Day 24, 25 and 26: Whirlwind.

Dear friends,


I’ve spent the last three days on a pre-holiday whirlwind.

I made a blazing trip to Tulsa and back to see CupKate and meet our favorite reality television star Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss.

I’ve been quilting like a maniac to meet an upcoming deadline.

I’ve been furiously cleaning house and planning our Thanksgiving-stravaganza in preparation for the arrival of Kate and two of her teammates later today.

I’ve been running.

I’ve been Christmas shopping.

I’ve been having the time of my life, if only I could catch my breath!

With gratitude (for my favorite time of year spent with my favorite people},

Joan, who is sad to report Mr. Mom learned this week that his “tennis shoulder” is actually a torn rotator cuff and surgery will be scheduled soon, prompting a domestic crisis because Mr. Mom in a sling? Lord bless the helpless family!

Day 5: Buddy!!!!!

Dear friends,

If you’re of a certain age and pop culture sensibility, the name Buddy (spoken with great enthusiasm or followed by multiple exclamation points) refers to a particular elf of the overgrown variety. Of the looks-like-Will-Ferrell variety.

But in our home, we squeal with glee about a different Buddy.


I’m talking about Buddy Valastro! The Cake Boss!!!

You may recall that CupKate and I went all the way to NYC (Hoboken, actually) to meet Buddy and visit his bakery. His pastries were beyond compare, but Buddy was nowhere to be found.

Turns out, though, Buddy is going to Tulsa. Which is precisely why the best part of my day yesterday was buying VIP tickets for Kate and me to meet him at this event.

It will be a perfect prelude to Thanksgiving and I can’t wait! I’ll drive to Kate’s college and pick her up on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, then we’ll drive on to Tulsa for a dinner out and an evening with our favorite pastry chef and reality television show. I’ll head home the next morning and, 24 hours after that, she and her teammates will head to our house for Thanksgiving break.

It’s all kinds of awesome. And just the delight of planning it made for the best Monday in a long time.

(Especially a Monday on which my biorhythms are still adjusting to the time change and I’m cranky.)

With gratitude {for Monday surprises and mother-daughter junkets},

Joan, who’s pretty sure Buddy will think Kate and I are the coolest mother-daughter fans he meets on his entire tour

Snapshots from New York.

Dear friends,

I’ve been resisting writing a travelogue post about my recent trip to New York City.

Mostly because it would bore you death, not because I wouldn’t love to do it.

As much as I’m a small-town girl, I adore cities, especially New York, and there’s nothing more I’d rather do than write at length about every detail of my six days there. (Mr. Mom will affirm this. I think he’s tired of my one-track conversation, but he’s still politely listening).

So for your sake, I decided to consolidate my favorite impressions and photos into a Top 5 list.  By the way, Kate would have a totally different list. This is Joan’s opinion only and everyone knows Joan is one opinionated broad.

Joan’s Short List of New York City Wonders (in no particular order):

MOMA ought to be designated one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I got goosebumps and shed a tear or two during the few hours we spent there. Really, it was sublime overload. It made me think heaven is probably filled with art. Anyway, besides works by Dali and Pollock and Monet and Rothko and Mondrian and Van Gogh and so many others that made me marvel, I was absolutely smitten by this piece by Edward Ruscha:

The gallery text reads: “In capital letters, ‘oof’ floats against an empty blue backdrop, suspended somewhere between image and language and between iconicity and absurdity.”  Ruscha’s delicate balancing act is deliciously irreverent and ironic and reminded me why I love modern art. And you know what else I love about MOMA? Cameras are allowed! I took a slew of photos of both art and gallery text as a personal memoir. Thanks, MOMA curators. You totally made my week.

Broadway simply can’t be beat as an entertainment destination. I had the good fortune of seeing two shows and wished I could have seen 10 more. “Jesus Christ Superstar” was brilliant — a post-modern vision of the passion story with a soundtrack that everyone my age knows well. I couldn’t help singing out loud to most of the songs. “Hosanna” was especially well staged with a chorus line waving giant aluminum palm leaves.  And “Nice Work if You Can Get It” with Matthew Broderick was two hours of old-fashioned Gershwin fun chock full of eye-candy costumes, slapstick humor and more songs you know all the words to. My next dream vacation is to spend five days in Times Square doing nothing more than seeing as many shows as can be crammed into 120 hours. By the way, the discount tickets line in Times Square is a bargain one should not lightly dismiss. Yes, it’s crowded. Yes, you have to wait in a long line. But it’s also a fun way to pass a couple of hours. I wouldn’t be smiling if it weren’t.

Ground Zero is hallowed, mystical ground. There’s a vibe to the place I can’t describe — except to say it’s simultaneously reverent and celebratory. I almost passed it up thinking it would be overrun with tourists (it was), which would ruin the moment (it didn’t). My last trip to NYC was in 1999, at which time I stood on the observation deck (107th floor) of WTC 2 and took in the wondrous view on a cold but clear winter day. This trip, I laid on the grass of the Memorial in silent meditation and concluded the view of the emerging four towers was just as spectacular.

Buddy of Cake Boss has it going on! The man is not just a TV star — he’s a pastry God. I was all set to conclude the whole “Hoboken Baker” schtick was just a hefty fork-full of reality-television schlock. But his baked goods were ungodly good and unbelievably fair-priced. Props to him for not jacking up his prices in the wake of his television success. And next time you go to the Big Apple, make time in your schedule to visit Hoboken. (You can get there in 15-20 minutes from almost anywhere in Manhattan on the Path 33 subway line.)  Hoboken is totally underrated, which I’m sure has everything to do with the fact that New Jersey is its surname.

Street performers are one of the coolest free benefits of big cities and NYC abounds with talent. Kate and I sat and watched these two  guys near Times Square for quite a while. I couldn’t help but give them a few bucks. I always give street performers a few bucks. I mean, if they’re going to the trouble of entertaining me for free, how can I not give them a little legal-tender appreciation?

With gratitude {for the trip of a lifetime and 144 hours of uninterrupted time with my sweet CupKate},

Joan, whose face is hurting because she still can’t stop smiling

Joisey girls.

Dear friends,

Not long ago I was kvetching to a friend about how much I’ll miss Kate when she moves away to college, about how time is slipping away, about . . . oh, you know — that thing that mothers do.

And my wise friend, who has been the source of many good ideas and advice over the years, suggested I needed to plan a girls’ trip with Kate — a week’s getaway after she graduates from high school, just the two us, as a kind of rite of passage/celebration/cementing of the mother-daughter bond experience.

I was all over the idea and mentioned it to Kate immediately. I told her we would go anywhere she wanted to go (within reason of course, which my girl is nothing if not reasonable) and to think about it.

A couple of nights ago I followed up with her.

Joan: Have you been thinking about where we might go for our girls’ trip?

Kate: Anywhere is fine, Mom. Wherever you’d like to go, I’m sure I’d enjoy it.

Joan: No, no, no. I want you to pick. It’s your trip.

Kate: Well, I was talking to a friend and I was thinking how fun it would be to go to Hoboken.

<insert screeching tire sound>

Turns out, guess who is in Hoboken?

Photo credit: hddavila2007

Our favorite baker ever, Buddy of Cake Boss!

Kate started her confectionary odyssey before I did. In fact, she’s the one who inspired me to take up baking. Long before I was spending my Sundays making multi-layer, filled cakes from scratch, Kate was creating and selling these little delights:

So Hoboken it is! And while we’re in the neighborhood, I suggested we ought to drop in on the Big Apple. Because there’s just a few things we might enjoy over there, like hanging around outside 30 Rock and stalking Tina Fey.

I’m so excited, I’m tingly! I’ve been to NYC three previous times, in 1976, 1987 and 1999, but Kate has never traveled there. The last time I was in Manhattan, I went to the top of the World Trade Center for the first time. Kate and I both want to see Ground Zero.

If you’ve been to NYC more recently than 1999, would you do a girl a favor and drop me some suggestions? Where should we stay? Where must we eat? There’s so much to choose from, I need a carefully edited itinerary and would welcome your input.

With gratitude {for the anticipation and excitement of planning a big trip},

Joan, who in her secret dreams believes she could have been a real-life Carrie Bradshaw, pink tutu and all (except for the Mr. Big part because she is clearly more into the Mr. Moms than the Mr. Bigs)