Sunday, December 31, 2006


My mom and stepfather live in an area of the U.S. where brief snowshowers are common. Night and day temperatures are often vastly different, though, and the humidity generally hovers at around 30 percent, so when snow happens, it's generally gone within hours, sublimating or melting into the clear blue skies.

But when we came to visit, instead of bringing a nice hostess gift, we brought record-breaking snow. The neighborhood we're in is at the foot of a mountain, often enshrouded in cloud during bad weather. It started snowing on Thursday afternoon here, but down in the valley the sun was shining. Thursday night, however, the snow continued, as it did on Friday. As my mom and I took AM to lay in some Shabbat supplies, I asked if she had snow tires. "It didn't snow once last winter!" was her reply.

The driving between grocery stores was slow and slushy, with frighteningly low visibility. On the way home, my mom's Passat got stuck in the neighborhood. Twice. A kindly neighbor delivered me and a screaming, hungry AM to our door. Perishables were rescued from the trunk and arrived on foot. The snow continued all night Friday and ceased on Saturday in time for a gorgeous sunset.

But. In this city of few snowshovels and fewer snowplows (21 of them, a newscaster announced, to the hysterical laughter of Taxman and myself; for a city of about half a million people, it doesn't seem quite sufficient), snow totals ranging from 15 to 24 inches--my parents are at the upper extreme of that--has made for quite a mess. The airport was closed yesterday; sections of the major interstates that cross through the city were iced over and closed; even large portions of some city thoroughfares were deemed hazardous last night and closed to traffic.

The sun has returned today, affording a spectacular view of the white-capped mountains nearby and warming the air to a balmy 38 degrees. After an hour and a half of several family members shoveling snow (on top of what had been done on Friday), my mom was able to stop stressing herself into a tizzy and get out to shop for her New Year's Day bash (this year with a Show Off Your Grandkids Even Though The Party Is Smack In The Middle Of Their Naptimes Bonus!).

Miss M has been having the time of her life, clomping around outside in boots and borrowed snowpants, taking pratfalls in the snow and using a gardening spade to "help" shovel.

The snow has been everything that snow should be: pristine, pretty, white, wet. I got to watch the storm from a warm house. I saw bird, rabbit, and deer tracks in the snow when I took a walk with AM (can't do that at home!).

And while it's messy now, the driveway is clear, the streets are plowed, and we should be able to get home on Wednesday, as planned.*

Definitely better than a February Nor'Easter at home.

* I've got a blogger coffee meetup on Thursday that I am very excited about; if we get cancelled on the way home I'm going to go Miranda Priestly on someone.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Poker night

Every December 24th for the past four or five years, Taxman and I have an unusually good time playing penny-stakes poker. With his parents.

Odd, right? It gets weirder. December 24th is my in-laws' anniversary. So they celebrate their union (34 years now) by playing (and usually losing) poker with their family.

It used to be a larger gathering, but Taxman's grandfather passed away the summer before AM was born, and his elderly grandmother is a bit too crotchety to stay up so late and to leave her hearing aid in. And now, of course, we've got the kids, so last year the festivities moved from my in-laws' place to ours.

But the spirit is the same. Lots of jokes, lots of pennies. It sounds crazy, but I love poker night. It's the one night a year when I get a glimpse of what my father-in-law was like years ago. Ordinarily, he has a pretty serious mien. He's smart and studious; if he doesn't have a child on his lap, it's occupied by a volume of Talmud. Which isn't to say that he doesn't make funny comments from time to time, but it's almost impossible for me to believe that in high school he and Taxman's boisterous Uncle M were best friends.

On poker night, however, all the books are tucked away. It probably started because of "nittel nacht," a leftover custom from Europe, where pogroms and such were popular on Christmas eve. Of course, the origins of the day no longer apply, particularly in the United States, but sometimes even the most casual of customs are rooted deep. So on the night before Christmas, my father-in-law doesn't learn Torah. He plays cards.

We deal; they pick the most random wild cards for each round, relishing the hands as they are dealt: "Oh, oh, oh! Possible flush! Straightening! A wild nine!" My father-in-law, the most scrupulously honest person I think I know, insists that his deck is cut when it's his turn to deal. My mother-in-law rarely folds, telling Taxman that she has to stay in "to keep him honest." I lose a lot, but Taxman wins.

Last year we took them for a dollar and sixty-six cents. (More, incidentally, than Taxman spent on me on our first date.)

This year we played despite our early wakeup to get to the airport.

And we made eleven cents.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Poop at 29,000 feet

That's right. That's my son and his airplane debut.

Up the back, through the clothes. Didn't even wait until cruising altitude.

The 1:1 child:adult ratio was ok for on the plane, but in the airport it was bad, bad, bad. Two kids, two adults, two huge pieces of carry-on baggage (mostly their stuff, of course!), and two Britax Roundabouts. Holy cow.

I didn't sleep last night. Didn't sleep on the plane. Didn't catch a rest because Miss M and AM alternated naps when we got here. AM is suffering major stranger anxiety and refuses to let me out of his sight unless Taxman is holding him.

Vacation is going to get better, right? ZZZZZZZ.

Happy purple pajamas to all who are celebrating.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

If you've got it, flaunt it

Everyone knows that two-year-olds are sponges, right?

So when Miss M kept pointing out her "New shoes!" to everyone and people responded with, "Yes! They're green!" eventually it morphed to "Green shoes!"

Obviously, the most striking thing about Miss M is her hair. It gets a lot of comments (and comparisons to Little Orphan Annie). Recently she had been saying "Orange hair!" to people because a friend of ours told her that.

But yesterday she struck up a conversation with a woman in the elevator. She started by telling her our names ("Ema! Miss M! AM!").

Then she tapped her head--just where a tiara would go, incidentally--and said, "Beautiful hair!"

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pissed beyond words

(Side note: does anyone know how to make NY Times articles available without logging in?)

Justifiably? You be the judge.

Reason for Postcards from Buster's delayed return

Hey, you, rabid evangelical asshats: Just because you refuse to see gay parenting doesn't mean it's not happening. Why don't you go pick on TLC shows and leave fun, educational, apolitical kids' programming alone!

Separation of Church and State...Not just for breakfast anymore! (Except in New Jersey)

The kid who stood up to the preacher, uh, teacher received a death threat.* Seriously! Does this situation make anyone else want to throw up? Don't teachers get evaluated? Where was his supervisor?

* I was one of five Jews in my high school graduating class in a very churchgoing town. A girl in my Latin class told me point-blank that I was bound for Hell. But if a teacher tried that crap on me? Uh uh, no sir.

Chocolate glazed heart disease

Well, you can knock me over with a feather.

The rumor is true and my destiny has come calling.

Dunkin' Donuts, all gussied up kosher, has settled down just one ZIP code away.

Be still, my heart.

Literally, probably. Heart disease runs rampant on my dad's side of the family. My dad has been beating it with a stick lo these 20 years; he eats well, exercises obsessively, takes his beta blockers and cholesterol-lowering drugs. My cholesterol at age 26 was 215, but I was busy trying to get pregnant, so I couldn't take any drugs. I wanted to try to beat it without those anyway, so I got a bit obsessive about exercise myself. One January I joined a brand-new, fancy-pants gym, paying a ton of money upfront for one year. Taxman thought I would crap out, but I didn't--because that would have been an immense waste of money. I lowered my cholesterol to the 140s. It was amazing.

The next January I joined a less expensive gym that was closer to home and kept going. By the end of that year, I was pregnant and paranoid. I nixed all the jogging and weights in favor of prenatal yoga.

After Miss M was born, I kept intending to get back to exercising. But she proved to have a delicate stomach and fussy sleep patterns. By the time I felt like I could carve out some time to myself in the morning, AM was on the way.

And now, well, it's been a long time since I've done anything physical. I am beyond exhausted because nobody is sleeping. My eating patterns are crappy at best. (But eggs for dinner are easy, you know? Grilled cheese sandwiches are easy. And Taxman is in charge of both of those dinners.) Trans fats are everywhere. I am tired. I am weak-willed.

I don't have to explain the appeal of donuts, do I? Sugar and fat and gooey toppings in a cute little round package? (And how it is difficult to eat just one?) Plus they go well with coffee; I will, of course, not be drinking real coffee for a while yet, but I can fake it with decaf.

I am afraid to take a cholesterol test, because I am pretty sure that I'd lose all my desserts, snacks, and half my meals in a single blow. Plus I'd have to find the time and strength of will to exercise. (And get these damn leeches off me for more than 30 minutes.) Did I mention it's dark (really dark!) by 5:00 pm?

Maybe I'll be brave in the spring. Maybe by the spring I will remember what three straight hours of sleep feels like. And what the afternoon sun looks like.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


One of our friends/upstairs neighbors had a baby boy early today. It was a "perfect, easy VBAC."

I am so thrilled for her.

(Cue violins)

At the same time, I am incredibly jealous that she had the birth that I planned for and wanted so desperately that I labored for three days before I gave up the chance to ever have it that way again.

How much do I suck?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Miracle Grow

Whoa. I am confused dumbstruck.

At 5 feet 1 inch, I am the shortest person in my immediate family.

At 5 feet 7 inches (so he claims, overestimating by about a half-inch), Taxman is the tallest person in his immediate family.

Miss M, at age two-and-a-half, is already 3 feet 1 inch. Over the past five months, she's grown 2.5 (!) inches. (Yes, that's an average of a half-inch every month. Is it any wonder that her clothes and shoes seem to fit for only three weeks?)

All the children's height calculators that ask for parental height predict that she will be 5'5" at most. But they don't know about her tall grandfather, great-grandfather, or other random relatives. And they don't know about the red, curly hair, which doesn't seem to really fit anywhere either.

Now eight months, AM is falling off the growth curves, as breastfed babies are often expected to. But Miss M never did. She's spent her entire life hovering between the 75th and 90th percentiles, in a way that seemed to defy her parental genetics.

I'd love a little flip-flap in the space-time continuum to find out where this is going. Is Miss M going to spend her adult life looking down at both her parents? Will she be taller than her brother? Will the WNBA recruit a nice Jewish girl?

Or will genetic trends win over time?


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Deep thoughts from the bowling alley

Our blitzkrieg through the 781 area code included a stop at the Children's Museum of Boston, where Miss M and my college roommate's* son, J, would have gladly stayed on the floor with the bubbles and the running water for, I don't know, EVER.

Miss M got completely soaked, despite the smock, and then we had to take her out in the 20 degree chill. A fine parenting moment; thank goodness we were only parked about a block away.

Shabbat ended at 5 Saturday evening, and I was itching to run away to Paris with Taxman do something besides watching our hosts, the Zs, wash dishes and check their email. Because Miss M had taken a late nap, I suggested candlepin bowling, with bumpers in her lane. (I lived in Boston when I was a little kid, so this was my only bowling experience until I was about 14. I was never good at the grownup kind. Well, either kind, to be truthful.)

Miss M grooved on the bowling shoes, but could only be coaxed to roll toss a few balls down the lane. Even though she refused to participate in the Mommies (& toddler) vs. Daddies showdown after the first frame, we kept the bumpers up.

I am sure the bumpers improved my game, but somehow it didn't feel like cheating. I never managed to knock down all 10 pins, despite the three chances per round, and had a lot of trouble getting the four pins smack in the middle of the lane, but never had a gutter ball, naturally. It was fun, although I tended to forget the bumpers were there.

I got to thinking that this is how I want my parenting to be as the kids grow. I want to be the bumpers. To buffer Miss M and AM from the big stuff and the absolutely wasted chances. They will have the opportunity to make mistakes, to experiment, and to find their own holes, but I want to give them just a little boost. I want them to forget that I am helping unless they look back for a reminder. Then I'll be right there.

* My roommate is a true carrot-top, and at the museum had the following exchange with a stranger:

"Oh! Where did she get those curls?"
"I don't know; she's not mine. I can see how you'd think that, though."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Co-Sleeping Adventures, Part 224: Not for Amateurs

We spent a lovely weekend in the Bay State, visiting two sets of friends and trying to keep Miss M amused. (We succeeded, except for the car ride home.)

But we spent our first night away sleeping on a blowup mattress, the camping kind. So I was petrified that AM would sleep on his stomach, as usual, and not be able to breathe so well. Taxman and I took turns staying up most of the night to make sure he slept on his back. Then at about 5, Miss M crawled in with us too.

Did I mention the mattress was a double? Four people. One small, squishy bed. And a tension headache THIS BIG.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Parenting rite of passage

I just called Poison Control.

They are just lovely to deal with. I wasn't petrified, just mildly concerned, which could have colored my perspective. But still, the woman I spoke to is now high on my list of people I'd want holding my hand in an emergency.

Too bad I didn't get her name.

(Everyone is fine, I promise.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lucky Seven

Seven years ago today, Taxman and I got married.

We were young and insane and hopeful.

Our wedding was joyous and beautiful.

Now we are older. We've learned a lot on this journey. We've made sacrifices for each other, grown together, and cemented our commitment. We have laughed and cried and laughed again. We have poured energy and time into our spirited, red-haired children.

Through everything, we have been a team. From vacation planning to inadvertently sharing our bed with angelically nursing leeches, we try to come to a consensus on everything.

You know how starry-eyed newlyweds answer questions in unison? We still do that.

I am not the easiest person to live with. But somehow he makes it seem effortless.

Late last night, as we whispered in the dark, we just couldn't get over our good fortune. Seven years seems so long and so short, all at once. Looking down the road to multiples of seven, we can only hope that our luck keeps steering us like a gentle wind.

My only regret is that "I love you" is such an insufficient expression of gratitude and thanksgiving for what I have.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

That is BRAND NEW information! (Or not)

Last week we had our first of about 60 parent-teacher conferences. You wouldn't think that a child two weeks shy of two-and-a-half would need a 20-minute tete-a-tete,* but we’re paying a lot for this experience, so we'll just roll with it.

Believe me, I have nothing against parents getting an inside track on their children’s schooling.** The thing that got me was the way the information was presented—like we were probably not aware of facts “a, b, and c” about Miss M. It would be one thing if this were a boarding preschool, or even a full day, but honestly, she is there for 10.5 hours a week. That's it. So when her teacher leaned in and said, sotte voce, “You know, she really doesn't play with the stuffed animals and won't take the doll that we pass around at circle time. It's fine, though,” all I could say was, “Oh, just like at home.” Duh!

Another brilliant observation: “She loves the art projects and the sand table and the playdough. Tactile things.” Really? Is that why she pesters me to “Play playdough!” seven days a week? And wants to dig in the sand every time we go to the park?

Taxman was with me at the meeting and ran to work afterwards, but that night he turned to me and said, “You know what the most surprising thing was? That at school she only eats bread and pasta.”*** I agreed, but added, “Plus that they'd love more just like her.” I know she is a “smart young lady,” to quote, but she's willful and a bit of a whippersnapper, so I wasn't sure how that was going over in a classroom setting with a dozen other two-year-olds. I suppose everyone is fine with it.

What I wanted to know—if Miss M has any particular friends playmates—was dismissed with, “Oh, at this age it's only parallel play.” (Although playdates outside of school are strongly encouraged. Why, if it's “only parallel play”?)

The two other families we are friendliest with have their conferences next week. I am dying to find out if they have any revelations from preschool. I'm betting...not.

* I have no idea how to make the accent marks. Sue me.

**Geek alert: One of my absolute favorite parts of the school year when I was in junior high and high school was Back-to-School Night. I sent my mom and stepdad to school with a super-secret packet of information, with my snarky observations of each class and instructor. They always filled in their own comments, and my stepdad usually included a crude teacher caricature or two. Other parents could never believe that I spent time acknowledging that my home and school worlds were colliding for a night, but it was a lot more fun than math homework! Plus, I was a total dork.

***And dessert, it should go without saying. She's not a great eater at home; I'd classify her as "good."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Help! I'm alone with my thoughts!

We are having major connection capital-I Issues over here. Not sure if it is the router (probably) or the wireless card (evil spawn), but I am holding my breath that this 90-second post will make it.

I haven't been able to really read any blogs--or anything else online (news? hello?)--since Monday. It's making me tense and cranky.

I miss you people!

Monday, November 27, 2006

I'll have what she's having

During our long weekend, we didn't spend a lot of time outside. Thursday it rained; Friday we spent a lot of time in the car; Shabbat I was nursing a wicked sinus headache; Sunday we did laundry and restocked the fridge.

So Miss M definitely needed some quality time at the park. Thankfully the weather was beautiful (for late November) today, and she got her exercise. She pushed AM in the baby swing, and the two of them cackling at each other just cracked me up.

Then she climbed, slid, monkeyed around, and did her "jumping! and hopping! and skipping!" (She can't skip, and she can only hop if she is holding on to me, but that doesn't stop the attempts.) She literally jumped up and down, over and over again. She jumped all the way to the trash can in the corner of the park--a good 50 feet from where we were--to throw away a tissue and then ran back to me.

She usually demands that I participate in the jumping, but I try to distract her with the twisty slide. For crying out loud, it is exhausting just to watch. But then again, I don't sleep 10 straight hours at night and take two-and-a-half hour naps. Could that be the difference? Because she doesn't have jumping beans, or a lot of sugar besides fruit, in her diet--heck, she won't even acknowledge the existence of eat beans.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The limits of celebration

Earlier today, instead of sitting down to a gourmet kosher Thanksgiving feast, we stayed at home, doing laundry and watching the kids nap.

We are traffic wimps. Our invitation to dine this Sunday was several exits down the New Jersey Turnpike, and we realized that we could have been trapped both ways—in football traffic on the way there and the frenzied post-Holiday-weekend traffic upon our return. The food would have been spectacular, particularly compared to what I offered up on Thursday (no pie, sadly), but the prospect of an afternoon with friends turning into an eight-hour odyssey of taillights and state troopers and an inconsolably screaming baby and a no-nap toddler....well, it was just too much.

Some other holiday bits:

I am very thankful for our washing machine and dryer. Although we were away for only three days, AM managed to pee, poop, spit up on, or otherwise soil almost everything I had brought for him to wear (at least 80% of his clothes that fit right now).

Thirty-six hours was a good amount of time to be with the kids in an unbabyproofed, toddler-unfriendly environment. Any more and I think people would have lost their minds. Or a body part.

AM's stranger anxiety manifests itself in an amusing way: he'll go to pretty much anyone, but then he takes a good, calculating look at whoever is holding him. His face crumples and he starts up with an "Oh crap, you're not my ema!" wail. He's totally happy flitting about on the floor, though, no matter where we are.

I am thankful that my dad and stepmom paid a lot of attention to redoing "my" room in their house. As a guest room, it's a little cramped for a family of four, but the mattresses are so nice. The furniture is tasteful. It's pretty. The blankets are soft. The pillows are fluffy. I don't know that I would have noticed these things five years ago, but I slept quite well (when AM wasn't hacking up a lung) so I really appreciated it.

The 7:1 person-to-bathroom ratio in my parents' house really turned out to be 5:1, because the diaper brigade doesn't count and two family members basically showed up only for dinner. My worries were unfounded.

My cousin, B, was so incredibly good with the kids. He was constantly reaching out to hold AM; he read to Miss M and listened to her blather on. He's 24! He's always been a sweetheart, but I made a point of telling him that a man who's great with kids is very attractive. (It was to me!) Some girl is going to be really lucky to snag him--once his ex-girlfriend stops breaking up with him.

The Philadelphia suburb where my parents live has been reinventing itself for years. Now it's the first "fair trade" town in America, meaning that every merchant and restaurant in town has committed to carrying or serving one fair trade product. It's a nice idea if it makes people think, but would it be jaded to say that probably 95 percent of the people who will visit those establishments could care less?

Traveling at bedtime and naptime was stellar. AM conked out right away after the mandatory carseat protest; Miss M amused herself babbling about airplanes and cars for a bit and then slept. And Taxman and I had a fleeting sense that we could have an actual conversation.

It was a good trip and great to see my family—I wish we saw them more often—but I am always relieved to get home. Does this make me the Dork of the Universe? Or automatically 80 years old?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Funny--at least to me--coffee (cocoa?) mug in a neighborhood store.

I could give up chocolate, but I'm no quitter.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I am drunk with power

Apparently, a certain percentage of my bloggy pals have come down with the November sniffles.

I knew I would prove to be infectious in some way.

Here's a good remedy*: squeeze half of a nice, fat, juicy lemon into a big mug; mix with a healthy dose (2 tbs? more? not sure, it's Taxman's recipe) of honey (good to soothe a raspy throat); dilute with boiling water. Adjust to taste. Drink hot.

Feel better.

*Based on the ingredients, not for very small people!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Just for the record: Yum

Another tradition that we established, way back when our marriage was new and we had the time and stillness to think about things, was the annual Brisket Shabbat.

To be honest, I have no idea why I decided to make brisket back in December of 2000. I am not a particular lover of red meat; when we used to have an occasional fancy meal out, I would usually get a fish dish and have two bites of Taxman's steak-- that was enough beef for me.* But brisket evoked my mom's infrequent homage to traditional Jewish cookery, and I guess I had a hankering for it.

I did have Epicurious as my homepage at work, having given up my subscription to Bon Appetit. (I am not really a food snob, I promise. I have a few rules, but they're not snobbish.) Somehow I decided to make Cranberry-Portobello Brisket for the Friday night dinner closest to our anniversary; as we jousted over the few leftover bits the next night, I realized this should be an annual undertaking. We had invited three other young couples, toasted to our first year of marriage, and had a generally excellent time.

That piece of meat, though, had been an extravagance. I remember it costing close to $60.** And that was just for a 4 1/2 pound slab of raw beef, never mind the other ingredients or the other parts of the meal. Both of us had new jobs, rent and bills and all that other grownup stuff to deal with. What had possessed me?

Whatever. It was good. Damn good.

And so the next December we were extravagant again. And then again the next year. Sometimes we held our "brisket Shabbat" in late November, to celebrate Taxman's birthday; our anniversary is less than three weeks later. The side dishes and invited company changed annually, but it was always an Event, at least in our minds. (We don't get out much.)

Which wasn't to say there weren't bumps along the way. Finding a piece of brisket big enough was a huge challenge after that first year. I suppose a four- or five-pound piece of meat serves a lot of people, but Shabbat meals of eight or 10 certainly isn't unheard of. After a couple of years of settling for two two-pound pieces (tastes the same, just hard to fit in a pan), I started ordering the meat in advance, although this year I got screwed; despite my advanced order for a four-pound cut, I wound up with--you guessed it--two two-pound pieces.*** Last year I couldn't find the cranberry juice concentrate and had to use an unsweetened variety, which wasn't quite the same.

This year I completely overextended myself. Knowing that we'd need leftovers for Shabbat lunch, I made a lot of food. Many, many side dishes. Two cakes. Actually, it would have been overextended if I had been working full time with no kids. Attempting this menu with a toddler with a newly-later bedtime and an infant who will lately only sleep touching me was insane ridiculous. Thankfully Taxman came home from a two-day junket to Hotlanta with a wicked virus and was home sick, but not bedridden, for the rest of the week and could keep the kids entertained while I cooked.

On Friday night when we rolled into bed, stomachs pleasantly full and heads buzzing from lively conversation, I was happy to have pulled it off. Another Brisket Shabbat in the books, another year slowly drawing to a close. To my shame, however, I neglected to wish Taxman a happy birthday on Saturday--his actual birthday--until very late in the day. I was a touch too focused on the celebration, and not on the person. But based on how he dug into the leftovers at lunch today, I'm guessing that he forgives me.

* I do have a yen for a good burger from time to time, although I am infinitely more about the fries.
** Kosher meat = highway robbery
*** I had been buying the meat at a well-outfitted kosher grocery and butcher shop in New Jersey, but there is a new place in our neighborhood, owned by someone we know. I had to wait in the store with the two kids for a ridiculous amount of time (over 30 minutes) and wound up with something I didn't order. Well, I know where not to go next year.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

When real life gets in the way of blogging

Taxman spent his birthday taking care of me (feverish), Miss M (Her Two-ness), and AM, who is fussy and gassy and maybe teething and up again.

I do want to spin the tale of my unsuccessful quest for a four-pound brisket, but it will have to wait. (Two two-pounders filled in; it was fabulous as usual.)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The dark side of attachment parenting*

Don't get me wrong, the joyfully shrieking little boy crawling into the kitchen to see if he can open the trash can yet is adorable. He is tremendously cute.

But we've already arrived at the dark side. Only six months in. (Yes, he's seven months old now, but it's not brand new.) There is the special scream reserved for when I have the nerve to eat bonbons go to the bathroom, particularly first thing in the morning. There is the open-jawed whine-and-lurch-in-Ema's-direction when someone undesirable (sometimes even Taxman) is holding him. There is the full-out wail of desperation if I walk out the front door--or even out of his line of sight to the kitchen--in his presence. Apparently the circus trash chute will just have to wait until he's sleeping.

Oh, and then there is the sleeping. It's true, pride really does goeth before the fall. I was so thrilled that he could put himself to sleep, sucking on his thumb. He didn't need to nurse to sleep. Anyone could put him down. For a brief few weeks he even slept in a crib!

Then it all fell apart. First he wouldn't sleep in the crib. Fine, I wouldn't either; those mattresses are like sleeping on plywood without padding. So he got used to our bed. Fine, he's got good taste. (I love our bed. As badly as I sleep in it, it's never because of discomfort due to the bed.)

But then...AM started crawling. Obnoxiously early in his life. Five-and-three-quarter months old. He's now very fast. He could be off the bed and on his head in approximately 1.9 seconds. Recognizing this startling fact, we started to put him to sleep on the floor for naps and at the beginning of the night. The quilt-on-the-floor works for naps, sort of--about half the time he naps in our bed or on the couch because I am there too. But at night lately, exhausted and supremely cranky because we have been actively preventing the third nap, he nurses sweetly to sleep in my lap as I slouch on the couch watching television. At some point later, I decide that I really should take care of the dishes/laundry/Shabbat meal prep/freelance work that!actually!pays!money! So I lay him gently on his little quilt, with his head touching the pillow (shut up!), cover him with an afghan, and sneak away. Five to twenty minutes later, we hear his little palms hitting the hardwood in the hall. Wide awake and cheerful. He's easy to get back to sleep (if you mean by easy that my breasts are not required), if I lie down with him. And then don't leave, or the entire process will repeat. And repeat.

As much as I shouldn't protest having to go to bed at 9 pm, I have a life, you know?

Last week's freelance assignment is finished, but we're having six guests over for Shabbat dinner. It's brisket**, which is pretty low maintenance as entrees go, but there's also the soup and the side dishes and the two desserts.

I guess we'll see what happens tonight. At 7:45 I am running like hell going out to my book club. Both kids will be awake when that happens. Both will be extremely unhappy to see me go. There's milk in the fridge for AM, although he hasn't had a bottle since my last book club night. Eh, there's always mashed banana.

*No, I'm not a ped0phile, nor training one, for nursing my toddler, as some of the comments to the articles on the recent Delta-airlines-nursing-mother-flap would have you believe.
**Believe it or not, this requires its own post. Forthcoming.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Vive la difference

About six weeks ago, Taxman was on his first of three (four?) scheduled business trips. The time at home alone was pretty horrendous.

Now he's away again, but it was just two nights and he's coming home today! But really, it was much better on the home front.*

The difference? Now Miss M pretty much sleeps through the night now.** 8:30 to 6 or so. Very little in the way of random crying in the middle of the night. And as a bonus, for the last week or so she has been going back to sleep for an hour or more. I had to wake her today so we'd have time for the school-day routine.

Is that the sound of angels singing?

*If I could just get AM to stop pulling up on the furniture, the cabinets, the wet bathtub when I am trying to get Miss M washed, etc. He is going to crack his head open. Did I mention he's seven months old? Today?
**Which isn't to say that anyone else in the house does. It's just easier to juggle one small being than two.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Psycho Kil1er

(Yes, I know this post sounds like a cross between an Ask Moxie question and a Wednesday Whine. If you don't already read these blogs, you should because they, quite frankly, kick ass.)

I am worn out.

My lovely and wry brother-in-law, Y, is here. He lives abroad but swings by a few times a year as his business travels send him this way.

We are always happy to see him. And when I say we, I mean everyone except for Miss M.

Since she was very little, she has been nutty around Y. We've exhausted every possible reason in the past two years: stranger anxiety, separation anxiety, looking-like-Abba-but-not-exactly, sometimes wears glasses, has a goatee, was born in February. You know, the logical stuff.

Now it's just obnoxious. She screams and runs away when she sees him, cries when she even hears his voice. It would be heartbreaking it if weren't so damn annoying. She knows exactly who Y is, points him out in family photos, talks about seeing him after the fact. The crying is just wrenching, because Y is a really nice guy who is great with kids. His little boy, our nephew, is just 10 months old than Miss M, so he's got a lot of patience for the typical behaviors of the age.

Y's workweek is Sunday to Thursday, so the original plan was that he would entertain Miss M and AM on Friday while I ran to the kosher grocery to pick up some things and then cooked for Shabbat. My week had already been trying: a time-crunched freelance assignment, Miss M sick with a fever and out of school for two days, the usual sleeplessness (now with middle-of-the-night Motrin breaks!).

But with Miss M's freakout in full swing, we all--Miss M, AM, Y, and I--made our way to the kosher store. Where she proceeded to cry piteously the entire time. I didn't have a fleshed-out menu plan (after the week I had it should have been "pick up takeout," but the prepared foods are expensive, salty, and, in my opinion, mediocre at best), so we wandered the aisles for a bit. But the hysterics were getting to be just too much, so I decided to figure it out at home. We left with two huge packages of chicken legs and challah rolls.

I didn't sit down for a several hours--except to nurse or change diapers--but somehow I managed to get everything made, including cake and brownies, using the chicken and things from the pantry and fridge. (Thankfully neither Y nor Taxman are fussy eaters.) Y graciously kept AM entertained in an entirely separate room from Miss M, who watched videos and cried intermittently.

Shabbat was more of the same, although at mealtimes Miss M consented to be in the same room as Y. She did, however, attempt to eat dinner and lunch with her eyes closed (or with one hand over her eyes) so as not to have to look at him. She wound up with split pea soup in her hair. She seemed to call a truce after lunch today, and allowed Y to hang around as she played and read books. But then her nap seemed to erase all the progress and there was screaming with redoubled effort.

Somehow by bedtime tonight they were friends again, but I am already dreading tomorrow morning, when she wakes up to find that he is still here.

Did I mention I am worn out? But also sad that my little girl was so troubled. I took her to the park this morning to get a little sun and exercise, and she was so happy jumping and sliding and climbing. She fairly sparkles when she's happy, but when we got home the clouds descended again.

But mostly I'm stumped. We just cannot figure it out her aversion to him. And when the hell it's going to stop.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Just curious

Ok, I know the "independents" in the Senate are sympathetic to the causes of the Dems, mostly.

But if the tally is 49-49-2, isn't that still a tie? Who leads the committees? What's Cheney's role in all this?

I am cautiously optimistic, but still wondering.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

No excuses, people. Exercise your right.

Monday, November 06, 2006

In a bind: NY State Comptroller race

Vote for the guy who is very qualified but could be removed from office for ethics violations (that he's admitted to)?


Vote for the guy who is grossly underqualified. And Republican. And a shill for Bush.

Is it too late to launch a write-in campaign for Taxman?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The thin line between....

Love and Obsession

I found out on Friday that Taxman checks my blog from his CrackBerry when he can't use his computer. Like when he was away on business and didn't have 'net access in his room for a couple of nights. His CrackBerry loads at the speed of dial-up, yet still....

To quote: "I wanted to know what was going on at home."

Because the morning and evening phone calls, instant messaging during lunch, and other random e-mails weren't enough to satisfy his yen for the bizarre culture known as "temporary single parenting with infant and toddler."

Adorable and Exasperating

Poor AM can't seem to get his schedule together. He's got a pretty sacred long afternoon nap, which is holding steady solely because that is also when Miss M naps. Otherwise, he is reduced to a series of catnaps at random times because we are taking Miss M to school, doing school pickup, errands, grocery shopping, et cetera.

Because I can't predict how long he'll sleep, and because the steam heat is so fricking loud and I am petrified I will not hear him before he tumbles out of our bed, I've been putting him down on the floor. When he wakes up happy, i.e. not crying, he has gotten into the habit of just crawling out to find us. If he doesn't make any noise, I don't even know he's up until I hear the slap, slap of his little palms on the wood floor in the hallway. Then when I appear in his line of sight he grins and makes his happy excited noises.

It's so cute I can forgive the fact that it happened twice last night (at 7:45 and 9:30), which essentially now means that he can't go to bed, officially, until one of us goes to bed and tucks him in with us.

Precocious and Weird

Miss M has a liking for letters. In fact, she can write a few of them and will often fill pages of paper with crayon letters: A, H, W, M, O, X. At home we don't give it a second thought, but when the pages started to come home from pre-school I suddenly stopped to think of what is running through the teachers' heads. Do they think we drill her or something? That we spend our afternoons hunched over her with stencils, forcing crayons into her hand? They do realize this is her thing, not ours, right? (Ack!)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bad Idea

Sucking down* a cup of French pressed coffee in an attempt to get rid of a headache. It's remarkably effective, but your nursing infant will be perky at 10 pm and have a tortuously "off" schedule for, oh, the rest of your life.**

* Note to self: Six to nine months from now, when you drink your next cup of real coffee, have the decency to sit down and enjoy it.
** Fine, I exaggerate. But it's going on two days now.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More Mysteries

Why strangers insist on commenting on my "parenting" skillz. (Now, I understand that when I toss AM onto my back in a mei tai it looks scary and people ask to help. I'm not talking about that.) It is just ridiculous. Today in the Fairway Uptown Cold Room, I got a lecture about AM's lack of hat. Now, let's keep in mind that we were only in there for, say, five minutes and, more importantly, it was already 64 degrees outside. It's not like he was naked! He was dressed, had socks on, was snuggled against me in his BabyHawk, and both of us were swathed in a size XXXL Fairway jacket. He just didn't have a hat! Sheesh! He was quiet and calm and happy! Mind your own damn business!

Where my brain has been hiding. While I was shopping, Miss M went to play with Taxman's mom. Although I wasn't in a rush, I somehow found myself on a toll road to get to my in-laws' house when I intended to take streets. Oops. Then after I dropped her off I almost wound up in New Jersey. Seriously, where is my brain?

Is Laid-Off Dad a tagger? Or, even better, does he have an obsessed fan/stalker?!? Because "LOD" was inked on the back of a wrong way sign at the bottom of the off-ramp for the southbound Dyckman Street exit on the Henry Hudson Parkway. Is all of Inwood reading LOD? I have got to know! (I took a picture with my phone, but I have no idea how to get that image to my computer. That might be Taxman's project for tonight, unless he has, you know, actual work to do.)

Monday, October 30, 2006


I'm stumped about the following things:

Why, when he is clad in the aforementioned pajamas, AM poops in the middle of the night. Is he too hot? Too restricted? Showing his disapproval for polyester? Whatever it is, he better straighten up and fly right; Moxie says pooping at night at his age is, and I quote from her email, "reprehensible." (Edited to add: Wait, everyone knows that both Moxie and I are being tongue-in-cheek, right? I mean, I am mystified by the pooping, but it's not like I've kicked him out of my bed.) And Moxie is the queen of all things.

Why I never seem to have time to eat meals unless I plan them days in advance. And even when the fridge is full, there is nothing appealing in there. I have only been eating things that live on the kitchen counter: candy, nuts, crackers, dry cereal. I may make my way through the six pounds of almonds I bought at my last visit to The Costco a lot faster than I had expected.

Why Miss M, even when she is tired enough to almost nod off in the car before noon, takes upwards of 60 minutes to settle in for a nap in her bed at her actual naptime. Today there was even an incident with some A&D ointment that required a scrubdown in the bathtub.

Why it took me two weeks of shopping to place an order at Lands' End. It wasn't even complicated! It was sheets, pillowcases, a fleece jacket, turtlenecks, underwear, and part of Taxman's birthday present. (No, honey, I'm not telling you what it is, and if you open the box, forget about 9 minutes any time soon.) It will probably take one-fifth that amount of time to arrive here, not even using expedited shipping.

What it will take for me to stay well this winter. I've been sick on and off since August. And now, about 48 hours after the antibiotics left my system, I have a sore throat heralding another illness. It is only October. It's not even cold yet. Sigh.

Why, when I should be unloading the dishwasher/folding four loads of laundry/sleeping, I am blogging instead. Maybe Amy has some insight?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

We bought our son purple Chr^stmas pajamas

Based on my experiences this week, AM is getting to the age where he starts to be a rude co-sleeper. A lot of wiggling and snuffling (it is only adorable before midnight and after 5 am) and more nursing than I really think is necessary. Because he has inherited his sister's strong anti-crib sentiments, he will probably, as she did, spend a few months sleeping on our bedroom floor until it is safe to put him in the little pink toddler bed.

He is also, as Miss M was (and is), a big fan of pillows and blankets. He loves to put his right thumb in his mouth and curl his right fingers around the pillowcase, shoving his little face into the pillow. (Yes! It is dangerous! I know! Bad mommy! Have I mentioned I don't sleep? Yet another reason: I have to make sure my son doesn't suffocate himself.) He'll settle for just the top of his head skimming it, which is how we try to arrange him, but the kid has a weird homing device.

But I digress.

We found blanket sleepers on sale, which seemed to be a good alternative to the actual blankets and pillows. We bought one in a lovely deep purple; I have no idea if that was supposed to be a "girl" color, but he looks cute in it. And I was distracted by the soft fleecy goodness of it. Which is probably why I didn't notice until he spent the night in it that the print is full of evergreen trees. ("Conifers!" as Miss M would say.) And snowflakes. And reindeer. And what could be interpreted as Chr^stmas ornaments.


But did I mention said sleeper is so soft? And he looks so adorable in it, lurching around in his hitching crawl-squat-crawl sequence? Yummy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Did you know?

--I can't find normal turtlenecks anywhere. I suppose I could at Talbot's or Ann Taylor, but I am not interested in spending $28 apiece. I used to get them at the Gap or Old Navy, but now those stores do not carry anything approaching normal. Everything is striped or "tiny fit" or a weird style or a bizarre solid color. Thank goodness for Lands' End and L.L. Bean. If they get odd, I will freak out.

--Trader Joe's Mini Peanut Butter Cups might be the most addictive food ever put on this earth. They are as good as Reese's, but without the pesky paper wrapping, which only serves to slow you down.

--If you would like my amorous attention, there might be better ways than brushing your teeth and then singing the lyrics to the Big Red commercial from the 1980s. (It was very funny, but it served only to make me reminisce about my favorite kinds of gum from elementary school. Not the intention, I'm sure.)

--After we sang the entire Big Red song together, Taxman said, "You're going to blog about this." Not a question, just a statement--nay, an invitation. That's my honey!

Monday, October 23, 2006

How NOT to start your week

1. In an enormous, cold puddle of pee.*
2. Ten minutes later, listening to a hysterical toddler's daily pre-dawn primal scream ritual.
3. With the knowledge that your sainted spouse, who dealt with both the pisher and the shrieker, is leaving the next day for a 72-hour business trip.

*The pisher did go right back to sleep, without nursing, but has since gotten up, eaten, and spit up on my (formerly clean) skirt. Stupidly, I had already dressed, forgetting that he had pooped on another skirt yesterday. Laundry, anyone?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Nancy Pelosi kicks ass*

Seriously! I would love to vote for her.

Some choice quotations from her 60 Minutes interview:

"We're in a political debate here. We didn't come here to have a tea party together, and toss a coin to see who would win on an issue."

Regarding the response to Hurricane Katrina: "The President said he's going to lead the investigation into what went wrong. He need look only in the mirror, for starters."

"Asked what she would say to Republicans, who have said that Pelosi and the Democrats do not understand the serious nature of the [terrorist] threat, the congresswoman says, 'I, as a mother and a grandmother, 14 years on the intelligence committee. Don't tell me I have any underestimation of what the threat is to our country. So, if you want to justify your failed policy [in Iraq] by saying we don't understand the threat, clearly you didn't understand the situation you got us into.'"

C'mon people, get out and vote and help this awesome firebrand get to be the Speaker of the House.

The whole transcript is here, although the video, particularly of that last quote, is worth seeing.

*The cutest thing ever? Pelosi hates shopping for clothes so her husband (an investment banker) dresses her. I thought this was adorable, probably because back in my former life, when I could easily go through a day without someone else's bodily fluids and/or food on me, Taxman used to go shopping with me. He called himself my "personal shopper" and would bring me things he thought I would like, or different sizes or colors of things. I miss that.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Every family seems to have traditions--a ritual that is sacred or tied to good memories.

Living a traditional Jewish life, it can be difficult to carve out the time for other rituals; now with two little kids we can barely keep up with the preparations for Shabbat, arriving every Friday evening without fail.

Every fall we have four major holidays come our way. This year they mostly fell over weekends, combined with Shabbat and consuming our free family time in a single gulp. We haven't had an unscripted Sunday since the middle of September.

So I feared for our sacred family tradition: picking apples. From the very first fall we were married, we've gathered ourselves, traveled to an orchard in Warwick, New York, and picked a ridiculous number of apples. Some years we went ourselves; other times we had company. We've picked apples in a grey drizzle. We've been on warm, sunny days, but in other years we've needed coats and scarves. It's never exactly the same, but Taxman and I always share "sample" apples (so we know which trees to pick from), we always shun the Macintoshes as too pedestrian, and we always fill half a bag with Greenings destined to reach their fullest potential as apple crisp.

Taxman said that maybe we just wouldn't go this year. But rather than shattering into a million tiny pieces (miss AM's first year?! when Miss M could finally really have a great time?!), I just said, "Oh?"

And after all the holidays and work deadlines and sinus infections and rainy weather, we went yesterday. (Taxman took a vacation day.) It was strange to be there on a the end of the season...with my in-laws. But we were there, as a family, and everything was right with the world for just an hour. We have a crazy amount of apples lining our kitchen counter. My first apple crisp is already out of the oven.

Seven years and counting. When it comes to tradition, you just don't skip it.

Stalking the wild apple.

Leaf boy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When is a sweet potato not just a sweet potato?

When the cute little orange spud might be the very first solid food you feed to your baby.

How did he get so big so fast? (Maudlin snivel.)

In unrelated news, Taxman ate the last chocolate donut yesterday. Ordinarily I'd have no issue with this, but he left the box on the kitchen counter, so I thought there was still one for my breakfast. Lo and behold--this morning, empty! What's a good punishment for toying with my emotions and breakfast this way?

In further unrelated news, my banana-yellow snot cleared up. Or so I had thought. Until my left sinus unexpectedly drained and I leaked yellow fluid all over my hand (I thought my nose was bleeding) and AM's head. Ewwww! I wasn't sure that I'd have to go to the doctor (hey, I'm not having sinus pain so bad it hurts my teeth anymore), but the nurse interrupted my protests with: "You have to be seen. Do you want 4:45 or 5:45?"

Monday, October 16, 2006

What do you say?

To parents who just lost their smart, beautiful, 24-year-old daughter to a long, long battle with brain cancer? To her 19-year-old brother?

I want to send my condolences because it is the right thing to do. But I cannot even fathom what they are feeling, and I don't want to sound trite or false.

Seriously, what do you say?

Friday, October 13, 2006


And on the seventh day, the kids get to play with expensive religious articles.

"Ema, AM smell etrog!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


At the park today, Miss M zipped down a slide faster than she expected. She flew off the end and landed on her behind. She was startled but didn't appear hurt.

Miss M (unsure, hand on her butt): "All right, Ema. All right!"
Me: "You're ok? Did you hurt your bottom?"
Miss M: "Kiss it!"

Oh, dear.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A big fat thank you to the overpaid bums

AKA the New York Yankees

Your aging, unreliable pitching staff and decrepit hitting have freed up our October nights.*

Instead of fighting over the remote control on Thursday nights, we'll be watching Grey's Anatomy.

Because unlike the Boys of Summer, the Boys of Seattle Grace never disappoint.

*Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching good baseball. I said good baseball. Not 20 scoreless innings. You think once Derek Jeter gets on base, he also has to drive himself in? It's a TEAM sport. Sheesh. Thankfully we were saved from actually watching most of the debacle because the last two games were played on Sukkot.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Want him? Too bad, he's taken

As a thank you for my death-defying parenting maneuvers last week, Taxman bought me a spa package at a very shi-shi East Side place. Whoa.

It's two hours of worth of a facial, body scrub, and massage. (He knew to avoid anything with a pedicure or a foot massage because I am weird about my feet.) I may not want to come home.

And even better, he fielded the calls from the snot-filled AM last night. I slept undisturbed for close to four hours. Of course, my night ended at 3:23, but the prior sleep almost made up for that. Almost.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More free advertising for Dell

Phantom Scribbler started it.

Purple_Kangaroo turned it into a meme.

I am just doing my part for the cuteness of the blogosphere. And two-year-olds everywhere who wear a size 9 shoe. (Hey, not my genetics!)

Baby AM wanted in on the action, too.

Miss M was an instant messenger from way back.

(Yes, they are in the same onesie. What's the verdict? Do they look alike? Their facial expressions aren't even close, though. Maybe try this one.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

I survived Yom Kippur and all I got was this lousy headache

The good news is that it is easier to fast carrying an extra 5-10 pounds and nursing an infant who is happy to take a pumped bottle* than being 10 pounds underweight, 12 weeks pregnant, and nursing a toddler who will accept no substitutes.

But the nursing, it's still pretty dehydrating. I spent the last two hours of the holiday lying on the floor in my pajamas, praying not for a good fate for the next year, but not to pass out when I stood up to serve Miss Hysterical** her dessert.

Oh yeah. The kids have new names, just for today. Because from the time they woke up from their naps (well, it was AM's third nap) they were Miss Hysterical and Mr. Cranky., when you are trying very hard to finally make it through a fast day without becoming totally ill. (Success! Although apparently my "color" upon Taxman's return from shul left a lot to be desired.)

I spent (much) more time at the park today than at synagogue and more time reading board books than with a Yom Kippur prayerbook open. So I hope Taxman put in a good word for both of us, as it were. (He's just lucky I didn't call the Rescuers dispatcher and have him paged home during my dizzy spells. Actually, I am lucky I didn't try it, because he was at the hospital on a call!)

I hope that when I get my groove back, in the form of both kids sleeping through the night, I will be able to reconnect the disconnect that is my spiritual life. In the meantime, watching Miss Hysterical pick up little religious things at preschool is SO!CUTE! It doesn't preclude the sleeping, though. We can do both. Someday.

*AM had three bottles, mostly because I didn't have a whole lot of time last week to pump more. I gave him one of them, and it was weird for me. It's just not as snuggly as nursing, you know? But he didn't really seem to care one way or the other--I guess it all tastes the same to him.

**I don't mean this in the good (i.e. being funny) way. I mean in the "bursting into tears when I refused to nurse her, crying when I told her I felt sick, screaming when I left the room to put AM down for a nap" way. It was muy obnoxious, if I may be frank.

Friday, September 29, 2006


This morning's Miss M reveille was at 4:50.

She has been a basket case at school. Baby AM's nascent schedule has been blown to bits. I have turned into a mean, petulant mommy who actually said, "Don't touch my stuff!"

Maybe Taxman's homecoming will herald a turnaround. Short of that, I think we're going to try shifting her sleep phase from 7-5 to 8:30-6:30. If (big if) it works it could take two weeks to be in place. Of course that means she will be a Force To Be Reckoned With for an extra NINETY minutes in the evening.

I don't know if I have then mental wherewithal for this.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Little Neighborly Visit

At 6 pm tonight, the doorbell buzzed.

It was a neighbor--not sure from what floor of the building (there are seven). I don't know her name; we just kind of nod in the elevator. She has a 12-month-old son. A few months ago, she came over to ask if I wanted some extra formula. I have no recollection of what I said; it was probably something along the lines of, "Thanks, but I breastfeed." I have no idea how she found me because I'd have to ask the doorman to find her.

So today, as I was lamely attempting to get Miss M to eat cold elbow noodles from a cup as she wandered around (a more traditional dinner had already been picked at and rejected), she appeared at my door again. I opened it holding AM. She asked if he was "on formula yet." I said no, and said I didn't plan for him to have formula. (Her son is turning one on Sunday; I assume that he will be put on cow's milk immediately, and she is looking to unload her leftovers.)

Somehow this conversation then devolved into a discussion of my kids' (failed, in her view) developmental milestones. She "told" AM that he was a "bad boy" because he wasn't sleeping through the night, although she only asked his age later. She told me that Miss M really should be using the potty, and I should buy her pretty underpants because that would work. I don't know if she knows exactly how old Miss M is. Based on her size she might be mistaken for closer to 3. But even so! She asked if AM was sitting up. I answered truthfully, which is to say pretty damn close (sits and uses his hands for support); ditto for crawling. Both of these are ahead of the curve, according to "the books."

She's proud that her son is walking and talking. (Dare I say, "talking," because he's 12 months!) I have no issue with that. But don't come to my door when you don't even know me and tell me what my kids should be doing and imply what kind of mother I am. All you really know about me is that I don't use formula! (Proudly.)

I wasn't even really paying attention to her because she had interrupted me while I was nursing. Miss M kept saying "Come in, come in!" and then tried to escape down the hall in pajamas and bare feet. Because I was holding AM I basically had to trip her in the doorway to prevent her from scurrying to the elevator. All of this made me look, I'm sure, as harried as I feel, given the not sleeping and all that crap.

Only later, as I was tandem nursing (eat my shorts, formula lady!), did I come up with some good rejoinders. Like, "I really could do without changing Miss M's diapers for another year, but she is sweet and kind to her baby brother, shares toys with her classmates, helps with chores, and is smart and funny. Everyone eventually uses the potty. Not everyone has a heart of gold."

(Where is that razz icon when you need it? And should I kick her ass for calling my sweet baby a "bad boy" for being, oh, I don't know, A BABY?! As frustrated and angry and strung out as I get with Miss M, I have never, ever, ever called her bad, even in jest.)

GRRARR! Mama bear on the loose!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Little Bits

* Miss M's new passion is raisin challah. Understandably, because it's the combination of two of her most favorite foods. Throw in an unending supply of mozzarella cheese sticks and I would never have to cook for her again.

* From the backseat of the car, I hear AM sneeze. Seconds later, I hear Miss M say, "Oh, bless you, AM!" in a voice filled with sympathy. I almost died from the cuteness.

* At the park, Miss M was happily making birthday cake after birthday cake out of sand when the biggest dog I have ever seen ran across my field of view. Holy crap! are! they! big! Because it was a playground with a lot of little kids, naturally this particular animal, as friendly as it seemed to be, was singularly uninvited. A mom called the police; the park is in a tony suburb, so a policeman actually came to try to round up the dog (who had since disappeared). Anyway, just a bit of weirdness for the day.

* Taxman left this morning for a four-day, four-night tax conference. I am used to the day shift by myself but doing the graveyard (midnight to 8 am) just might kill me. Miss M is still waking up, hysterical, between 5 and 6, inevitably when AM is nursing. I don't know quite how I am going to be by Friday, other than probably extremely cranky and tired. But there is an overwhelming chance that on Wednesday I will be here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Shana Tova U'Metuka

Rosh Hashana, the head of the year, is almost here.

Every year, we pray for a good judgment, which includes, above all, peace, both in the world and in our own minds and hearts.

Every year it seems to recede a bit further.

I really should get to work on that.

Hope your year is good and sweet and brings nothing but peace.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What I ate for dinner last night and more blather

A toasted everything bagel, buttered with one hand because AM was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. So clearly tonight will be tuna night, which is actually good because Taxman is the hands-down champion tuna maker for the house.

To add to yesterday's post, what further bothers me about the price of fresh and/or organic foods is that you can literally watch it go up. The maple syrup that cost me $14.49 yesterday (although so worth it for the applesauce cake I make with it) was only $11.99 at some point in the recent past--2-3 years ago. In fact the last quart was $13.99. The exact same thing happened with the rice that we buy in 1 kg plastic containers. I got into the habit of saving them because they make excellent storage for kids' toys and also for bathtime fun, plus the hard plastic, brightly colored round lids are great teethers. Anyway, when I first started saving them, 2 years ago, the price stamped on top was $4.29 (for Indian-style white Basmati rice, if you were keeping track). Then it was $4.39, then $4.49, then $4.59, and now it's $4.89. Really, it's not the 60 cents that bothers me, it's how fast the prices are changing. I guess in a way I'd rather have less subtle price jumps but less often. Like the price of stamps.

Freaky things at Target:

1. I bought the one and only package of size 5 underpants (small, fits pants sizes 4-8, according to the package) in the place. There were many, many, many choices in sizes 7 (L), 8 (XL), and 9 (XXL). And we're talking huge wall displays of Hanes and Fruit of the Loom. One package. Do they just not order enough size 5s? Or does nobody buy them, so they don't even order them? I am puzzled.

2. The Starbucks in my local New York City Target (not in a slum by any means, but not exactly a high-rent area) charges on average 55 cents more per drink than what I paid two days ago in a suburban Starbucks, serving an area that while not the wealthiest in Westchester County is definitely a socio-economic step or two up from where I was today. Somehow that left me feeling extremely icky. Shouldn't people overpay for overroasted coffee at the same rate, regardless of their ZIP code?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"You're bringin' me down, man!"

So today has had its small share of teensy pokes to the gut.

* There was a baby squirrel sitting stock-still in the middle of an intersection. She or he was probably scared and confused. My brain finally won out, and I did not get out of the car (leaving the kids) to attempt to guide the squirrel to the side of the street. As I was driving away, I saw it start hopping out of the intersection, although a bit slowly for my taste.

* Taxman has dinner plans at a very nice kosher restaurant in the city. The kind of place that we don't normally go unless someone else is paying and we're celebrating something. We've been there together twice. Now that he is regularly visiting clients in Midtown, it is a convenient, not-embarrassing place for them to take him for lunch or dinner. This is his third time there in the past few months. If I can manage to grab the time between making Carrot-Parsnip Soup and throwing the chicken into a marinade to sit overnight, my lofty dinner goal is a sandwich a la tuna avec potato chips. I could just use an excuse to wear something nice and put on jewelry and eat fancy food, you know?

* Over the past two days I have spent an obscene amount of money on food. Luckily, we can afford it, and I'll be able to make nice meals for Rosh Hashana and have Ben & Jerry's in the freezer for mental emergencies. But it got me thinking about the people who can't spend the money. The huge majority of our newly purchased food was fresh or minimally processed, with a good dollop of organic thrown in. How can we expect to solve the nutritional/health problems of kids, poor ones in particular, if it costs so much to eat "right"? Fresh peaches cost between $1.99 and $4.99 a pound; 29 oz of canned peaches in heavy syrup? $1.89. A quart of organic Grade A maple syrup cost me $14.49, but 24 oz of "pancake syrup" would have been less than $4. And of course, fresh produce and the like don't have accompanying manufacturer's coupons. I don't know what there is to do about it, I am just saddened and frustrated.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Books, books, books!

When my parents are in town, the kids get all kinds of goodies. The overwhelming majority fall into the book/art/educational toy category, which is great.

The best swag from their current visit, however, we picked up on Sunday at my aunt's house. A box of books that has been passed from my cousins to me to my brother to my aunt's grandchildren. And now they've come home to roost.

There are copies of some classics, like Make Way for Ducklings and A Letter to Amy, that we already own. Some that we don't. No Fighting, No Biting. Petunia. The Little Engine That Could.

And then there are my classics. Books that I remember loving as a kid, even if I don't remember their plots. It made me so happy to see them again, like greeting old friends you didn't realize you had missed.

Miss M is too young for some, but we will somehow find room for Mr. Tamarind's Trees, Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House, Little Bear, Willie's Garden, and It's So Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House.

Welcome, old friends.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Let's Hear It For the Boy

I meant to write this yesterday, when AM officially turned five months. But I did mention the 5:00 wakeup call, no? Today was 5:12, so really the extra 12 minutes make all the difference.

Anyone who's read more than, say, one of my posts knows that I have spilled a lot of ink (as it were) on Miss M. But it is fair to say that Baby AM is coming into his own. After the standard (for my kids) two months of sleepiness, he spends a few hours awake at a time now. He's got chubby legs, a constantly drooly face, and a grin that could light up a dark room--I know from experience. He's acquired a few nicknames (we don't call him AM to begin with), including Boo, Boo-Boo, and Honeybell, like the tangerine. (I call Miss M "Sweetpea," so this was continuing on the botany theme.)

AM is overwhelmingly good-natured. He's got all of us wrapped around that fist--his left--that he is always trying to stuff, in its entirety, into his mouth. Miss M will readily, for a 2 year old anyway, share a toy with him, or "read" to him, or sing him the ABCs. He grins with delight; he'll also track her across the room as she marches, spins, or dances. Maybe he's also trying to figure out what could be possessing her...if only he had the words to let us in on the secret.

Taxman has already introduced him to New York sports. AM has a thing for the TV, so it wasn't difficult. On his continuing quest to be crowned Best Husband Ever, Taxman has done more than his fair share of 4 am diaper changes, midnight screamfests, and early morning snuggles. This go round he has his own pouch, a comfort tool like no other. But AM is smarter than your average bear; if I am in the vicinity, even if he does not want to nurse, he wants to be near the milk. If I am in the shower at six in the morning, he will cuddle up to Taxman. If I am on the other side of the bed, he fusses and protests until I bring him back, where he wads my ratty T-shirt into his mouth, along with his right thumb, and slurps back to sleep. (Yeah, the crib? Officially a waste of my in-laws' money. Times two kids.)

AM is progressing physically at an alarming clip. He decided to celebrate his five months on earth by pushing up to his hands and knees; once he combines that with the pivoting and scrunching around he does whenever he's on the floor, I do believe crawling will be about 30 seconds after that. His head control is fabulous. He's been rolling both ways for a while, but now combines the directions with aplomb; I'll find him too close to and reaching for Miss M's inappropriate-but-not-precisely-dangerous-for-him toys.

He is starting to become very attuned to the world around him. He often cries when Miss M starts her theatrical waterworks, and he gets very startled if I yell while he is on my lap. (Unfortunately this happens a lot.)

Just as his sister did, he loves to be in a sling and just soak it all in. Six weeks ago I could reliably expect him to sleep through most of a visit to the park, but now he is too interested in what there is to see. Unless, of course, he is truly tired. Then he nods off to sleep without a noise, save for the gentle hiss of his saliva-soaked right thumb as it softly pulls him to his dreams.

Despite my worries and tears and general petrified state of pregnancy with him, he's proving to be an excellent companion and wonderful addition to the family. (Yes, you all told me it would be fine. And I appreciate it, I really do. I just had to see it for myself.)

Love you, Boo.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

School Daze

I am in a fog. Miss M was up for the day at 4:30.* (If only it were because of school excitement; we think it's molar pain.**)

The first day of school was a mixed bag. Mostly fine. I don't have any qualms about leaving her. It's only 10.5 hours a week, not college. (Considering that this morning at six I was musing to Taxman about boarding pre-schools.) What I am worried about is that loss of one-on-one teaching and its accompanying push to conformity. Being that she's a redhead, though, maybe a tempering of her will to a respectable level would be fine.

I sat on a chair meant for very small behinds along one wall. I watched Miss M gather six mounds of playdough into a big ball. I watched her play at a sand table. I watched as she glued tissue paper squares to a construction paper apple.

And I kept intervening. I told her to share the playdough. I reminded her (three times) to keep the sand in the sandbox, but only after she had already spilled it. Hey, just like at the park, but now with more mess! I prevented her from making glue puddles on the floor. I did think it was awfully brave to have a gluing project on the first day of school, however.

I can't do that. Intervene, I mean. But there are only three teachers. Today there were eight kids; there could be as many as 12 on a given day. Trying to watch the three teachers move the eight kids away from the bikes and scooters and fire truck toys and back into the classroom verged on hysterical. I didn't try to intervene there--I just breathed in and out slowly and thought, "This is a job I am glad I don't have."

The good news is that Miss M seemed to be just fine. She looked for me, but just kind of made eye contact as she was scooting between activities, like building a block tower with one of the teachers and wandering over where another was preparing snack. (Insert snicker here. She's all yours...three mornings a week.) I am hoping that by next week she will not need us to stay. And one of the teachers has already started to "get" her and will be able to deal with her effectively, so I am excited about that.

Tomorrow is Taxman's turn to squeeze his keister into a little pink chair. Enjoy, sweetie!

* Seriously, the only thing that prevented me from selling her to the doorman, who doesn't come on until 7 am, is that in the fuzzy pre-dawn, she sang the alphabet song to her brother, who thinks she is the greatest thing EVER. (Well, second greatest.)
** Alternatively, she is trying to kill us in a very slow, painful, and untraceable way. Update: The morning of September 14th? Five o'clock. $&*%!

Monday, September 11, 2006

What I remember

Until 8:46 am, September 11, 2001, was the most beautiful kind of day in New York City.

Cloudless, crystalline blue, just a hint of the autumn to come as Taxman and I walked to the local junior high school to vote in the primary election. The kind of day that has its own lightness, whispering promises of pleasant fall, a meaningful High Holiday season, a gentle close of summer.

Every September 11th, I remember how beautiful that day was. Before it was shattered by the cruelest definition of man's inhumanity to man. I still don't understand how people purposefully take the lives of innocent human beings. I don't think I ever will.

I hope everyone has someone to hug today.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Why PBS deserves a big, fat check from us

Miss M is a bit of Sesame Street addict. I tried to keep it in check, but now it is our savior. I use it to stay in bed and nurse AM, or I use it to unload the dishwasher without her impaling herself on the silverware, or I use it to eat breakfast in peace.

We are spoiled to have three choices for viewing times: 7, 8, or 9 am. This is the advantage of living in a major metropolitan area and paying about a gazillion dollars a month for cable; we even have a DVR, so we can record an episode and play it back at 7:30 or 8:12 or whatever. (Technology rocks, people!)

Her favorite part most days is when Cookie Monster introduces (and subsequently eats) the letter of the day. She thinks it is hysterical and usually comes running to tell me what the letter of the day is.

So this morning, I was desperately hopping around, trying to get everyone dressed and fed and straighten the house before our beloved cleaning lady came {sound of angels singing}. I heard Miss M padding down the hall; she had been drawing on her Magnadoodle--so far the Toy of the Month--and was coming to show me something.

"Ema! Show you! Letter A!"

And there it was. Clear as day.

Admittedly, she has been drawing "letters" for a long time. There was a big spate of marker Ms and Ws when she was doing a lot with lines. Not sure how much was accidental. She makes Xs and Ts in chalk at the park. When she got into drawing circles, she made Os a lot. But now she's made actual As (if it happens twice it's not a fluke, right?) and Hs. That requires a lot of purpose, right?

Now I know exactly how my mom felt when I was 13 months old, pointed over her head in a store and cried "eggit!" (Exit!) Amazed. More like my brain exhaling, "Daaaaammmmmnnnnn."

Channel 13, next pledge drive we're there.

(Oh, but I still expect her to be tantrumming to nurse and in diapers for a long time to come. So it's not all brilliance and light.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hanging on by a thread

Having a nasty intestinal virus was not the way I intended to shed the last pregnancy pounds. (Of course, all the graham crackers won't keep them off.)

Passing out from fever and dehydration at Miss M's pre-school orientation would have been very declasse, no? Luckily, I managed to make it to the car to lie down before collapsing anywhere.

My brain isn't working very well.

Miss M has watched a lot of videos.

And worst of all, Taxman is sick too. Poor guy had to go to work today. Not that spending yesterday at home was fun for anyone, except maybe Miss M (see above parade of videos).

Anyone have any good recipes involving ginger ale?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Scene: master bathroom shower, 20 minutes ago.
Players: Taxman, Baby AM
Observer: me, arriving to take AM out of the shower (I was distracted. I was in the middle of writing an email to mc.)

Me, incredulous: "Are you talking to him about his test^cles?!"
Taxman: "No! I said we were just two boys, hanging out."
Me: "Oh."

Must sleep more, clearly.

What is UP with the universe?! by OTE

1. Miss M had a cold last week that lasted for about two days.

She gave it to me, naturally. Last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I had a sore throat. Saturday I had a sore throat and a cough. Sunday the snotfest began in earnest, carrying over to yesterday. That's SEVEN days of a cold that Miss M was done with in two. (Thankfully, AM seems to have escaped its clutches. Gotta love the nursies.) It's finally fading, now replaced by one of my pounding headaches--I think they are part-sinus, due to weather, and part-hormonal, due to breastfeeding, because I got them when Miss M was an infant too. There was a time when I used to knock back Advil Cold & Sinus for these things, but they are a no-no for the milk supply.

So I am trying to keep my head steady. Which is really so easy to do at my current job. SAHMs need union reps, because the no sick day thing really sucks.

2. After his first week or so of life, Baby AM has been quite polite during diaper changes. None of the random peeing all over. Until yesterday, when it happened twice in 12 hours. Were we just lucky all this time?

3. I have an important freelance assignment that I just can't get done because I feel like crap and I am exhausted. Help! Plus without warning AM's 7:30 bedtime turned into an hour-long nap, then be cranky until real bedtime (10ish). So...not a lot of time to work, even if I could breathe and move my head without pain.

4. CCW's post today reminded me that August 28 of last year was when I had my own home pregnancy test revelation. (An earth-shattering bathroom moment.) That eventually led to my "founding" of One Tired Ema. Now that I am thinking this through, I see this needs its own post, once I can clear a path through the snot in my head.

Addendum: Four straight days of rain. Um, hey, New York is not supposed to be the Pacific Northwest with smog. I actually went out to the library to return things today because it had been a very long time since I had had outside air in my lungs. It started raining before we got there (3 blocks). Baby AM and I were under the umbrella. Miss M walked there in her too-big but very cute raincoat. It was a huge, slow pain in the behind and by all rights we should have gotten soaked. So now, as I figure it, there are two options for school: a) spend money--albeit not necessarily too much if we buy used--on a double stroller with raincover that we don't really have room to store and AM would probably hate or b) be the bitch who drives the 12 blocks to school and parks right in front; the minivan has a permit because of Taxman's work with the Rescuers. He says I am entitled. I say it's rude to the 100 other parents who don't have the option.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

In which Miss M plays navigator*

We set off for the Berkshires on a Thursday night, with the goal of getting some outdoor recreation on Friday morning. Friday afternoon we had to shop and cook for Shabbat. If I had been more coordinated, we would have had more food prepared in advance, but Taxman was happy to use a grill. (Grrrr, man make fire!)

On Friday morning, up at our usual crack of dawn, courtesy of Miss M, we zeroed in on Bash Bish Falls, "the tallest waterfall in Massachusetts," as our destination. We were out of the house before 10, but we spent a good while being lost. We asked for directions three times; our AAA map just didn't have enough detail. ("It's our Amazing Race!" Taxman and I giggled to each other.) But the drive was pleasant, the scenery was verdant, and the kids were in good spirits.

After a lot of meandering, we disembarked at the Bash Bish parking lot in Mt. Washington, Massachusetts. It was almost noon, and our original plan--to be at the grocery store, picking up chicken and watermelon and milk by 1 pm--was clearly out of reach. But we were here to get some fresh air, damn it, so that is what we were going to do. Getting the kids ready to go was a whole project, of course. We changed their diapers in the back of the van, loaded them into their carriers (a Kelty backpack, toted by Taxman, for Miss M and a Freehand mei tai for Baby AM), and found the trailhead.

As we studied the bulletin board at the trailhead, which contained dire warnings about swimming in the falls, there was a simple sheet of paper tacked up—a notice from the Mt. Washington State Park Powers that Be. The gist was that the trail to the falls was about a quarter-mile, but (BUT!) over that quarter-mile there was a vertical drop of 300 feet. The kindly-but-stern Powers that Be reminded us innocent hikers that what goes down must come up, but if we didn't think we were up to it there was a parking lot about a mile down the road with a pretty flat, half-mile trail in and out.

Although it would have taken a good 15 minutes to toss the kids, the carriers, the backpack, and ourselves in the van and reconstruct the scene down the road, I was about to suggest that we trade minor inconvenience for peace-of-mind. The beginning of the trail looked very steep. "What do you think?" I asked Taxman. (We tend to do things by consensus.)

"Not sure, but I think we can probably do it. What do you think?"

Before I could respond, a high-pitched, excited voice piped up from behind his head: "Go, go, go! Abba! Go, go, go!!!"

He looked at me and shrugged, "I guess there’s your answer."

And so we went.

It was steep. There were no handholds. There were very few things to brace against. The pitch of trail was scary. The dirt was slippery and loose under my feet. If I'd been by myself I would have just gone with gravity, but my resistance to gravity was the single thing standing between AM’s sweet, soft skull and, well, I didn't want to think about it.

Fifteen minutes later, we were at Bish Bash Falls. I was shaking--my quads in particular, which had basically prevented me from falling down the very steep hill ass over teakettle. After briefly taking in the scenery...

...we had to jet. But I was pretty sure that I could not get up those 300 feet.


In his continuing quest to be the Best.Husband.Ever, Taxman said he was willing to let me take the flat route out. He'd scale the cliff with Miss M and pick us up at the other parking lot.

We parted ways. It felt weird to be without him, plus I didn't have my cell phone. (There hadn't been reception in the parking lot, so I left it in the car.) I had a medium-sized freakout when I realized that I had crossed into New York State. I had known we were close to New York; the locals, in fact, had told us to go via New York to get to Bash Bish. But what if Taxman thought he was on the wrong road and tried to find me elsewhere? Oh crap.

Luckily, we were upstate, where people were friendly and chatty. A pleasant older couple watched the blood drain from my face as we crossed the border. They assured me that Taxman would find us; in the parking lot they offered their cell phone, and when it failed to have reception they offered to drive me to the other lot. When I demurred—I had no carseat for AM—they offered to go meet him at the other parking lot and make sure he got to me. So sweet! But thankfully Taxman had vanquished the mini-mountain in record time, and just then he and Miss M came screeching into the parking lot.

Next time Miss M gets a vote in how we go, she's walking it herself. Or carrying me part of the way.

* as promised

Monday, August 21, 2006

"Nakish" at the Strand

My venture into the city was nice, but it wasn't quite carefree. It had been a long time since I had been underground in the NYC subway in the dead of summer...and I can't say I'm sorry. It was stifling. I don't know if it was hotter than Hell, but it was certainly more humid.

Baby AM is less intense than Miss M, which was relaxing, although he is not as good a conversationalist! And then there are the poops. By four months old, Miss M was pretty much a once-a-week pooper. Not so much with him. So by the time I had reached Grand Central (25 minutes), I had already had to change him once. On a moving train. (I knew there would be more; I just hoped it would wait until we were safely home.)

I went to the Strand. Stupidly, I did not have a list of books I wanted. It's a difficult place to browse, because it is completely overwhelming. Books to the ceiling, crammed in every nook and cranny, and not quite logically organized. But AM was happily sleeping, so I began to wander. I had half-filled a basket with books for Miss M (James and the Giant Peach for $2.95! A beautiful picture book by Faith Ringgold for 66% off!) and thrown in a new Moosewood cookbook for myself (less than half the list price!) when he awoke, screaming. Oh, dear.

I unlaced the mei tai he was in and tried to comfort him. And then he had the loudest and smelliest poop I've experienced in many weeks. In the middle of the Classics. My backpack/diaper bag was at the front of the store with the security guard. The bathrooms were upstairs, and, of course, had no baby changing tables. The elevator was the slowest in Manhattan. A small orangey-brown stain appeared on the back of AM's outfit while I was trying to get us to a slightly less populated area.

I commandeered the unisex handicapped restroom, laid my carrier (I had a second one, naturally) on the floor, and stripped him. Yes, my son, n@ked at a New York landmark.

His mood improved immediately, which was good because it took me a while to extract us, both from the potty and from the store. We then walked quite a bit, got an ice cream (me, not him), and bought gorgeous heirloom tomatoes at the Tompkins Square farmers' market.

As I was hustling through Grand Central to make the 3:20 train home, hauling $60 worth of books, $14 worth of tomatoes and organic greens, and 15+ pounds of baby AM, part of me thought I should have gotten my act together to pump a few bottles so I could have been truly alone. But when would I have had the time to do that?!?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Driving myself around the bend

(Apologies to my bloggy friends going through real stuff. I gotta get this out of me.)

In an extension of Wednesday Whining, I have to announce that I am going absolutely batshit with the nap/no-nap, up and tantruming because Ema IS NOT ALLOWED TO GO TO THE POTTY at 5 frigging 20 in the morning when it is still dark, crying-all-afternoon parenting of a toddler who will not give me five minutes to put her brother to sleep without whining and shrieking.

(Insert primal scream here.)

Taxman, in his infinite greatness, has told me that on Sunday I can take AM and spend some quality time (essentially) by myself. He was kind enough to not say straight out that my parenting skillz are currently in the cellar, but I will admit to that on my own.

Breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Robert McCloskey, eat your heart out

North of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Miss M lives out her Blueberries for Sal moment.

There were no bears, but she kept repeating "Blueberries...can...winter." Sadly, it wasn't peak blueberry season, so the yield was just under a pint. Not exactly pantry-worthy.

Maybe next summer in Maine?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Things I learned in the Berkshires

1. It is possible to visit the Berkshires in the summer and come away with zero mosquito bites. It just involves a lot of long sleeves and very little time outside at night. My quest was infinitely aided by the deliciously cool temperatures.

2. When the (friendly) locals direct you to a scenic spot, they really know what they are talking about. DON'T DEVIATE. If you rashly decide to follow signs posted by some employee of the Mt. Washington State Forest, you will find they abruptly end just when you need them the most, and you will wander around, wasting gasoline, for at least half an hour until another set of friendly locals puts you back on the right path.

3. It is impossible to go into only two stores at an outlet mall. The itch to score bargains overrides cranky, overtired children, looming loads of laundry, and the prospect of a 150-mile drive home. What started as a clear-cut set of goals--Rockport shoes for Taxman and Oshkosh jeans for Miss M--turned into meandering through Rockport, Van Heusen, Gap, Carter's, Oshkosh, and Little Me. And I got nothing!

4. When your two-year-old, who still believes that sentence structure is NOT for her, tries to dictate your path through the woods, DON'T LET HER.*

5. There is nothing like a weekend in close quarters with another couple, even if they are friends, to make you so grateful to have the spouse that you do. I never win anything like raffles or door prizes, but I won the husband lottery.

*More on this later.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mouth agape

The week isn't yet finished, but I've already had some head-shaking moments.

(Oh, and I wrote this post last night; this morning we woke up to the news at 5:30, explaining the foiled terrorist plot to blow up commercial airliners to the US from Britain. Suddenly not taking a big vacation this year looks juuuuust fiiine. Especially since it looks probable that you will not be able to take a bag full of goodies to entertain toddlers on the plane. So we might not be traveling far for at least four years. Assuming we haven't been blown to smithereens by then.)

1. People smoking at a park filled with kids. I know that there are very few places in New York City where you can legally smoke, but honestly! Miss M spent close to an hour in the sandbox, and there were two women chain-smoking on the bench about eight feet away from it. Yuck. I probably should have said something, but a) I am as non-confrontational as they come, b) my children weren't in imminent danger, and c) where else were they going to go? It was
5 pm on a beautiful summer afternoon. The playground was crawling with kids. Plus they looked scary and kept screaming at their own children.

2. I spent a couple of hours at the zoo on Monday with friends from Portland, M & B, and their two boys, who are 4 and 13 months. They come to New York for a week every summer to visit M's parents. M's parents were at the zoo as well, and the jaw-dropping part was that I could not believe how unhelpful they were with the kids. (I had originally thought that it was going to be a great adult to kid ratio--5:4--but it was really 3.1:4.) Yes, it was hot; yes, we spent most of the time in the children's part of the zoo; yes, part of being with a pre-schooler is answering the same questions over and over and listening to them say inane (but sometimes cute) things. But these are their grandchildren! They just sat on benches, complained about the weather (take a number!), and didn't engage the boys at all. Someone asked M's mother how old the younger one is, and she gave an answer that wasn't really close. The thing that killed me, though, is that she was going on and on about her other grandkids (M's brother's children).

I don't know why this bothered me so much, but it did. It made me sad. And also so grateful for my parents (who are far away) but especially for my in-laws, who call and beg to come visit with our kids. They take Miss M on Thursday afternoons so I can go to the farmers' market with just one very easy child. They drop everything to entertain them, spoil them rotten (but only after asking our permission), and brag about them to their friends. So...happy for me and Taxman, but sad for my friends. (I know there are plenty of people who have fraught relationships with their parents, but M & B are just about the nicest people on earth, in my experience. If they can't make it work, I fear for the rest of us.)

3. We are spending the weekend in the Berkshires, where it will be downright glacial after dark. The low 50s! Anyway, Miss M doesn't have appropriate clothes in her current size. The sweatshirt that fit her in May will of course not fit her now. So I stopped into the little girls' department at Macy's--it was their usual Wednesday one-day sale.

I was horrified. Probably 90 percent of the clothes they were displaying were name brands that were, of course, overpriced because they were name brands.* But really, even at 40 percent off, do I want my daughter look like a mini hip-hop princess? She's two! Only once in her entire life has she given me a strong preference about her clothes. So, no, there will be no Ecko Red miniskirts, no Puma sweatshirts, no Baby Phat capri pants, and definitely no Apple Bottoms tops because I don't want anything in her closet "designed" by Nelly...or that has a brand name referring to a woman's ass. Did I mention that she's TWO YEARS OLD? Next stop, Club Libby Lu! (Heh. Over my dead body.)

I am curious to know who thinks that clothes like this are appropriate for little girls. I understand there is a certain point in a kid's life where you need to allow her to exercise her own judgment (within reason) about what she wears. But how does that filter down to sequined tops and miniskirts in size 2T? And furthermore, who buys these things? Don't their girls play in the dirt, dribble food everywhere, and decorate their pants with markers?

Can somebody help me out here? Am I just disgusted, confused and disgusted, or just confused?

* Full disclosure: I do dress my kids in a lot of Gap clothes because they have great sales and the clothes are really cute, 100% cotton, and hold up well in the wash. And don't make my toddler look like a hooker, which is a bonus.