Wednesday, February 27

Time to Get a Bigger Bed?

And there were three in the bed and the little on said, "Smoosh over!"

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Pie Tricks

Adam is in London at the moment, which means the kids get extra TV, extra sweets, and they get to sleep in my bed. Hey, anything to stay on their good side! It wasn't my best night, although Doodles was such an amazingly helpful kid yesterday. Let me get work done. Helped out with his sister. But I did all sorts of brilliant things like put my pizza in the oven... and set the timer for 350. Couldn't figure out why the oven wasn't heating up.

So Pie went to bed last night, eventually, smack dab in the middle of the bed, "Don't touch my pillow!" wearing her Dora pajamas, her Dora slippers, her fleece vest, her thick sweater, Doodles's mittens (they were dry and hers were wet), clutching "Hippo the Patamus" and not one but two board books. It was a cozy night.

Of course this was only after the afternoon when I went to retrieve her from her swim class, and she looked up at me with such disdain and ordered, "Go away, Mommy! Go away."

If only I could, Pie. I only I could.

Only three more nights till Adam was back. Which wouldn't be quite so bad except that he hasn't taught Doodles how to make coffee yet. Caffeine!!!!


¿Quién es el más macho? Not Me!!!

When I was 26, I quit a good job, packed up all my belongings, spent three months driving cross country to reinvent myself. When I was settled in Seattle, I'd sometimes look at my life in wonder and think, "Wow, if I could that, I can do anything."

When I was 28, I spent six and a half months picking kiwis on a kibbutz and then I spent a month and a half idling my way through Eastern Europe. When I survived three weeks in Bulgaria, I really felt it was an accomplishment. "If I could make it through Bulgaria on my own," I thought, "I can do anything."

When at the age of 32 I let my guy friends pressure me into riding a single-day double-century bike ride from Seattle to Portland (previous bike ride length at that point: 16 miles), I can't begin to describe the feeling of elation I experienced when I, alone and tired after fourteen hours on a bike, crossed into Portland, Oregon. "I just freakin' rode my bike two hundred miles!" I thought. "I can do anything!"

When at the age of 36, with a fourteen-month-old son, I completed my first marathon, I thought I was a rock star. Sure, it took me over five hours, but I did it. "I ran twenty six point two miles!" I thought. "There is absolutely nothing I can't achieve."

Last week I pushed my boundaries. I left my kids for the first time, I cross-country skied for the first time, I ran in seven degree weather. You guys all know how macho I felt. I am a freakin' woman of steel.

Until. And then. Except.

Somehow, somewhere, for some reason, I decided it was a good idea to take my two children--my two-and-a-half-year-old toddler and my four-and-a-half-year-old preschooler--to New York City. In a car. By myself. For fun.

I have discovered that thing that I cannot do: I cannot survive thirty-six hours alone with my children.

I am broken.

But let me start at the beginning of this debacle. Doodles has been obsessed with Egypt, pharaohs, and pyramids for a long time now. Remember his birthday party? So I got this great idea (please read "great" dripping with sarcasm) of taking him to the Metropolitan Museum to visit the Temple of Dendur. "Wanna go to New York?" I asked him casually. "YES!!!!" came the resounding response.

Truth be told, I dilly dallied on the whole thing. I checked with my parents (who live in NYC part-time) and my sister (who lives there full-time, but works a hectic schedule) if they'd be around. I checked the weather. Hmmm, looks like snow. I thought about it. And then I realized, "This is a really stupid idea." I basically told everyone we weren't coming. "That's probably a good idea," my parents told me. My mother had foot surgery and has been hobbling around on a cane, not ideal for sightseeing with little ones. My sister would be teaching all day. Both my parents are currently spending a lot of their time searching for a bigger apartment.

Alas, the road to insanity is paved with stupid ideas (that's how the expression goes, right?). On Wednesday morning, I was poking around Priceline. It was a gorgeous morning and I thought, "I can handle this!" so before I could come to my senses: Boom! I've booked us a room for two nights in New York.

That's when the panic started. I called Adam, "What the F was I thinking? I can't do this!"

"Don't go," he said.

"I already paid for the hotel room."

"So what? We can eat the cost if we have to."

But I, for one, am never one to "eat the cost," frugal soul that I have, so while Doodles was at a playdate, I frantically packed us up, sinking ever deeper into a depression over my recklessness. After all, what does a four-and-a-half-year-old ever remember? Take a kid on a thousand dollar vacation to Paris, and what he'll talk about is the bug he found crawling across his shoe at the Parisian playground.

So I sent Doodles off on a playdate and I packed up as fast as I could, trying to anticipate everything they'd need. It would have helped if I had tried to anticipate what I might have needed--in which case socks and deodorant might have made their way into my bag, and yes, I was a wee bit ripe by the end of the trip. Yet I wanted to keep everything to my one bag, their ice skating bag (I had visions of Wollman rink), plus toys in each of their backpacks. And a bag of snacks for the car.

The trip down was pretty uneventful. I picked up Doodles from his playdate and cleared up the confusion ("You're taking him to New York to see the temple where the Jews pray?" I clarified it was where the Egyptians prayed, but he didn't quite believe me). Pie slept for about an hour and a half and woke in relatively good spirits. Doodles was thrilled to get Triscuits--Triscuits!!--from a vending machine. Neither one got at all fussy till we'd already hit the Bronx. Including the one bathroom/vending machine stop, we made the trip in just barely over four hours. Found the hotel with no problem. Parking was just two blocks away. Trip is already a success!

We hop a subway to head to my parents' apartment. Pie utters the comment she is to make every time we get onto the subway, "I LIKE the subway!" and Doodles scrambles for a window seat, despite my repeated insistence that we are underground and there is nothing to see! "Yes there is!" he insists. "Look! A wall!"

Dinner a Benny's Burritos (the West Village one) is fine, although surprise surprise both kids make a dinner of chips. We leave my parents at about seven to head back to the hotel. "I LIKE the subway!" "I need a window seat!"

Out of the subway. Walking back to the hotel. And then it starts. The screams. "I want to go home!!!!" I assure Pie we'll be back at the hotel in minutes. "No, HOME! I want to go home! RIGHT NOW!" For two blocks the munchkin is screaming and she won't be appeased till we get back to the room and I turn on the TV. I make up a lovely nest for them on the floor--they're so excited to sleep on the sleeping bag!--and in three seconds, they've happily ensconced themselves in the bed. So much for spacious living. Of course, Pie is incapable of falling asleep without some tears, and she cries for about thirty minutes, while I lie right next to her, ignoring her as I read my book. It's really the only thing to do.

And then, they're all asleep. It's not easy to sleep with the two monkeys next to me. They end up head to head with each other, all cozied up, and then the next thing I feel is four little feet kicking my side as they're lying perpendicular to me. But at least I can stop worrying about one of them falling out of the bed and I can drift off...

...until 2 a.m. Which is when the screaming started. Did you guys know that there is no toddler-appropriate TV on at 2 a.m.? Really! I know it's shocking. I didn't know how to calm the munchkin who has not only woken me and her brother, but I'm pretty sure is waking the whole hotel. So for an hour, she gets to watch The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It was the most appropriate thing I could find.

At 4 a.m., she drifts off into sleep, and I'm determined to eat the second night's hotel cost and head back. Yet, at 8 a.m., when everyone is awake, I feel delirious from lack of sleep and think, "We can make it one more night. Right?"

Surprisingly, the day was somewhat of a success. The kids loved the Met. Doodles was fascinated by the mummies and the Temple of Dendur and Pie seemed to enjoy the Degas collection (one of her favorite books is Dancing with Degas). My mother met us for a bit and Tweeds came when my mom left. We had lunch at the museum and when Tweeds had to go to work, the kids and I took a bus down a ways ("I LIKE the bus!") and I let them go hog wild in Dylan's Candy Bar.

Back at the hotel room around 3, and there were no complaints when I let them gorge themselves on their candy and watch PBS. Pie was tired--I didn't bring a stroller out with us--but she revived quickly when presented with chocolate. I didn't revive quite so quickly. The wear and tear of corralling those two through the museum ("Don't touch that! Don't wander off! No, you can't eat in the museum! No I won't buy that! Don't touch! Don't touch! DON'T TOUCH!") took a toll on me and all I could do was let them rest so that I could have a minute of downtime ("Mommy are you going to sleep? No, Mommy!" Pie says laughing. "You have to wake up! WAKE UP, MOMMY!!") We met my parents for dinner again and Pie told them her favorite part of the day was, "I like the Degas," and Doodles told them, "I got to watch TV... during the day!"

On Friday a snow storm was predicted so I wanted to get out of town nice and early. It was nothing major--just two to four inches--but I figured why risk traffic and snow. Of course, by the time we woke up at 6:45 a.m., three inches had already fallen and five to seven inches was expected, so I rushed the kids through their hotel breakfast ("Can I have a yogurt? Can I have an orange? Can I have more cereal? Can I have a bagel with cream cheese? Can I have another waffle?" and "Just a waffle for me. Okay a little cereal. No milk in it!"), and I managed to trudge through the snow with Pie in the stroller, the skate bag around my neck ("Why didn't we go ice skating?" "Uh, I took you for candy instead." "Okay!"), the clothing bag also around my neck, and the diaper bag hanging precariously as I discovered that, no, a $10 umbrella stroller cannot make it through the corner snow banks. But we got back to the car, and headed out in the mess.

The trip home was painfully slow--I skidded a few times on I-95, the snow was so bad--and the kids were edgy. At one point, I'm on the Triboro bridge, looking for signs for the Bruckner expressway. I'm trying desperately to see through the snowy fog and the moron car in front of me doesn't have his lights on, making him nearly invisible. The snow is coming down fast, and I need to make sure I don't accidentally head toward the George Washington bridge. I've shushed the kids as I'm trying to not skid across the road, but I keep hearing a "Mommy! Mommy. MOMMY!" and finally I yell back, "What, Pie? I'm trying to concentrate here," and she asks, "Can you open my window?" and then adds, "Pleeeeaaaase?"

The "No," didn't go over that well. So she then turns to her brother: "Doodles? Doodles! DOOOOODLES! Are you awake, Doodles?" As if he had a choice.

Just over five hours later, we've arrived home. Of course, I needed to shovel my way into the driveway, as the storm followed us, but soon we were inside, ready to collapse. Pictures, by the way, are posted.

Would I do it again? Sure. In three years. With a nanny. And a lobotomy.

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Wednesday, February 20

¿Quién es el más macho? (with apologies to Pam)

This past weekend, I took my first night away from the kids. And. It. Was. Heavenly. Last summer I joined a boot camp class. My town has an e-mail list and a woman, C., posted to form a class for "serious athletes." Despite my misgivings about the "serious" part, I joined up and every Wednesday over the summer, I had my ass kicked by a big, mean drill sergeant (okay, so he's not that big and other than making me do 200 sit-ups and 100 push ups, he's not exactly mean, but the effect isn't the same if I write, "And this nice guy with a sweet South African accent made me run fast"). Seriously, the class was tough--and hour and a half of sprints, weights, sit ups and push ups--and it was a big bonding thing. Just by happenstance, all the takers for the class were women, and since we're all into the sporty thing, we just clicked (I realize from this blog, you probably don't know how into the sporty thing I am, but I've become kind of jock in my old age).

For the winter, it wasn't practical to meet outside at 5:30 a.m. anymore, so now we rent a space and meet up just every other week for a "winter tune up." About an hour worth of heavy core and weight work. Every time, the night before class, I tell Adam, "Ugh, I don't think I'm going tomorrow." And every boot camp morning, I trudge myself out there and while I'm not so happy in the middle of push-up set number seven, I'm always glad afterwards.

So the past weekend, our fearless leader, C., arranged for us to use her husband's family home in New Hampshire. Seven of us women and C.'s husband trudged up to Jackson, N.H., on Saturday morning for a day of cross-country skiing. It was my first time cross-country skiing, so of course I dove in with boot camp, which meant a four-hour outing to cover 15.4 kilometers (about 9.5 miles, but doesn't 15.4 sound so much more impressive?). The day luckily wasn't as cold as predicted (supposed to be a high of 11, but I'm pretty sure it was in the low 20s), so it was great. Adam and I had one of these conversations that make me wonder who I've been living with for the past eight years:

Me: So, C. suggested I wear running tights and then snow pants.
Adam: Sounds good. Or you could wear my long underwear.
Me: You have long underwear?
Adam: Yeah. And you can take my neck gaiter.
Me: You own a neck gaiter?
Adam: Yeah. And you can zip a lining into my North Face jacket and it'll be really warm.
Me: Your jacket converts?

Anyway, Adam warned me I was wearing too much gear, and he was right--halfway though I had to take clothes off because I was sweating so badly. But it turns out, I LOVE cross-country skiing. It was really difficult--I could feel it my outer thighs as I was doing it and I was always at the back of the pack--but it's absolutely exhilarating. We skied out, stopped for a picnic lunch in the snow, crossed a frozen river (only to read the sign to the right when we returned--oops!), and felt generally macho and cool.

That night we retreated to C.'s house and luxuriated. Of course, that was only after a team shoveled our way in (what? No, not me! I had the good sense to sit in a warm car till the way was cleared); a good three feet of snow had the front door completely buried. We all showered--and with all of Adam's clothing advice, did he remind me to bring a change of clothes for after skiing? Nope. So I was the one lounging in her sheep pajamas, but hey, after that first glass of wine, I really didn't care. C.'s husband cooked us an amazing dinner and we all drank too much wine and laughed a lot.

Before going to bed, I made the mistake of checking my voice mail. Adam called from home. I heard:
Adam: Can you leave Mommy a message?
Doodles: Mommy, I miss you! Good night!
Adam: Pie, it's your turn. Do you want to say something to Mommy?

The next morning, our hearty group all arose early. Only one other soul was brave enough to make the morning run with me in the balmy seven degree weather, but it was a great run (okay, so she dragged me out there, but I got the run in, so let's not quibble over details). I've never had that frozen eyelash experience before and while it was rather creepy, it only added to my machoness, don't you think?

We left nice and early to head back home and I met with my family at a kid birthday party. It was great to see them...for about five minutes. Once the whining started, I was already plotting how to get back to Jackson....


Wednesday, February 13

Shabbat Guests

Doodles goes to a Jewish preschool. For the past few weeks, each child has been working on a Shabbat book. Doodles is extremely proud of his book and he explained what each page was. Here is the artist's statement about this picture: "This is a picture of Jason Varitek because I wish he could come to Shabbat but he can't because we don't know him." Jason Varitek, if you ever stumble across my blog, please consider yourself formally invited to Shabbat at our house.

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Pie Kaczynski

I love my daughter to death. I know that there's nothing in this world she can't do. But, but, but... Right now she spends all her time, with a notebook and "pencil" (read: pens) in hand, scribbling. All day. All over the place. "I want to draw!" she says and she creates these pages of scribble. "How do you spell your name?" she asks me, Adam, and Doodles, and then she scribbles. "What do you want for lunch?" she asks, taking our order and then she scribbles. She's left-handed, so she has that odd writing hunch as she scribbles. She can sit for a good hour scribbling. She fills notebooks up with these tiny little scribbles. Today we call her Pie. Tomorrow we'll call her Unabomber. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Mommy Runs... To Get Away From You!

I cut my finger last week. Not a big deal. A little bloody, but minor. But the thing is it's on my thumb and as such I keep hitting it and it's not getting better, so I've been putting Neosporin on it and stuck a Band-Aid on. Which is kind of like pasting a flashing neon sign on myself that says, "Please, ask me about my cut. Again. And again. And again. And again..."

Pie: What's that?
Me: I cut myself.
Pie: How?
Me: With a knife.
Pie: Why?
Me: Because I was careless.
Pie: So you cut yourself?
Me: Yes.
Pie: With a knife?
Me: Yes.
Pie: Why do you have a Band-Aid? [Repeat ad nauseam]

And then, the coup de grace: On Sunday morning, I got up early and without thinking I grabbed a Band-Aid and stuck it on. It wasn't until it was out of the paper that I realized my error: I had grabbed a Sponge Bob Band-Aid.

Pie: What's that?
Me: A Band-Aid.
Doodles: Is that a Sponge Bob Band-Aid???
Me: Yes.
Doodles: Why do you have a Sponge Bob Band-Aid?
Me: I took it by mistake.
Doodles: I LOVE Sponge Bob!
Me: What do you possibly know of Sponge Bob? You're not allowed to watch it.
Doodles: I LOVE Sponge Bob. Can I have a Band-Aid?
Me: No.
Pie: Can I have a Band-Aid?
Me: No.
Doodles and Pie: I WANT A BAND-AID!

Luckily I was running a half marathon that morning so I only had to deal with the Band-Aid bandits' demands for a mere three hours before being dropped off in Hampton, New Hampshire. I met up with my friends from my boot camp class, although I knew I wasn't as prepared for the race as they were, so I chose not to run with them and ran with a friend from my Saturday running group who assured me she'd be going slowly but still beat me by a good minute (Hi A.M.! Good run!). The race itself was pretty good--not too hilly, nice scenery, lots of the run was on the coast--but the weather wasn't great. Started off chilly, but nice, in the lower 30s. By about mile 8 the rain started. By mile 9 it turned into a heavy snow that kept flying into my eyes. By the end, I was jonesing for both the soup and beer waiting for me. But I did much better than I had thought I would--I ran it in 1:54:34--although I was sore for a good two days after.

Anyway, after the race Adam and the kids and my in-laws met up with me, and we all went out for a nice lunch at the Old Salt. Doodles has made HUGE strides in his feeding group, and he will now eat a fish stick or two, which means our dining options have grown. So we went for lunch where I smell (no showers after the run), Doodles is eating fish sticks, and Pie is trying to choke herself with my medal. Halfway through the meal, I look down and comment to Adam, "Um, my Band-Aid is gone and I have no idea where it is." But the highlight was when Doodles hopped up from his seat and proclaimed loudly enough for the next five tables to hear: "I need to poop!"

Adam quickly shuffles him toward the bathroom, and I can hear him calling loudly, "I have poop inside me! I also have--"

Adam quickly cut him off with "We can talk about it when we get in the bathroom."

So of course, in the bathroom, Doodles completes that thought: "I also have sperm inside me."

(Note, I've tried explaining to him that, no, he doesn't have sperm in him yet, but that conversation has gone nowhere fast.)

So now I'm sore. Doodles has sperm. And, for the record, Adam found my Band-Aid. In the wash.

And no. You can't have a Band-Aid, either.

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Wednesday, February 6

Pie Hearts Obama (But It Won't Stop the Crying)

Pie has some very strong opinions... (Contact me if you don't have the password. If I know you--or know of you--I'm happy to give it to you.)


Life's Unfair

In case you were wondering, peeing on the bath mat before climbing into the bathtub does not, repeat not, earn you a potty treat. I don't care how loudly you yell.


Wrapped Around Her Finger

When Pie has a temper tantrum, I've learned to just walk away. They come fast, they come furious, they come frequently. Every little thing turns into a temper tantrum. If I walk away, the tantrum will eventually end and things can proceed as they were. Except...


Except it's no longer just me that Pie has to break. It's not longer me who has to stick with the "When you have a temper tantrum, you get nothing" rule. Because now there is Doodles. And Doodles can't stand to see his sister in distress.

Pie was having a meltdown. I can't remember over what. It could have been a) because I forgot and smooched her b) because she wanted a yogurt and couldn't be bothered to ask me in a normal tone of voice c) because she wanted 2-3-4-5 pencils and I only gave her 1-2-3 and then I took them away when I realized she was using them to write in Doodles's books d) because she breathes or e) none of the above. The rule in our house is, you have the right to have a temper tantrum. But I also have the right to not listen to the temper tantrum so you must do it in the playroom. If you won't do it in the playroom, you will be put upstairs and the gate will be closed until you are done.

So Pie was tantruming. Rather than put her upstairs, I decided to retreat to upstairs, to sit in a chair and leaf through a magazine till she was done. I offered to have Doodles come with me, but he opted to stay downstairs with his sister. Sitting upstairs, I could hear the conversation:

"Look, Pie!" I can hear from top of the stairs. "It's a creepy crawler! You've got creepy crawlers!" (Creepy crawlers being one of Pie's favorite games.)

Pie: Waaaaaaa!

Doodles: Don't cry, Pie! It's okay! It's really okay! Look, Pie Pie! Creeeepy crawlers! There are creepy crawlers on your arm.

I come back downstairs and Doodles pulls me aside and loudly whispers in my ear, "Just give her what she wants!"

A couple of days later, she's having a tantrum because she wants a third yogurt of the day. Those yogurts are so sugary sweet that I of course said no. I retreated to my office while she screamed. Yet, suddenly, the cries suspiciously end. I mean immediately. I of course hurry back to the kitchen where I see the refrigerator open and hear Doodles asking, "Now, what would you like Pie Pie?"

Pie's favorite words are "I can't do it." Walk to the car? "I can't do it." Put on her jacket? "I can't do it." Feed herself lunch? "I can't do it." Yet, on the food issue, Pie's found herself a new sucker. Doodles, apparently, doesn't realize that the girl won't starve if she misses a meal. Hell, she eats about fifteen of them a day (nonstop, all day. "Snack, Mommy!" We set a new record last week. Hard-boiled egg at 7 a.m. Two bowls containing four kinds of cereal with milk at 7:30 a.m. Carnation Instant Breakfast milk at 8 a.m. Strawberries at 8:20 a.m. And then, in the car to preschool at 8:40 a.m., she starts whining as if she hasn't been fed in weeks, "Mommy! I need a snack! Mommy, I'm hungry!"). Last week was no exception. I gave Pie a bowl of mac and cheese. She demanded to be fed. I refuse, walking into the kitchen to get my own lunch. I expect to hear screams, but I don't. And walking back in, I discover why. It's because Doodles is standing precariously on the edge of his chair, leaning across the table to delicately shovel macaroni and cheese into his sister's mouth (quote of the day: "I don't think that one wanted to be eaten, Pie. That's why it fell onto the floor. Because it didn't want to be eaten."). And Pie is happily allowing her brother to feed her.

On one hand, I want to commend him for being such a great big brother. On the other, I want to make him deal with her every temper tantrum if he's going to encourage them. If you're looking for me, I'm hiding upstairs. No. Seriously.

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