Wednesday, December 29

A Pre-Recorded Message

The following blog was pre-recorded before a live studio audience. It had been the intent of this blogger to chronicle her trip back home to Miami as a live-in-progress event, but due to technical difficulties, we are instead offering you these pre-written, yet never-before seen, blog entries.

Rubbing Elbows

I didn't realize until Eugene pointed it out that our friend Jason is behind CelebSafari. So of course, I had to support a friend's site and I submited this and this. You never knew I had such connections, did you?

A Geek-in-Training

Adam is a geek. A card-carrying geek. It's a well-documented fact. And, while I don't think I qualify as a true geek, I'm certainly a geek wannabe. So why is it a surprise that our child, at the ripe old age of 16 months, is already a computer addict?

How much time does he get at the computer. Oh, I'd say pretty much none. He likes to sit on our lap while we're on the computer and try to bang on the keys, but we discourage it. I'll sometimes put an old keyboard on the floor for him to play with. And we do own one little kiddie computer game, but I've only let him play it twice in the past four months. Going to the library these days is a disaster as he heads straight for the computers and points and whines until I'm able to turn up all the keyboards and move all the mice (is that the plural for a computer mouse? Sounds funny) out of reach.

so much work to do!So is it any surprise that when we went to a playsapce with a computer, Doodles made a beeline for it and refused to budge from it for the two hours we were there. It wasn't so bad when it was off, but the "kind" director said, "Oh, there's a game on there," and proceeded to turn the thing on before I could say, "No, thanks." Doodles, of course, couldn't play the game as he can't press specific keys nor can he manipulate the mouse properly. But it's not for lack of trying.

Other kids wanted to play with the computer. I wanted my child to run around, wear himself out good. So after a more-than-reasonable amount of time, I took him. Oh, the howls that could be heard cross town. Major meltdown time. I was able to distract him--for about five minutes. And then back to the computer. Sigh. What should I have expected?

End-of-year Meme

I don't usually go for these things, but it seems like such a nice way to round up the year. I found this meme in Frog's blog

1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?
Run a marathon. Raise a child.

2. Did you keep your new year?s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I actually did keep a couple of new year's resolutions. And yet I didn't keep even more. I will indeed make more this year. But I won't share them. They're just for me.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
So many people close to me gave birth! Lots of new babies everywhere! Rachel, J., Simon just to name a few (why are some people abbreviated and others spelled out? Those spelled out are those I'm pretty darn sure don't mind being named in this blog. People with initials are the ones I'm not sure about and that I haven't cleared name usage).

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Adam's great uncle passed away.

5. What countries did you visit?
For the first year in probably a very, very long time, I didn't make my way out of the U.S.

6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?
Enough sleep. I would kill to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.

7. What dates from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
November 7: Marathon day!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finishing the marathon (do you see a theme here).

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting as far as I wanted in my noveling.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A groin pull from the marathon. A zillion colds.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
It wasn't me; it was Adam. But since we have joint checking, by default I bought it too. Doodles wouldn't let us talk on our cell phones without having a meltdown. He wanted our phones so badly. So Adam bought on e-bay, for about $10, a fake cell phone that looks exactly like ours. It's one of the ones that stores use to sell phones. It's enabled us to use our phones again.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Doodles and Adam. One for being a wonder to watch and the other for being a stellar father and husband. Every day and in every way. Well, almost every day.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I keep politics out of this blog. But the answer to this question would be politically fueled, so I'll skip it.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage. Doodles's college account. My large darjeeling tea habit at Diesel Cafe. Running gear.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The marathon. Big time. And finally getting my tushie in gear on my writing again.

16. What song will always remind you of 2004?
"Itsy-Bitsy Spider"

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier (baby blues completely gone!)
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner (still battling pregnancy weight, but not like I was a year ago)
c) richer or poorer? Richer (Adam's out of school and working again!)

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Writing. Too many days at the beginning of the year, I sat at the computer paralyzed and ended up cleaning the house. The writing didn't kick in until the end of the year.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Wasting time. Watching reality TV. Which I guess is redundant.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Watching a rented movie and eating Chinese food, I suppose.

21. Did you fall in love in 2004?
I didn't fall in love in 2004 but I did fall farther in love with Adam and Doodles. Does that count?

22. How many one-night stands?
Unless you're talking about with a hot fudge sundae, I'd have to say none.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Oh, so many guilty pleasures here! Probably The O.C. Maybe Desperate Housewives.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I'm sure there are people I dislike, but I'm working on not hating. So let's say, no.

25. What was the best book you read?
I liked so many books! I really enjoyed a recent one I read, Devil in the Details. However, I think my real favorite of the year was The Rebbe's Army. I comment on both of them in my book/movie blog. I need to say, though, that the book I'm currently reading, A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, seems to have the potential of blowing the other two away. I'll have to confirm, though, when I've finished it.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Music? What's that? All of my music these days is either jazz, which isn't a new discovery, and kid's music.

27. What did you want and get?
Time to write.

28. What did you want and not get?
Rocky Road candy. I ask for it every year around the holidays and I never get it.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Tough one. Was it Lost in Translation? Spellbound? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Tough call. But I think I'm going to have to go with Saved!.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 36 and I had scrumptious dinner with my hubby that included many yummy martinis at Chez Henri.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Winning the lottery. Having a live-in housekeeper. A personal chef. Seriously, this past year--without getting too--but I don't think this past year could have been more satisfying. I feel like I'm really close to where I've always wanted to be. Surprisingly, I've never had as much time to write as I do now. On most days, I adore motherhood, and on the other days, well, it's still better than anything else I could be doing; I've never liked working in an office nine to five. My relationship with my husband is happy and healthy. I get to succumb to all my Martha fantasies and yet I feel like I will finish my novel. I've got balance. Granted, it hasn't always been easy, and this past year has thrown many challenges my way, but over all, there's nothing that could have significantly added to it.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?
Baggy jeans and Old Navy shirts.

33. What kept you sane?
My mom friends (especially G. and J.). Saturday mornings at Diesel. Doodles's wonderful day care teachers. Netflix. Long naps (Doodles's, not mine). Adam and Doodles time alone in the wee morning hours. Late night tea in cozy pjs. Long runs.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
This answer hasn't changed in nearly ten years: Jude Law.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Gay marriage. Absolutely. I really don't get that this is an issue. I'm so pro gay marriage, and I can't comprehend why anyone would be against it!

36. Who did you miss?
My friends in Seattle. I also missed my family more than in the past because I feel like they're missing out on so much of Doodles's life, and I wish they lived closer. Besides, I'd love the free babysitting.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
While I've met so many wonderful people this past year, hands down it has to be my friend J.L. (O's mom) She has become an integral part of my life and she's not just a mom friend, but a friend period.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004
The ability to ignore a stinky diaper is a highly underrated skill.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
"Mommies are women, women with children
Busy with children and things that they do
There are a lot of things a lot of mommies can do"

Wednesday, December 22

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time...

Good idea: Doodles is a messy child. I'm always searching for a wipe. So I thought it would be clever to simply leave a box of wipes in the car to wipe the snot, sand, and unknowns off his face.
Reality: I live in New England. Where it's winter. Take one box of wipes, place in car. You have a solid block of ice wipes. Not so useful anymore.

Good idea: Doodles is starting to speak. So I babble all the time and say, "Can you say [what Mommy just said]?"
Reality: Babbling while paying bills: "Duh, Mom! You need a pen to write the checks. Doodles can you say, 'Duh, Mom'? Uh..."

Good idea: Doodles was sick and so we couldn't go on our play dates. Where to go with a child who needs to run around? Why, the mall!
Reality: Um, who's the mommy that forgot just because her holiday is over and her shopping was finished in November that others might not be in the same boat? Let's recap. The mall. Four days before Christmas. Four friggin' days before Christmas. Sigh.

A Keeper

You know you've got a good guy when he willingly volunteers to interrupt his first viewing of Faith Rewarded: The Historic Season of the 2004 Boston Red Sox to watch Signing Time!: Playtime Signs to make a cranky Doodles happy.

Holiday Goodness

This is what was missing from our Thanksgiving dinner. You can bet it'll be on the table next year!!

Wednesday, December 15

Priceless

From the Quit While You're Ahead Department

J: Oh, look! On your I.M. I'm listed as "Extra Special Person"!
A: [with a touch of sarcasm] Of course you are.
J: What's that supposed to mean? When did you do that?
A: [gives me a weird look]
J: What?
A: I didn't do it.
J: Whadda mean?
A: You did it. I left you with my computer one day, and you got pissed that you were just "Friend" so you changed yourself.
J: [upset] What? Really?
A: Really.
J: Couldn't you have lied? Couldn't you have just said that you did it? I would never have known the difference!

[Five minutes later]
J: Give me your computer; I need to blog that. Hmmm, what were your exact words?
A: I don't remember.
J: Okay, then I'll embellish.
A: I expect nothing less.

Doy Doy No

No no no no no no. Doy. Doy. Doy. Fishes. Fishes. Bye bye! Bye bye! Bye bye! Ba-by. Ba-by. Bird! Bird! Bye bye! Bye bye! Bye bye! Bye bye! Tushie. Tushie. Bye bye! Bye bye! Bye bye! No no no no no. Yeah. No no. Yeah. No no. Bye bye! Bye bye! Bye bye! Bye bye! [waving violently]

Teapot Shmepots

Many, many years ago, I wrote the Tweedle Twirp a song. I can't remember what the occasion was--perhaps there wasn't one. One thing you need to know about Tweeds is she's little. I mean little! She's still the Littlest Brown even though she isn't the youngest. She shops Old Navy boys department because the clothes are cheaper but they still fit. She is the skinnest little thang out there and for a while I was accusing her of bulemia (which I knew wasn't true) because the kid can eat. No holds bar kind of eating. The put-it-away-but-it-doesn't-go-anywhere kind of eating. Other thing you should know is that she speaks with her hand in front of her mouth half the time.

So I started singing her this song, sung to the tune of "I'm a Little Tea Pot":
I'm a little Tweedle Twirp
Short and thin
Here's my dopey mannerism
Here's my twin
If you see me eating
Don't you shout!
Give me five more minutes
It'll all come out


Funny right! I'm a real comedian. Only it all came back to bite me in the butt (I mean tushie). At a Waldorf play group last week, the kind, gray-haired, flowing dress leader led the group in "I'm a Little Teapot." And I froze. Completely froze. For the life of me, I couldn't remember a single line of the original song. I'm sitting on the floor with Doodles on my lap muttering "twin" "all come out" half under my breath.

Oh well, he doesn't need to know every song out there.

Luck Be a Lady Tonight

Thanks to that new technology known as "the silverware tray," I am able to blog for you now. Toys? Bah! Books? Who needs them? Music? Eh. But give the Doodles a full silverware tray and he'll leave you alone for minutes--I say minutes!--at a time. He'll carefully remove the pieces of silverware one by one and shove them into drawers and cabinets all around the kitchen. True, for the next week I'll be saying, "Didn't we use to have more spoons?" and "Huh, how did that knife get in with the cereals?" But for the few moments of peace it gives me, it's worth it.

Last week was such a whirlwind of holidays and birthdays that I didn't get a chance to blog about my big event of last week. My former college roommate, whom I mentioned when this blog was young, lives north of New York City. Unfortunately, the Boston-New York trek is a little farther than either of us can make. Me, because I'm lazy. Her, because she has two young children. So we do what any two responsible, respectable, adult women would do: we meet at the casino midway between us and we get silly drunk, giggle a lot, and gamble away as much cash as we can in a five-hour period. We're trying to make this a yearly event--and we sort of are. We met last in January 2003 and then just now in December 2004. So technically, once a year. We're determined to meet up a little earlier in 2006.

So after sending Doodles and Adam off for their weekly Saturday morning swim class, I got in the car and drove the two hours to Foxwoods. After making my way through the maze of fake city streets, Jax and I find each other. Just like last time, we both ended up in opposing lobbies ("We'll find each other!") and it took many cell phone calls to track each other down. But the minute we saw each other, it was like old times. Jax is one of those people who I can pick up with after six months or a year and it seems like it's only been yesterday. There's never any awkwardness or weird pauses; we just dive right in.

Our first stop, of course, was the buffet. What's a trip to a casino without a buffet? After loading up on a winning combination of peel and eat shrimp, bbq kielbasa, spring rolls, corn on the cob, fettucine, and a hot fudge sundae, we were ready to hit the tables.

Jax introduced me to the wonder that is craps on our last trip. So this trip we headed straight there. Of course, in that time, I had completely forgotten how to play, so the cute croupier told me where to bet. Unfortunately, they rotate personnel pretty often so he left and I started to lose. I felt like an idiot shooting the dice. You'd think I'd love being at the center of things but when it comes to other people's money, I prefer to simply observe. I tossed them out and yelled, "Baby needs a new pair of boots," which actually was true as after swim class, Adam was taking Doodles to the shoe store for some winter boots. Jax was little help, having diminished her pile of chips and wandering off to figure out how some of the other games were played.

When my stack was looking too wee for me, I found Jax and we found our comfort zone: blackjack. Oh, I love blackjack. Luckily, Jax had her cheat sheet with her because I had forgotten the one Adam made me all those years ago for my bachelorette weekend in Vegas. The best thing about blackjack is just getting to sit next to Jax and shoot the breeze while being brought free drinks. Plus I was winning. Does it get any better? I was splitting, I was doubling down, I was "hit me, hit me, hit me!" Okay, so I was losing too but the winning happened more frequently, and in the end, that's all that matters.

Of course, I'm not a responsible gambler. No way, no how. I forget that those pretty chips actually connect to real dollars. We were at the $15 minimum tables (the cheapest tables on a Saturday), but I'd just take a stack and stick it out. When it came to double down, the dealer would have to count for me because I never knew how much I had out. It was completely random.

By the end of the day--maybe a smidgen later; I did have to call home to tell Adam that I wouldn't be home any time soon, never mind even close to when I had said I'd be home--I had made enough not just for Doodles's boots, but for a few things for myself.

Hey, Jax, you've been blogged! See you next year!

Wednesday, December 8

Ho, Ho, Ho...Not

Growing up, I don't remember much Christmas envy. I'm sure it was there, but I simply don't remember having it, at least not until I was about ten. Before that, we lived in Miami where the schools had teacher work days on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and the schools made sure that we all learned "Dreidel Dreidel" alongside "Winter Wonderland." My best friend always invited me over on Christmas Eve to help decorate her family's tree, which apparently was enough for me. At ten, we moved to Boulder, Colorado, where Jews in my school were as rare as a Red Sox world series win--we were there, but we weren't easy to come by. But even then, I don't recall caring that much. I'm sure I must have done the token "But why can't we have a Christmas tree?" spiel, but it's not something that scarred me.

So why is it that Christmas feels so much more overwhelming now? Has it always been so in your face and I just didn't realize it? Or has the commercialism
of Christmas gotten worse since the '70s? Because everywhere I turn with Doodles, Christmas seems to attack. At the mall, in late October, long lines for Santa. Christmas music piped into the supermarket. Elderly people walking up to us in the doctor's office waiting room to ask Doodles, "And what is Santa going to bring you this year?" I'm flanked by Christmas.

So the dilemma? How do you tactfully avoid the situation? To the folks who mean well, I say, "Actually, Santa doesn't visit our house." But how do I explain to Doodles, yes, there is no Santa, but shhhhh don't tell the kids who do believe in him. How do you handle those years when all he can see is Christmas everywhere but is too young to actually understand what it's all about and why we don't do it? I don't believe in making Hanukkah into a full-blown affair to try and match Christmas... except that's already what I'm doing. We have a cut-out menorah on our front door. Doodles has three Hanukkah books, a musical dreidel, a soft book of Hanukkah cut-outs, a plush menorah, and the Fisher Price Little People Hanukkah Set. I have eight nights worth of presents. I have Hanukkah music playing on the stereo.

Growing up, being Jewish was the absence of all (okay, most) things Christian. We didn't have a Christmas tree. We didn't visit Santa. We didn't have stockings. Okay, we painted and looked for Easter eggs, but that was the extent of it. Yes, there was a Passover seder, but that involved my father seeing how fast we could get through the Haggadah. On Rosh Hashanah, when we lived in Miami, we went to my grandmother's house. On Yom Kippur, my mother didn't let us go to school (in Colorado) but that just meant we could stay home and watch TV. We lit a menorah. That was Jewish. When we moved back to Miami Beach, Jewish was no longer freakish, but it didn't change our life much.

Once I was an adult, my mother suddenly found Santa. One Christmas Eve she announced, "I'm hanging a stocking by the fireplace. I wonder if Santa will put anything into it." And she took an old sock and taped it up to the fireplace (yes, we had a fireplace. In Miami Beach. Go figure). My sister and I had to drive a ways a way to find an open 7-11 to buy charcoal to put into the stocking. We did write a note: "This is what Jewish people get in their stockings." My mother was furious. I mean furious!! The next year to appease, Tweedles and I got her an actual stocking and filled it with tchotchkes.

And then there's my father. There's just too much there to even begin with my father. Suffice it to say, if my father had his way, there would have been egg nog, a tree, and lots of snow at our Miami Beach house.

So what to do about Doodles? I don't want Judaism to be about what he can't do; I want it to be full of rich traditions and memorable experiences. I want it to be about all the cool things we do as a family. And for eleven (okay, ten and a half; hmm, maybe ten) months out of the year, that's pretty easy to do. But during Christmas season, I long for jingle bells and cute little ornaments that read "Baby's First Christmas" (okay, it would be his second Christmas, but who's counting?).

I thought this wouldn't be a problem for a few years. But it's creeping in this year and I see it as a full-fledged issue next year. What's a nice Jewish mom to do?

Birthday Baby

It's my baby's birthday. Not the little one. The big one. Thirty-two. He thinks he's old. Hah! Don't get me started. What I don't get, though, is he didn't tell anyone! He made it through the whole day of work and didn't mention to a single person it was his birthday. How did I end up with a guy like that? Just in case any of you were wondering, my birthday is six months, two weeks, and three days away. Not that anyone is counting or anything....

Wednesday, December 1

Toddler Time

"Tyranny and anarchy are never far apart." --Jeremy Bentham
  • Adam wasn't moving fast enough one morning, so I gave him a playful shove and said, "Go go!" Doodles chimed right in, "Gogo! Gogo!" Now, when Doodle wants something, he says, "gogo!" as he points.
  • During morning cuddle time, Doodles, as is his want, had one hand at my belly, finger in my belly button, and the other to mouth, finger in mouth. He lounged on his back for about five minutes. Suddenly, he pulled his finger out of my belly button, rolled slightly over and shoved Adam. When Adam looked up, Doodles impatiently made the sign for milk, and servant properly beckoned, he promptly put his finger back in my belly.
  • We said, "Doodles, time to brush your teeth!" He began to walk to the bathroom, but then realized his father wasn't quite moving fast enough for him. So he turned around, got behind Adam, and pushed him all the way to the bathroom.