Coupons, Comic Strips and Critter Cupcakes

My parents left Monday to drive back to the desert after their almost annual Halloween trek to the City of Angels to see my kids, me, my brother, and my sister (if she weren’t currently hanging out in Beijing on a soul-searching adventure like only a single 32-year-old woman can) and why they’re at it, they’ll go ahead and see my man too.   Mom and Dad are quite a trip on many levels and if I happen to stick around in blogland long enough, some illuminations on the topic of my parents are bound to surface from time to time.

First let me give you an ounce of background.   I come from the definition of a normal family. Parents married for 43 years, middle-class, stable, traditional, loving, protective, and predictable.    So predictable in fact that whenever they arrive for a visit, I can always expect that my mom and dad will hand me two things:
1) An envelope filled with coupons that my mom has clipped for me.  Every category is covered from diapers to food to discount coupons to Universal Studios.  Because I most definitely am an LA mom who drags my three young kids to Universal Studios on a typical weekday afternoon.  Not.  But hey, they’re good to have on hand for those out-of-town guests (who don’t seem to come into town that often.)   Okay I digress.
2) Clippings of comic strips.  My dad loves the “funny papers.”  He’s actually gotten CR, my firstborn, into reading them with him when he’s in town.  It’s sweet really and reminds me of my own Sunday morning childhood.   So each arrival, I am handed a few comic strips that remind my mom and dad of me and my life.  There used to be a lot of “Cathy” when “Cathy” was still a comic strip.  Is she still around?  You know, “Cathy”, the one who is always overwhelmed by her life?  Yep, that reminds my mom and dad of me.
So if I remind my parents of on-the-edge “Cathy”, I am wondering what possessed my mother to hand me something else this time around – a recent article from the June 2008 Ladies Home Journal titled “Critter Cupcakes.”   
As she waltzed through the door at like 4 PM last Thursday to find me having just arrived home from picking up CR at school with the Love Fairy and Bam-Bam in tow, my mom said “I thought you would like this article because I know you love to bake.”   Okay, I know that I have told you how lame I am in the kitchen both here and here but I will admit that I like to bake. Yep, chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes.  I recently learned how to make some straight-from-heaven frosting for my straight out-of-the-box cupcakes so I’m getting pretty crazy when it comes to baking.  
I do actually have a goal to be a become a better baker because my grandma kicked a** in the baking division of cooking.   She gave me one of those all-powerful KitchenAid mixers for my wedding 10 years ago and it expertly mixes my homemade chocolate chip cookie dough and my out-of-the-box cupcake mix.   (My grandma died almost a year ago at the age of 91 and she was baking almost to the day she died.  More on her in later posts for sure.)
So even though I have future baking awards on my mind, I’m still nowhere NEAR where this “Critter Cupcakes” article wants me to go.   And the lead-in lines on the cover page of this article actually say, ” Want to be a hit at your next kiddie party?  Follow these step-by-step instructions for the cutest ever…..CRITTER CUPCAKES.”
Are you kidding me?  “Wanna be a hit at your next kiddie party?”  Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, the last thing on my mind when throwing a kiddie party is being a hit.  My thoughts usually revolve around things like “I hope the kids don’t think I’m too much of a bitch when I yell at them for jumping on the furniture.”  And I don’t know if this it too much of a stretch but when I read “kiddie party”, I’m thinking the authors might be thinking that us moms throw parties for reasons other than for a birthday.  If you are mom reading this who happens to throw a kiddie party for no other reason than throwing a kiddie party, please leave this blog immediately. What you find here may offend you.  
The critters that are described as “too-cute” include panda bears, penguins, horsies, and then for the real ambitious, there are two cupcake projects which would require a mom to be, well, insane.  One is titled “Old Swampy” where a box of cupcake mix and a lot of friggin’ hard work would churn out an “authentic-looking texture of an edible alligator” and “Shark Attack” which is like an art installation of cupcake extravaganza-ness.   “Shark Attack” really takes the cake (no pun intended of course) as it consists of sharks, schools of fish, floats, channel markers all arranged in a scene of terrifying chaos.  On the picture of “Shark Attack” it reads “Make a splash with this school of sharks, whose scary teeth are just sweet frosting.”
Okay.  I mean, OKAY.  Who, in God’s name, reads this and does this?  By the time I have the time to create that “Shark Attack” masterpiece, my firstborn will be like 28, and I don’t think she’ll appreciate having “Shark Attack” as her wedding cake.  Hmmmm….what an idea.  Maybe I can convince of her that.  She’s pretty edgy.
These critter cakes and articles written about them in magazines that moms are supposedly reading is just the kind of modern day mommy stuff that makes me wonder.  It makes me wonder what’s going on in the minds of other moms that is not going on in my mind.  There are signs everywhere telling us that maybe we should be doing all kinds of things that I myself am not doing.  Am I just not modern enough?  Or am I simply not disciplined enough?  And why is it that I just don’t really care about being a “hit?”  
My mom never ever ever baked “too-cute cupcake critters” and she definitely is not the kind of grandma who does.   I’m still so confused as to why she would think her “Cathy”-like daughter would have the mental and emotional stamina to create “Old Swampy” but I guess I should take it as a compliment.  
Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.  I’ll take it as a compliment.
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