Wednesday, January 30

Too Big for His Britches

And then there's the Doodles, who's no longer a bug in any way shape or form. The questions are nonstop. And they're getting tougher. Keeping in mind the advice of a fellow preschool mother, who told me that when kids ask about where babies come from, they're often asking something else (like "Where was I born" or "Are babies born in hospitals"), we've been reading How Are Babies Made, which I think is both informative and age appropriate. Just enough details, but not overly specific ("The baby squeezes out of the opening between the mother's legs"). So I guess no one reading this will be surprised when I tell you that he looked at me with a puzzled expression and asked, "But how does the sperm get from the daddy to inside the mommy?" After I stopped laughing hysterically, I went back to the old tried and true "special naked hug" and for the moment, it appeased him.

Then there are the religion questions. I wish I could remember how this topic came up--I think it started with one of his pronouncements that when he grows up he wants to be a daddy and also various discussions about who is and who isn't Jewish--but somehow, we ended up here:
Doodles: What if I marry a Santa person [Doodles's own term for a gentile].
Me: What if you do?
Doodles: Will my children be Jewish?
Me: If you and your wife want to raise your children as Santa children, then you will. If you and your wife want your children to be Jewish, they can be converted and become Jewish. [Note: Judaism is a matrilineal religion.]
Doodles: They can be Jewish?
Me: If you and your wife both decide on it.
Doodles: How do they get converted?
Me: Well, a rabbi would perform a ceremony and they'd become Jewish?
Doodles: How will I find a rabbi?
Me: I'm sure you'll know some rabbi who you can ask.
Doodles [slight panic in his voice]: But what if I don't?
Me: Well, you can always the rabbis you have now, Rabbi L. or Rabbi J.
Doodles: Oh. Okay.

So there you have it. Doodles will get married. He will have a special naked hug. And he will find a rabbi. And all is well in the world. Until his next question....

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Devil in the Diaper

That devil has found new and unusual ways to torture me. There's the straightforward approach:

Before nap time, we have debates on whether or not she should change into her pajamas. She wins. Gets into pajamas.:

Pie: I ready for nap.
Me: You're tired?
Pie: Yeah.
Me: That's great! So no crying?
Pie [squinching up face in her Pie way]: No, Sweetie cry.
Me: But you're tired!
Pie: Yes.
Me: But you're going to cry?
Pie: Yes.
Me: Why will Sweetie cry?
Pie: Because Sweetie cry and Mommy and Daddy get sad.
Me: So maybe you won't cry?
Pie: No. Sweetie cry. So Mommy and Daddy get sad.

But then there's the insidious ways she inflicts her sadistic her persecution. Because Sweetie? She's figured out the thing that will get me at the core. The thing that will bring me to my knees. My Sweet Sweetie Pie, my little butterball, my little beauty, well... Sweetie had become Smoochless Sweetie.

That's right. My little one has cut me off from the thing that makes parenting worthwhile: those little pecks of the lips.

I'm not even sure how it started, but it's evolved to this:
Adam: Time to give Mommy a good-night smooch.
Pie: Okay.
Me: It's nighty-night time for Sweetie Pie!
[I lean in. Pie's hand shoots in front of her face]
Pie: No smooch! High five.
And so Pie gets a bedtime high five now.
She got me once when she was procrastinating. Adam came back downstairs.
Adam: She wants her smooch after all.
Pie: Smooch, Mommy!
Pie starts to move her mouth around in the our tradition of "warming up" the mouth for a smooch. I start to warm up my mouth. She leans toward me with a big pucker. I lean in and get within centimeters of her face when she jumps back.
Pie: NO!
The hand goes flying up.
Pie: High five.

If I want to piss her off--which, yes, I occasionally want to do--I give her a smooch. "No!! No smooch! No smooch!" and she vigorously wipes it off. I like to taunt her, "Oh no, Sweetie! You still have a bit of smooch there!" I start wiping her face. "Oh, you missed a spot there!" She starts wiping. "There's still smooch on me!" she'll wail until her face has been sufficiently scrubbed. It's my new form of punishment: Pie, if you don't behave, I'm going to smooch you! Works every time.


Wednesday, January 23

What Goes Down, Must Come Up

Hey, it's me! I know, it's the middle of the morning, my working time. And God knows I need the working time given that I get a whopping 2 1/2 hours a day three days a week and last week we had one snow day and this week had MLK day, leaving me with just 2 1/2 hours twice during the week. Not like I have assignments due. No, not at all! But here it is, 11 a.m. and I'm just lounging away, blogging, TV on, bonbons by my side.

Oh, wait, those aren't bonbons! That's just an empty pot waiting for my son to throw up into. And Ernie and Bert are getting a little grating on that TV. Sigh...

The thing is, Doodles is actually bona fide sick. I always have my doubts, given that he's been having a tough time separating from me at school. Every morning it's "My bones hurt. My head hurts. My chin hurts." I just "yea, yea" him and pack him off to school. But last night at about 4:30, he told me his throat hurt. Hmmm. Then at 5 p.m., he had a massive emptying of his belly onto the kitchen floor. Okay, now I'm starting to believe him. I quickly try to mop up the mess, get him out of his clothes, keep Pie out of the throw up, IM Adam to get his butt home, and start to run a bath. At 5:14, the house reeking of vomit, I get him into the tub. At 5:16 the power went out. For over an hour and a half. Shortest bath on record as I hurry him out, hunt for flashlights and candles, and settle everyone in the living room to wait for Adam. The house still smells because there's a pile of disgusting clothes and cloths in the kitchen that need to go downstairs, but no way am I attempting the basement in the dark. I can see the neighbors fleeing their houses for evenings out, but because of little throw-up boy, we're stuck in the house. Adam finally gets home, I send him right back out to Panera for plain bread and yogurt for the big little one and a sandwich for the little little one. Panera, though, is mobbed because it turns out a huge portion of town is without electricity.

Kids get fed. Electricity goes back on. And an e-mail appears in my in-box that strep is going around the preschool.

So here we are. One prescription for Amoxicilian. One morning of PBS Sprout. And one morning (more) of no work getting done. The joys of motherhood. Adam seriously better be bringing me home bonbons tonight. Oops. What's that coming up on the other side of the room? Gotta go...


One for Marlo Thomas

Doodles was having his morning constitutional and Pie was bugging him, so to distract her, I said, "Pie, where's your baby?"

Pie ran to get her doll, but of course, ran back to be with her brother again. He, though, didn't mind. Here's their chat:

Pie: I have my baby!
Doodles: Oh! It's your baby!
Pie: Yeah.
Doodles: I can be the baby's daddy!
Pie: Okay. You be baby daddy.
Doodles: Pie, I'll change your baby's diaper and do her laundry.
Pie: Okay.
Doodles: Because they're daddy jobs.
Pie: Yeah.
Doodles: I'll take good care of your baby.

Feminist heart of mine, be still!

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Wednesday, January 16

Gettin' Big Fast

In all seriousness, my little boy is showing some big boy interests. Doodles is currently obsessed with Star Wars. He comes home from school with pictures that he's asked his teacher's to label, which he calls his "movies": "Luke Skywalker and light saver," "Star Wars reflections in outer space," "Someone from Star Wars caught one of the laser blades," "That's the end, Star Wars laser blade movie." At our neighbors house, he ogles the Star Wars pop-up book. He can tell you all about Anakin, who turns into Darth Vader. Thing is, he's never seen the movie. And he won't. Not for, oh, about a zillion years. You think I'm going to let the kid who is frightened of Swiper on Dora watch Star Wars? The kid who walked out of Ratatouille because it was too scary? Who refuses to go upstairs alone at night to get his pajamas? Oh, how he begs for the movie, but I stand firm. But it just seems so odd for my little guy to be blathering about Darth Maul and "light savers."

But his interests really are changing. He wants to be read chapter books. He's really trying to expand his food repertoire (with a bit of success, I should add!). He's reporting with pride his job each week at school (this week he's attendance taker). And today we got his kindergarten registration forms. I teased him about it: "You're not old enough for kindergarten!" I said. He agreed. "I know. I'm four and a quarter. But soon I'll be four and a half and after four and a half is four and three quarters and then is five and five is old enough and then I'll go to kindergarten!" (Yet he can't read a digital clock?)

My little baby. Not so much. How is this happening?


Greater Than. Lesser Than. Equal To.

Every other Wednesday, I go to a boot camp class at 5:30 a.m. I leave the house at about 5:15, so Adam's on his own with the munchkins. This conversation was reported to me this evening (note, Doodles makes his way into our bed in the middle of every night, so this conversation is taking place with a half asleep Adam in bed):

Doodles: Daddy, can we go downstairs?

Adam: What are the numbers on the clock?

Doodles: Um. Five. Four. Eight.

Adam: Okay, when the clock numbers are Five, five, five, let me know and we can go downstairs.

Adam dozes off again. He's woken up again.

Doodles: Daddy?

Adam: Mmm, hmm?

Doodles: Daddy, it's taking a very long time.

Adam: Well, what are the numbers on the clock now?

Doodles: Um. Six. Zero. Two.

My father thinks he's going to teach Doodles about Fibonacci series. I think he may want to start with a few more basics. Community college, here he comes!


What More Could a Girl Want?

The other day, Pie was pulling every trick out of the book to avoid nap time. She was clearly exhausted but didn't want to give in. She had climbed down from lunch in order to play with Doodles, so I put her in her crib. "No!" she screamed. "Hungry! I finish lunch!"

"You finished lunch," I told her. "Remember? You got down from the table. Lunch is done."

"I need pencil!" she tried.

"Nope. No pencils in bed."

"Pencil, pencil, pencil!" she screams and as I head for the door, she changes tact. "Poop in diaper!"

I pause. Is this a trick? "Really?"

Satisfied that she's found her ticket out, she says, "Yes! Poopy diaper."

"You need a new diaper?"


Okay, Pie wins this round. I pull her out and change her diaper. But then I make a rookie mistake. "Pie, there's only a tiny poop in here. Is there more in there?" Arg!!! The second the words were out of my mouth, I began to mentally slap myself on the head.

"Yes! More poop! Pie use the potty." This is a trap. A big fat trap. Because every time "potty" is mentioned, Pie declares, "I'm a little tiny baby. Not a big girl." We haven't had a successful potty attempt in months. But I'm cornered at this point, so back downstairs the little pisser went (and yes I mean pisser in a literal sense and not pisher--the girl will pee anywhere except a toilet. Case in point: I had to ask my father in Florida, "Let me ask you this: hypothetically speaking only of course, but if someone peed in your shower, would you want to know?" And then last week at the Y, after her swim class, I realized it was a major faux pas to shout in the middle of the girls' locker room, "Pie! Are you peeing on the floor?!?" Luckily Doodles saved me by, erroneously, saying, "No, Mom, I think it's just water dripping from her swimsuit in a funny way").

Yes, I'm getting to a point. So I take her to the bathroom, and I set a timer, with the strict understanding that she's to go back to nap when the timer rings whether or not anything has happened. After a bit, she volunteers, "The poops not coming out," and she hops off.

But then it's time for inventory. Must have inventory every time a body part is exposed.

"Pie have v*agina!?"

"Yes, Pie has a v*agina."

Thinking a moment, Pie says, "Mommy has a v*agina."

I agree. "Yes, Mommy has a v*agina."

She needs to continue. "Doodles has a p*enis!"


"And Daddy has a p*enis!" All present and accounted for!

"Yes, Daddy has a p*enis."

Now, Pie thinks very hard for a moment. Then she announces, "Pie has a v*agina...and a Dora backpack!!!"

Ah, only two and a half years old, and her life is complete. And no, the nap never came. A v*agina, a backpack, and a nap? Now that would have been just plain greedy.


Wednesday, January 9

Quiet Week

Let me ask you? Do any of you care that Adam's an ass? I have nothing to blog about this week, and so I asked Adam for a topic. "I have nothing for you," he said. "You're an ass," I responded. "Blog about that!" But really, it's simply not that interesting. So, what do I have for this week? Not really much but here it goes...

I was playing with Pie, general roughhousing, when she suddenly opened wide, leaned down, and chomp! That's an immediate time out, which means sitting on the stairs with the bottom gate closed. She wasn't happy at first, at least not till her brother walked by (and Pie mangles his name in a really cute way that I'll replicate her as Doogles).
Pie: Doogles! Hey Doogles!
Doodles: Pie? What are you doing Pie?
Pie: I'm in time out, Doogles!
Doodles: Why?
Pie (with the utmost glee): I bite!
Doodles: Oh, you bite!
The timer goes off. Pie jumps up and down at the gate, yelling: It's over! It's over!
We may need to find a more effective means of discipline.

Meanwhile, Doodles is signed up for the Pike swim class at the Y. Pie's had to just watch him swim because the toddler swim classes are all in the morning, and I refuse to go twice. Lazy, I know. But this session they lowered the age of the Seahorse class from three to 2 1/2. Because she hadn't taken a swim class in a while, I figured I'd do one session of Seahorse with Parent before segueing into an independent class. After all, Pie is technically still two months away from 2 1/2.

We talked about it daily:
Me: Pie want to go swimming?
Pie: Yes! Swim with Mommy?
Me: Of course! Mommy and Pie will swim together.
Pie: Swim with Mommy! Swim now?

So, of course, the night before our class was to start, I got a call that the class was underenrolled. We were the only ones signed up for it. So I transferred her into the Seahorse class. By her lonesome.

Me: Pie, so how would you like to take a swim class with just a teacher?
Pie: Swim with Mommy.
Me: I'm afraid our class is not going to happen. But you can take a swim class with just the teacher! Like Doodles does!
Pie: No. I swim with Mommy.
Me: Well, why don't you just try it?
Pie, scrunching nose: Hmmm. Pie try it. [Thinks a moment] Teacher hold Pie?
Me: Some of the time. Some of the time you'll hold the wall or stand.
Pie, thinks some more: No. Teacher hold Pie.
Me: There are going to be two other kids in the class. The teacher won't be able to hold you the entire time.
Pie cocks her head and thinks for another moment: No, no stand. Teacher hold Pie.
And conversation over, Pie waddles off.

Swim class finally arrives. I'm wishing Doodles's class was first so Pie could at least see him go off on his own. But Pie is first so I change her. I take her out to the pool with Doodles in tow. Pie's always had great relationships with her female teachers, so of course her teacher is a guy.

Me: Okay, sweetie, this is your teacher.
Pie looks him up and down.
Me: Can I have a smooch?
Pie puckers up and I give her a big kiss.
Me: Okay, Pie, it's time for your class.
And you could have knocked me over with a floatie, because the girl took her teacher's hand, said, "Bye Mommy!" and walked right into the pool. I could barely see her from where the seats are, but I could see her doing just fine. She refused to jump in, but was willing to be pulled in by the teacher, had no issues getting her hair wet, and had a big grin on her face the whole time. The two other kids in the class were boys over three, which worked out well as they were more independent in the water. At the end, the teacher said to me, "She needed to be held onto the whole time--she couldn't swim on her own--but she wasn't crying so it was fine with me."

It's refreshing, especially since she's decided the rest of the time that she'd rather be a baby. "Hold me like a baby!" she'll say. "Carry my like a baby!" I've been trying to subtlety inject the "big girl" thing in preparation for potty training. But it's like she's on to me. "Pie! You're doing the jacket flip so well! What a big girl!" "No," she corrects, "I'm a baby." I've got Doodles on the one hand--"Am I old enough for a booster seat? Am I old enough to drink coffee? Am I old enough to go to clown school?" (all real questions asked regularly)--and Pie on the other--"I caaaaan't do it! Feed me! You do it!"

Trouble. I got it coming from all sides. Would you rather have heard about Adam? He's sitting in the chair next to me. Fast asleep. Yeah, I didn't think so.


Wednesday, January 2

Back to Reality

Yesterday, it was sunny and in the upper '70s and we had a lovely ride on my cousin's boat, the Triple Play, with the usual Miami crew, Cap't Stoney and Claudia; Oliver, Jennifer, and kids; Rachel and Bill with T. Rex and Pad; Teener Tuna with her daughter Billie (which I think is a much better name than Elfin Girl); my aunt and her husband; and my other cousin, Shannon, and her clan. We drank, we ate, we floated and swam in the Intracoastal. The night before my cousins (Oliver and Jennifer) threw their annual New Year's party, and it was spectacular.

In addition, while in Miami Beach, we: went to the Seaquarium (where Pie got splashed in the dolphin show and had a complete meltdown), played at the Children's Museum and the Museum of Discovery and Science (where Doodles and T. Rex ran wild and Pie and Pad eyed each other suspiciously), visited Jungle Island (where Pie insisted when we went to the reptile show, "No get splashed!"), had spa days at the Standard (yes, "we"--Adam had a "girl date" with Oliver over the weekend; note: Adam objects to the term "girl date." Let me rephrase it: Adam and my cousin had massages, sat in a steam bath and sauna, and lounged around a pool wearing robes. What would you call it?), watched the King Mango Strut (where, thankfully, Doodles didn't ask what "Bushes Against Bush" really meant), had multiple cafe con leches at David's and ice creams at the Frieze, played in the sand at the beach, swam pretty much daily in my parents' pool, had multiple meals out, and walked to Lincoln Road Mall, well sometimes twice a day. Adam and I got some grown-up time out. The kids got lots of grandparent time.

And now? Now it's time to return to weather forecasts of "high of 17" and to wonder just how much we'll have to shovel out to get the car back in the driveway. Now it's time to insist our children start wearing clothes again. Now it's time to stop having that nightly glass of bourbon (Adam) and cognac (me). Now it's time to stop daydreaming about those houses we saw for sale...

In a matter of hours, Miami Beach is going to be a distant memory again. Sigh. Happy freakin' new year. Now go dig out the snow shovel.


Pancakes, Anyone?

I enjoy cooking. It's something I find relaxing and, well, I love to eat a good meal, so cooking is the right task for me. I especially love cooking when there are other folks around to keep Pie off my legs while I'm doing things involving a hot stove or oven, so you'd think a trip to my parents would create the ideal cooking situation. After all, my parents liking cooking? Not so much. Liking eating? Yep! Who doesn't?

Every time I come home though, I'm reminded why I learned to cook in the first place: self-defense. It's not that my parents are bad cooks--when they actually deign to do any cooking, the food is quite delicious. My mom's beef kabobs are the best I've ever had and I still use her spaghetti sauce recipe from my childhood. However, they prefer not to cook and so over the years, as they've grown their reliance on Epicure and Citarella and as they have spread their lives over a Miami apartment and a New York apartment, they've divested themselves of many of their cooking implements. Need to mix something? Better have strong arms because the electric mixer mixed itself out of here years ago. Want a good bowl to mix in? As they've broken over the years, they haven't been replaced. It's a regular hodgepodge. Remember those expired medicines I just posted about? It's even worse in the kitchen. A few visits ago I insisted the baking powder be replaced as the one they had expired over two decades ago.

So, this past weekend, tired of eggs, I decided I'd make everyone pancakes. I follow Mark Bittman's recipe, as it's nice and easy and reliably good and I can tweak it enough as I'm cooking to make it my own. The ingredients are fairly simple, right?
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
2 eggs
1½ to 2 cups milk
2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter (optional)

Flour, right? Who doesn't keep flour in the house. I asked Adam to check for flour as my dad was making a shopping list. "There's flour in here!" Adam called back.

Lesson: Never trust a husband to do a thinking person's job. Because the inch of flour in the container was nowhere near enough for one simple bowl of pancake mix.

I saw the egg carton. I know there are eggs. But how many eggs? My fault. Didn't think to open the egg carton and actually look. Because that one poor lone egg really wasn't going to do me a lot of good.

And then there's the butter challenge. Find butter. I know it's in here. But I can't find it behind all the "smart blend" for butter. My mom is a big fan of the fake stuff. Then there's the sugar vs. Splenda thing...

Eventually, the pancakes got made. And they were fine. But, oy vey, next time I'll just go to Epicure for breakfast.


Time Warps

Coming back to Miami Beach is something of a time warp. Oh, I don't mean running into old friends or visiting old haunts or anything like that. I mean my parents' apartment.

You know how there's that moment when you realize that your parents are verging on the edge of doddering? The thing is, my parents are quite young, relatively speaking. They lead this very hip life. My mom is an artist who teaches art at a well-known Florida art school/college. She's relatively hip and up-to-date. To be honest, I'm frightened by the presets on her car radio (NPR, I expect; the hardcore hip hop was a bit of a shocker). My dad may be retired, but he works as much almost as much as he used to, plays tennis as often as he can, and is a regular at his New York gym.

Which is why I find it so odd that they're have these--well--old people quirks. It started with Listermint. Adam came out of the guest bathroom and said, "Do you know you have a Listermint that expired in August of 1991?"
My dad: So?
Adam: That's a little old.
My mom: 1991? That means it was expired when we lived in the old house, and yet we still packed it and moved it into the condo.
My dad: I'm sure it's still fine.
I moved the Listermint out of the bathroom and onto the shelf of his study as I figured it qualified more as a period piece than toiletry item.

I opened up the medicine cabinet and found more.
Me: There's a Kaopectate in here with a pull date of 2003. I'm tossing it.
My dad: Don't you toss that! 2003 is practically new!
Me: But if you get sick, it's expired!
My dad: I'd rather have that than nothing. Look, you can throw out anything you want with a pull-date before 2000. Don't throw out anything with a pull date post-2000.
For the record, following this rule, I was still able to throw out a considerable amount of medicine.

But it's not just the medicine. Adam found four packets of tuna in the cabinet with a pull-date of 2006. I don't care about any kind of "2000 rule," they're gone.

And then there's the bathroom reading. Currently, in the bathroom, are the following: If you'd like some current events, there's a Smithsonian magazine from March 2004. Other than that, there's an edition of Civilization magazine with a headline that screams, "How Not to Starve in 1999!" There's the book Top 10 of Everything 2002. And a cartoon issue of the New Yorker from December 7 and 14, 1998. One book was in the bathroom for years and I did enjoy reading it, but it's since migrated to my father's bathroom. It is a book that highlights all of the idiocies the president has said and done. It's quite funny. Oh, and the president? George W? Nah. George H.W.? Nuh-uh. Try Reagan. It's all about Ronald Reagan.

For the record I found a the be-all end all. It's a prescription. For my sister. In the guest-room dresser. From 1974.

As I'm sitting here my blogging, my father just said to me and Adam: I have something to confess. I retrieved from the trash the Neosporin from 2006.
Me: But we just bought a new Neosporin on it for the rash on Pie.
My dad: I know. But there are multiple bathrooms. We'll have one in my bathroom and the other in yours. The new one, how many years you got on it?
Adam: I think at least 18 months.
My dad: I hope you got the smallest tube. Because 18 months. That could last till 2012!

By all means, don't be afraid to come visit my parents. Just don't get sick. The medicine might send you to the hospital.

(Note: My father read this and said to me, "You write like having expired medicines is such a bad thing!" As I said...)

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