Thursday, August 27, 2009

Running on Fumes

Today I'm exhausted. Between the sick child (still sick!), drop off for the last day of preschool before the big transition to a new school, having blood and urine drawn so I can get life insurance before I turn 36 in two weeks, filling a landslide of print orders after a seven year famine in August, strolling my daughter to Starbucks only so I could place my order and then realize I had forgotten my wallet because I took it out of my bag to show the Quest Diagnostic dude my ID, rushing out to the frame shop to get frames for the prints I made for my kids' preschool teachers, wrapping presents, going to pick up my kid and realizing my daughter probably has an ear infection, sobbing at school with their teachers because it's the last day even though they still babysit for us but anyway it seemed a little gut-wrenching at the time, speeding over for her appointment, handing the kids off to my husband so I could make 6:30 dinner reservations with my preschool mom buddies and stopping at Starbucks at 10:00 pm to pay off my morning debts, I need a vacation. Thankfully I get one starting Saturday. How did I do all this when I worked full-time?

* bonus picture of kids running

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Popsicles Saved the Day

My daughter is sick. She's had a fever on and off for the last few days and I'm kind of getting tired of it and I KNOW she's getting tired of it. I've been giving her Motrin to bring down the fever which has been working only she HATES this medicine. My son, on the other hand, is volunteering to have a squirt. I'll add this to the list of how very different they are. So the only way I can get her to take the medicine is if I promise her she can have a Popsicle after.

I know, you're thinking three big sticks a day? Just have all her baby teeth removed surgically and be done with it? (remember big sticks? from lunchtime?) But my friend Nathalie turned me onto these Popsicle minis that are not only really little and only about 40 calories each, but they have extra gelatin and maybe a little bit of candle wax to keep them from dripping. It's the perfect summer food. So she takes the medicine and gets a Popsicle. And then we usually give one to boy because now he's really mad that he A). didn't get any medicine and B). wasn't offered a Popsicle.

So the last few days they've had a Popsicle every six hours. So that's a lot of Popsicles. But now she's got the exercise down. She's even dispensing to her dolls.

And we're left with a lot of mini Popsicle sticks and time on our hands so we made puppets. And tonight at dinner my son performed the story of the peacock who was so mad at the chicken for waking him up in the morning that he launched him up into the sky on a spaceship for the moon.

And the whole cast takes a bow. The end.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Lately the blog has been focused on my growing frustrations with my son. It's pretty clear that he's working through something. And if he's working through something, guess who else gets to work through something. Thursday is his last day of school at the preschool he's been going to since he was two years old. Most of his friends have already left to start kindergarten. And while he doesn't talk about it much, it must be affecting him. He's been more clingy that usual even for him. He actually had a fit when my husband dropped him off at school on Monday after they biked over. He didn't want my husband to leave him. He's been going here everyday for THREE years and on his third to last day he still has a major come-apart at drop-off? And he loves these people. He hugs on all the teachers who just think he's so charming and delightful. Yes, Dr. Jekyl is all those things...

So I'm trying to cut him some slack. We're leaving at the end of the week for a much needed family vacation in Santa Fe and when we get back he and his sister will start their new school with shortened days. And in the interim, I'm just trying to focus on positive things. And creating idyllic childhood moments...

I came across a wonderful blog called Pecannoot by a woman called Jess, that's a kind of journal of uplifting images and messages highlighting our own abundance. Anyway she inspired me to share this picture that I took over the weekend.

It's my son holding three olallieberries. Not exactly abundant. But they feel abundant to us because they come from the neighbor's bush and only one branch falls into our yard, so when we get even just three, it feels like we hit the jackpot. The rest of the picture is him smiling his head off.

Monday, August 24, 2009

They had me at so...

The other day I was delighted to receive a tiny squishy envelope in the mail. I opened it immediately thinking it was any early birthday something or other or maybe someone else had a baby or something else equally intriguing and I found this yummy little cloth envelope with a lime colored button on it...
Naturally I opened it up. And inside were even more little buttons and a spooly thread thing and a secret note...

So I took out the note and there was a little message telling me that I get 15% off my next purchase at Anthropologie for my birthday because I have one of their affiliate cards (I bought something there once for 70% off, though I have been in the store many times to touch things and imagine what it would be like to have enough disposable income to actually spend $200 on a sweater).

How much are they spending on this birthday campaign? Yowza! And have you ever seen their catalogues? It's like a photography coffee table book. That's why the damn sweaters are $200. But this is the cutest friggin pouchy thingy I have ever seen so you can be sure that at some point between now and the end of September I will be in Anthropologie buying something for 70% off plus the additional 15% off for my birthday.

Special thanks to my son for being my hand model.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Morning dose

I had the kids solo from Friday morning through Sunday night. We had beautiful weather and took advantage spending a lot of time with friends riding bikes and swimming. Today we even went to a lake and took out a paddle boat. But my favorite moments were the little ones at home. Like when I gave my daughter her gummy vitamins and she went to put them on a toothpick. Kids seem to know this instinctively - that all food is better on a stick. Then once I got the camera out the kids started hamming it up. And that's how my daughter got today's dose of calcium and I got today's dose of laughter.

ps. that's Julio wedged under her armpit.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Snake

Uch I have been adding copyright watermarks to all of my digital files all day today and let me tell you, it is completely scintillating and meaningful work because I really love to do the same series of key strokes 82 times in a row. Nonetheless, it is time for a break. How are you?

I have been fighting a very odd stomach ailment the last few days that I can only refer to as THE GRIP. It was like someone was grabbing at my gut full fist and pulling it out (including my back) and twisting it all in one motion. Like I was made of silly putty. It was bad. And then my stomach muscles were also sore from doing too many sit-ups. So I've decided to never again do sit-ups because they are stupid and cause nausea.

Which is why yesterday, when I took my kids to Gilroy Gardens, a delightful amusement park for the two to seven-year-old set, I was not totally thrilled about having to go on many of the spin around until you throw up rides. Luckily the kids had no interest in the spinning garlic ride (it's Gilroy - Garlic capital of the world). Nor the banana buccaneer thing that swings back and forth like a pendulum. And we were with about seven other families from our preschool so there were plenty of parents to accompany in my place if necessary. In fact, my son was tall enough to go on many rides by himself or with just his friends but naturally he preferred to go with me. What can I say. True love.

But there was one ride, the only roller coaster at this place, called The Snake. And toward the end of the day as we were heading out another boy said he wanted to go on it. So all of the kids lined up to see who met the 42 inch height requirement and it turns out only this kid and my son were tall enough to go at all, but not tall enough to go alone. Each needed a parent. My friend Randi went with her son and convinced her three year old to go on the merry-go-round with the rest of us. But my son needed a chaperon and my gut was both literally and physically telling me to skip this one. Plus I had my daughter who had already missed her nap and was unusually clingy. The boys had already run ahead to be in line and Randi went to catch them. That's when I yelled for Michael, Jonathan's dad (Jonathan's the one who calls me Mrs. Rosen - so cute) so he filled in.

And as I was walking toward the merry-go-round to watch the other kids with Jonathan's mom, I panicked that my son would see Michael and start sobbing. Or that mid-ride he'd pitch a fit and I wasn't sure Michael was prepared for that kind of wrath. So I ran up to the line with my daughter and watched as they got on the ride. My son got on with Michael without even batting an eyelash. So before he could see me I got the hell out of there.

Five minutes later we see The Snake riders coming to the carousel to meet us and my son is flashing a toothy grin. Randi reported back that he LOVED the roller coaster. My son then corroborated this interesting fact and he decided to go with his buddies on the last few rides of the day and leave ole mommy behind. Guess who's grinning now...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kidz don't really love soccer

Well my kid anyway. The other moms are signing up their kids for soccer in the fall and my gut is telling me not to do it. My son is also telling me that. I asked him if he wants to play soccer again and he said nope. I'd say it's been a good experience for him and he's generally enjoyed it while he's doing it and he's enjoyed talking about it after he's done. But every Saturday morning he says he doesn't want to go. And some how I manage to convince him that he does. I'm good. Actually I usually tell him that he doesn't have to go and that makes him decide to go.

The thing is I think that one of the reasons he doesn't like it much is that he's not very good. And he's not very good because this was his first season! Some of the other kids have been doing this since they were three! This is not league soccer, mind you. It's just skills and running around and having fun. But they do a little mini scrimmage at the end and my son is all over the place. Or, more accurately, he's pretty much in the same place the whole time fiddling with his colored jersey with his head through the arm hole and ties flying around him. But the other kids are in there going for the ball. OK sometimes with their hands, but still. There's a desire there. Not with my son. He tells me after the game that he never got the ball and I explain that he has to go for it. Get in there. Trip someone.

But he's not even FIVE. I didn't start playing soccer until I was seven. And I was never much good, come to think of it. Although there was that one season when I was nine and I learned how to start going one direction with the ball and then switch to the other direction. I was faking out girls left and right the whole season and scored a zillion goals. Good times.

Where was I? Yes, my son. Even if it's not soccer, I would really like to find something that he does get excited about. Whatever it is (secretly I really hope it will be ballroom dancing so he can be on Dancing with the Stars). But don't you kind of have to stick with something long enough to where you're pretty good at it in order to like it? Not that I would know. I never stuck with anything. Because if you get good at something then there are expectations and you might fail. No thanks. Wait, who were we talking about...?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Julio Dispenser

This weekend I picked up a used toddler bed for my daughter. She's been sleeping on the floor catty corner to her brother for the last six months which has been fine but I decided it's time for her to learn how to sleep perpendicular on her bed for the night. She was in the habit of just rolling off her bed at night and even scooching herself unconsciously under her brother's bed. It's still unclear how she does it. So instead of installing a web cam and watching her sleep, we got her the bed. It has a little side rail that has so far done the trick keeping her in bed. But she continues to lose her stuffed rat Julio in the middle of night and either comes into our room saying more woo woo mommy! (which aside from being adorable is annoying). Or she just calls from her bed and I have to go in there and feel around for the favored rodent.

And it was just last night as I was returning to bed after one such episode that I thought of the Julio Dispenser! We could build a kind of mechanism where she just has to pull a string and another Julio arrives! Like they're lined up above her bed and when she pulls the string or presses the button, something opens and her favorite rat drops from the heavens! It could also be used for pacifiers or blankies or whatever else. And then in the morning they all go back up on the shelf or conveyor belt or whatever. It could be like a giant Pez!

You heard it here first.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Monday

Monday's are my favorite day of the week. I'm coming off of three days with my family and I need a break. And I usually have some work piled up and I'm happy to get to it. But, understandably, Monday's have been, until now, my son's least favorite day because he's coming off of three days with his mommy which he would like to turn into four, five, eight, nineteen, a zillion days with mom. He likes his school but each Monday he forgets. And each Monday afternoon he's had a great time.

But the thing that he especially likes about school is riding his bike there. Since he started riding without training wheels a few months ago, my husband has started letting him ride himself to school (accompanied of course). He used to ride on the back of his Aba's bike and I'd take his sister to school - not a great use of parental resources but our son really loves being on the bike and our daughter really hates the bike trailer. And now that he can ride his own bike he wants to do it everyday.

And it's a haul for a four-year-old. About three miles I think. It takes them 45 minutes. My son takes it very seriously. He's extremely cautious. He follows every instruction. And he arrives at school beaming. The added bonus for us is that he gets dressed immediately when he wakes up and he hustles to get out of the house quickly because he knows his Aba has to ride another ten miles to work after drop off. So it's a morning free of dawdling, whining and crying.

And that is why we switched our schedule around so that he can ride his bike to school on Mondays. And now Mondays are everyone's favorite day of the week. The end.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The best laid plans of mice and moms...

Last night we did end up going out for dinner for our anniversary. We wanted to take advantage of some free babysitting so we brought our kids over to my brother and sister-in-law's house in a neighboring town figuring we'd just go out for dinner around there with local friends and our easy-going, flexible children would play with their same-age cousins. What could be easier? We get there around 7:15 and my brother's family is wrapping up dinner with friends of theirs who have twin three year old boys and a 15 month old boy. Throw in my niece and nephew and the house is a little chaotic. Fun chaotic. Kids running around. Eating popsicles. Playing outside. Parents drinking wine. Good times. My daughter jumps right in and gets herself a popsicle. My son is hesitant. This isn't his kind of fun. But he's keeping it together. Then I set up all of their stuff in my brother's bedroom - two sleeping bags, two sets of PJ's, two toothbrushes, two toothpastes, a stuffed kitty and a stuffed rat. Then I explain to my son, for the twelfth time, that he will be going to sleep here. I even fib and tell him that we're ALL going to sleep here. And his stuff is set up so not to worry. But he wants to sleep with us in the guest room. Meanwhile the guest room floor is covered in paperwork and junk because it's a room in transition. I offer for him to sleep with his older cousin. No. His little cousin. No. On the couch. No. And he starts sobbing. Don't go. I don't want to stay here. Don't leave me. I want you to go out for dinner here. And I just can't bear it. I mean in those moments I just can't stand this kid. So I tell him in my best impression of nice mommy that he doesn't even have to go to bed; he can stay up and wait for me to come home. My brother even tells him that he'll clean up the guest room so he can sleep in there. Nothing is helping. So I say goodbye and leave.

And as I walk toward the car where my husband is waiting for me I can hear him screaming and sobbing from inside the house. And I know he will quiet down and enjoy himself in two minutes. And he'll behave well. And he'll play. And he will fall asleep somewhere. But as I'm sitting in the car seething, I never actually want to see him again. These are his cousins for the love of chicken nuggets! He begs me to take him here. He loves his aunt and uncle. He loves their yard, the toys, everything. Why can't he just keep it together? I know that he's not trying to ruin my life anniversary, but he does. He can. How can a five year old be so tortured? Will he be doing this when he's six? Seven? Eight? I know it's me and it's my problem. I just have to let it all roll off of me. But it's actually painful for me to feel so much resentment and rage (yes, rage) and not be able to scream YOU ARE RUINING MY LIFE right in his face. I need to find some other way to release or channel all of this negative energy. Sometimes I even ask if he would ever act this way with his teachers and he looks at me like I've lost my mind because he would NEVER throw fits like this at school. Which makes me wonder how the behavior is serving him at home? And what on earth am I doing to reinforce it? And can someone please send over a pita with nutella?

But back to the car. So I keep my eyes closed all the way to our friends and I stay in the car two extra minutes after my husband got out so I can collect myself. I didn't want to bring my negativity to dinner. And, in fact, dinner was lovely. I called to check in and my sister-in-law confirmed that two minutes after we had left my son calmed down which was no surprise. I guess I just thought we were past all of this nonsense. He's done well with babysitters for the last year or so and plus these were people in his family that he knows well and loves which is why this whole exercise felt less like an anxious preschooler expressing his insecurities and more like a purposeful act of aggression. Like he's some kind of vengeful, conniving monster.

I have to keep reminding myself that he's just a little shit boy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Art

I added two more designs to the Name Prints collection.
Leo is just in time for newly and nearly born July and August babies. The quote I found for it makes me deliriously happy: Let your light shine. Be a source of strength and courage. Share your wisdom. Radiate love. - Wilfred Peterson

The second is called Tree Tops which I'm thinking might look nice as a Rosh Hashanah card too, what with all the pomegranates and all. Something to consider...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Seven or Eight

Yesterday was my anniversary. My husband and I have been married for seven years. And even though it's plain as day on our family calendar, neither of us remembered. Well, that's not true. I remembered at around 9:30 pm and my husband remembered when I told him that I remembered. What a couple of dopes. But then we decided it was OK because we have the back-up anniversary on the 15th, in which case it will be eight years. Maybe I should back up.

My husband and I got engaged in April of 2001. We were backpacking around the world for eight months before I started graduate school. We had been together for about four years and I was thinking at some point on this trip we'd get engaged. But as the months passed and still no proposal or even suggestion, I was losing patience. In April we were in Nepal doing a three week trek around the Annapurna range and we actually almost broke up which I will blame on the altitude so no one's feelings get hurt, namely mine. After the trek we stayed one final night in a one star guest house in Kathmandu before flying to India for the final leg of our trip and the next morning my boyfriend proposed. He had invited me to the monkey temple and asked a monk to perform a traditional engagement ceremony where we drank holy water and they put saffron powder in our hair. OK, that's a lie. In fact, that morning I came out of the bathroom of our seedy hotel after a very successful output (not always the case when traveling in Southeast Asia), climbed into bed and my boyfriend said, I think we should get married. Just like that. First an outstanding bowel movement and now this? Someone pinch me. And so we were engaged.

Fast forward four months and we're in Chapel Hill, North Carolina finishing up some summer prerequisites and it comes to my attention that married students can apply for in-state tuition in their second year if their spouse is paying North Carolina state tax and you can make a case that you are planning to stay even after graduation. That's a $15,000 savings. We have just reserved a date for our wedding for the August 11, 2002. It's August 15, 2001. I say to my fiance, listen we could be saving a lot of money so let's get hitched.

And that's how we came to get married on August 15, 2001. I went up to my friend Ali after statistics class and said, we're getting married after accounting. Can you and Eric be our witnesses? So she and her husband, whom we have known for two weeks, follow us to the Chapel Hill police station. We pay the $30, say our I dos, sign some papers and it's a done deal. Ali is crying. My husband and I are a little stunned. Eric says, Sushi? We indeed went out for sushi and Ali and Eric are two of our best friends to this day.

And that's why, on the 15th, we'll be celebrating with sushi.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Birthday Smarty

I've been meaning to tackle this important topic for several months now. Well, ever since March when exactly 5 years prior the Silicon Valley appears to have experienced an unprecedented baby boom and all 17, 246 kids born that month invited my son to their fifth birthday parties. That's how it felt anyway. Every weekend we had birthday parties on both days. OK I'm exaggerating a little but it seemed like I was constantly at Target buying some stupid toy du jour. More often than not these were boy parties so I went for a superhero or some lego set or walkie talkies. Then he was invited to his friend Aiden's party (girl Aiden as opposed to boy Aiden - his party is in October) so I got her a pair of dress up heels and a drill - what every woman needs. And even though we were invited to these parties a good 4-5 weeks in advance, I could never get it together in time to buy the presents beforehand so I got into the habit of Just In Time gift giving. We'd leave 15 minutes early for the party, stop at Target, we'd run in and I'd have to find something before my son started whining that he also wanted a toy and then I'd wrap the gift in the car. Yes, I keep wrapping paper, a scissors and tape in the car for this very purpose. The rush, while invigorating, was inhibiting my ability to choose respectable gifts.

Anyway the party season died down a little at the start of summer but August has launched us back into party mode. This last weekend we had two birthday's back to back and both were girls. So, feeling ambitious, I went to Target on the Thursday before the weekend but was disappointed to find the toy selection for older girls was limited to Barbies, Polly Pockets, Bratz and a host of other oddly proportioned big-headed plastic dolls whose body parts are interchangeable. What sick bastard came up with that idea? And the thing is, I know that's probably what these girls like. They all like that crap. Even the boys like that stuff. But I just couldn't bring myself to buy any more plastic garbage from Target. That's when I spotted the Back to School aisle. Providence! I went over there and for each girl I got a ruler, a pencil bag, a box of colored chalk, a box of colored pencils, a box of markers, a glue stick and a pair of scissors. Then I added one of the hard spiral notebooks that I sell with the Inner Toddler that most resembled each girl glued on the front. Presto! Two girls ready for kindergarten! I was very pleased with myself and was telling one of the preschool mom's and she told me she came to the same realization and has started giving kids movie tickets. And I thought, there's another fabulous idea! If you have any more great ideas for birthday gifts that don't involve interchangeable princess heads, send them my way. I'm stocking up.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thumb wrestling

The only reason I did not completely lose my shit after tonight's ritual tantrum was because I could see it coming after a very long and fun-packed day. The poor kid was exhausted. My husband, however, got the hell out of there the minute he could feel the flood waters swelling. Not a bad choice.

It was a busy day. We rode bikes over to our friends' house this morning to pick the vegetables in their garden while they're away. They've been gone for a month and it's tomato and cucumber harvest time so instead of going to the farmer's market we went to the Eilat household and picked ourselves a mondosalad. I like to make up words.

Then we get home and have lunch and my husband takes our son to his friend's birthday party at a gymnastics place where they run around for two hours before they eat cake. Then I pick him up with our daughter and take them to birthday party number two at a place where the kids jump in a jumpy house and slide down jumpy slides for two hours and then eat pizza and cake. We drive home and my husband then chases the kids around the house for an hour while I'm making a normal dinner. So by the time it's time for bed, I know this kid is wrecked though he appears to be keeping it all together to my astonishment. I was sure he would fall asleep during dinner.

So everyone's in bed in their undies because it's hot as all blazes in our house and the rest of northern California and instead of sitting right next to my son's bed and in front of my daughter's bed (they make a right angle and I sit in the middle), I'm sitting toward the end of my daughter's bed and my husband is sitting in the middle. This does not sit well for my son and he asks for a switch because he wants to hold my thumb while I sing. Fair enough. We switch but then he starts twitching around and putting his legs on the wall and generally being squirrely. It's not until the second song that he realizes that he forgot to hold my thumb during the first song. So he wants me to start over to which I refuse (the first song is long). But instead of holding my thumb for the next three songs he proceeds to sob about wanting me to start over. Why? Knowing you missed one opportunity, why would you then will yourself to miss the next three also? I offered the thumb but he was too busy begging me to go back. I vowed long ago to abandon the do-over. I couldn't give in. Finally I finished the songs and he was still quietly boo-hooing when I left. Poor guy. A tortured kid like that with back-to-back birthday parties...he never had a chance.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

From one chocolate addict to another...

So I've been asked to do some product endorsements in the two years that I've been blogging and I never have because I'm just not into it. It's not what I write about. That said, if some magical thing has become a part of my daily routine or has saved me from fill-in-the-blank horrible situation, then maybe I'll make mention. For instance, after months of drinking agonizingly awful coffee from our old coffee maker I finally, on a whim, bought a Bodum french press right off the shelf at Starbucks. I didn't even price shop online. I did no research. Nothing. I just went in for a latte and came out with the french press and have not been back in for a latte ever since. Which sort of makes me want to write a letter to Starbucks to tell them they're kind of shooting themselves in the foot by selling french presses in their stores. But what do I know. Just that in my house we drink good coffee now.

But back to product endorsement. Not really my thing. Although I feel compelled to tell you about some pretty fantastic chocolate I've been eating that, according to my husband's Aunt Jenny who sells the chocolate (in addition to being a world-class poet, urban chicken farmer and home organizing professional), is so packed full of good things for your body and soul, namely omega 3 fatty acids and anti-oxidants (acai berries and maybe even snozberries...), it's a crime NOT to eat it in large quantities. I bought some of these chocolate orange squares (my favorite flavor combo of all time) that are amazingly tasty and have no cholesterol and no sugar. She's been eating three a day for the last month or so and says she has LOST WEIGHT, her nails appear more healthy, she doesn't have cravings for sweets all the time (that's my problem), she's sleeping better at night and she makes a nice big poop every morning. A NICE BIG POOP people. I mean, she had me at chocolate orange, but I'll take the regular bowel movements too because, let's be frank, plumbing's not what it once was after the babies wreaked havoc on my insides. So she sells it and I buy it. Time will tell if these little chocolates can overhaul this tired person. I'm willing to eat AS MUCH CHOCOLATE AS I HAVE TO just to find out. That's just the kind of person I am. Always making sacrifices...

And, no, Jenny has not promised me a lifetime supply for posting this endorsement for her (although my birthday IS just around the corner...). I just believe in her and her entrepreneurial approach to riding out the recession. Bravo!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Carbon Copy

I have just spent the last three hours filling out forms for my kids to start their new preschool in the fall. A packet of forms! The same forms for both kids! Two sets! I have a blister on my thumb and a throbbing callous on my middle finger. And I need that finger for driving...

And the thing that killed me was basically filling out the same thing twice. I hate and dislike redundancy. They're the same kids more or less! Same parents, same address, same people authorized to pick them up, same emergency contacts, same doctors, same wake-up and bedtime. They're exactly the same. Except one's born in October and the other in February. One's a boy and one's a girl. One's allergic to amoxycillin and one's allergic to vegetables. One's sensitive and one's happy-go-lucky.

In fact, aside from their emergency contacts, they could not be more different.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Champ

This morning when we woke up I convinced my daughter to come pee with me. She wears a diaper at night and usually wakes up dry but often refuses to go to pee first thing and then at some point during breakfast she just goes surreptitiously in her diaper. But I figure if I can get her in the habit of going first thing, then we'll be able to get her out of diapers altogether. Oh happy day.

The background to this story is that for the last six months my son has been going on and on about being the winner. When he finishes dinner first, hes' the winner. He wants to get in the car first so he can be the winner. He wants to get in the house first, get his bowl of cereal first, brush his teeth first. You get the idea. And his happiest moment is proclaiming this small victory. I win. It gets old. Though I think he's picked up that I'm not so much interested in his little competitions. He's started saying stuff like, it doesn't matter who eats fastest as long as we eat all of our vegetables so we can be strong and win at other things.

Where was I? Yes, the bathroom with my daughter. We both sit down on our respective potties and then there's that brief moment of silence and anticipation before anything comes out and we're both smiling at each other, when a faint tinkling sound is heard from the little potty. That's when she whispers to me, I win.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mrs. Rosen

Last Thursday was the last day of our second round of swim lessons. We somehow made it through four days a week for four weeks of swim lessons. I think we're all happy to be taking a break from that.

So on the last day a kid in my son's class, Jonathan, came over and said, Mrs. Rosen? Can I give Shalev a candy from my mom? And I thought, now there's a well-mannered kid. So respectful. So polite. And then I thought, wait. My name's not even Mrs. Rosen (I never changed my last name). And here my kids are calling Jonathan's parents by their first name because that's just what we do.

So all this has me thinking about how to call people. Anyone my age called all grown-ups by their last names. The only adult I remember calling by her first name was our piano teacher Jane. And to this day I call my childhood friends' parents by their last names, unless they've specifically given me permission to make the switch, in which case I try a few times, it sounds funny, and I switch back.

Case in point: one of my oldest friends, Jane, had a baby shower over the weekend and her parents were there. So I went over and gave Mrs. Lin a big hug. Hi Mrs. Lin! I think I may have called her May a few times. I'm not even 100% sure that's her first name. But it felt weird. And I called her dad Mike once or twice, in a muttered "maybe he won't hear me" kind of way. Din't work for me. So I decided, who cares. It's OK if I'm thirty-five years old, probably the same age they were when I met them, and I still call them by their last names. They can be Mr. and Mrs. Lin forever.

But in Israel, no one uses last names. I don't even think they use last names in Parliament. In fact, they often use nicknames. Talk about informal. For example, the former Chief of Staff, Ami Ye'elon, went by Boogie. Good grief. Or what about the current Prime Minister, Bibi? My husband tells me that in elementary school kids call their teachers "teacher" and in high school they use first names. That just wouldn't fly here.

So of course our kids call all of our friends by their first names because most of our friends are Israeli. But now that our kids have friends from school and we're becoming friendly with their parents, what the heck are we going to call each other? Because I'll tell you right now, the novelty of Mrs. Rosen wore off pretty quickly and now I just think people are talking to my husband's grandmother. I spoke to my sister-in-law about it and she's in a quandary too. But she learned from her years of teaching and subbing that having kids call you by your last name creates a nice little hierarchy in the class which is useful if you want to, say, garner any respect at all from children between the ages of seven and seventeen. I have other friends who, once their oldest kids were around eight or nine, had a parents discussion and decided that all the kids in their circle of friends would start calling them by their last names. The attitudes copping and backtalk had just gotten out of hand so this was one way to recreate a little rank order among the troops.

I guess we can just asked what everyone prefers to be called and then try to remember it all. Or they can call all the grown-ups "grown-up". Keep it real simple. It is nice to see how comfortable my kids are around our adult friends. I don't remember ever speaking to any of my parents' friends until I was well into high school. Because they were MR. AND MRS. SUPER OLD. The salutation obviously made a difference in my case.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


So finally tonight my son looked me right in the eye and with great pride spewed out the five sleep tricks and the three additions because the squirrel gave him back the key and now those things are all locked in his head. He went to sleep without a peep. The other one, unfortunately, received the baton. And for the next hour she went back and forth between sobbing for Mommy and sobbing for Aba. She doesn't play favorites. Around the third round of this I was with her in their room singing her a song when she starts calling for Aba again.

Me: Should I get Aba?
Her: I get Aba.

OK then. Meanwhile Aba is in the back room trying to prepare for a crack of dawn triathlon tomorrow. I follow her a few paces behind so that I too can pass the baton and out walks Aquaman in the tightest wetsuit I have ever seen on anyone who doesn't actually live in water. And he's holding her and she's looking at him, like WTF. Naturally, several minutes later, she re-emerges asking for me because Aquaman's been called off to rescue a polar bear stranded on an ice-chunk in the Arctic Circle. I move her to my bed. Five minutes later she starts calling for Aba again. Aquaman returns to rescue this lovely thirty-five year old mother of two from her over-tired toddler. He falls in love with her despite the bags under her eyes and they live a long and happy life together. The end.