Wednesday, February 28

A Doldrumy Day

Last week was school vacation week, which meant all regular activities (like music class and ice skating class) were canceled and I needed to come up with a game plan. On the days that Pie had day care, Doodles and I had a lot of fun. It's weird going out with him now as I no longer need three bags of paraphernalia. He doesn't need diapers. He eats real food (sort of). I don't need a collection of distracting toys. The days out with Doodles and my regular Friday-morning alone time with Pie makes me realize that, yes I love my children, but I sure like them better individually. I actually have fun when I'm alone with either one of them. It's when I have to deal with two of them that I go insane.

So last Thursday I was desperately trying to come up with something for us to do. I at least knew we had lunch with Adam to get us out of the house, but I wanted something to occupy our morning. It was pretty cold and muddy and icy out, but I came up with a few ideas.

Me to Doodles: So, this morning, we can go see the cows and pigs at Drumlin Farm. We can go to a greenhouse and look at plants inside. We can just go out and take a walk. Which of those would you like to do?
Doodles: I don't want to do any of that.
Me: What do you want to do?
Doodles: Um, what are my choices?
Me: [Sigh]We can go see the cows and pigs at Drumlin Farm. We can go to a greenhouse and look at plants inside. We can just go out and take a walk.
Doodles: No. Um, we can go to Starbucks!
Me: No.
Doodles: A toy store?
Me: No.
Doodles: I want to get my hair cut.

At which point I call our salon (yes, he gets his hair cut at my salon), and find out that his stylist doesn't come in till 12:30.

Me: Diana isn't cutting hair this morning.
Doodles: Oh. Is someone else there?
Me: Yes.
Doodles: Then someone else can cut my hair.
Me: No, let's wait for Diana.
Doodles: So what are we going to do?

I ended up building a cave out of chairs and sheets with limited success, because Doodles wanted to hide in the cave and Pie just wanted to rip the sheets down. I found that if I hid out in my office, I could pretend I didn't hear the "Nooooo! Noooo, Pie! Noooo, don't do that!" and the maniacal laughter from her.

Ah, just think. Less than two months till spring vacation in April. Gee, I can't wait.

Dance Club Kids

bad girlFollowing in the Brittney Spears tradition, Adam and I decided to take the kids clubbing last Sunday. We headed for a bar in the city, got the kids liquored up, and then let them loose on the dance floor. Well, sort of. It was Baby Loves Disco, which is apparently making its way around the country. One afternoon a month, a club is opened for the toddler set, complete with tattooing (Doodles picked out a lovely triceratops tat for himself; since Pie couldn't seem to make up her mind, I chose her tattoo for her), "chill out" area with books and toys, egg shakers and scarves on the dance floor, and a spread that included organic cookies and juice boxes. It was a pleasant enough afternoon, although I wish the music had been a tad better.

bar boyOf course, the afternoon just highlighted the differences between my children. The minute Pie got downstairs, that little butt started its shake. She grabbed as many egg shakers as she could in her hands--and then tried to grab even more--and she tossed her chubby arms out and shimmied on the dance floor. She'd run and go crazy when the bubble machine went off and then shimmy a little more. And Doodles? He sat at the bar. For over an hour. Nursing a glass of water. And when it was time to go, we had to force him from his bar stool. Unfortunately, I fear that not much is going to change in the next 18 years: the vixen on the dance floor; the loner at the bar. God help me.

Wednesday, February 21

Birds and Bees

Doodles has been asking a lot of tough questions lately. About life. God. Sex. He asked me the other day:

Doodles: How do people get built?
Me: People aren't built. They are born like animals are born.
Doodles: How do they get born?
Me: Mommies and daddies make children.
Doodles: And they go in the mommies' bellies?
Me: Yep.
Doodles: And how do they get out?
Me [yes, I know I completely cheated here!]: Babies come out in different ways. When you and Pie were born, for instance, the doctors cut me open and took you out. See, here's the scar.
Doodles: How do the babies get into the mommies?
Me: The daddies put them there.
Doodles: How?
Me: They give a special hug.
Doodles: A special hug?
Me: Yep, a special hug that only grown-ups do.
Doodles: How do they do it?
Me: By hugging?
Doodles: By hugging?
Me: Uh, yeah. [Then thinking is he going to worry about making babies when he hugs his friends?] But it's a different kind of hug. A special hug. A, um, a naked hug.
Doodles: A naked hug!!
Me: Yes.
Doodles: A naked hug!!
Me: Yes.
Doodles [shaking his head]: You hug naked?
Me: Yes.
Doodles: But it's only for grown-ups!
Me: Absolutely.
Doodles: Can I see?
Me: No.
Doodles: Oh. Does Daddy work in a skyscraper?

I sigh a sigh of relief and tell myself I'll be prepared when this comes up again (these topics come up every two weeks, each time with more questions), but I never am.

Frogs on Skates

Adam is back from his travels and life is back to the way it's always been. You know, loud, chaotic, and messy. But with nightly relief for me. Just like it's supposed to be.

Today Doodles and I had one of those perfect New England days that make me happy we live here. The weather is turning nice, with highs in the midforties, which is exactly where I like my winters to hang out. Doodles has school vacation week (and this February vacation week is new to me; growing up we had spring break in--surprise!--spring. How did New England folks get this extra week? I don't think it's a very Puritan thing to do!) but Pie's daycare is still open, so we had a special Mommy/Doodles Day.

First thing we did was take the T into the city. And we could have ended things right there. Doodles stared out that window into black nothingness (because, as I pointed out to him many times, the whole point of a subway is the sub part) with absolute rapt fascination. When we exited the train, he wanted to just stand there and watch the trains come and go, until I reminded him that we'd be going home on the subway as well.

Heading out into daylight, we walked through Boston Common on a mission to the Frog Pond. And while he was a little tentative about the frog statues at the end, he was extremely excited about ice skating outside. Oh the wonder of it! He went around by himself a couple of times and then wanted to skate holding hands so he could actually glide (in his ice skating lessons, they're teaching him to first sort of walk/skate on the ice). Which was really fun, but given that it was my second time ice skating, a little challenging for me (hey, I'm a Beach gal! Great swimmer, not so great at winter sports). We were going pretty slowly, but I'm guessing I'll have some nice soreness tomorrow.

(Rant: Doodles is actually pretty decent on the skates, and there were a ton of kids out there that were clearly very new skaters--going down every step or two. But Doodles and I were one of only four people [out of over a hundred] wearing a helmet. Doodles asked why no one else was wearing a helmet and he seemed to accept my answer: "They're not very smart." Although, now that I think about it, one of the groups was a YMCA group, so perhaps the parents didn't think about it when they sent their kids off, much like my mother didn't think I'd be humiliated and traumatized for life when she sent me on a fishing field trip with my YMCA group and outfitted me with, basically, a string on a broom handle [think Curious George], but you don't really want to hear about that--I'll save it for when I go back into therapy.)

We skated for just over an hour, then went and had pizza for lunch. Walked around a little. Took the T back. Hit a Starbucks for hot chocolate. Doodles was so worn out, he actually told me he was sleepy and took an hour nap (I had to wake him to pick up the Pie).

Of course, the Pie undid all my happiness with her nightly temper tantrum. For the first time, it started at school (as I tried to get a jacket on her), and her teacher looked surprised and said, "We've never seen this Pie before!" Great. That's it. She uses up all the good stuff at school. No, no, we did have some good moments at home, especially in her pre-bath naked strut that is just the cutest thing. Although she did get ejected from the bath after the fifth time I told her she couldn't drink the bath water and she just smiled at me, stuck her face down, and took a big gulp. And then had another temper tantrum. Doodles and I had the perfect New England day. And Pie is preparing to be the perfect New England Red Sox fan. A Boston day all around.

Wednesday, February 14

8:07 p.m. Report

And all the mice are tucked happily into their (or my, as the case may be for the older child) beds and I am officially off duty. That fourth snow shoveling completely did me in and I know that tomorrow the walkway and driveway are going to be a sheet of ice, but for now, I'm off to a well-deserved shower, a little dinner, and then some reading time in bed (I'm so digging my book!) before an early shut eye. I'm going to ignore the disaster area that is my home (how did the colander end up in the living room?) and deal with it tomorrow. Hopefully the roads will be clear enough to tomorrow to head to ice skating. Otherwise, we'll go for day two of snowbound! Dear God, please let's not have day two of snowbound. Adam, you owe me big....

4:48 p.m. Report

The sweet potato muffins are in the oven. I'm headed out for my fourth and final shovel of the day (I was worried about how I'd get my exercise while Adam was out of town. I think this falls under the "Be careful what you wish for."). Pie is amusing herself by spilling milk out of her sippy cup and using a dish towel to wipe it up. Doodles is putting pots on his head and dancing (note to Adam: when I can't find all the pot lids later, remind me that they're in the paper bag in the playroom). Both kids are bathed and in pajamas. And I have a mere two hours and twelve minutes till the first bedtime....

1:22 p.m. Report

(Note the pink boots!)

11:34 a.m. Report

And our second Abort! of the morning. Pie couldn't wait to get outside in the snow. Doodles wanted nothing to do with it. Once outside, Pie didn't want anything to do with it. Doodles couldn't get enough. We lasted twenty minutes (which is probably all someone Pie's age should be out there anyway)and I dragged them around with a sled. I promised him more during Pie's nap.

11:02 a.m. Report

Abort! Abort! I made it halfway up the hill around the corner before my van did a slow skid out. Freaked me out, I turned around, and now we're back home, much to the disappointment of my kids. Doodles really wanted to go out... but he doesn't want to go outside. I said, "We'll throw on snowpants and play in the snow!" That got a big fat, "Nooo!" "Okay, I'll take Pie out while you stay inside." "Noooo! Stay inside with me!"

We're going out. We can't not get a little fresh air. This may involve screaming. By the kids too!

10:14 a.m. Report

My son just announced, "I'm exhausted!" Can't for the life of me figure out why.

They've gotten one show this morning as it was the only way I could outside and shovel without worrying about what they were getting into. Of course, moments after I shoveled the plow came and now I need to reshovel before we go to the dentist. Sigh.

As an FYI to you: I've completely given in. I checked this book out of the library yesterday.

8:20 a.m. Report

Sh*t!! The dentist's office is not closed. And because I completely forgot the last one, I can't cancel this one. Oh well. My showing up with Doodles and Pie will be enough payback to them for not closing. After this appointment, bet they'll close next time!

8:06 a.m. Report

Okay, in all fairness, I did prepare for today. I went to the library yesterday and checked out a zillion space and train books. Went to the video store and rented things for both kids. Made sure we had everything in the house to make muffins. Crayons are stockpiled. So why is it the house is already torn apart and kids are clamoring outside my office door? Hmmm. Wondering if those chocolate hearts for Valentine's breakfast were a mistake...

Valentine's Day Report

Note to self: When using whole wheat flour, it takes A LOT of food coloring to get a tint and even then your son will whine, "But I wanted it all red!"

Also: When making heart-shaped pancakes using a condiment bottle to squeeze out the shape, skip the oatmeal in the pancakes. It clogs it all up nicely even after you hack open a bigger hole with a kitchen knife.

7:33 a.m. Report

Let me give you some background on Snow Day 2007. It's a day when the world conspired with me. Why? Because next week is February vacation week, which means I get nary a work day. And this week? This week my charming husband decided to desert me for a conference in London. All week. All friggin' week long. 4:30 a.m. wake ups all week long. 5 p.m. meltdowns all week long. That all week long. And my mom had meetings and my sister's teaching a class and my dad's in Florida so there was no one to come help. So I have the kids all week long. With a snow day. And, I have to say the forecasters were correct, it is coming down. I'm going to have to suit up and do a little shoveling soon. The normal rule in our house is no TV till 5 p.m. Today we may alter that rule to 5 a.m.

Snow Day 2007: 6 a.m. Report

Doodles is practicing his alphabet as we watch the school closures on the news. Okay, there are the H schools. We're up to the L schools. Wait for it, wait for it... yep, there it is. Doodles preschool closed! Pie's day care closed! I'm looking out the window and even for this Miami Beach gal it doesn't look that bad. But it is still coming down steadily and they've given it such a nice name: the Valentine Nor'Easter. Okay, not the most clever, but it does the trick.

Breaking with normal blog tradition I will today give you updates on how I survive Snow Day 2007.

Boogie On

That girl has got the rhythm, which is somewhat shocking given the gene pool she descends from. The second she hears a beat or a note, Pie's tush starts to groove. Last Saturday we attended a bris. The congregation began to sing "Hinei Ma Tov," which for those in the know, is not exactly a rockin' tune. Didn't matter to Pie. Her little butt couldn't stop from shaking. On Sunday morning I was waiting for a response from Adam to a question and he was taking a long time, so I started humming the theme from Jeopardy. Pie stopped what she was doing, threw her arms in the air and began wiggling her hips. When her brother "plays" the horribly out of tune guitar, she gets jiggy. My favorite thing is when she hears music in her head. Sometimes she'll be doing something and all of a sudden it's like melodies are playing in her head because out of nowhere she'll start to dance. I've decided I've got to find a movement class for that girl, get her some dedicated groovin' time. Because God knows she's not going to get any coordinated moves at home!

Wednesday, February 7

Self-Indulgent Mom-Angst Post

This post probably isn't of interest to, oh, anyone, but it's what's been occupying my brain, so I'm going to try and work it out here:

I sent my child to day care today despite the gushing nose. In all fairness to me, I did take her to the doctor this morning, who gave her the all clear and said she was definitely fine for school. But now I'm feeling lots of mom-angst, because here it is, 12:30, and I've actually completed everything that needs to be done. In anticipation of keeping her home from school, I stayed up late last night working and worked a whole bunch in the wee hours of this morning so it wouldn't be a disaster if I couldn't work today. Oh, don't get me wrong--I have a freelance proofreading job beckoning me from my desk, but it's not due for three weeks, which is an eternity for me, so there's no urgency there.

I don't write about work, because I think it's unprofessional to do so, no matter how juicy a tidbit I want to share. But lately I've been having more aggravation about what I'm doing as I try to figure out what the kids are going to do next fall. Doodles's preschool is a three-day-a-week affair right now. Two of the days he goes, he's in extended day until 3:30 and on those days Pie is in day care till 4. But next year, it's five days a week for Doodles.

The thing is, it's been a really rough transition for Doodles from day care to preschool. While he seems to like the school itself, he's definitely not a fan of extended day. He says frequently that he misses his old school, but when pressed, all he'll say is he misses the bikes and the toys. He rarely asks for his old friends and often when I suggest a playdate with one of them, he says he doesn't want to and then suggests someone else to play with. In fact, when I asked if he wanted to make a playdate with someone from his new school, he instantly and excitedly named his teacher. When I explained that wasn't going to happen, he easily named someone else, a girl, and all day he couldn't wait for her to come over.

So, the dilemma: the program just this year started a two-day-a-week toddler program for two year olds. Which means I can send Pie there in the fall. However they will not have extended day for toddlers. Which means that I would have two three-hour work blocks (less when you count travel time to and from school). Pie does fine in her day care and I truly think it's an excellent day care. But I prefer the preschool because of its curriculum (it's a Jewish preschool) and I like the atmosphere.

A minor, but possibly relevant, digression: I was absolutely FLOORED the other day when Pie's teacher mentioned how shy and quiet she is in class. My Pie? My fiesty show-off-her-belly-button, gotta boogie Pie is shy? Looking around, I realized that she's the ONLY girl in her class on Mondays and there's only one other girl in there on Wednesdays. Not that I think that the gender of the other kids is the issue, but it made me a little wary, my lone little girl in this sea of boys. Could that be part of the shyness?

Back on topic: If I transfer Pie in the fall, I think it would make the transition much smoother. Let's face it: At two, the kids are friends with the people we tell them they're friends with. "Oh, Pie, look! It's your friend Gracie!" At three, they actually have friends who they like and could miss. Not only that, by moving Pie in the fall, she'd be in the same school as her brother, which I think would also make things easier for her (and for me--one drop-off and pick-up).

The day care has said they're willing to break their two-day-a-week minimum policy if I want to send Pie there just one day, but they strongly recommend against it because it's rough on both the kid and the teacher. I see their point and I've already decided against that option. I think it would be too confusing for her to be at preschool two mornings and day care one day. The other option I've been thinking abou t is sending Pie and then hiring a babysitter to come to the house on Wednesdays to babysit and then I'd only need to send Doodles to extended day at preschool that one day. But how hard will it be to find a babysitter to work one full day a week?

Of course, I could just completely back off of work for the one school year (the summer after that she's old enough for extended day). My income is superfluous; so as long as I did the minimal amount of work possible to maintain my working contacts, I could easily just work less, although it would mean more working in evenings and weekends. Doodles would be happy--no extended day. Pie would most likely be happy. I could work those two mornings and if--somehow, by some miracle--I could convince Doodles to play on his own while Pie naps, I could work then as well, which would be another ten hours a week (two hours a day), which would actually make it doable. But that's a big fat if.

Or I could just leave things as is, keep her in day care two days a week, have Doodles do extended day two days a week and keep working as usual. However the more I think about it, the more committed I am to sending her to a traditional preschool program as opposed to a day care.

Or the final option--which of course would be my preference--is finish my novel, sell it, and then not worry about my contacts because I'll be able to devote all my working time to simply writing novels. Works for me!

What do other moms and dads do? Adam is no help here, because it's my career on the line, not his. Argggg!