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.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Our summer in a nutshell

brought to you in living color by Miss M...




Lather, rinse, repeat.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
As needed.

Friday, August 04, 2006

My competition

As Taxman was kissing me goodbye this morning, a little voice piped up from across the room:

"Kiss me, Abba!"

This from someone not at all inclined to speak in complete sentences.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Awash in self-loathing

I can't stop screaming. At Miss M.

It makes me so sad and so frustrated.

What's worse is that she actually responds to the yelling Ema instead of the rational, even-tempered "Please close the top of the water bottle; it's spilling all over you and the carseat" Ema.

I wish I had an explanation. Is it the heat? General crankiness and stress? Sleep deprivation? The fact that I got out of bed at 5:45 this morning (and just about every morning) to sit with her in the living room and explain that as long as she was screaming, we couldn't nurse in bed because she was going to wake Baby AM and Abba. (For the record, Taxman and I alternate doing that.)

Whatever it is, I hate myself for it. I was out running errands today and was a third of the way to Taxman's office; I almost drove the rest of the way there to beg him to take Miss M from me. She shouldn't have to be with the screeching insane bitch. I sure don't want to be.

Excuse me, there is a pound of Trader Joe's milk chocolate covered raisins that needs my attention.