The Hanukkats and other delights

Our new holiday cake at the Transit Wegmans: alternating layers of white and chocolate cake with cran-raspberry filling, vanilla buttercream, chocolate glaze, sugared berries and pistachios.

Hi! I’ve been working. Shocking, I know. Holiday time in a bakery is freaking nuts, and this is my first year as a full-timer and a coordinator so I’m busting my butt trying to make sure we have all the things, do all the things, and make ALL THE THINGS. It’s going pretty well. At least, Thanksgiving went well, pie-wise, but we are in a seriously weak cut-out cookie position, so I’m …sure it will be FINE.

I finished the book beast. It’s with a few readers right now, and I’m hoping they’ll return it with accolades and amazement, but I know the ending needs some love and that the world I’ve built is complicated, so they may well be searching for the most tactful way to say, “WTF, AMANDA. This is what you’ve been working on for TWO YEARS?” It has a gorgeous cover, which I will share soon, but first I want to tell you about the most wonderful thing.

We got kittens.

And now I am a cat-crazy lady. And I have cat-crazy children. I don’t know what we did without them, because now we all spend most of our time following them around the house, watching them play, petting them, feeding them, and waking them up to play with them some more. First we got Dobby, because two cats seemed excessive, but we couldn’t stop thinking about his brother…who we are now “fostering” (LOL. He’s ours.) and we named him Sock, of course. Because every Dobby needs a Sock.

They’re difficult to tell apart, but Dobby has stripes and Sock has spots, mostly. They get along with the dog. They sleep with the kids. They haven’t destroyed anything…yet. I love them. So much more than I expected! I always had cats growing up, always two at a time, Peepers even had kittens in my bedroom, but I forgot how much I enjoy them. (Probably because Ben and I rescued a feral cat when we lived in New Orleans. But we didn’t know he was feral. And we named him Bill. Bill the Cat. I’m sure that didn’t help. He would let us pet him for just long enough to secure a position in which to latch on to an arm or leg and bite and scratch the crap out of us. He also climbed my wedding dress in the closet. After the wedding, thank goodness!) Anyway, now we have cats, and our house is filled with cheer!

I hope your holidays are warm, happy, and filled with all the things that bring comfort and joy to you and yours, now, in the new year, and always.

And now I’m going to feed kid number 3, (1 and 2 have already been fed, lunched, and kissed out the door) and get ready for work. Holiday desserts don’t make themselves, thank goodness! #jobsecurity

Happy holidays, my friends!

Cat’s in the Cradle

I heard “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin while I was at work the other day. Do you know the song? The first time I heard it, I was a child, and I knew it was the story of my life, even then. Or at least, the first 1/3 of it.

Then the second 1/3.

I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post about a change I’ve made in my life, but my internal editor has been going nuts. “Don’t share that, you’ll sound holier than thou, like you want a pat on the back. Some people don’t have mothers, you know. You’ll make them sad.” Basically, every variation of “shut up, you’re stupid” that my dark side can come up with. Let me tell you, when I’m working a lot like I am now and I’m tired, my dark side is very chatty. I haven’t posted a blog for over a month because this is what I want to say, and everything else is trapped behind it:

Call your mother.

If you can. If she wants to hear from you. If you’re just too busy. If it’s hard. If she’s getting old. If you will regret not staying in close touch when she is gone, call her now. Call her every day.

Yep, I knew it. Now I feel like a jerk, and I’m staring at those sentences thinking of revising them to something that relates only to me, so I don’t sound stupid. Like, “I’ve been calling my mother every morning for about a month now.” I mean, really, what’s so special about that? Lots of people (better than I) call their parents every day. Do things for them, even. Not everyone left home at 18 and basically never went back because they were too sensitive to handle the family dynamic. You know that scene in that V.C. Andrews book where Cathy goes back and pours wax on her paralyzed grandmother’s hair? I understand those emotions, although that scene horrified me.

My mother stays at home taking care of my invalid father, and she doesn’t call me because she knows how busy I am. She’s actually said that. For years. And I did my best to call her, but I wasn’t that good at it. What sparked the change? What actually drove home the point that I needed to take ten minutes out of my “busy” day to check in with the person who labored to teach me unconditional love?

My friends’ mothers are dying.

And it is devastating to them. I’m making soup, lasagna, and salted caramels. I’m texting, checking in, and listening, but there is really nothing I can do to help. And I know I will be devastated one day, too. These friends are two of the closest I have in my life, and they are lucky because they kept their mothers close, talked to them often, and said all of the things you need to say before your Mama goes. So this is partly selfish, I guess. Eventually, I will lose my mother, and I can’t lose her like this.

It’s 8:27 am. The kids are walking to the bus stop. I always watch them to make sure they don’t get abducted by aliens while I’m cleaning up the breakfast and lunch-making mess in the kitchen. That’s my cue to call my mother. And Sunday afternoon’s exhaustion is my cue to FaceTime her and walk around the house spotlighting her grandchildren and her son-in-law cooking dinner shirtless. To share my busy life with my mom. It’s filled a hole in my life I didn’t know I had, and I’m glad I still have the opportunity to do it. She doesn’t mind if I put her on speakerphone while I clean up the kitchen or fold laundry.

Happy February, everyone! Call your mom, if you can! I will dedicate a yoga practice to those of you who can’t, for any reason. For healing and peace. For memories being blessings, and ever and always LOVE.



Oh, darling, worry about your heart. Not your butt.

Hi! Man, it’s hot in Buffalo, NY today!

Since I’m taking off on a writerly jaunt tomorrow, I cleaned out the car. I even vacuumed it. While I was getting under the passenger seat, and my butt was hanging out and up-in-the-air for all the construction workers building my neighbor’s new patio to ignore, I had a deep thought.

I’m raising young women, and it’s a life goal of mine to raise them to love their bodies whatever shape they become. Last night I snapped a photo of my daughter and I lounging on the couch reading. She looked at it and said, “I look fat.” I stared back at her, a half-dozen responses rolling through my brain. What was the right one? How am I supposed to know? I spent decades hating my body, and sometimes I still think I’m fat.

I can’t remember what I said to her, but that moment must have kept rattling around in my mind because I found myself wondering how my healthy ass looked while I was upside-down vaccuuming my Jeep. Because there is such a thing as “fat”, (is obese a more PC word?), and if a doctor suggests you should lose weight, you should probably do it, if s/he is a good doctor. But you should do it for the health of your heart, not the size of your ass.

I will tell her that next time. ❤