Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area


The Santa Moment

Posted on Nov 22, 2011 in Featured, Holidays |

The Santa Moment

If you’re a parent, you don’t need to read the rest of this story.

It’s the story of the kid and the Santa jig, and the jig is up, and you are left as the grownup fool telling your kids for the past eight years that a giant fat man breaks into their house each year. If you’re already a parent of a kid older than mine, you know the sock-in-the-gut feeling of your baby’s childhood blinking away.

Today was that day.

I picked up my sweet Thing 2 from school, a rarity since returning to work. I took her out for a special treat (curry meat pie — my girl is special) and we spied friends outside. While we were chatting with them, our favorite toddler boy, Teddy said, looking at his hand-me-down pink tricycle, “Dis bike too small fo-me!” And his parents replied, “Well maybe!

And that was it.

She got it.

In one sentence. It was over.

She looked at me, took my hand, squeezed hard, and said, “Yeah, ‘Santa, or Mommy and Daddy.”

Stunned, I took her by the hand and walked away. I stared at my buddies with that Oh-Holy-Crap-That-Just-Didn’t-Happen eye stare. But it had happened. And there was no going back.

I tried to undo-the-undoable. I told her that our friends were trying to talk their son into asking for a bicycle from Santa instead of from their parents because bikes are expensive. And parents can’t afford bikes. And Santa helps because he can. And, you know, wink, wink, wink.

She didn’t buy it.

She rolled her eyes at me.

So I took her for a fancy haircut at a grownup hair salon to distract her.

Or maybe, to distract me.

She got a bob cut.

It made her look young.

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Posted on Oct 9, 2011 in Holidays |

Thing 2 came in today with a giant eraser that says, “For Big Mistakes” on it. She says bluntly, “Is this for Jewish people?”

I looked at her, confused. My eight-year-old floors me frequently.

“Mom, it’s Yom Kippur, today is the day they get to erase all their mistakes.” My brilliant, beautiful, daughter. I told her we all have a chance to erase our mistakes and she tells me, “But today, my eraser can be for them to make their mistakes get erased easier.”

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V-Day: The Worst Holiday Ev.ah

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 in Holidays, iVoices |

The worst holiday ever? Valentine’s Day, of course. Watch fellow iVoices reporters and me chat about our most, um, memorable Valentine’s Day gifts. Love, hearts and twinkles. Blech.

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Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye

Posted on Jan 1, 2011 in Holidays |

We watched as my mom released 10 balloons into the sky on New Year’s Eve singing at the top of our lungs, “Nah, nah, nah, nah, Hey, hey, hey Good-bye!” Under my breath I whispered to her, “See you later, sucky year.”

2010 was a crap year.

There is nothing like the shadow of a sick mom to put a haze over even the best of years — months and weeks clouded by hospital visits, medication and status reports. Then the second shoe dropped: La Gringa’s mom had lung cancer too. Both our moms down for the count. Shockingly, we’re the ones who were lucky this year. One street over, my friend Rita was holding it together for her husband and children, but before the year ended, she’d said goodbye to her husband, not to a slew of balloons. My dear friend and soul mate Elliot died this year too from brain cancer. In a screwed twist of fate, his brain was known well for being far beyond any of ours. My friend Jill’s mom died suddenly on her anniversary morning after beating cancer the previous year– how whacked is that? El Ano Horrible also brought on bitch-slaps to savings accounts everywhere, sending most of us into (gasp!) cutting our Anthropologie budgets to halt. The year also a bust of companies I loved, worked for and was loyal to — from layoffs to shut-downs, Silicon Valley seemed to be on a colossal roller coaster.

I literally could not wait to say goodbye to 2010. And this morning, the first morning of the next decade, I cannot wait for 2011 to get started, looking toward a year that is just simply better than the last.

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Fudging It

Posted on Dec 16, 2010 in Featured, Food, Holidays |

Fudging It

It’s quite possible that I could be disowned for this one, but my grandmother has long passed and I’m just daring enough to give you the best holiday gift I have can offer: my fudge recipe. My only tip: timing is everything Oh, and one more: don’t forget to lick the bowl.┬áHere you go, the one and only non-hand printed version of our family’s favorite:

Garza Girl’s Fudge

4 1/2 cups white sugar

1 can evaporated milk

36 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped rough fine

1/2 # unsalted butter, cut in chunks

10 ounces good quality marshmallows

2 Tablespoons vanilla

2 cups rough chop walnuts

Bring sugar and milk to a soft ball stage (don’t mess with it while it’s working its magic). Remove from heat. Add butter, chocolate and marshmallows and rapidly incorporate fully. Add walnuts and finish with vanilla. Place in baking sheet and cool at room temperature until set (about two hours). Cut fudge into one-inch squares.


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The Plate

Posted on Nov 29, 2010 in Featured, Holidays, Motherboard |

The Plate

I’m a family girl. For all the good and bad of it, that’s who I am in a nutshell. This means that every tradition, every person, every meal prepared has meaning to me. I crave Irish Nachos from Rosie McCann’s pub on May 6 each year to celebrate a romantic meal La Gringa and I had years and years ago. I play Barbara Streisand’s Christmas album all the way through because it reminds me of my parents dancing in the livingroom when I was a child spying on them playing Santa. I make tamales around this time of year too because it reminds me of my cousins and grandmother and her tiny kitchen with the vinyl seats and fake wood. I love tradition, and, until one fated night in Rome ten years ago, I still do.

I was traveling in an Eastern direction around the world in 2010, hitting nearly 30 countries and loving every single minute of my travel. My mom met me in Rome for a magical week in early October. It was set to be the last time I’d see her before Christmas eve. We decided to have Thanksgiving in Rome at a beautiful restaurant on the Vio Veneto called Cafe Veneto, an Argentinian restaurant at the Spanish Steps. The night was something I could never write about, filled with symbolism, music, food and love. It was Thanksgiving. That night, we bought the plate we’d eaten from and brought it home. To this day, I use the plate. That darn plate is one of my greatest family treasures.

I spent that year away from my family for the first time on Thanksgiving. I was 29. That’s a lot of years of Turkey with the same turkeys. Since Thanksgiving in Rome, I’ve let go of my turkey day traditions and opted for a new tradition: No Tradition! Each year, we pick something different to do. Last year it was LegoLand with our dear friends and tacos at the border on Thanksgiving, the year before we joined both of our families together for an eclectic celebration and the year before that we had 50 people to dinner complete with a serious game of flag football. Next year? Who knows! The tradition began in Italy and stays with me today — Thanksgiving is about a feeling, more than a series of rituals. Come over any night, you’ll find chatting, laughing and likely eating from The Plate in our daily thanksgiving.

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