I'm Jewish. As a kid, all I expected for Hanukkah was a Star of David stationary set purchased from the temple gift shop. So I put on my Santa/thinking cap and quickly told my son that I had personally written Santa and let him know that we could not accept any pets, and to please not send any.

Yup, I will take the heat for this one. I'll be the Grinch. Expectations managed. No hamsters.


Dinner Dilemmas: Chicken & Vegetables

Okay, long overdue Dinner Dilemma post. I actually made this dish early last week, but I have had zero time to post. Zero time to post and a piece of garbage computer that crashes every 2.5 seconds, which makes it quite difficult to get anything completed.

I have to note that one of of our beloved critics (Mr. Evan Kargas) was so offended by my meal that he refused to participate. No, he stuck to his moral high-ground and did not let a morsel pass between his lips to his highly refined palate. Therefor, I have only one rating for this weeks recipe: Chicken & Vegetables from Better Baby Food by Diana Kalins and Joanne Saab.


1lb carrots, peeled and sliced
2 sweet potatoes, sliced
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp thyme

1. Place carrots on bottom of casserole. Arrange potatoes on top of carrots. Pour half of stock over vegetables. Cover with foil and bake in pre-heated oven (400 degrees) for 20 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Stir vegetables. Add salt and pepper to remaining stock. Add mustard and thyme. Pour over chicken mixture and bake for 45 minutes until chicken is no longer pink inside.

Zachary's rating:

Zachary is clearly falling victim to an inflated rating system. He awarded the dish 7 stars. (Out of five, don't ask). Although he was very enthusiastic about the meal, he didn't eat more than half of it. Perhaps this judge is learning that dessert comes to those who give their mothers compliments.

It was an easy dinner to prepare and I liked the flavor of the chicken and the carrots. Next time I think I might add some additional veggies, like bell peppers and onions.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Gift

Those commercials. A December To Remember, which of course involves a Lexus with a big red bow. The couple at the skating rink, they slip, fall, laugh, and he presents her with a diamond pendant. Kay Jewelers. An enormous flat screen TV, and a very happy husband. Best Buy. Who actually gets those gifts for Christmas? Not the Kargas family. I imagine not most families. Our Christmas is going to be a tad more shall we say modest?

Do I wish I was getting something sparkly for the holidays? Would I like to get my boys their very own Ipads? Sure, who wouldn't?

However, I have already received an amazing, special present, one that I don't think I would trade for any Prada bag. What was it? It's glass. It glitters in red and gold. It is one of a kind and handmade by a local artist. My 3 year old son. Yesterday I attended the only holiday party that I was invited to this year. It was from 11-11:45am at the Lake School preschool. There was apple juice. There were cupcakes. A crazy, rockin time. Parents were presented with gifts that the children had created just for them. Evan could not have been more proud when I was handed the gift that he had made. It was packaged in gift wrap that he had painted himself and was accompanied by a card he had made with shiny paper and glue. He could not wait until we got home for me to open it, he insisted that I open the present right then and there. The smile on his face, the little bouncy dance he was doing while he waited for me to unwrap his gift, was priceless. With a twinkle in his eye he told me "I made this for the whole family! It's glass, we can't break it."

Indeed it was a glass votive painted in sloppy red and gold strokes. I hugged him hard and told him how much I loved it. He wanted to light the candle as soon as we arrived home. Instead we waited until evening came so we could turn out the lights and enjoy the glow of his creation.

When I was a child I used to roll my eyes when my parents would tell me that there was no gift they wanted or cherished more than the ones that I made them. Surely, they wanted a new TV, or pretty jewelery. But now I understand exactly where they were coming from. And perhaps once again, I am a cliche, but this time in a very good way.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I am not going through an identity crisis. I know who I am. I am just not sure I like her.

When I started this blog, I knew it would be in part about my role as a mommy, however, I also thought it would encompass other parts of who I am. Right now, I am simply Rachel The Mom. Friends warned me of this. I was advised to create a life outside of my children, because kids are not kids forever. At first I adhered to the warnings. I kept up with my career, my friendships and my workout routine, however as time has gone on and we have moved from one, than two, than three children, it's kind of fallen apart.

I am a stay at home mom. My blog is about my kids. All day long I am with human beings ages six and under. I cart them from place to place. I facilitate play dates, oversee homework, pack lunches, coordinate doctor appointments, grocery shop, and worry about their quirks, pains and behavior. That's pretty much it.

I wish I was writing about more. My marathon training, my trip to Kenya, the volunteer work I am doing at the woman's shelter, the Spanish and yoga lessons I am taking. But truth be told, I almost never purposefully exercise anymore (double stroller pushing seems to zap my energy), I don't have a valid passport, don't have the wherewithal to volunteer or the time for downward dog. I suppose if I gave up time on the weekends I could carve out a hobby, but I actually love my spouse, want to spend time with him, and don't feel it is fair to abandon him on Saturdays and Sundays.

It's a lot of excuses I know. It bothers me. I should have more energy. I should be doing more. I should be more interesting.

But I'm not. I'm a mom. Changing diapers. Doing laundry. Whining. Feeling a little isolated.

I'm a housewife. I'm a stereotype.

I'm a cliche.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Letter/Bless His Heart

I told him not to touch the Christmas ornaments. I warned him several times. These are special. These are fragile. They are a holiday legacy. I want my boys to enjoy the choo-choo train, Santa Fire Fighter and Elmo ornaments for years and years to come. I want my kids to show them to their own babies. They need to last.

We hung the shiny beauties on the tree just one day ago. There are sweet decorations stamped with "David 1977", there are the kitty cat ornaments David has purchased for me over the years. There are Zachary and Evan's ornaments, the ones that I have carefully picked out for my boys. Fragile, fun, sparkly, precious!

And broken. At least one of them. It happened this morning. The morning after we decorated the tree. Zachary was admiring and playing with the tree before breakfast and then I heard a little crack, and then "OH NO! SOMETHING HAPPENED!"

I didn't have to wonder what happened, I just had to wonder how bad was it? I ran downstairs to discover Zack standing over Pirate Santa Claus , 2010. Damn it. I was pissed. That was one of the expensive super pretty ornaments. It was Evan's. Zachary knew better. He did. Damn it. I let him know that I was upset. I glared at him. I yelled for his father to bring the broom. "Why?" I asked Zack. "Why?" "I told you not to touch the ornaments. Now you broke it! Forever!"

There were a few tears. (Zachary's.) Some angry stomping (also Zachary's.) Zachary yelled at me. "You hate me. You don't like me at all!" I answered between clenched teeth. "I do like you, but I DO NOT like your behavior! I am mad."

I went back upstairs to finish getting dressed. 10 minutes later it was too quite. Where was Zachary? It took a minute or two for us to find him, huddled in the basement, over construction paper, concentrating. He presented me with The Letter. The letter photographed above. It needs translation. This is the best that I can do.

Dear Mommy and Daddy,

I am sorry for touching the ornaments. I didn't mean to. I hope it is o.k. I feel bad for ??? I am really sorry. Love Zack.

Okay. Enough said. Tears. Love that kid.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So that's how it works....

What did I do today?

Let's see.....

I dragged your sleeping baby brother out of bed, so we could get you to school on time. No tardy slips allowed!

I braved Target with a six month old and a 3.5 year old to get your buddy a birthday gift. Can't go to a party without a present.

I woke up your sleeping brother (again, but this time only 15 minutes into his long awaited nap) so I could pick you up from school on time.

I made you orange smoothies for snack.

I took you and your brothers to karate. I wore your baby brother in the bjorn, and crossed my fingers that Evan would behave. He did not. I dragged a naughty boy off the mats while still holding a baby in my arms. I entertained them both so that you could learn your martial arts.

I drove you across town so you could get a hip new haircut at the cool salon that plays Spongebob while the stylist snips your hair.

I took the long way home so we could look at Christmas lights. I doubled back to allow you to see the giant tree your brother pointed out, which you missed and thus started balling about.

I made you hamburgers and tater tots for dinner while the baby screamed in the bouncy chair. I endured your insults about my cooking.

I called your friend's mom to arrange a play date at our house... again.

For that, did I get a hug? A kiss? A thank you?


However when daddy walked in the door at 6:30 announcing he had stopped at the library and checked out the latest disgusting Captain Underpants book, you flung yourself in his arms and declared that he was "The best daddy ever!"

Awesome. Just awesome.

Dinner Dilemmas: Mac & Cheese With Beans

I'm all for eating healthy, but come on Jessica Seinfeld, skim milk and no butter for mac & cheese? Help a girl out. What the heck is wrong with you? Kid's need fat. Kid's like to eat food with a little butter. Cream. Half & Half. Bacon. For the love of God, give them the butter.

But that is not Ms. Jessica's style. No sir. She is hard core. I actually have enjoyed her cook book in the past, which provides recipes with a secret pureed healthy ingredient. Think sweet potatoes, spinach and beans. It is a bit of work, making the purees before you even start the actual dinner, but it gets the kid's to eat their veggies. (Without knowing it, so I ask, is it really teaching healthy eating habits?)

The Seinfeld's are not overweight, their children look fantastic and healthy, so what is all the fuss? Do they really need to be drinking fat-free milk? I for one, do not believe in putting my children on a low-fat diet. Have you seen Zack? He is all skin and bones and runs about a million miles a day. He needs his creamy mac & cheese.

I'm getting off track. Today's Dinner Dilemma is Macaroni and Cheese with Beans, adapted from Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook Deceptively Delicious. In addition to the main course I made Carrot Ribbons, a recipe suggested by a friend. I will tell you now, the dinner went down well. Hallelujah.


Macaroni & Cheese (with beans):

1.5 cups elbow macaroni

1 cup skim milk (I used 2 percent, that is what we have on hand)

Half cup canned white beans

Nonstick cooking spray (I used a tablespoon of BUTTER)

1.5 cups shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese. (I used full fat cheese, because why the heck not?)

Half tsp salt

1/8 tsp garlic powder (I used a clove of real garlic)

1/8 tsp paprika, didn't have it, didn't use it.

1/8 tsp pepper.

Cook macaroni al dente. Drain.

While macaroni is cooking, combine the milk and beans in a food processor and process until pureed.

Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray. (nix that, melted butter in pan and sauteed garlic.) Add the bean mixture to pan and cook over medium heat stirring until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cheese and cook until melted and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add in salt and pepper. Stir in macaroni and serve warm.

Carrot Ribbons:

2 Carrots peeled into ribbons with a carrot peeler.

1-2 Tablespoons Butter.

Boil a pot of water

Place ribbons in water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain.

Toss carrots with butter.

Zachary gave the dish an unprecedented double five stars! He said he loved it the whole thing. He did a happy dance. That's about it.

Evan did not want to be generous with his stars. He was waving two fingers in the air with one hand, but shoveling mac & cheese in his mouth with the other, so I didn't believe the low score. I eventually convinced him to award the meal.... FOUR STARS. Evan liked it! He really liked it!

And me? Well, I thought that the macaroni and cheese was quiet good. I did not notice the beans, it was plenty creamy and tasty, quick and easy. The carrots were pretty and would make a nice side dish to any meal.

Hurray for me, a success at last. Note to Jessica. Butter baby.

Just butter.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Yup, I've thought of that.

Yes, I have actually thought about....

Checking into a posh hotel in the middle of the day by myself. To sleep. For five hours.

Getting a tummy tuck.

Getting botox.

Taking a giant garbage bag and collecting each and everyone of my kid's toys, then donating them to charity when they tell me that they are bored.

Selling my wedding ring, wedding pearls and crystal and using the money to pay for a giant European vacation.

Driving my dog and two cats into the "country" and letting them run "free."

Keeping Wiggum's ashes by my bedside for the rest of my life.

Serving my children mac & cheese for dinner every single night for the next month.

Taking all of the money that I would spend on holiday gifts and donating it to a needy family instead.

Creating a public service announcement regarding the risks of having three children. (Maternal insanity is number one on the list.)

Going to McDonald's and ordering a size large egg nog shake and drinking the whole thing.

Dressing Julian in one of those super cute Gymboree GIRL outfits, because the little dude doesn't know the difference.

Making a bonfire with each and every Cars, Spongebob and other ugly licensed tshirt my boys own.

Sporting a wig, I want to see what I would like to have long hair again.

Renewing my vows, just so that I can have a second chance at looking beautiful. I didn't feel like a princess on my wedding day, and I have always wanted to do it again.

Giving up on this blog.

Just kidding. Sort of.