Thursday, December 27

Sunny Side Florida

I'm back. No hangover. Although I'd forgotten that Florida is a lawless state--no closing time for bars, smoke galore. I walked out of the Deuce smelling like a Phillip Morris factory and now my throat is raw. It what happens when you're out of the practice of inhaling second-hand smoke. I love going to the Deuce, although the crowd is quite different from when I started going there, when I was a young, underaged drinker afraid of getting booted out. I realized I've been going to that bar for twenty years now. I was there with a crowd of other old-timers (sorry, Rachel, Jennifer, and Bettina, but you are) celebrating early the 40th birthday of my cousin Oliver. We tortured the other patrons of the bar by playing the music we listened to when we went twenty years ago (and I still don't see what's so wrong with "Just Can't Get Enough." Even my own crowd gave me grief for that one).

The trip began inauspiciously: Our plan to leave on Monday the 24th were scratched when a family situation required us to be home on Friday the 21. So I scrambled to get our tickets changed, not the easiest feat during the holiday season, but I managed to get all of us on the 7:45 p.m. flight on Thursday. I knew the kids would be toast, arriving at 11:10 p.m., but we'd get them quickly to my parents' place and have them to bed and hopefully they'd be fresh for our obligations on Friday.

What's that they say about the best laid plains? That they'll screw you over and leave you in the middle of Logan airport with a screeching toddler with no desire to sleep at 11 p.m.? Yep, that's it.

Thursday began with a dashing of snow--kiddies went to school, the day went along as planned. One inch of snow. One inch. One inch. And that's what we got. One inch. And then another one inch. And another one inch... Delays at Logan. I checked before I did anything and was happy to see that we were still on schedule. For a 7:45 flight on the Thursday before Christmas we knew security would be a nightmare, so we figured we needed to be there at 6:30. We park offsite and take a shuttle over to Logan, so we figured we should be there about 6. I needed to pick Adam up at his office before we headed over, and as you may know, Boston traffic is rather notorious even when it's not snowing and rush hour. So we figured we should pick up Adam around 5. So we left our house at 4:45.

Traffic? What traffic? Got to Adam's just after 5. Got to parking just about 5:45. Got the car unloaded, car seat out, and at the shuttle at 6. At 6:05 my phone rang. "May I please speak to Jennifer?" the voice said. "Speaking," I replied. "Hi," the voice said. "This is Joan at American Airlines and I wanted to call you to let you know your flight has been delayed to 9:10 p.m." As we're on the shuttle. To the airport. At 6 p.m. With my toddler. And my preschooler.

At least we're assured it'll take us an hour to get the bags checked and through security. It's the first time ever I've been grateful for a long wait because I'm not sure how to kill time with these two. Adam juggles the stroller, a car seat, and three suitcases; I'm handling the kids and the carry-ons. Time to check-in bags? We walked straight through to open kiosk. Done by 6:20. The line for security? Nonexistent. You people out there who have flown out of terminal B at Logan: When have you ever not had a security line? When have you ever just walked right through? If you looked out your window on Thursday night and thought you saw Santa flying, sorry, it wasn't. They were merely pigs.

So it's now 6:30 and we have A LOT of time to kill. We go to the Todd English restaurant, Bonfire, where Pie is delighted to order mac and cheese and Doodles is willing to have the relatively healthy guacamole with some chips. And here's where we killed a lot of time. Because it took a full twenty minutes for someone to come back and report they were out of guacamole... and mac and cheese. Thank god those knives past security were plastic because I think the kids might have used them on the waitress... or me on the kids... or Adam on all of us. We survived a mac-and-cheese- and guacamole-free dinner and then headed down to our gate. To wait. And wait. And wait. Now my little munchkins who go to bed at 7 (the bigger muchkin) and 7:30 (the litter munchkin) react to lack of sleep in different ways. At about 7:30, unable to keep his eyes open any longer, Doodles climbed into Pie's stroller and went to sleep. Pie, forcing her eyes open, realized that if she took off her shoes, the center aisle of the terminal was as good as a Slip N Slide for running down and falling. "Wheee!" she yelled and everyone thought it was sooooo cute. That little muchkin running and yelling and jumping up and down.

But, oh, did they think it was so cute at 11:45 p.m. when the plane finally took off? My bigger muchkin curled into the seat, trying to sleep and the litter muchkin straining against her car seat screaming at the top of her lungs, hysterically, "Get me out! No like car seat! No like airplane!" Do you know what an overtired Pie does at midnight? Refuse to sleep and scream like a banshee. Still cute, folks?

We landed at 2:45 p.m. My parents left a car for us at the airport, so we waited for our luggage, Adam put in the car seats, and drove to my parents. We arrived about 3:40 a.m. and by the time we got Doodles down, it was 4 and Pie refused to shut those eyes until she was in our bed at 4:30. Which might have been workable had everyone not been up before 8:30 a.m. Needless to say, Pie was escorted out of the family obligation shortly after it began for screaming about sippy cups, sunglasses, and snacks.

I'd like to say that things improved from there, but frankly they didn't, and I'll spare you Adam's Day of Poop and the three days it took for for Pie to become almost human being-like again.

But yesterday things perked up. Rachel, Bettina, Jennifer, and I made the annual pilgrimage to the spa at The Standard, where we were buffed and polished to a high sheen, which we then showed off as we lounged in the steam bath, the hamman, the pool, and outdoor waterfall. No spa day is complete without a martini, of course, and it finally felt like vacation had begun. The evening continued with the aforementioned birthday party--complete with copious amounts of sushi and drink, which is pretty much my idea of heaven. Adam and I stayed out until--wait for it folks--midnight! Whoo hoo! We were partying like we were... well, like we were almost 40 (true, Adam is only 35, but he's old beyond his years).

So now, I plan to drink martinis, mainline cafe con leches, swim in my parents' newly heated pool, take a ride on my cousin's boat, and generally enjoy the decadent behavior one associates with South Beach. Happy new year everyone!


Wednesday, December 26


I have a choice between blogging and going to the Deuce for a drink. The Deuce wins. Will blog tomorrow pending hangover.


Wednesday, December 19

Sleepy Heads

We had a very busy couple of weeks. The weekend before the last was of course Hanukkah, filled with all the joy that is Hanukkah as well as all the smelly-house latke-old-oil fun, too-many-pieces-of-Hanukkah-gelt and it's-time-for-the-kids-to-go-to-bed fun, spending-way-too-much-on-gifts-fun, and oy-what-a-mess fun. In the course of one weekend, I hosted a lunch for my in-laws for Adam's birthday, attended two Hanukkah parties, and threw a Hanukkah open house. The next night was Adam's work event. Two nights later was the aforementioned night of kindergarten information, a day which started with a 5:30 a.m. boot camp class and ended with me running from the kindergarten information night to my b'nai mitzvah class, meaning I fell into bed about eleven. Of course there are holiday cards to mail and school events to help organize (remind me again why I signed on as room parent?), and general mishegas to deal with. Adam has been working a bunch, and he's been just as exhausted as I am.

Enter last Thursday. I'm beat. Adam's beat. We're ready for a bit of relaxation. But Thursday was predicted a storm--a biggie--and I was determined to be ready. This was already our second snow storm of the season--the kids have already had one snow day already--so Pie and I ran a zillion errands in the morning (including one where I asked Adam, "What's that L.L. Bean bag sitting in your car?" and he replied, "Oh, that? Remember about a year ago I bought that sweater I wasn't sure I liked? It's been sitting there so I can return it. Here, wait, take a look at it. Do you think I'd ever wear it?" That sweater was returned). We got gas for the car. We rented DVDs for grown-ups and kids. We bought food for both nourishment and for festivity. We picked up things that we were low on at the drug store. "Bring it on!" I said. "We are prepared!"

I got Doodles home after preschool and sure enough, shortly after, the snow began to fall. And fall. And fall. Adam left his office at 1:42 p.m. for the 20-minute commute home... and he arrived at 4:50 p.m. Late in the day, I plopped the kids in front of a video, donned my snow gear, and began to shovel. I shoveled a nice path for Adam to get his car into, cleared the front walk. I'm feeling macho, as I toss that snow away. I shovel until Adam comes home at which point, Adam joins me for a bit of shoveling. All told, I shoveled for about an hour and a half, and by the time I fed the kids and put them to bed, the walks needed shoveling again.

Adam and I had a generally relaxing night. Finished watching The Sopranos. Had a nice dinner. I worked on holiday cards while Adam fell asleep in the chair. We stumbled into bed, both of us pretty exhausted.

In the middle of the night, Doodles, as he is wont to do, stumbled his way into our bed. The next morning, I could feel him stirring, and I looked up and saw it was 6:30. I looked out the window and could see lots and lots of white. Doodles hopped out of bed. Adam stirred for a moment, said, "I'll be up in a sec," and then passed out. Doodles and I got dressed as quickly and quietly as we could and we headed out into the snow. Shovels in hand, we began to dig. And dig. And dig. Doodles quickly bored of the task (remember the song from Free to Be You and Me, "Helping" by Tom Smothers? "Some kind of help is the kind of help, that helping's all about! And some kind of help is the kind of help, we all can do without. Want to guess what Doodles's shoveling was like? "No, Doodles, please! Don't put snow on the area I just took snow away from!"), so he played in the snow and then went inside.

I cleared so much damn snow. At one point, I stuck my head inside and asked Doodles to read me the numbers off the clock. He said, "Um, seven. Four. Three." The night before, on his mega-commute home, Adam's Check Engine light went on. So I told Doodles, "Go wake Daddy and tell him if he needs to bring his car in, he should get up now."

Doodles wakes Adam up and everyone quickly gets ready for school and work. Adam gets out the door by about 8:20. But he's in a mood! He's harrumphing and snipping. Nothing's going his way. Finally, I say to him, "Why the hell are you so grumpy?"

And what do you think my Dartmouth- and Harvard-educated brilliant husband answered? What did he dare to say to me? He replied, "I got too much sleep last night."

I don't think there's a jury in this country that would convict me for murdering him.

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Wednesday, December 12

Blood Sports

Men think football is tough. Those Brits say rugby is even tougher. I've seen players get wailed in baseball. And how many hockey players have a full set of teeth.

You know what I say to all those players? Ha! You only think you know what tough is. Hockey? Bring it on. Football? Tom Brady doesn't scare me (well, the idea of an undefeated Patriots scares me a little, but it's not the point here). Rugby? Who needs a wussy helmet?

I've got a sport that puts them all to shame, a sport I may lobby the Olympic Committee to have added to the games. My sport? Oh, all you moms of preschoolers and toddlers already know what I'm talking about: It's the search for a car cart.

Yes, the car cart. It's a game of skill, of speed, of cunning. And lucky us, we get to play it two or three times a week.

It starts innocuously enough. Enter any Shaw's, any Stop N Shop, any Whole Foods, or whatever your supermarket of choice is, and you'll hear that plaintive whine, "Mommy! I need a car cart!" As everyone knows, the grocery stores keep approximately 2.1 car carts for every 27 preschoolers who enter the store, ensuring a good battle every time.

Some days, at some times, it's shooting fish in a barrel. You spot a lone one in the parking lot, with nary a soul around. It's yours. But other times, say five o'clock at the Whole Foods, and it's a blood sport. You leap from your car. Your teammates run ahead, to see if, by chance, there's one sitting at the entrance. From the corner of your eye, you see another minivan pulling in. "Run!" you yell. "Run faster! Don't forget to check the other side!" Little feet are huffing and puffing, while the younger of the two throws out additional challenges, just to make things more exciting. "Car cart! The space shuttle one!" The bigger ones, "I see one! I see one!" until you point out that someone's actually already sitting in that card. So you scour the parking lot, all the while keeping an eye of the other family emerging from the van, the one that is sending out their own pattering feet of car cart emissaries. You eye the other parent, mentally shooting rays of death, or at least, regular carts, at them.

The parking lot is empty. There's only one move left. The checkout line block. With screaming child in hand ("Mommy! I need a car cart! Where are the car carts?" you head to the checkout lines, where you dash up and down the aisles, just steps ahead of the other minivan parent. And then you see it. A car cart. In the far aisle. Warily, you approach the grown-up attached to the cart. "Would you mind?" you ask. "May I follow you out to your car?" No need to explain. They've all done it before themselves. So in the bitter cold, you carry one screaming toddler under your arm, with a preschooler hanging on for dear life to your jacket, as the other mom tells her two kids, "It's okay. We're all done with the cart. It's someone else's turn." Of course, this family is parked in Siberia, but it doesn't matter because you can push the kids back to the store.

Wait for bags to be unloaded. Wait for kids to stop screaming. Wait for kids to be unloaded. Unload your two in. Referee the "I wanted to sit on the other side!" commotion that happens no matter which side you seat your child. Head back into the store to buy the three items you actually came for, carefully maneuvering the cart, which is designed to hit as many endcaps as possible. Make sure to gloat to the other minivan family on your way in.

Football? Yea. I don't think so. Bring it on, boys.



Once upon a time, my husband was a lowly HBS student, and I blogged with a sense of impunity. I had strong feeling about my compatriot “partners” (read: wives of students), whom I almost fondly referred to as CWITs, which stands for “Corporate Wives in Training.” I lost many a frenemie with my blog posts, although a few of the hardy stood by me and are friends today. In those days, I knew the only person who would suffer from my blog posts was my HBS husband, and I figured since he walked into this marriage with his eyes open, then anything that hit him was, if not well deserved, at least not a surprise.

But now. Now. Now my son is preparing to enter the world of public school education. Tonight was our first informational meeting about navigating the school system. Brief speeches by the superintendent about how children are going to learn all their lives. A little talk from the school nurse about health issues. And questions and answers for the parents. Oh, how my little fingers are twitching to write about my parental peers. About their concerns. Their worries. Their, their, their, well, idiocies. But alas, I find I can’t do it. Because while Adam was well aware of what he was getting into when he married me, my poor Doodles had me thrust upon him, with no say in the matter. And if there are repercussions to be had because of my blog, it would be unfair to have him suffer. So you, my dear reader, will never know of the utter ridiculousness that plague my fellow parents. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm withholding good information. But I owe it to my Doodles.

On a serious note, this has been a tumultuous time. My baby is starting to prepare for kindergarten. We debated holding him back, as he makes the cut-off by a mere a week, but his preschool teachers seem to feel strongly that he wouldn't benefit from another year in preschool and that he's just as mature as his peers, so off he'll go. I know there are plenty of arguments for holding him back based on the later years, but I think it's impossible to know now what kind of kid he'll be at thirteen, so we send him, hope for the best, and deal with any problems as they arise. But looking at the school tonight, it just seemed so big. My little munchkin in a class of eighteen to twenty-one? No way! It just doesn't seem possible.

And then there's the other big change in my life. I did it. I finally weaned Pie. It's been ten days since she's last had Ming Ming, and we're both surviving, although I'm going through a hormonal roller coaster that's just not letting up. I'm reclaiming my body, although I barely remember what that was like. I got pregnant with Doodles in late November/early December 2002. And that was the last time my body was mine. I was pregnant till August 2003, nursed until September 2004, and then was pregnant again in November 2004. I've been pregnant or nursing for a solid five years now. I'm all done. Adam and I briefly debated having a third child, but have finally come to the conclusion that two is the right number for us, so that's that. Pie is doing okay with it, although she's been a bit crankier lately. And you know? I kind of miss it. Oh, not the Ming Ming part. I really didn't like that. But just before she was so cuddly and happy and she'd snuggle and laugh and she was always so sated and delighted after. I miss happy Pie. I still get the snuggles and laughs, but not as reliably and it's not the same. Makes me almost--almost!--wish I had kept going, but really, enough is enough. Extended breastfeeding is a wonderful thing... for other moms.

So there we are. Pie is off the boob and Doodles is preparing for kindergarten. It's a brave new world out there, people.


Wednesday, December 5

Dreidel Dreidel

And to wish everyone a Happy Hanukkah, I leave you with this, this, well, this!, sent to me courtesy of my sister. My only question (as my son reads from the Torah he made himself out of gift wrapping rolls) is: WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS FIRST?


Dirty Laundry

As some of you may know--I'm pretty sure I've blogged about it before--my parents traumatized me at a young age with laundry. Suffice it to say, I don't do laundry. I just don't. In New York, I dropped it off to be done at the Laundromat. In Seattle, I simply bought new underwear. In Boston, I leave Adam to do it. Oh sure, he complains every now and then, and I tell him, if he actually left it long enough I would get around to doing it. But he doesn't seem to want to wait and see just how long "enough" is.

So my kids are fully aware that laundry is a "daddy job." Mommies don't do laundry. It's just how life works. Pie, for Hanukkah, got the book Knufflebunny. It was a favorite at her day care and we'd checked it out many times from the library, so she was very excited to own a copy. Doodles got Knufflebunny Too. Our house is full of "Aggle Flaggle Klabbles" and "Snurps" these days (and often at very random times0. But I pointed something out in the book tonight as I was reading it to the kids:

Me: Hey, who does laundry in this book?
Doodles: The daddy.
Me: Who does laundry in our house?
Doodles: Daddy.
Me: How come?
Doodles: Because laundry is a daddy job.
Me: That's right. So you better learn how to do laundry so when you grow up, you can do laundry for your family when you're a daddy.
Pie: I want to do laundry!
Me: I'm sorry, sweetie. Mommies don't do laundry.
Pie: But I want to do laundry, too!
Me: Oh, okay. You can do laundry, too.
Doodles: No!
Me: You don't want to do laundry?
Doodles: I don't want to be a daddy! But I do want to do laundry!

Even if Doodles doesn't become a daddy, some day, some lucky person in Doodles's life owes me a great big thanks.


God Is in the Details...Among Other Places

As a family, we're very active in our local synagogue. The kids go to a Jewish preschool, I co-chair a regular kids' activity there, I'm studying myself for my b'nai mitzvah (better known to you goyim as my bat mitzvah--most kids have their bat or bar mitzvah when they're thirteen, but I never had one, so I'll be doing it when I'm forty. Of course, for all you Jews out there who want to be technical, yes, I was a bat mitzvah whether or not I read from the Torah at thirteen, but you know what I'm talking about).

But one of the things I've made no secret of is that I struggle with the concept of God. I partake and enjoy Judaism from an historical, intellectual, and cultural basis, but have a difficult time with the actual religious aspects. Doodles and Pie get a healthy dose of God at school, and I try to temper it with my own beliefs. At their school, they never say, "God did this." They say, "The Torah says that God did this." It's a subtle distinction but one I'm comfortable with, as it gives me a basis for discussion with Doodles (and eventually Pie). But yet, we still have these conversations like this:

Doodles: Why did God create sharks?
Me: Well, I know the Torah says God created sharks, but that's not what I believe. I believe in evolution. Remember we talked about evolution? I don't think God actually made sharks.
Doodles: Yes, he did. But why?

Then I had a conversation with another preschool mom the other day, during which she said to me, "So J. [her son] came home and said, 'God is a man.' My husband and I explained to him that God isn't really a man or a woman, but more of a spirit, in everything, blah blah, but J. said, 'No. God is a man. I know because Doodles told me he was.'"

So my budding theologist had me cornered in the car this week (all conversations seem to happen in the car where I have to tell him to yell so I can hear him clearly--damn big minivan!), and he hit me with this conversation:

Doodles: Is God made up?
Me: Well, different people believe different things. Some people think God is made up. And some people don't. Rabbi L. and S. [the preschool director] believe God is real. Peter [my father] doesn't. Peter thinks God is made up.
Doodles: So is he made up?
Me: Let me ask you, do you feel God in your heart?
Doodles: Yes.
Me: Then he's not made up. He's in your heart so he's real.
Doodles: Does Pie feel God in her heart?
Me: I don't know. Pie is a little young to express that kind of stuff. When she gets older, we can ask her. I know Daddy feels God in his heart.
Doodles: How do you know that?
Me: Daddy and I have talked about it before.
Doodles: Do you feel God in your heart?
Me: I feel something. Perhaps it's God. [hedging] I can sometimes feel God in my heart.
Doodles: So Rabbi L. and S. feel God in their hearts?
Me: Yes.
Doodles: But Peter doesn't feel God in his heart?
Me: Correct.
Doodles: So does Peter feel God in his neck?

For the record, Peter doesn't feel him in his neck, his armpits, or the back of his knees. I didn't ask what is in his pinky toe. Some things I just don't need to know.

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