Thursday, December 18, 2008

You Better Not Shout. You Better Not Cry.

The annual preschool holiday pageant is coming up and I'm torn whether to go or not. She's torn? What an awful mom! Who wouldn't want to see their kids dressed up like reindeer?! Let me explain. I'm dying to go. I went the first year, when my son was two. I sent him to school dressed in a white sweatshirt and black pants as instructed. When I came back later to watch the production I spied him grinning and wearing a top hat with giant black buttons on his belly. My little Frosty the Snowman. I should have taken the shot right then. But no, instead I waved, "Hi sweetie!" That was it. He started bawling. The show is starting and all of the other two year-olds are marching on stage singing Frosty the Snowman (or at least standing there, holding hands and swaying.) My son is shrieking like a mermaid. I scoop him up. So much for the pageant picture. Maybe next year.

Last year we avoided the agony altogether by taking a vacation. We left before winter break started so I missed the opportunity to watch my son prance around like Rudolph. Or rather sob and throw a tantrum the minute he saw me.

So this year, I'm in a quandary. Should I go? He's been singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town for the last month and waving his finger around. (Sing it with me now: you better not shout, you better not cry…) If only that was a sure thing—no shouting and no crying. Maybe now that he's four he'll be able to hold his ground in front of the parent paparazzi. I don't blame him. We're like a sea of smiling, nodding, best-intentioned crazy people. I'm sure it's intimidating. All I want is for him to enjoy himself. Who am I kidding? All I want is for him not to be that kid. There's always one in the lot. The one that's not singing. The one that's crying or sitting down or has fingers up both nostrils. It's usually my kid. Well, que sera sera. All I can do is send him in his red shirt and hope for the best.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Perfect Storm

And I'm not weathering it well. In fact, I am having a major come-apart. So if you read about our Thanksgiving weekend you know that we were hit from behind by a drunk driver which turned into a serious pain in the neck. Literally. Two days later I found myself at a chiropractor's office. Then the next day I had a previously scheduled minor surgery to remove what was left of a mole on my upper abdomen, determined by my dermatologist to contain some funky cells. This visit would require stitches. So she cuts everything out and sews me up with six stitches.

Now when I go back to the chiropractor there's not a ton they can do since it's painful for me to lay on my belly. Meanwhile my neck pain has subsided because my belly is so sore. That's good right? But then I've been so careful not to further tweak my neck or pull out any stitches on my abdomen, I throw out my lower back. Now my belly is hurting less, but I can hardly walk. Maybe I should feel lucky that my pain receptors can only focus on one thing at a time.

This happened once before (throwing out my back). It was ten years ago. So what did I do? I called in sick. I stayed home for three days. I slept and read all day with a cozy hot water bottle relaxing my back muscles. It was delightful. What am I doing this time around? Let's see. I'm lifting 60 pounds of children into my car and wrenching over to secure their seatbelts. I'm sitting at my desk all day typing. I'm putting my two year old in and out of her high chair. I'm making dinner, doing the dishes, folding laundry, straightening the house and watching The Berenstain Bears with my kids (that part's actually nice - although I can barely get out of the couch once I'm in there). Indeed my husband is doing more than his share, but there's just so much. It's enough for three people.

So how is my back, four days later? Worse. And how does that make me feel? Grumpy and resentful. That is why this morning when I was trying to get my squirrely kids out of the house I snapped at them—even my daughter who shines sunlight from her ass most of the time. I was all bent over and twisted trying to get her diaper on and his pants on and they were whining and crying so I just barked at them which made them cry more. It was awful. I'm just in so much pain and everything I have to do for them causes more pain. And all of it together—the accident, the neck, the surgery, the stitches, the back, not to mention the stress of figuring out which elementary school to send my son next year or if even to send him at all—has me coming apart at the seams. Specifically my newest seam, the one three inches above my belly button. Stitches come out Friday.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thankful

Even though Thanksgiving is last week's news I wanted to update everyone on the "what I'm thankful for" placemat that my son created in preschool this year. You may remember, though I doubt it, that last year he wrote on his placemat that he's thankful for his black car. The other kids wrote that they were thankful for their mommies and daddies and other, slightly more meaningful entities. Not wanting to relive the humiliation I coached him all year so that when Thanksgiving came around again he would write on his placemat (and these things are laminated so there's no making any changes) that he was mostly thankful for mommy and aba. Well I didn't actually coach him—but I clearly should have. This year he wrote that he was thankful for…drum roll…chicken nuggets and dumplings. What am I doing wrong here? At least I feed him, albeit processed food.

But then, it all came full circle when, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we were driving home from a little lake by our house. We stopped at a red light and a drunk woman in a Prius plowed into our car at 30 miles an hour. We're all fine, though somewhat shaken by the experience. Apparently my son had it right all along. You bet your ass I'm thankful for my black car too. The Prius was totaled and our Passat wagon had a measly dent in the back. Thanksgiving took on new meaning this year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

“Crack” of dawn

This morning my daughter woke up at 6 am. I generally make my husband get out of bed because I’m evil. He’s a good sport. So he went to get her and I fell back asleep only to wake up ten minutes later and find her naked butt right in my face. These days after she has a little morning beverage she likes to get out of her pajamas and tickle her own toes with her stuffed rat’s whiskers. That’s her new thing. And since her early morning diaper weighs about ten pounds, it's usually next to go.

So here she was, in her post-bottle bliss, all toasty and soft like a giant butterball, wiggling around between me and my husband, ducking down under the covers and whispering kaboo (peekaboo). I mean I would so much rather that she slept another hour, but since it’s not something I can control, I’ll take the pre-dawn naked snuggling as a consolation.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weird ideas that work

I tell you if I’m ever in a position to hire anybody and the job requires unlimited capacity to generate new ideas and problem-solve, 9 out of 10 times I’m hiring a mom because a day doesn’t go by when I don’t have to yank some crazy scheme or remedy or solution or explanation from my rumpus in an exhausting constant effort to love, protect and shape the small children that live in my house.

Here’s what is working lately.

I’ve been focusing a lot of my energy on smooth transitions (i.e. when I leave the house in the morning or when I drop the kids off at school) and my work seems to be paying off. Three days a week my husband takes the kids to school in the morning and I leave early so that I can then pick them up on the early side. It used to be that one or both of them would throw a fit when I left scarring me for the rest of the day. The kids were fine thirty seconds later of course but I was a hollowed by the ordeal. Now we do “bye bye from the window”. Every morning, no matter who’s leaving early, we say our goodbyes with the traditional hug and a kiss, high-five and thumbs up. Then the kids jump onto the sofa and watch for me (or my husband) out the window. I leave and quickly run around to the front of the house and do a silly dance and sometimes come all the way up to the window for high-fives at the window. The kids shout their goodbyes and wave and laugh and I can leave with my heart intact. This has been working for several months actually with only the occasional break-down.

On the days when I deliver the kids to school I’ve been trying a modified version of “bye bye from the window”. My son comes with me to drop off my daughter. In her classroom I kiss her goodbye and then do a “one-and-a-two-and-a-three” ali-yoop full-body swinging motion and land her in her teacher’s arms. Then her teacher does the same thing landing her in the middle of the room on the carpet next to various toys and distractions. She’s probably so dizzy she doesn’t notice I’ve gone. Then my son and I go over to his room and we do our hug and kiss routine. Then I say, “bye-bye from the window”. He runs to the window and I walk outside and over the window and we do our window high-five. Then he meanders over to his class and starts his day. No tears. No looks of despair. Drop-off perfection.

How I need to work on our nighttime ritual. “Night-night from the window” seems a little irresponsible. Goodnight kids! We’re going to the movies…

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Toddler Election

You’ll forgive me if I’m a little giddy. I’m still enjoying the post-election after-glow.

I’ve mentioned this before but it warrants repeating on this historical day following an outstanding presidential campaign and win by President elect Barack Obama. Using some tricky site metering magic I can see what terms people are searching for when they end up at my site. The most popular term by far is “toddler erection”. So I alternately feel thrilled to be able to offer some comfort to parents shocked by their little boys’ unpredictable wee wees and freaked out to think that maybe people without little boys are searching on this term for reasons I don’t even want to consider. A distant second to “toddler erection” is “toddler mariachi costume”. Odd, but true.

So where is she going with this…? I was mainly just free associating. Election. Erection. I actually intended to write about my experience watching as Brian Williams on NBC called the election last night at 8:00. I was sitting on the couch with my little boy. This was his second presidential election but we won’t count the first one since he was only a month old and we elected Bush. That one’s a throw-away. He took a little bit of interest in this election. In the last few weeks we’ve been talking a lot about Obama and McCain. Or rather, I’ve been brainwashing him to think like me.

Me: We like Obama
Him: We like McCain too.
Me: No, we only like Obama.
Him: Who likes McCain?
Me: Other people, but not us.
Him: We like Obama.
Me: Right.

And while we were waiting for Obama to take the stage my son got bored and wanted to go to sleep. So I read him his stories and tucked him in just in time for me to watch our new president make his acceptance speech. And what a speech. I especially loved when he channeled his inner preacher and got a little cadence going in his voice. Yes we can. And how he wove in the story of Ann Nixon Cooper. Yes we can. And conjured up the spirits of Lincoln and MLK Jr. Yes we can.

I mean the Republicans may have Joe the Plumber but darn it all if we don’t have our own Bob the Builder.

Can we fix it?
Yes we can.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What happens at Trader Joe's stays at Trader Joe's

My daughter has moved to the dark side. Just when I thought I'd have to close up shop with this blog because my son, while still quirky and challenging (more later about his latest fixation on nail polish), appears to be finally leaving the terrible twos. My daughter is now entering them. It seems I'll have plenty to write about for the next while. This is how we began our weekend on Friday.

I pick up the kids from school and drive to Trader Joe's to buy groceries. My daughter refuses to sit in the front of the shopping cart so I put her in the bigger part and my son volunteers to sit in front. And as we're moving through the aisles getting our goods my daughter decides she must have strawberries. She sees them and starts to do her point and shriek.

So I get her the strawberries (organic, so I don't feel as bad not washing them) and she starts packing them away. Then she stands up in the cart. I tell her to sit down and she looks right at me and says "BAH!" in her biggest voice. So I take her out and put her on the ground. She runs over to the dried fruit and sits down and starts sobbing angry sobs - how dare I order her to sit in the moving grocery cart. The nerve. I scoop her up and put her, flailing, back into the cart. That's when she really turns up the heat. She becomes full-body red, assisted by the strawberry slobber that's all over her face. She starts sweating from her head and her curls start to get pasted to her forehead. Steam is literally coming from her nose. And snot. And she launches into a tantrum the likes of which I have not seen since the IKEA incident. By now we're standing in line. She's coming out of the cart again so I hold her and she's arched all the way back and screaming like she's about to whip forward and bash herself into my face like some kind of Lucha Libre star. Now my son is crying because he gets upset when she's upset. He's also upset because I told him we couldn't have dumplings again for dinner. But he keeps asking and asking until I can't take it anymore so I tell him if he opens his mouth one more time about his dumplings he won't get any dinner. Genius, right? Do I get a parenting award for that one? Then he's mad for saying that and when my daughter drops her rat right in his lap and I ask for it back he throws it over my head into another check-out line. Meanwhile all of our groceries are under the cart (since my kids are usually in the cart) and I'm trying to put them on the counter while holding a baby who's moving every which way to free herself. So I look my son in the eye and tell him no dinner (in Hebrew - lest someone actually understand what I'm saying...). He starts to cry even harder now. I can't contain the baby so I put her down and she crawls over to the black mat where the cashier is standing and starts rolling around sobbing. Now her face is completely black with shoe soot. Then an older woman comes over and asks what's wrong with her. So I politely reply that she is two and sometimes two-year-olds have tantrums. Why do people ask dumb questions? She couldn't think of anything else to say? Some suggestions: "it gets better." Or "I have a damp washcloth to wash her face". Or "here's a check for $100K." Or "I know they're a pain in the ass but I really love your shoes."

I finally collect everyone and a nice kid (who's thinking thank god for condoms) helps us to the car and loads the groceries. I buckle everyone and they're both still screaming so I open all four windows and turn up the music really loud and drive home cursing under my breath.

What am I doing wrong people? (I know the empty threat of no dinner was weak, but besides that). I keep my voice even. I do redirects and create distractions. I reinforce positive behavior. I buy organic strawberries. I know the economy's shit so I'll forego my 401K for a little return on this other LONG-TERM investment I'm managing. Some days I have had it.

All this while I'm trying to convince my husband that we should have a third.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dairy Ere

I decided that I'm off milk. Well, I decided this for my daughter since she's had a runny nose and post-nasal drip for the last 19 months. But she decided that I have surely lost my mind and refused her grande decaf soy bottle last night. I guess when she's 35 she can decide for herself that she is tired of her cranial plumbing problems and make the switch. As for me, I made the switch today. I walked my congested self over to Starbucks this morning and ordered a tall SOY latte. 

And let me tell you, for the record, that drink tastes like ASS. Uch, it is seriously disgusting. I guess I'm off coffee too.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Birthday surprise


We celebrated my son's birthday last Sunday at a local park. For the weeks leading up to it I was going back and forth about how to plan this thing. I'm just not a good party planner. My birthdays always suck. Although I did plan a kickass New Year's party at my brother-in-law's house in Israel. We partied like it was 1999. In fact it was 1999. Uch, I'm old.

My husband and I decided we'd just do something simple at the park and invite a few of his friends from school and a few family friends. Then my husband spoke to our friends who were having their daughter's fourth birthday party the day before in Berkeley. And they were having everyone from her preschool, baking homemade pizza, planning all kinds of games and MAKING a pinata. George Jesus. How I am going to compete with all that. People. Take it down a notch. You're making the average mothers look really bad here.

So then my head started to spin a bit. Not unlike a bashed-in, homemade pinata. What the hell can we do to spruce up this party? I wasn't super excited about the thought of leading a bunch of four year olds in games. And yet we had reached the point where we couldn't just invite folks to play at a park and call it a party. The kids needed some structure. But I never thought of my son as a kid who likes to participate in games. Since he never does.

So I came up with one game - the going to work race. My son's favorite activity when he gets home from school is to put on my shoes, get his purse with his keys and go to work. He works in San Francisco he recently told me. I figured I'd bring twelve pairs of shoes and twelve purses or bags and line them and make the kids walk across the lawn "going to work". I also ordered a cake from my brother's neighbor in the shape of a Motorola flip phone with happy birthday written in the screen. Then I decided I'd pimp out my husband and make him do gymnastics tricks for the kids and maybe teach them a few tumbles. The only wild card was my son. Who knew if he'd participate at all. Or if he'd want any attention on him. He had the power to completely sabotage any and all plans. So we stuck with our two random party games and hoped for the best.

The day finally arrived and I channeled the spirit of Barney. As my son's friends started to arrive he greeted each one with a sprint in their direction and a bear hug. Who is this child? Pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Once there was a critical mass I called all of the kids to do follow the leader and I marched them around the lawn doing overhead claps and giant steps and shark claps and monkey jumps. Then my brilliant mom came up with the hokey pokey. My son actually knew the words and sang the whole thing. Then we did the "work" race which was a hit. And after we went to a little hill and my husband showed the kids how to tumble down. Then he walked on his hands and did some cartwheels. The guest were sufficiently impressed. That completed the entertainment portion of the party and then it was time for lunch. So we sat around on blankets and ate pizza. Then we put Shalev in a little chair and sang happy birthday to him and lifted him four times and one for good luck as is the Israeli tradition. Then he saw his cake and just about died. MOTOROLA CAKE! I know, we're weird.

All in all I have to say it was a surprisingly great birthday. No tantrums. No whining. And no one threw up. The three criteria by which every party should be measured. I give it a ten.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Oh God

Last week on our way home from the children's Rosh Hashana service (which by the way is definitely the way to go since it's only 45 minutes long and includes a funny skit) my son says, what's Adonai?

Me: Huh?
Him: What's Adonai?
Me: Adonai? (I'm buying time here).
Him: Yes, Adonai. What is it?
Me: Adonai is God.
Him: What's God?
Me: God is something that's inside of people that helps them make good decisions and be good to each other. Like sharing toys. And being honest. And helping mommy. Everyone has Adonai inside them.
Him: What about the bad man?
Me: What bad man? (Oh jesus. I mean, Adonai. Where is he going with this?)
Him: The man who rides the giant lawn mower at the park.
Me: He's a bad man?
Him: Yes. He makes a lot of noise with his lawn mower.
Me: That's why he's a bad man?
Him: Yes.
Me: (with a sigh of relief) He's actually a good man and has Adonai in him because he helps keep the park nice for us to play in even though it probably hurts his ears when he does all that mowing.
Him: Okay.
(pause)
Him: What's Oh, Adonai?
Me: Oh God.
Him: Okay.

Nice way to start out the year. Having an existential conversation with a three year old. Pretty cool.

By the way, today is his birthday. My son is four. I remember soon after he was born I took him with me to go vote. And as we watched in horror as Bush was re-elected, I thought ADONAI, my son's going to be FOUR by the time we'll have a chance to get rid of this clown. And here we are. My son is four. The bad man's term is dwindling. Maybe by the grace of Adonai we'll have reason to celebrate in a few weeks.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lucky day

Yesterday I had a lucky day. It was one of those days when plenty of things went wrong but then magically corrected themselves.

First I left for work in the morning and stopped at the drug store to pick up some OTC stuff for my relentless cold and my daughter's rumbly cough. I go to grab my wallet from my purse as I'm leaving my car and I see that my wallet is MIA. Crap. I'm already late for work and I don't want to go home and cause a commotion (after a smooth parting). Then, what luck! I see a lone credit card with the activation sticker still on it. A card I never use that I threw into my bag last week when it came in the mail. Rejoice! I call the activation number as I'm deciding between Triaminic and Mucinex and leave the store $40 poorer.

On my way to work I begin to rummage through my purse to look for my phone and I feel the pair of clip-on earrings that I have recently purchased for my son's jewelry box. The kid likes bling. Who am I to quash his pursuits. So I bought him a pair of $5 earrings at Sears - big, red shiny circles which happened to go so well with my outfit. I put them on.

At around 2:00 my cold is in overdrive and now I'm starting to feel a dull pain in my ears. I've had this cold for two weeks now so I call my doctor to see if there are any openings. Providence! There's an appointment at 3:15. It's only after I hang up the phone that I realize the dull pain in my ears is from those clip-on earrings. When I take them off I feel a rush of relief. But since I already have the appointment I go anyway. Turns out I have a sinus infection and need antibiotics! Had I not put on those earrings, I would have never bothered with the doctor's appointment. What luck!

I leave the doctor at 4:00 and stop at home before I go to get the kids from school. I realize I don't have my house key. I left it with the babysitter last night and she made off with it. Oops. So I go around back and let myself into the back room which leads me to our garage/workshop and then the kitchen. We usually lock the kitchen/workshop door. It was open! A Tuesday miracle!

So all in all it was a great day. I left my wallet at home, I gave myself an earache and I lost my keys. But I found some perspective.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

PreK update

A quick update: my son is doing much better and so is his mommy. Let's just say he probably gets high proclivity for emotional outbursts from yours truly. I still feel pretty strongly that three and four-year-olds shouldn't be doing worksheets and cutting practice but moving him to a new school altogether would probably send him into a tailspin. And anyway these teachers actually do seem to care about our kids quite a bit. I had a pretty good conference with his teachers and the director and we came up with some separation strategies that appear to be working. Mornings have been uneventful for an entire week. So I'm grateful. My kid is amazing, what can I say.

The last week I've been trying to get him to tell me more about some of the kids he's getting to know in his class hoping that he's slowly reaching out. I also have an ulterior motive to figure out which two or three friends from his class I should invite to his birthday party in two weeks. I'm starting to understand the power of the playdate. For whatever reason seeing your schoolmates outside of school can really solidify the relationship. A few days ago he mentioned playing with a girl called McKenna so everyday I ask about McKenna. Yesterday I asked if he played with McKenna outside and he said no.

Him: I just talked to her
Me: What did you talk about?
Him: I didn't talk. Only she talked.
Me: What did she talk about?
Him: I don't know. I didn't listen to her.

He went from having no friends to being married to McKenna in one week. That's my boy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Repeat after me

So what all went down. It started when I took my kids to school that morning. My son has to be there at 8:30 sharp for his "cutting exercise". They sit at table for 15 minutes and cut up paper. We arrived at 8:32 and my son started clutching my legs and sobbing that he wanted to go home. He's been doing the leg clutch thing for the last few months in fact, since they moved him to the older class. He has an October birthday so until now he's been the oldest in his class. Now he's the youngest. One girl is 14 months older. Don't even get me started on crazy parents holding their summer birthday kids back. It started with just the leg clutching and the rough drop-offs but since preK started a week ago, it's gone from bad to worse. He's started asking if there's school every morning and panicking all weekend that there will be school again. Then he started saying that he didn't want to go to school and on an on. He doesn't like nap time. Gabriel called him a monster. Henry was being loud. Etc.

So I tell him he just has to go and give his teacher a big hug and get settled but of course he's late and so he's not allowed to participate in cutting. He has to sit on the carpet and wait until circle time. Meanwhile no one has said a boo to him - no greeting, no hug, nothing. So I hug him and say goodbye and he's standing there lost and crying out not to leave him.

I drop off my daughter in the other room and she's also crying but she's new here and I know she'll stop ten seconds after I leave. I come back to the preK room and he's still standing there. No one has invited him to sit down or asked him what's wrong. He's just sobbing and the teacher is giving her cutting commands and it occurs to me that this place is all wrong. I mean, WHAT THE FUCK PEOPLE. Somebody engage my kid! Take two seconds out of cutting and figure a way to get my son involved and calm. But my hanging around is not helping so I leave and meet my friend in the parking lot and I sob to her about how suddenly my son is in military preK. Our play-based school is now all about worksheets and tasks and standing in line and repeat after me and circle the ladder and when you're done put your hand above your head! It's more than I can handle on my birthday. I suddenly and tragically realize I don't want this for my kid. And for the last three months I've been kidding myself that he'll be fine. He'll adjust. But he's not adjusting. He's regressing.

The rest of the birthday went like this. I then drive to a cafe to have special birthday breakfast with my husband but instead I cry for an hour about this terrible school and our tortured son. Although I did have a really good latte with a leaf design in the foam. My husband and I then sit down and on the back on my receipt we write down all of the things that we need to do to change this situation and make life here good for us. One of the items was finding our kids a new daycare. So while I had planned to spend the day painting or seeing a movie, I spent the day calling up preschools none of which have even one space, let alone two spaces. My last call was to a woman who was recommended to us by an Israeli guy we'd met at Starbucks eight months ago whose son went there. Turns out it was his second marriage and his son from his first marriage went to medical school with my brother in law. Small world. Anyway, he raved about this woman and said she had two spots but I never bothered to call because we were content with our situation. And I prefer not to rock the boat since that would require me to examine past choices and then beat myself up for being a bad parent. No thanks.

But I did finally call Sherry's Daycare and I told Sherry the story and we cried on the phone (seriously) and she broke the news that they had no spaces. But invited us to come over and see her place and get to know her in the event that she does have space. So I walked over there (did I mention that it's two blocks from my house) and met Sherry and felt like I had a lemon stuck in my throat. I got teary again. It was a perfect place. The perfect yard - a big mess of stuff to do and places to hide and tomatoes to pick and eat. A wonderful and warm house filled with toys and games and puzzles. Kids' artwork everywhere. But best of all there was Sherry and her husband Bob. Big quiet Bob who schlepped a kid in each arm and read stories while playing his accordion and rallied the kids around to wash down a dirty pretend kitchen set outside. No lining up. No worksheets. And no cutting practice. And yet it was not chaotic. Kids put away their toys and moved from one activity to the next. Sherry and Bob provide meals and snacks. They're open 6am to 6pm. They have a 14 person bus and they take the kids on field trips to museums and parks and libraries. They even pick up the older kids who go to morning preK classes and bring them back to spend the rest of the day at their home. It was daycare heaven. And it was cheaper than what I pay now.

So then I had to contend with the guilt of having not found this place four years ago when my son was born even though it was literally two blocks away. Wondering how different my tortured son would be had he spent his days in this amazing environment.

But in fact I know that he's been well-taken care of all this time and it's only recently that things aren't going as they should. So I made a decision that we need Sherry in our lives even if the transition will be tough and a little late in the game. I realized that I had been settling somewhat in the decisions I'd made about daycare and I wasn't doing that anymore.

There's more to the story but it's getting late. I actually brought the kids over there after school to check it out and they enjoyed themselves. My son found a dead motorola and a pair of sparkly high heels so he was thrilled. But when I asked if he wanted to go to school at Sherry's he said no. He wants to stay home and be with me. I don't blame him. But I'm still banking on Sherry and have been broadcasting to the universe my wish for two spaces at her house. Repeat after me boys and girls: How wonderful that Sherry has two spaces for Susie's son and daughter!

Excellent job! You must have gone to preK.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Second worst

I'd have to say that my worst birthday was when I turned 18. I had been living on a kibbutz in Israel for about three weeks and I was miserably homesick. The program that I had signed up for was postponed so I was completely lost. It was hot as hell. I was young and scared to just up and travel around by myself. I'm not even sure how I ended up in Israel with no friends, no family and my only plans postponed. The kibbutz found me a job in the interim so I worked in the chicken hatchery sorting baby chicks and cleaning incubators. My birthday was also the eve of Rosh Hashanah. So that day I worked from 4am until noon. Then the guys in the hatchery gave me a box of chocolates and sang happy birthday. They were adorable actually and had I been a little older and a little less pitiful I would have probably gotten a kick out of it. They even sang in English. But I was wallowing in a kind of self-pity that even chocolate could not cure.

I had made plans to spend the holidays with the sister of a rabbi that I had known from California. His sister had become religious and moved to Israel with her family and they lived with their three year old and six month old in a town about an hour away. So I had called them a week before and asked to be invited for the holiday. They were certainly happy to have me. So I took a bus and met the husband at the station and he took me home with him where I spent a weekend with a religious couple I didn't know from Adam and their two little kids. And these kids could have been actual Botticelli angels and I wouldn't have given a fart about them because I was a self-absorbed teenager. Anyway, to cut a long story short I spent my birthday depressed with strangers, dragged to synagogue for hours and hours in 105 degree heat. I was never happier to be back in that hatchery. I'm sure my adoptive family thought I was a giant pain in the ass. I can only imagine if some 18 year old showed up at my house for Rosh Hashanah and acted like a pill. Me with my two kids and husband and mortgage and job and you with your teenage angst and not a care in the world. How embarrassing to think back on it now. Anyway, this is not the point. Or is it. Where was I going with this...?

So yesterday's birthday was a close second. But I'll have to finish the tale tomorrow because I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Venti thank yous to the fabulous four

Thank you to Jenni H. who schlepped over with her beautiful three-week-old baby.

Thank you to Rebeca who schlepped her 37-week-big belly.

Thank you to Linda and Jessica who are so dear to indulge a total stranger's birthday wish.

And thank god for the little people in our lives that generate so so much fodder for Sunday morning coffee chatter.

I hope we can do it again.

Back to my regular programming following this message...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Meeting of the minds

In celebration of two major milestones, my 100th blog entry and my 35th birthday (gasp!) I am inviting local readers (all three of you) to join me for birthday coffee on Sunday September 7th at the Starbucks on the corner of El Camino Real and El Monte in Mountain View at 9:00 am. If no one shows up, I will just drink my java and read a magazine and enjoy my hour to myself. BUT I would love to meet those of you who are available. I will not have my kids with me, though you are welcome to bring yours (especially the kind that still sit in their carseats and sleep a lot). This is a major thing for me as I am usually quite shy and misanthropic (just kidding - sort of).

Looking forward to meeting/seeing you (special call out to Jessica, Linda, Jenni H., Rebeca, Veronica, Claire, Clara...)

xox
Susie

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wax on, wax off

I think much can be learned from the communication styles of the Vietnamese woman who waxes my eyebrows. Or at least two things:

1. Tell it like it is. When I was pregnant with my daughter she asked if I knew what I was having and I said no. Everyone had told me I was having another boy because I carry pretty high. I was desperate for a girl so very pleased when the woman told me she knew that I was having a girl. You getting very fat around your butt. You have girl.

2. Repeating the question or concern shows that you are listening and puts to rest any doubt that what I've said was never heard. If I say, "this time, keep the length," she says, "keep length." And so it goes:

Me: I want to keep the thickness too.
Her: You want thick.
Me: So just keep it the same but clean it up.
Her: Same but clean.


Maybe I'll write a book called The Manicurist's Guide to Relationships.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Eat. Play. Dough.

What a great weekend we had. The highlight for today was sitting on our porch reading my new book, Eat Pray Love, which I am enjoying so much, while my daughter played with her play dough. She was in her usual post-nap happy spirits. There was a slight breeze. The play dough was still in a malleable state (which is not always the case after months of non-use). It was divine.

So for an hour I read and she mashed the play dough and mixed up all the colors into a big swirly mess. And then she tried to sort them back into their cylinders. And then she took a taste and grimaced, then laughed. And I laughed. What a great girl. What a treat to spend the whole weekend with her.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Girl's weekend

It's just me and the baby this weekend. The boys went to Lake Powell in Arizona to rent a boat and go camping with my husband's brother and his family. I have to say that it is so easy to take care of one baby. Even solo. I mean, really. Why did I think it was so challenging when my son was born to manage with just the one. It used to take us like an hour just to leave the house and meet friends. How embarrassing...

Anyway, the good news with all of this, in addition to some nice mellow time with her majesty, is that I actually have some time in the evening to do what I want to do. With my son he goes to bed sometimes at 9:30 and after the struggle with the bath and then pajamas and then a snack and then teeth-brushing and then stories and then lullabies and then he needs his water bottle and he forgot to go pee pee and I literally just want to put a pen in my eye from the whole production. So by 9:30 I'm knackered. Just throw me in the hamper.

But not today. 7:45 and baby was out. That wasn't the case though a few nights ago. I just couldn't get the baby to bed. And my son wasn't helping the situation. So I just threw up my hands and said who gives a rat's ass anyway besides Julio. And instead of fighting and dragging on the struggle, we just all went into the living room and watched Olympic platform diving. They loved it. The baby clapped her head off every time a diver hit the water. My son was mesmerized by all the acrobatics. And then at 10pm when my husband came home (he had to work late, which is quite rare thankfully) he put the baby down and I shuttled my son off to bed without incident.

And I gave myself a little pat on the back for going with the flow which, often times, is not in my nature. But baby and I are going with the flow this weekend. I'll let you know where we end up.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Birthday

My brother called me today at work and completely caught me off guard. Do you remember Dad's drink? he asked. I hadn't thought about my dad's drink in years. Stoli Gibson straight up, not to dry, with a twist. It rolled off the tongue. What a random question for a random Thursday in August. But then I checked the date. It was (is) his birthday. My brother was in DC for a short business trip and out to dinner with a friend. So he ordered my dad's drink, said a l'chaim and swigged it. He would have been 69 today. But he died when he was 52. And I was 18. And I was thinking about college, not preschool.

I was startled when my brother called because I actually hadn't thought about my dad all day, which is weird because I usually think about him a few times a day. My son looks just like him. Unfortunately I mostly think about everything he's missed and how he would have enjoyed being a grandpa. I'm not sure how much he enjoyed being a father though I have no way of really knowing. I tell myself it was a different time. Fathers were less involved. Less engaged. He provided for his family. But he spent his free time playing golf. At least that's how I remember it. My husband spends his "free time" at the park.

But I think he would have really loved being a grandfather. That would have felt just right for him. He would have been silly and made up words and sang songs. He loved show tunes. And sometimes I can just picture him doing a puzzle with my son or reading a story to my baby girl. Or I'll see her toddling through the park with her crazy brown curls bouncing and I'll think he would have really loved this crazy girl. Thankfully they don't feel the loss. Just me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Perpendiculous

I'm not a cosleeper. I have nothing against co-sleeping except that I think it prevents all parties from actually getting rest. I certainly like the idea of parents being close to their babies and snuggling into sleep together and spooning all night in a giant heap of bonded human flesh and pajamas. It just doesn't work for me. Because my kids sleep perpendicular. It doesn't matter how many times I line them up or tell them to sleep straight or rearrange them in their sleep, they always end up with either their feet or their heads in my back.

I don't get it. My son is actually getting better at staying parallel but my daughter is in some kind of relentless pursuit of right angles. She just can't line up. The very instant I put her in the bed and lay down next to her she does a half roll with a twist and ends up with her spongy butt on my head. And since it usually happens in the wee hours of the morning because she's started shrieking at 5am and I don't want her to wake up her brother, she generally has seven liters of urine in her diaper and the stench that goes with it.

Last night was particularly bad. She woke up at 3:30 am and since she just had her 18 month shots I didn't want to let her cry. So I picked her up and as we were walking toward my room she pointed toward the kitchen and raised her eyebrows. So I made her a bottle. What a sucker I am. Then we went back to "sleep". After half an hour of her wiggling around with her feet on my neck I'd had enough and put her in her crib. She immediately woke up and started screaming again. A minute later my son starts crying for me to take the baby away. What could I do? I went in to get her and told him to go back to sleep. I then put her on the floor next to me in my room on the quilt where my son sometimes sleeps if he has a nightmare. She's happy again. Five minutes later he comes in and wants to sleep with me too so he lays down on the other side. Now I'm sandwiched. Eventually they both fall asleep and I sneak into my bed. Half an hour later my son wants to still sleep with me so he climbs into bed and at this point I can't even form words I'm so exhausted so I just pull the covers over my head and try to find my happy place which is a king size bed in a locked room in a luxury hotel on a deserted island.

Tonight my husband is at a concert with friends and I had big plans to get everyone in their own beds and asleep by 8:00 pm. Foiled again. My son's in our bed, my daughter's in his bed (perpendicular to the wall of course). I guess that leaves the crib for me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Big undies

A few months ago I noticed my son's underwear was starting to get a little snug and dilapidated. I end up having to rip out the tags because they bug him and then the elastic starts to come out and after a number of washes (and believe me these things get washed a lot. If I had a nickel for every time I heard mommy, I made a tiny bit of pee pee in my undies...) they start to fall apart. Anyway, I found some at Carters that were tagless so I bought the 4T-5T with dinosaurs and presented them to my son. He took one look and burst into tears.

Him: These are for Aba!
Me: No sweety pie, these are for you. You're getting bigger so I bought you bigger undies.
Him: I'm just a little boy and these are too big for me. Aba can wear them.
Me: But if you're going into preK honey then you're big enough to wear bigger undies.
Him: But I'm not in preK yet. I'm just a little boy.

I've used the preK card a few times with surprising success. He's very excited about being in preK so sometimes I can say, if you continue to behave like that, Miss Rhonda won't let you into preK. No dice on this occasion. Apparently he doesn't want to wear anything that might suggest he's older than he is and underwear is no exception. I guess. This is all conjecture. I have no idea what the hell he's thinking. But to his credit, it will be a cold day in hell before I start wearing those giant granny panties so maybe he has a point...

Then yesterday he was getting ready for bed and wearing his too tighty whities when he started scratching at his back and complaining that he was getting a rash. So I told him that his underwear is too small and giving him a rash and that he's probably ready to wear his bigger ones.

Him: You mean Aba's with the dinosaurs?
Me: Yes. We could try them?

He relented and agreed to put them on. I sent him to the mirror to look and he was DELIGHTED.

Then tonight we put the baby to bed and the three of us were eating melon for desert. My husband and son had two little bowls and I was lazy and just eating from the big bowl in the middle. And then my husband started to eat from the big bowl too.

Him: Can I eat out of the big bowl too when I finish with my little bowl of melon?
Me: Sure honey
Him: Because I wear big underwear like you and Aba so I can eat out of the big bowl.

Pretty solid argument. Who knew underwear could be so empowering. Wait, duh. Of course I knew that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sitter situation

Here's the deal. I had bronchitis and then we went to New York for a week for my cousin's wedding and to visit my in-laws who flew in from Israel for my husband's grandmother's ninety-fifth birthday. So that's why I've been MIA. And now I have all kinds of stories stored up in my head. Where to begin...

Let's go back a few weeks to July 26th when I meant to write about going to see the John Mayer concert with my husband and brother and sister-in-law. Great show. We don't often go out because getting a babysitter is such an ordeal. The last time we got one the babysitter called from her train in San Francisco because there was a fatality somewhere on the southbound line and she was stuck so we had thirty minutes to find a back-up before we needed to leave for our friends' wedding in a town an hour away. I scrambled and managed to find the friend of our old babysitter. When we left my son he was basically having a seizure, beside himself with grief that we were leaving him with a perfect stranger. I can hardly blame him. But still, did he have to be so dramatic?

Where was I? Yes, John Mayer. He is a tasty little morsel I must say. So we told my brother to get us tickets and I set up our usual babysitter who is lovely and sweet, but not the sharpest cheddar in the refrigerated section, if you know what I mean. And even though she's babysat for us at least a half dozen times, my son had a major come-apart because of the last ordeal and shrieked for twenty minutes until we finally left.

Anyway the concert was great and when we got home our babysitter said all was fine. But all was not fine. I mean no one was bleeding and she'd even cleaned up the hosue which was nice. But when I went in to check on my daughter she was sleeping in her crib wearing only her diaper lying on a sheet drenched with some kind of liquid. Then I saw her bottle in there with her. What in the hell?

I took her out and put her on my son's bed (he was sleeping in our room) and changed her sheet. The mystery liquid was milk. I got her into pajamas and realizing she hadn't had any milk since it was all in her crib, I made her a new bottle which she drank and went back to sleep. When I opened the bottle I came to understand that the babysitter had not put the valve in correctly so when my daughter tried to drink her milk it basically spilled all over her. I can only imagine the crying that that caused. What an idiot! Granted, this bottle is not the most sensical design but it's not quantum physics. It's just regular physics! I mean my son could have figured this one out. Shit, my DAUGHTER could have figured it out. Uch.

And it's not just this babysitter. The one before, the friend of the old babysitter, seemed like a competent 19-year-old. But when I went in to get my daughter the following morning she was drenched in her own pee. Why, you ask? Because the babysitter had put the diaper on backwards so all the absorbent part was on her tushy. I don't even know how she managed to get it on that way. It would have required her to put the sticky tape part on around her back. Huh?

I feel like if you can't make a bottle or change a diaper you shouldn't be offering your services as a babysitter. Maybe I'm too nonchalant in my hiring. I just take recommendations from friends and then hope for the best. It really shouldn't be this difficult. I can't decide what's worse, sleeping hungry and naked in milk or sleeping with a full belly in your own pee. Or some new babysitter whose shortcomings are undisclosed. I'm throwing my hands up.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Post-reunion ruminations

This week I flew down to LA sort of on a whim (if planning this two weeks in advance counts as a whim) to attend the 20th reunion of my last year as a camper at the summer camp where I spent seven years of my childhood and then three years as a counselor in my working, late teenage life. My one friend that I'm still in touch with (who I went to college with incidentally) convinced me to go and I have to say that I'm so glad I did. It was fabulous. I hadn't seen most of these people since I was 14 and as they started to show up (we were one of the firsts there so we could walk around and look at the camp before dinner) we'd have a brief moment of panic (who the hell is that!?) but then we were transformed into teenagers and we'd run and jump on each other in a spastic bear hug frenzy. And thankfully name tags were soon passed around. I get annoyed when no one remembers me because I remember everyone - name tags eliminated this problem.

So we talked all night and sang our old stupid songs. Everyone was doing well. Advancing in their careers, making babies etc. This camp is a really special place and I remember that as a kid, at the end of the session (which was nearly four weeks), I'd go home and just be totally withdrawn for days, sometimes weeks after. Not really sure what to do with myself. There was no email so I couldn't really be in touch with my friends. No one had cell phones and calling LA from Orange County was long distance....It was a terrible loneliness. We all felt it. We totally lived for camp. And even though my parents would come up for visitor's day and have lunch and sing some songs, they couldn't really GET what I'd been through.

So when I flew home at the crack of dawn on Wednesday morning I figured I was just exhausted from staying up late chatting with my friend and then catching a 5:15 am shuttle to LAX. I had a headache all day and I was crabby. But then I slept 8 hours and was still grouchy. And it finally occurred to me that I was campsick - that same feeling I'd had so many times as a kid leaving camp. And no one in my current life understands either. My husband never went to camp - not like this one anyway. I took him up there a few years ago for a shabbat dinner so he could experience all of the singing and chaos. He loved it. But it didn't give him the depth of experience that spending ten summers of your life does.

At least now I don't have to rely on letter-writing to stay in touch. Enter...FACEBOOK! Suddenly everyone and their dog is coming out of the woodwork and I am now connected to half the mid-thirties Jewish population of the Greater Los Angeles area. and we're all looking forward to our 30th reunion when our kids are at camp together singing their own songs.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vantage advantage

The other day I was trying to take a picture with my phone, in fact it was the first time I’ve ever tried to take a picture with my phone, and a message popped up on the screen that the memory was full. Huh? Upon further investigation I found that there were already dozens of pictures in the phone. I scrolled through and saw pictures of my three-year-old’s feet dangling from his car seat, and the back of the passenger side head rest and a blurry one of me checking my email at home, and one of his kitty. I realized that he had covertly taken them all—including a self-portrait shot from his outstretched arm.

I had to laugh. It was like watching a slideshow of his world. We’ve been letting him use our digital camera (I know, you'd think we'd learn our lesson with the cell phone) which gives him unending pleasure. And the results have been surprisingly artistic. A lot of interesting angles and shots of loved ones from the waist down. A lot of shots of the sky, close-ups of the ground, his sister, his prized possessions, his own feet, the back of my head while I drive the car. You get the idea.

I made a little book of these pictures. For your perusal:

Click here to view this photo book.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bargain

I'm on edge because of this bargaining exercise that went down in Israel and Lebanon today. I was listening to NPR on the way to work as the deal was happening - the remains of two Israeli reservists, kidnapped by Hezbollah in 2006 which started the month long war in Lebanon, in exchange for the remains of 197 Lebanese killed on Israeli soil in botched attacks over the years (it's actually still a little unclear who these men were), plus five Lebanese terrorists including Sami Kuntar who in 1979, when he was 16 years old, killed four Israelis including a father and his four year old daughter who he smashed to death with a rifle butt to the skull. Incidentally the daughter's two year old sister was also killed, though unintentionally, by her mother as she tried to muffle the toddler's cries while they were hiding in a crawl space in their home. The woman smothered her own baby out of fear.

And as I'm hearing all of this I can't figure out who I ache for most. Ehud Goldwasser's parents? His wife? He was 31 years old on reserve duty. He'd been married for six months. Or Eldad Regev's family? He was 27 years old. Also a reservist. All I can say is thank god his mom died eight years before he was kidnapped. Should I be happy now that their remains are back in Israel? Honestly? I'm more concerned at this point that there's no reason to keep future kidnapped soldiers alive since we'll obviously hand over anyone you want just for the remains. What about the 197 Lebanese who were killed fighting Israel. I'll be honest I don't really ache for them too much though I get that they all likely have parents, wives, kids too. Which brings me to Sami Kuntar. What about the mother of those two girls who lost her whole family. The perpetrator is now free. In exchange for two corpses. Is it worth it?

Ask the Lebanese, they'll tell you it's worth it. They're celebrating today. Collectively anyway. Not the case in Jerusalem. So what's next? Do we just move along and wait for the next soldier to be nicked and see who else the Lebanese want in exchange for the remains? Maybe they want Bibi Netanyahu. They can have him. I can't stand that guy. Olmert's not much better.

Here's what I recommend, for anyone who's interested. Just go do what the Israelis have been doing for the last 100+ years and build your own god damned country. Yes, that doesn't play out as nicely for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza because of Israeli border control and the like. Agreed. More stuff there to be resolved. But in terms of the Lebanese, including the Palestinians who were displaced in 1948 and ended up in Lebanon. IT IS TIME TO BUILD YOUR FUCKING COUNTRY. Two generations have passed, three if you're Arab, that you've been whining about being refugees. We know about being refugees. Figure it out! Work collectively. Build schools and hospitals and educate your kids and be a kickass country with a rich culture. And tell Syria to fuck off. And then maybe Syria can concentrate on being the best country they can be and elevating their citizens. And then you won't care about the Israelis except for how to fit all of us in your hotels because we'll be flocking over the borders to tour your beautiful countries paying top shekel for copious amounts of hummus.

I really have no business blogging on this topic. And I'll be the first to admit I likely have the facts wrong. But you can get "facts" on a news channel. Anyway, I'll leave it for Tom Friedman to express my thoughts more concisely and eloquently when he likely broaches the subject in a future op-ed. And tomorrow I'll be back to what I know best - pee pee and poo poo chatter.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Schoolkeeper

After I picked up my son today from preschool we were pulling out of the parking lot and my he noticed the woman who cleans the school entering the building.

Him: Hey mommy, there's our Maria for the school.
Me: Oh, you mean, she's the housekeeper?
Him: No mommy, she's the schoolkeeper.

I stand corrected. I then had to explain that not all people who clean buildings are named Maria. I don't think he got it. But tomorrow he's planning to ask Miss Courtney what the school Maria's name is so we can clear up the confusion.

Today he also told me that he has to wear his feety pajamas to sleep because otherwise he will get goose bumps and turn into a duck.

How can I argue with that kind of brilliant logic?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hygienic Polemic

My son says the same thing every time he goes pee and he'll continue to say it until he gets acknowledgment from me. And I hesitate to even bring it up for fear of judgement but I figure a). many of you have already read about how I dragged him by the armpit through JFK airport after he refused to go to the bathroom before our flight and then peed in his pants in the middle of the terminal and b). this little yarn pales in comparison to that one and c). this one really isn't my fault. I'm pretty sure it's my brother's fault. Where is she going with this...?

Every time (and I mean every single time without fail) my son pees in the toilet (which is like 92% of the time) he slaps his tushy to get the last drop out, he pulls his undies and pants up, and he carefully lowers the toilet seat. What a great kid! Doesn't leave the seat up like most men I know. Then he he leaves the bathroom and finds me to relay this sentence:

"Mommy, I don't have to wash my hands because I only touched the top (of the toilet)."

Now, I could have nipped this behavior in the bud when it first started a few months ago. He always washes after a poop (and I'm the one who wipes him) and he's not averse to hand-washing as he performs it many times a day just to be able to use the soap pump. And I still make him wash his hands in public restrooms. But I just never enforced the policy at home because I can't be bothered. And anyway I don't take responsibility since I'm pretty sure he picked this one up from his cousin who's 14 months older who naturally learned it from his father, my very own brother, who's been peeing standing up for upwards of 36 years so maybe he knows better than I. Or maybe boys can't help being gross. That is just who they are.

So my question goes out to the men who read this blog: a). are there any men who read my blog and b). is this normal? Do men wash after they pee? Seems like you could make the argument that it's not necessary. Although hand-washing several times a day does promote good general health. I'm not sure I can call this one by myself. I'm throwing it out to my extensive fan base though I reserve the right to delete any comments that put into question my parenting skills.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Green shorts be damned

My son is now sleeping in his underwear on a regular basis. So I'm considering that a win. He no longer insists on wearing a long sleeve shirt over his short sleeve shirt when he goes to pre-school in the morning. Another win. He's stop wearing socks with his sandals. Score. Now the only remaining vestige of operation modesty is his choice of bottoms. He still would rather wear pants to school everyday. One day he randomly agreed to wear his green shorts to school and when we arrived, all of the teachers cheered. I'm not joking. So the next day I took out the maroon shorts that are exactly like the green ones. He wouldn't wear them.

Him: I want green shorts.
Me: The green shorts are dirty honey.
Him: I only wear green shorts.
Me: But you peed on them yesterday so you can't wear them.
Him: ONLY GREEN!
Me: What's wrong with these? They're exactly the same except the color.
Him: I don't like them!
Me: Why not?
Him: I don't know.

You can see how I'm getting nowhere with this argument. So I bought him another pair of green shorts, same shade - apple. And I bought a pair of gray ones too which he refused to wear.

Me: But they're like your gray pants!
Him: No they're not. They're shorts. I only wear green shorts.

Where does he get this stuff? The other day he told me he was willing to wear black shorts too.
I'll just be happy he's not sleeping in fleece.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Viva el Julio

Today my husband announced to me that he doesn't think our daughter should have a rat as a favorite stuffed animal anymore. Huh? Really? It was just today at Trader Joe's that the woman behind me in line commented on my lovely daughter and her lovely rat friend. What does my husband have against rats? Not feminine enough for his baby girl? Not hygienic enough? I asked him all of these things and he couldn't really pinpoint it, just that he didn't think it was appropriate for her to love a rat and that he was going to start introducing other animals at which point I said, are you kidding me? This girl has had Julio with her day and night since she was five months old. Good luck introducing little teddy or bunny or whatever. The girl loves her rat. You are insane.

And as I am telling him all of this I hear my son say, "Aba - can I have some more cucumbers?" to which my husband replies, "when you finish your mac and cheese."

And when I heard that I decided that all previous arguments were null and void because it was pretty clear that an alien had taken up residence in my husband's body. No son, you can't have your chicken until you eat all of your candy. Hello? This explains his sudden and irrational disdain for Julio the rat. In fact, he's lost his mind. Long live Julio.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Asleep at the meal

You've waited several weeks for another post and my apologies to those of you who have checked in day after day, hour after hour, hoping to see an entry (hi mom). Well this will not disappoint. Because today will be a first. Today is a day of many firsts. Today my son got his hair cut and did not cry. Miraculous, I know. Today both of my kids slept until 7:30 am. Pinch me, right? And today, for reasons unknown, my son fell asleep naked at the dinner table eating his quesodilla at 7:00 pm. That sentence alone is bursting with impossibility. First, my son never sleeps naked. I'm not even really sure why he was eating dinner naked. Not only does he not sleep naked, he insists on sleeping with full fleece pajamas (see previous post). Second, he has never fallen asleep at the dinner table. Once he fell asleep in a shopping cart at Costco when he was about two and had a fever, but that's it. Third, he hasn't fallen asleep before 9:00 pm in about a year and a half. These days it's closer to 9:30.

I know what you're thinking. She's lying. How can it be? She's writing fiction. I assure you, it is all true. You can't make this crap up. It's too ridiculous. And in honor of so many firsts, here's another first. A corresponding photo for all to marvel.

And what's even more fantastical, I was able to scoop him up and bring him to his room, put on his underwear and tuck him in without so much as a peep. I'm curious to know what in the world made him so tired. Today we rode our bikes around town but he wasn't even pedaling. He was just sitting on Aba's bike. Then we saw friends and he played with a toy phone the whole time talking to his imaginary friends Vini and Bahn Jahn. We rode home, then walked to a store near by, walked to Starbucks for a little beverage, walked to get his hair cut and then walked home.

But I guess it was enough to wipe him out. He looks so sweet here. Hard to believe this is the kid who inspires so many stories.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pajama game

I just spent the last two hours dealing with unparalleled irrationality. I had the audacity to suggest to my son that he might wear short pajamas tonight instead of his usual fleece feety pajamas or his long sleeve/long pants combo with socks (never without socks). It is 85 degrees outside tonight. The sun has been down for two hours and the heat is still radiating. It is freaking hot by all accounts so why, in the name of GEORGE JESUS, does my son insist on wearing FLEECE PAJAMAS. I don't get it. It makes no sense. Most of what he does makes no sense but I have come to deal with most of it because most of his nonsense will not cause heat stroke. But when I go in there at night and he's literally roasting in his own sweat, I have to wonder if it's healthy to indulge this, yet another, completely irrational behavior.

So I put my foot down. I said, you want to wear longs, you have to put them on yourself. If you want to wear shorts, I'll put them on right now. So for the next hour he just cried and cried. I finally couldn't take it anymore so I went in there and slapped my fist down on the floor next to his head to scare him and growled, "you will wear these shorts!" Then I sat on him and put those red shorts on while he screamed and kicked. I turned off the light, closed the door and walked away. He continued to shriek.

Five minutes later he walks out wearing his long sleeve shirt tucked into his long pants. He actually did it himself. Then, through his snuffly tears, he asked me to sing him his songs for bedtime. So we went to my bed and we talked about what all had went down and I explained that I just want him to be cool at night. And I apologized for yelling at him. Then I sang him his song and after he said, "Mommy, I think I just want to sleep in my underwear on the bottom." Like it was his idea. Then five minutes later while I'm tucking him in, he says, "Mommy, I think I don't want to wear my shirt. I just want to sleep in my underwear."

WHY DOES HE HAVE TO FIGHT IT!?!? Please tell me there is some evolutionary benefit to him for going through this process. Because I'll tell you straight up I see no benefit for me. In fact, I see major detriment. It's a nightmare to deal with this stuff. And we do it EVERY NIGHT. Every single night there is some kind of mental breakdown over pajamas, or socks, or stories, or teeth or songs. I mean he is lying next to me with sweat pouring down his head and he's telling me he wants to wear his long pajamas. WHY? I don't get it. I guess it's not for me to get. Just for me to navigate. We'll see where we end up tomorrow. Who am I kidding? The minute I fall asleep tonight, he'll be in my room sobbing to have his fleece pajamas back on. And the space heater.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Second shift

As I was driving home from work today I was hatching a plan for the afternoon's activities. It's always around 4:00 as I'm getting in my car to pick up my kids that I start to assess the second shift. Is there food in the house? Is it hot out? Should we go to the park before we eat? Should we go to the park after we eat? Should we even bother with park? What about the blow up pool? Should I invite friends over? Should THEY bring dinner? Should I invite friends over to bring dinner and watch my kids while I go to the movies...?

I knew that today would be at least an order of magnitude less chaotic because Maria came this morning and cleaned the house. I just find it to be next to impossible to cook anything when the kitchen is a pit of disaster. So I called my friend and she met us at home with her son. And it was hot today so I decided to move forward with the blow-up pool idea. Dinner was still a question mark but I figured I'd wing something.

It's so hard to balance though because my kids have to eat something right when they get home. They're starving and unless I've prepared meals for the whole week ahead of time, it's likely they'll have to wait. Which is only my own fault so I give them snacks. But if they eat too many snacks then they don't eat dinner. Genius, I know. It only took me like two years to figure that one out with my son.

Meanwhile, back at the pool, the kids are stripped naked, the pool is five inches deep and I am loving it because they're happy and I have time to think about my next move. Then suddenly, without notice, all three kids abort the pool idea and come trampling in the house dripping wet including the baby who's carrying with her three liters of pool water in her swim diaper. So we switch gears. I hustle everyone outside again and bring out the blueberries. Then my kids sit on the porch naked for the next half hour eating blueberries. Meanwhile I've thrown chicken in the over, steamed some broccoli, and brought out the finger paints for the next round of inspired activities.

So we move on to sidewalk painting, also known as"paint your baby sister." And the chicken is still cooking so I break out the cherries and baby girl is now covered in green paint and red cherry dribble, just as happy as she can be, until finally some food is ready so we pile into the house and the kids eat dinner in their underwear.

And I am so tickled to see sun kissed kids eating broccoli in their underwear that I don't even mind the exhaustion. You wouldn't think it would be so hard to orchestrate just a regular drama-free afternoon. But it is. So when it works out, you somehow feel lifted. I mean, at this moment I can think of nothing better than my two babies sitting naked together on the porch eating blueberries. Except that my husband will be managing the second shift tomorrow.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Once

When I was 22 I traveled in Chile for 5 months. I actually lived with a family for part of that time and every day at 4:00 pm we'd have once, as in Spanish for eleven. Except that eleven was actually at 4:00 and that was the time of day when we'd have mashed avocado on bread and coffee. It was awesome. I looked forward to it everyday. Then when I lived in Israel I discovered aruchat arba, which means 4:00 meal. The Israelis are obviously way more literal than the Chileans. I guess it's "tea time" elsewhere in the world. Where is she going with this? My point is that it appears everywhere in the world people need to drink some caffeinated beverage mid-afternoon because they are running on fumes and still have an evening of wrestling kids and making dinner and going to the park and brushing teeth and fighting over bedtime to look forward to. And so, like many parents before me, I am drinking my second cup right now, looking forward to the managed chaos that awaits.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dramedy of Errors

Last weekend during our camping trip to Point Reyes, friends of ours met us for a day hike near Tomales Bay. We hike with them a lot and their daughter is a week older than our son. The marriage has already been arranged and we have plenty of naked bathtub photos for the slide show during the reception.

It was nearing lunch time and we had decided on a one mile hike which would land us at the beach for a picnic. One mile is perfect for my son. At around two miles he starts to whine that,"this is too long for me..."

We start walking and about ten minutes into our journey, which I believe to be about the half way point, my son bends over to look at a giant caterpillar that is crossing the path. And as he's squatting there admiring the caterpillar, he suddenly looks up and says, "mommy, I'm making pee pee." But instead of jumping up to pull his pants down, I notice the now darkened spot on his jeans near his crotch slowly moving down his leg as he unloads a half gallon of urine all the while looking right at me.

Are you kidding me?
Him: I need to change my pants.
Me: I don't have any other pants with me.
Him: I want to go back to the car and change!
Me: We're already half way to the picnic. I don't want to walk all the way back to the car.

At this point he's starting to cry and I have to make a decision. Do we go back and essentially double our trip which will likely end in a tantrum? Or do I make him hike the next 15+ minutes in his wet pants which will likely turn into a tantrum? My friend offered her daughter's spare pants but my son would have nothing of that. He wanted his own clothes. And honestly, I usually have spares for him because even though he's been potty trained for a year, he still has accidents. But wouldn't you know the one friggin day I leave his spares in the car. And with a new crop of poison oak up to his head, there's no way he's hiking naked.

I decide we're moving forward. At first I try to keep my cool and convince him to wear his friend's pants. They were just a brown pair of pants from Target. He may actually have the same pair of pants. But he refused. And then sat down in the dirt sobbing. So I say I'm leaving and he can walk with Aba. More sobbing. I tell him I don't want to walk with him if he's sobbing. More sobbing. Finally after about twenty minutes of snotty heaving sobbing he finally stops crying. And then we're back to whining. Meanwhile, I'm thinking where the hell is this place? I thought you said a mile!?!?

I come to find out that midway through the journey our friend has taken a different path, a longer path, about two miles longer, to a different beach. So now I am SEETHING. Had I known this I would have made a different decision back when we were only ten minutes from the car. Now we were forty minutes from the car and presumably 15 minutes from the beach. I am almost about to burst into tears myself because now the poor kid probably has a rash between his legs, he's totally humiliated, he's exhausted from all the sobbing, I'm exhausted from hearing the sobbing, I hate our friends (friend, it was really the husband who made the covert trail redirect), I hate my husband for letting all of this happen, I hate myself for forgetting the spares and I hate that the return trip is uphill.

My son is now whimpering that it's too far for him. So I tell him that when we get to the beach he can take off his clothes and they'll get dry in the sun. And as we're walking I'm saying, don't worry honey, we're almost there. You're a really good hiker. You're doing a great job. Over and over, until I realize that I'm actually talking to myself. We're almost there. You can do this. You're a good hiker...
And when we do finally ch the beach, my son takes off his clothes as does his buddy and he is transformed back into a playful, cooperative, potty-trained three year old. After a few hours of relaxing we walked down the beach a short ways and took the original trail back which was, indeed, only one mile. And with pants and tears dried, it was an easy, drama-free trip back to the car.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Benefits Handbook

He was starting to show signs of growing out of his little obsessive world. He even declared to me last weekend that he no longer loved cell phones. He only cared about purses. Not cell phones or wallets any more. I considered this progress. But then, on Thursday, my son found the benefits handbook for my new job and this has become his latest fixation.

Now, to his credit, this is no ordinary handbok. In fact I took a job at Shutterfly and will be starting next Monday. So the benefits handbook is actually an 8x8 inch hardbound trademark photobook. Just looking at it makes me giddy. It's a lovely melon color with a hard bound laminate cover. Delicious. And inside are all kinds of charts and tables highlighting my medical and dental benefits for the foreseeable future. Did I mention the hardcover binding?

So he loves this book. Ever since I told him that I'm starting a new job he has been very anxious to come with me and help me with my new job. Apparently he and I are the only ones that work there. And now this book is somehow tied into his little fantasy where he and I spend every waking hour together, at home, at work, in the bathroom, everywhere.

On Friday I was making dinner and the house was oddly quiet. The baby was with me in the kitchen while I was cooking, rummaging around for scraps but my son was AWOL. I found him alone in his room "reading" my benefits book.

Look mommy, it makes a noise when I open it. And then it says where we work together. And I do this one and you do this page. And these are all of our benefits story. The end.

I thought his fascination with the ear thermometer was weird. This one really takes the cake. Maybe it's a transitional object to help ease him through my transition. Or maybe, like me, he is just completely enamored by the binding.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Au contraire au pair

I was standing in line at Starbucks today and there was a beautiful young woman behind me pushing a stroller in which sat the chunkiest, poutiest, blue-eyed baby. So, trying to be friendly, I asked, "how old is your baby?" In fact it wasn't her baby, she explained in her Scandinavian lilt. She was the au pair.

Now what woman in her right mind is going to hire a beautiful Scandinavian woman to live in her house, WITH HER HUSBAND, and watch after her baby?

Wait, maybe I'm being to quick to judge. It wouldn't be the first time. Let me reassess the situation for a second. I've just had a baby so I look four months pregnant, even though I'm not pregnant at all. I have milk stains on every blouse I own. My hair is falling out. I have post-partum acne. And my spouse is seriously sex-deprived. I know. I'll hire a beautiful woman with a sexy accent and a washboard stomach who wears those low-rise jeans that on normal women create that oddly popular "muffin top" effect but on her only provide better viewing of her hip bones and her thong. And she can sleep down the hall.

Nope. I just can't spin it. Bad choice any way you look at it. Bad bad choice.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Miss Communication

We went camping over the holiday weekend to Olema Ranch up in Point Reyes National Seashore. Usually we're too disorganized to reserve a spot six months in advance which is the earliest you can ever reserve and the only time anything's available six months from then. Especially for a three-day weekend. But friends of ours did the reserving and then asked us to join, then canceled when their baby girl came six weeks early.

It took us a good six hours to pack up the car and leave the house, at the tail end of which I looked at my husband and we just giggled. I mean, is it really worth it? Is camping with babies that much fun? I mean, not really. By the time we get everything in the car for the 48+ hours we'll be gone, we may as well go to Mexico for a week and stay in a resort. It's just so much stuff. And diapers. And toys. And enough Elmo underwear for three months. And a ton of food. And a hundred sleeping bags, two tents, two chairs, a stove, a folding table, 46 stuff sacks, and a flash light. It's dizzying.

But we do it because in the end it is enjoyable and the kids love it and it's fun for us to watch them roll around in dirt and not care. My daughter started walking on this trip which was an extra treat. But by walking I mean five consecutive steps - we still have to schlep her around in the backpack to cover any ground. Which we did, on Sunday.

Friends met us in Point Reyes Station which is about the coolest little town I've ever had coffee in. From there we drove to the trail head. The hike itself is fodder for another post. We ended up on a quiet beach in Tomales Bay and had a picnic. My son and his pal took off their pants (he had peed in his and she just wanted to be naked) and ran around and we ate and relaxed and fed the baby who continues to astound even the casual observer with her special aptitude for inhaling food.

We were getting ready to leave and the baby was holding two cheese sticks in her hand and whining. My husband said, "let's just put her in the pack and get going. She'll settle down." So we put her in the pack. She starts crying and waving the cheese sticks with greater gusto. "Maybe she wants an animal cracker." I give her an animal cracker. She throws it at me. Now she's hysterical and throws one of the cheese sticks at my head and gives me the hairy eyeball. It dawns on me that she might actually want the cheese stick. So I take off the wrapper and she gobbles the whole thing and smiles and sucks her thumb.

My husband and I were laughing so hard. She must think we are a pair of idiots. I mean she could not have been clearer in her communication. Here is a replay from her perspective.

Her: Can you open these cheese sticks?
Dad: She's tired.
Her: No, aba, I want the cheese. That's why I'm waving them at you. I can't open them.
Dad: I'll just put her in the backpack and she'll stop whining.
Her: Sure. AFTER you open my cheese stick pops. What is wrong with you?
Me: Maybe she wants an animal cracker.
Her: What in god's name would make you think that me waving my cheese sticks around means I want a friggin' animal cracker? Do you see the cheese sticks? Do you see me waving the cheese sticks? I'm pretty sure you see me throwing a cheese stick at your head ma! What is wrong with you people?!
Me: What is your deal freaky?!
Her: My deal? Maybe you should take a class in non-verbal communication and then it might occur to you that I WANT THIS CHEESE STICK AND IF I HAVE TO EAT THROUGH THE PLASTIC TO GET IT, I WILL!

Poor thing. Half the time I'm just projecting onto her what I want. Like a nap. And an animal cracker. But she clearly has a mind of her own.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My pee pee is big

It started about three months ago. While I was trying o sing him to sleep my son would get up and look kind of panicked and pace on the bed and clutch his crotch and grunt. And I'd be thinking, for the love of crispies, just settle down Rover and let me sing you to sleep.  I would ask him what's wrong and he would just whine, I don't know! This went on for several days until finally he cried out, Mommy my pee pee is big!

I had a peek and indeed it was bigger than usual. In fact it was erect. So I told him to kneel down and wiggle his butt in the air. I don't know. It was the only thing that came to me. Like child's pose but with a little wiggle. Then I told him to go pee. That helped. 

Several months before then I remembered that when I would wake him up at around midnight to zombie-walk over to the toilet and pee (so he wouldn't pee in his bed) he would have an erection. The first time I didn't notice and he peed straight ahead and hit the toilet seat cover and it splattered everywhere. When it happened the next time I was prepared and pointed it down toward the bowl. It used to totally freak him out. I can see why. I mean, suddenly a part of you grows twice it's normal size? I mean what if your left arm was suddenly down to your ankle? That would for sure be super freaky (it's my blog, I can split infinitives). 

I mentioned it to my husband and he was like, yah, that happens. I'm trying to be as nonchalant about it with my son so he doesn't get some weird hang up about his penis. I think it's working. Tonight he just stood up and unzipped his pajamas and said, my pee pee is getting big again. I better look at it. Yup, it's big. Then  he got into child's pose and did the wiggle. Worked like a charm.

This is apparently all very normal according to the world wide web. I googled "toddler erection" and a wealth of information emerged. If anyone would have told me five years ago that I'd be googling "toddler erection" I'd have scoffed. Anyway, for those of you who are googling "toddler erection" and seeing this post, your kid is normal. Go back to checking your email.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Woofing and Hoofing

Is it weird that the only word my 15 month old daughter says consistently is woof-woof? She was born the ear of the Dog... You hear about these kids who don't talk until they're like three and then one day they come out with, "mom, can you please pass me the ketchup." Right? But I don't know. I feel like she can't hear and that's messing up her speech. I mean she claps when we sing and she turns around maybe 70% of the time when we call her name. Although I usually call her name in such a high pitch (where does that come from? I'm so not a high pitch kind of mom) that she's probably just responding to the ringing. Along with the rest of the dogs in the neighborhood. Woof-woof.

Come to think of it, she's still on all fours. Maybe she really IS a dog. I mean she likes to be "walked" (read: hold onto to Aba's hands and walk around the house) and she's even started bending her knees a little. But come on Frankenstein, pick up the pace, eh? Although if she did walk she'd be just about the shortest bipedal on the planet, bless her heart.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Leggo my Ego

My husband's auditing a course at the university where I work so he asked me to pop over to the book store and buy his course reader since I get a piddly staff discount. SO I went downstairs to where all of the course books are and I asked the guy at the counter to help me find this reader. And he said, "oh are you the instructor?"

Huh?

And then it occurred to me that he thought I couldn't possibly be young enough to take the class. That's a fair assessment I guess. I'm mature enough to know that I don't look 22 anymore. And then I remembered that this was a graduate level course. What? I don't look 26? 30? I mean I could be getting my PhD in the Biomechanics of Hearing, you pinhead! Don't put your shit on me you misguided punk!

And that is when I had to turn on my filter and just respond pleasantly, "no, I'm buying this for my boyfriend."

I'm going to assume this flighty young man just thought I looked especially astute such that clearly I was teaching the course. A prodigy, if you will. A 24 year old professor of biomechanics. Yes, exactly.

I left the store, ego and imagination in tact.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Housekeeping

So my husband and I just finished our Tuesday night ritual of cleaning the house in preparation for our housekeeper Maria to come tomorrow and clean the house. And I love my husband for indulging me in this behavior. He thinks its RIDICULOUS but he does it anyway because he loves me and he knows that when Maria tries to put away our stuff we can't find it for a month. Last week she put our son's kitty that he sleeps with somewhere and it took us two days to find it. Put it on the bed Maria! It's a stuffed animal! Belongs on the bed! And if clothes are on the floor she'll just wash them willy nilly. Wool sweaters, linen blouses. Doesn't matter what. So every Tuesday night we put away the once-folded clothes from last week sitting on the futon in the back room that are now rifled through and wrinkled. We put all toys in appropriate bins (yes, I categorize toys. For instance, I have a transportation bin and a "makes noise" bin and if Maria puts a tractor in with musical instruments I sort of need a cleansing breath), we put in a load of laundry, I hang up whatever's on the floor in my room and then the house is ready for Maria to clean it.

But to my credit, and Maria's credit, she really does clean the place. Bathroom, kitchen, floors...and she folds a mountain of laundry. Between my son who likes to try on outfits and my daughter who likes to roll around in dirt, we have an endless mess of laundry. Plus the floors, by the end of the week, have serious "texture". My daughter likes to test gravity with her food. Future physicist.

So we do this every Tuesday. And Wednesday I come home from work to the fresh scent of Method ecofriendly cleaning products invigorated by the shine of our floors and the sparkle of the toilet bowl, ready to take on life's next challenge - like figuring out where Maria hid the kitty this week.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Airport Absurdity

A few weeks ago my husband and I took a short trip to Vancouver because I was attending a conference so we figured we'd maximize on the free hotel room and take a much needed vacation from our darling children. My mom and aunt came to watch the kids for five days while we loafed around one of the coolest cities I've been to in a long while.

But it feels weird to write about sitting in cafes, reading books, walking around, seeing movies, listening to Celtic street music (it was St. Patrick's Day) and generally enjoying each other's company. I mean, what do you care right? Who wants to hear about boring happy times, except our mothers. So I'll spare you.

I will however take a moment to comment on airport security. How is it that nearly seven years have passed since 9/11 and we STILL suck at airport security? It's shocking to me every time. My husband's Israeli and I spent a few years living there myself and I am telling you the Israelis know how to do airport security. And yes, it's a relatively tiny airport with relatively little traffic when compared to SFO or JFK or whatever. And yes, the Israelis use racial and ethnic profiling. Bad Bad Bad. Shame on them. But it is the most secure airport in the world and you can still bring a bottle of water on the plane. And you don't have to take off your jacket, your belt, your shoes, disassemble your stroller, and drink your own expressed breast milk to prove you're not a hijacker. Last time we were there we pushed our double stroller right through a side gate. No need to wake up sleeping babies or rip them from their precious kitties or softies or wubbies to send through an x-ray machine. That's part of why this trip to Canada was so enjoyable. I mean just being in an airport without kids feels completely decadent. Throw in a latte and we're talking near nirvana.

But even without the kids I was still annoyed (which may just mean that I need to practice meditation). Maybe in fact BECAUSE I had less to worry about without babies to shuttle and more time to critique what amounts to, at least in my unimportant opinion, a total security circus.

After we finally got through possibly the slowest line I have ever stood in, my husband and I sat in some chairs on the side to put our clothes back on and just watch the other people file through. I swear I felt like we were on one of the candid camera shows (that are actually filmed in Denmark but then set to music for syndication in the US. Like Menthos commercials). They pulled a guy to the side and told him to take off his belt. Then hold his belt over his head. What? That's when we started to giggle. What was the TSA dude telling this guy?

Sir, could you please remove your belt?
Could you please put your belt over your head?
Can you please remove your shoes?
Can you please put your shoes over your head?
Sir, could you stand on your belt please?
Can you please stand on one foot and hold your left shoe and belt over your head?

I once went through security with my daughter and they actually asked me to take off her little Robeez shoes. Good grief. If they were looking for explosives, they should have checked her diaper.