Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blessed Be the Boogers

In honor of Mardi Gras (laissez les bon temps rouler!) I present a scene which occurred in the car the other day. The kids are sitting next to each other in the back seat, Opie facing backwards, Jo facing front. Opie sneezes a few times; each time I reply, “Bless you!”

After one last, especially forceful blast from the baby nose, Jo announces, “Mommy! He blessed me!”

By the way: I swear I have more interesting/profound things to say. I'm just swamped with a big freelance job right now.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blue + blue = perfect match

This here is what the gals of GFY like to call a scrolldown.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


One of the few drawbacks to our Mayberry is its distance from our families and closest friends. We’re short one Aunt Bee around here. I’m well aware that being close to family has its own drawbacks, some of them huge. But we're lucky enough to enjoy our parents and share a good relationship with all of them. And with two little kids, we often long for Grandma, Grandpa, or Grammy to swoop in for a few hours of playtime, freeing us grown-ups to catch up on work, do our taxes, organize a closet, or (could it be?) enjoy some crazy pursuit like a movie without princesses or a dinner without chicken nuggets.

I think we’re doing a pretty good job of making sure Jo and Opie know their relatives. We chat on the phone and online (or we used to, until our Web cam gave up the ghost). We visit frequently, traveling to the Northeast to see Jeff's family and all over the country to meet up with mine. My sister, bless her, has come to our far-from-glamorous locale for more than one spring break. The kids are showered with cards and gifts for every occasion (I sure don’t remember getting new clothes for Valentine’s Day when I was little) and Jo knows very well who’s sending the goods. She recognizes all her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in pictures and reminisces about past get-togethers.

Still, when you’re at the breaking point of sleep deprivation, work deadlines, and kid sickness, who ya wanna call? Mom! It’s in her job description to be a super-heroine, arriving to save the day with no questions asked or bill (financial or psychic) for services rendered. And mine would love to come, but she’s hundreds of miles and a whole time zone away. Ditto for Dad, mother-in-law, and every other blood relative we could name.

But you know what? Our Mayberry came through for us bigtime when Opie was born. For months I agonized about who would care for Jo when the new baby arrived. I considered scheduling a c-section purely so I’d be sure my parents or sister could be here on the big day—for Jo’s sake, not mine or the baby’s.

And then, when I was about 7 months pregnant, I got an e-mail from one of the moms in my playgroup—a group I’d been a part of for less than a year at the time. She offered to care for Jo when I went into the hospital. She said she well remembered how worried she was about who’d care for her older son when she was expecting his brother—said it was her number-one source of anxiety, far greater than any fears about labor, delivery, or coping with two kids in diapers. I might’ve still been carrying 30 extra pounds around my waist, but a huge weight lifted from my heart.

So lately, when Jo says “tell me the story about when Opie was born,” I’m immediately reminded of the generosity of a fellow Mayberry mom. I make sure to tell Jo all about how our friend E. picked her up at school, took her home and fed her pizza, put on her jammies and tucked her in bed. She still remembers her first sleepover. And I’ll never forget how a Mom saved the day—even if it wasn’t my own.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Little pitchers

Scene 1: Jo's room. She is trying to diaper her Bitty Baby with an actual newborn-size Huggies, and struggling. I ask her if she wants help and she replies, with great condescension, "I'm trying to learn how to be a Mom!"

Oh, sweetie. If only mad diapering skillz = great mom.

Scene 2: Family room. Opie is playing with a toy bottle of milk (also, as it happens, belonging to Bitty Baby). He comes across an old birthday card with drawings of dolls on it, and proceeds to press the bottle (business end first) near the dolls' mouths, over and over.

Okay then. Duly noted: Two small stalkers are watching my every move.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Another sign that I may not be getting enough sleep

Last night I stood at the bathroom sink for several seconds, toothbrush in hand, wondering what I was supposed to be doing next (answer: apply toothpaste).

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

You must bemember this

My daughter, almost 4, has always been pretty articulate. She spoke early and even strangers could understand her baby babble most of the time. One of her first words was a dead-on imitation of the way one of her caregivers said "Happy, happy, happy" in a Spanish-inflected, singsongy voice.

So I have to record these mispronunciations before they disappear (I'll come and add to this when I think of some more):

Bemember for remember
Ploss for floss
Unline for rewind
Soil sauce for soy sauce (this after an ugly incident in which an entire bottle of the stuff exploded in our refrigerator, making it look and smell like the alley behind your local Chinese dive)

Already gone:
Caffle for waffle
Cheeeenit butter for peanut butter (especially effective when paired, as in "I wanna caffle with cheeeenit butter for breakfast")

And then there's the preschooler logic factor. Witness:

[The scene: In the car driving home from school. The daily report notes that she refused to sleep and was disruptive during naptime.]
Me: What happened today? Miss Michelle said you didn't take a nap.
Jo: Well, after naptime we were having C's birthday and I was just too excited to sleep. So I took my sleeping bag and put it away.
Me: And what did Miss Michelle say?
Jo: She said I had to take a nap.
Me: And what did you do then?
Jo: I said I had no place to sleep.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Bea: streetwalker by night, fruit-preserver by day.

She does make a good medley jam, though.

Monday, February 13, 2006

100 Things

This seems as good a way as any to start...

  1. I grew up in a college town.
  2. We lived close enough to campus that we went trick-or-treating at fraternity houses and could hear the cheering from the football stadium in our yard during games.
  3. My dad plays the banjo in several Dixieland jazz bands. And he’s really good.
  4. For my daughter’s third birthday, he recorded a CD of himself singing a bunch of kids’ songs, accompanying himself on banjo. I treasure it.

  5. I was a band geek in high school but haven’t played my clarinet since. I do have my childhood piano in my house and try to play it whenever I can (which, as I bet you can guess, is hardly ever).
  6. I have a younger brother and sister whom I adore (and my brother’s wife is great too).
  7. We had the usual sibling spats as kids, but now get along very well.
  8. It could be because we all live so far apart (sister on West Coast, brother on East, me in the middle).
  9. Still, my sister is the only person I would ever do the Amazing Race with. Not that I’m applying.
  10. I went to college in Philadelphia. I majored in English and French. For awhile there, je parlais couramment le francais. I’m sorry that I’ve forgotten so much of it.
  11. I spent a semester in Grenoble, France. I wish I’d stayed longer.
  12. After college, I wrung my hands for a few months and then moved to New York City. (I wanted to work in magazines, so I really had no choice, but I was afraid of the big city.)
  13. I lived there for 7 years, then moved across the river to New Jersey.
  14. Despite my initial reservations, I loved New York. It was a great place to spend my 20’s.
  15. I was a magazine editor for 8 years.
  16. The pay was lousy, but the perks were great.
  17. I traveled for free to Alaska, California, and several places in the Caribbean.
  18. I got to eat at many of the city’s best restaurants, also free.
  19. I did not buy shampoo, soap, conditioner, moisturizer, or makeup for almost a decade (thanks to the samples sent to our beauty editors).
  20. I also wrote a book (but my name’s not on it—it was “By the editors of…”).
  21. I met my husband after dating his friend a few times.
  22. We’re still close to the friend, and he was in our wedding party.
  23. My husband also grew up in a smallish town in the same state I did, and went to college in Philadelphia, but we didn’t meet until we were both in New York.
  24. Before I met him, I always said I wanted to marry someone who cooks and who sends flowers.
  25. He does both.
  26. While we were engaged (and living together), we adopted a dog from the pound.
  27. She’s still with us and has patiently endured the addition of first one, then a second child.
  28. She looks, and sometimes acts, like a puppy, but she’s about 7 years old. She’s part German shepherd and part mystery canine. Any guesses?

  29. She earns her keep by eating all the crumbs the kids drop. Although, come to think of it, that’s pretty much offset by the hair she sheds.
  30. I feel much more guilty leaving her at a kennel when we go out of town than I do about my kids being in child care all day.
  31. The first time I had to do it (pre-kids), I cried.
  32. We also recently acquired a fish, named Tinky by my daughter. I’m sure all his fellow macho Siamese Fighting Fish are ready to come beat him up now.
  33. He lives in a really cool Fish Pod.
  34. I always knew I wanted to be a mom (even before the dog).
  35. As a pre-teen I was fascinated by names and made up fake families just to name all the kids.
  36. I shudder at some of the names I liked back then (no, I’m not sharing). Now I play with this instead.
  37. Pregnancy kicked my butt both times. I had many annoying but non-threatening symptoms: all-day nausea for months, heartburn, dry skin, daily bloody noses, backaches, shortness of breath, and PUPPP.
  38. Before I made my announcement, my mom guessed I was having a second baby because I was carrying a tin of almonds in my purse (I guess she didn’t notice the Balance bars). The only way I made it through morning sickness was to eat constantly, and I mean every 10-15 minutes.
  39. I never understood how people could sleep on the subway until I was pregnant. Once I was, I dozed from 42nd Street to Spring Street almost every day.
  40. Our first child was born in April, 2002.
  41. Spring is a great time for a baby—you avoid cold and flu season and just when you are ready to spend time walking outside, the weather cooperates.
  42. Before I gave birth, I’d read thousands of articles and books on childrearing, thanks to my job.
  43. So I was prepared for those first days and weeks to be awful.
  44. Surprisingly, they weren’t. Although some of the nights were.
  45. My daughter was an easy baby and I enjoyed my (very generous) maternity leave.
  46. I was neither happy nor sad to go back to work. It was what it was.
  47. But once I got there, I was pleased to be back. My boss is a working mom of three who rocks.
  48. It was the long days my daughter spent in child care, thanks to a two-hour daily commute, that got to me.
  49. But I did make a great friend because our daughters were in the same child care center.
  50. Meanwhile, my husband despised his job. Mostly on a whim, he applied for a new one in the Midwest.
  51. We went for a “please-come-work-here” recruiting trip at the end of January. The temperature never reached double digits during our 3-day stay.
  52. But we had a good time anyway.
  53. We agonized over the decision to move. We knew we’d like raising our child in a smaller town, having a bigger house (for the same price as our small apartment), and giving up commuting. But we’d be leaving all our friends and family.
  54. On the morning of the day he’d promised to give his answer, my husband still didn’t know what he was going to say to his potential new boss. I’d given him my blessing to say yes or no (but I hoped he’d say yes). I waited by the phone at work to find out.
  55. Telling my boss we were going to leave was hard, but I came in with a telecommuting plan.
  56. She went for it, and two years later, I still have my job. Go visit www.scholastic.com/parents to see what I do (but don’t tell them I sent ya).
  57. The thing I miss most about living in the city and working in an office is dressing up and accessorizing. Most days, the only adults I come in contact with are the teachers at my kids’ school. So it hardly seems worth it to dig out some cute earrings or a fun necklace that will just get painfully yanked off by my baby.
  58. I secretly wanted twins when I was pregnant with my second child, so that I could get two for one and steamroll over my husband’s lack of interest in having 3 kids.
  59. After my son was born (spring 2005), I was so relieved that there was only one of him.
  60. He couldn’t be cuter, but he’s a lot more difficult than my first child was. I think it’s the reverse effect of what happened when she was born. One was much easier than I thought, but two was much harder, because my expectations were all wrong both times.
  61. He’s 10 months old now and still not sleeping through the night. We’re working on it.
  62. I really need some sleep. Really really.
  63. I adore my kids but could never be a full-time stay-at-home mom. I don’t have the patience or creativity. Working part-time while they are at a wonderful child care center suits me best.
  64. My mom worked full-time when I was growing up, and I felt enriched by the great caregivers we had. We still keep in touch with some of them.
  65. I think if they were young parents today, my mom would work (she’s very ambitious and successful) and my dad would stay home full time. He’d be great at it.
  66. I don’t like fake cherry flavor anything. I also don’t like shrimp, lobster, crab or any other kind of shellfish, much to my husband’s dismay. Or coffee.
  67. Reason #1 why I’m blogging: To make sure I record stuff about my life and my children’s growing up. Keeping a paper journal isn’t working.
  68. Reason #2: All the cool people are doing it.
  69. Reason #3: I believe there is a (probably nonfiction) book idea inside me somewhere. Writing more might bring it to the surface.
  70. We don’t have a single plant in our house. We can’t seem to keep them alive. Keeping the humans and animals fed, clothed, and reasonably clean is higher on my priority list.
  71. Outside, the plants get slightly more attention. We have 20 rosebushes lining our front walk, courtesy of the previous owner of our house. They are bright red and beautiful, and I try very hard to keep them healthy. My sister, an expert gardener/botanist, is trying her best to show me the ropes from afar. So far they’ve survived two seasons with me.

  72. We live in an old house (built in 1919) and wouldn’t want it any other way.
  73. Especially since the previous owner did all the heavy lifting: replacing the roof, furnace, kitchen, and bathrooms, and refinishing all the hardwood floors.
  74. Call me an elitist, a raging liberal, or both (guilty, at least on the latter), but I love NPR and read the New York Times every Sunday. OK, I buy the Times every Sunday—no home delivery where I live!—and occasionally read all of it by the following Sunday.
  75. There is a specific order in which I go through the sections, always finishing with Styles. I used to play “Do I know anyone in the Weddings section this week?” with a good deal of success, but now I’m too old.
  76. I play fantasy football.
  77. I’m not that good at it, although I did make the playoffs last season.
  78. I’m probably one of the only players who multitasked by expressing breast milk while participating in the online draft.
  79. I’ve also pumped or nursed in airports, airplanes, restaurants, parks, stores, malls, a photo studio, and an out-of-the-way (but not at all private) corner of the Jacob Javits convention center in New York City.
  80. I love this stuff and would drink gallons of it if it didn’t cost $1.49 per bottle.
  81. I am a pretty happy person. When bad or upsetting things happen, I feel low, but eventually the needle always moves back toward “good.”
  82. I haven’t exercised regularly since before my kids were born. I’d finally found the workout that worked for me: Bikram yoga. It’ll probably be out of fashion and unavailable by the time I’m able to get back to it. Right now, there are no teachers in my area.
  83. I’d love to do the training to become a teacher, but can’t imagine spending two months away from my family (hey, not to mention my job) to do so.
  84. I love to read, but the only time I usually do it is at night while I’m brushing and flossing my teeth. It takes me 20-30 minutes to get ready for bed because I read the whole time.
  85. Before I left New York, I was in the same book club for 7 years. I still miss it.
  86. Knocking on wood: I’ve never had a broken bone, had any surgery besides dental work and my two c-sections, or been hospitalized except for childbirth.
  87. Speaking of dental work, my teeth are excellent (not a single cavity) but they’ll probably fall out because my gums are crummy.
  88. Household chore I don’t mind doing and even kind of enjoy: laundry.
  89. Household chore I loathe: cleaning, especially anything that involves picking up hair (human or canine). Ewww.
  90. I am a bit of a control freak. (That sound you hear is my husband saying “A BIT?!”). I still believe it’s because I do know the right way to do things. Why shouldn’t I share the wealth?
  91. It bothers my editor’s heart that so many of these items start with “I.” Let me go change a few of them right now.
  92. Sometimes when I’m pacing the floor with my son at night, I conjugate French verbs (to see if I remember how) or compose haiku. I can’t remember any of the haiku. Usually they are some variation on
    Way past midnight
    How long can you keep this up?
    Mom cries more than you
  93. Countries outside the U.S. I have visited: Canada, the Bahamas, Barbados, Turks & Caicos, England, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore.
  94. Places I’d still like to go: Mexico, South America, Australia, Sweden, and more destinations in Canada, France, Italy, and Greece.
  95. Our little town truly is Mayberryesque. I almost crashed my car the first time I saw a couple of boys biking down the street, fishing poles in hand, on their way to the river.
  96. I really do see someone I know on at least half of my visits to the supermarket. I’ve also seen our family doctor at the pool, the Y, and a restaurant, and my OB in the park.
  97. Two of the three doctors present in the operating room when my son was born live in our neighborhood. They chatted with my husband about their next poker game.
  98. On the 4th of July, everyone drags their blankets and tarps to the harbor to stake out a place to watch the fireworks. Then they leave them there all day unattended.
  99. Did I mention about no home delivery of the New York Times? Our local paper does have an entertaining police blotter, though.
  100. My son’s name isn’t really Opie, but we do call him that about half the time. It’s a nickname derived from his initials. So far, no red hair or freckles.