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?