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.)