Hitting the Bottle

Recently a coworker forwarded me a newsletter from a wine collecting website (wait, so you’re saying you procure the wine and don’t immediately pour the entire bottle down your gullet?  Sounds crazy to me, but okay, I’ll go along with it…).  This particular edition’s subject line read “5 Great Sipping Wines for Parents to Bring on Playdates”.  Not sure if all their subject lines are equally as compelling, but this one certainly had my number.  While I browsed their list of summery whites, the addition of a Spanish Txokoli made me realize that I need to step away from the 3 buck Chuck and broaden my horizons a bit.  How could there be wines out there I’ve never even heard of?  It hardly seemed possible.  The article also got me thinking, while Moscatos and Rieslings are all well and good, there’s a whole world of distilled spirits out there.  Perhaps we’d be wise to let the type of playdate dictate our beverage selections?  Here are just a few examples of playdates greatly enhanced by the right libation:

1. “You Are NOT the Father” Fiesta

Gather a few of your closest friends (and their young’uns) to watch Maury Povich on the barely working black and white television on your porch.  It’s simply the best way to enjoy a bit of fresh air without missing your stories!  Extra host points if you distribute GPC Menthol 100’s for guests to enjoy while the children whip each other with broken car antennae.

Recommended wine:  Lukewarm box of Franzia

2.  Betty Draper Bash 

While your husband is putting in those “long hours at the office”, repeatedly dialing his mistress and shrieking obscenities can be a real gas!  It may not count as a playdate in the traditional sense, but little Junior’s nanny or an imaginary friend he’s created to cope with your brazen neglect both make excellent companions in impish merriment.  They can even join in the fun by planting your expensive jewelry in the cleaning lady’s coat pocket – accuse her of lifting it and the excitement ensues!

Recommended cocktail:  fine gin martini

Accompaniments:  Valium, tacit resentment

3.  Send in the Clowns

Gather up those tiny Juggalos and let’s head on down to the dark carnival of souls!  There’s no time like the present for baby’s first Insane Clown Posse concert.  Make sure to pack plenty of black and white face paint for all the little Big Money Hustlas in your group.  No need to bring refreshments for the youngsters, soda is typically provided.

Recommended cocktail:  Jack & Coke

4.  Silicone Social

Invite all your super young looking friends over for an in-home spa party.  No need to acknowledge the ravages of time when you’ve got the fanciest, most idiotic treatments money can buy!  Make sure to confirm your booking with Demi Moore’s doctor well in advance to ensure there enough medical grade leeches for all your guests.  Don’t worry about activities for the children.  They’ll be happy as clams passing hors d’oeuvres, placing electrodes or administering syringes of black market Guatemalan Botox.  You’ll get that Pete Burns forehead that is oh so chic this season and they’ll get a chance to showcase their superior hand-eye coordination.  Plus it’s never too early for little Suzy to learn a valuable lesson about self-esteem.

Recommended cocktail:  Dom Perignon mimosa

Accompaniments:  beluga caviar amuse bouche, estrogen patches

In the event my suggestions fail to move you, please see the following link to the original article by snooth.com for a truly lovely list of low alcohol sipping wines.  Cheers!

http://www.snooth.com/articles/playdate-wines/?utm_campaign=5485&utm_medium=email&utm_source=all&utm_content=11405

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Party Monster

Last weekend my son turned two years old.  Holy crap in a pita – how did this happen?!  When you’re expecting, people just LOVE to tell you how fast the time will go once the baby arrives.  “Treasure every moment, blah, blah, blah.”  “They’ll be grown up before you know it, blah, blahbbity, blah, blah.”  There’s nothing more annoying than when people are right.  I really had no idea just how bittersweet these milestones could be.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving toddlerhood and all its sticky, boogery glory.  But it’s all I can do not to throw myself atop a pile of his old onesies and weep uncontrollably.

And here’s another fun tidbit I didn’t know until I became a mother:  the task of throwing a child’s birthday party turns me into a full blown, hillbilly ape shit crazy person.  Much to my chagrin, I’ve found that there is a Martha Stewart style psychopath lying dormant inside me that is (mercifully) only awakened once a year.  Take pity on the unwitting victims who find themselves in her path.  It all starts innocently enough; shopping for decorations online, assembling guest lists, addressing adorable letterpress stationery.  Then the harebrained ideas start to flow until, eventually, the dam of crazy bursts.  The evening before kiddo’s first birthday found me hot gluing handmade construction paper party hats onto a menagerie of stuffed animals.  This, my friends, is not normal behavior.

This year I was determined to be more reasonable about the whole affair.  We were all set for a modest gathering of family and our closest friends.  Then one simple notion sent the whole thing careening toward theme party crazy town:  “maybe I’ll make the cake this year”.  Fast forward to one hour pre-party time, and I’m still in the kitchen with an icing bag in my hand swearing like a longshoreman with Tourette’s.

Despite coming very close to a stress-induced stroke, everything turned out beautifully.  Little man recognized all his favorite characters in buttercream and nearly filled his Huggies in excitement.  The payoff was so worth it.  Still though, it’s a shame the skill of crafting beloved television characters out of construction paper is entirely non-transferable to other areas of life.  Next year he’ll be three and I’ll be calmer.  Famous last words.  Words remarkably similar to the ones I repeated to myself while cleaning up piles of the custom confetti I cut myself for his first birthday.  I’m thinking of saving myself the delusion and just choosing next year’s theme now.  Maybe something more in line with my expertise would keep the stress level down a bit?  Do they make Golden Girls-themed third birthday party decorations? If you need me, I’ll be scouring the web for a Sophia Petrillo-shaped cake pan.

A Hot Mess

Why does it seem that the time and care devoted to meal prep is directly proportional to the amount of said meal that ends up on the floorImage?  Take this recent dinner as a case study:  fresh kale, lovingly sautéed with carrots and organic ground turkey, tossed with homemade marinara sauce, served over organic whole wheat rotini and delicately sprinkled with ground parmesan reggiano.  If there was a season of Top Chef expressly devoted to toddler meals, that dish would have carried me right through to the finale.  Provided, of course, the judges panel did not also fill up on apple juice prior to deliberation.  A lovely little plate indeed.  A lovely little plate that hit the floor faster than a fat kid who dropped a Twinkie.

If it comes in stick, tot or nugget form – he’s all in.  Anything fresh, homemade or (appalled gasp!) GREEN and you can just forget it.  I present him with the plate and wait for that knowing grin that says, “Listen lady, you and I both know how this is going to end.”  I know I’m no slouch in the kitchen, so I’ve managed to avoid taking it as a personal attack on my culinary skills.  But I’m starting to think no good can come of cooking.  Let’s face it, homemade crap is just messier.  And messy equals fun!  Pasta with red sauce?  Splat!  Cheesy garlic mashed potatoes?  Fling!  Whole wheat vegetable quinoa salad?  Well that shit may as well be confetti.  (Seriously, still finding the remnants of this one whenever I clean the floor.  I imagine strippers have similar issues with body glitter.)  But still, my fighting spirit won’t let me throw in the dish towel.  Even if my meals will always be David to a chicken nugget-y Goliath.  At least the dog will always be well-fed, while my kitchen floor gently weeps.

Pandorable

Let’s face it folks, kids music is fucking horrible.  I’d like to say I have always been too cool for school in that regard, but I think my parents may assert that “Alvin and the Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits” still qualifies.  One could argue that technically that would still qualify as rock since it is Beatles covers, but I digress.  Things are on the upswing to be sure, thanks in no small part to shows like Yo Gabba Gabba that are a sly nod to hipster parents’ music library.  Artists like They Might Be Giants and Cake are also hopping on the kiddie music train, resulting in a widening selection of downright enjoyable fare.  But much to my chagrin, the irritating classics endure.  Not unlike cockroaches after a nuclear holocaust.  Don’t even get me started on Mickey Mouse – that shrieking eunuch voice is enough to make me puncture my own eardrums with a dull blue violet Crayola.  And riddle me this, Itsy Bitsy Spider; why should we reward you repetitive idiocy with a commemorative song?  If the rain repeatedly and mercilessly washes you out, why oh WHY would you go up the spout again?  Is this not the very definition of insanity?

So in an effort to provide appropriate children’s fare, I look to Pandora Internet Radio to help me craft the perfect kids’ station.  Starting with Yo Gabba Gabba as my base, a judiciously applied series of ‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down’ has yielded a playlist that is bordering on tolerable.  It is still a work in progress, but here are just a few gems and turds encountered so far:

  • Harry Belafonte “Jump in the Line” – Not sure who invited you to the party, but sure glad you came!  Apparently Trinidadian calypso music is a great way to solicit a diaper-clad rump shake.  Thumbs up!
  • Kids Bop “Firework” – The dregs of the Top 40 sung by future show choir rejects and B-squad amusement park performers?  That’s a big pass.  Thumbs WAY down.
  • The Belle Stars “Iko Iko” – This one has to go simply because I can’t shake the Rainman connotation.  “Hot water burn baby!”  Pass.  Thumbs down.
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead “The Sound of Sunshine” – Hmm.  Not my cup of tea really, but it provokes  baby dance moves the likes of which I’ve never seen.  Thumbs up.
  • Goo Goo Dolls “Iris” – Wait, what the hell?  Pandora, I demand you explain yourself!  When I click what I like to call the “WHY GOD WHY?!” button, Pandora states the following:  this song was selected due to its sweeping melodies and heartbreaking lyrics.  Really?  Well, I guess the kid has to learn sometime.  He’ll be only the wiser for learning about love and loss and the tender age of two.  Remind me later to pen a thank you note.  Thumbs up!

3 different versions of the Hokey Pokey, a barrage of Elmo and Co., and a sprinkling of Raffi all passed without incident.  I managed to quell my hipster snobbery because the boy was enjoying himself (and they only give you six skips an hour).  Will keep you abreast of the progress as I continue on my search of happy, fun, child-friendly fare that doesn’t make me want to bludgeon myself to death with a Nerf bat.  For everyone’s sake, let’s hope we don’t encounter any more Mickey Mouse along the way.