Tuesday, April 28

Here Come the Brides

Jasmine is over for a play date. The car ride back to the house consisted of this:

Me: Okay, Pie, let Jasmine slide into the car first.
Jasmine: No, I'm Pie! She's Jasmine!
Pie: Yeah! I'm Jasmine! We changed our names because we're getting married.
Jasmine: Yeah, we're getting married.
Pie: Yes. I'm going to be the bride, and you are going to be the bride.
Jasmine: Yeah. And Doodles will marry Belle [Jasmine's seven-year-old sister, of whom Doodles is fond].
Pie: Yes! And Jenny will marry Adam--
Jasmine: No! Jenny will marry my mommy.
Pie: Right! And my daddy will marry your daddy!

If that's not a quadruple wedding for the tabloids, I don't know what is. Adam is going to look darling in an A-line dress. Or should he go Empire with his small waist? Decisions, decisions. All of which, I know, will be made by Pie.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the invite.

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Monday, April 27

Dreaming Big

Walking home from school today, Pie announced apropos of nothing, "When I grow up, I'm going to be a doctor!"

Me: What kind of doctor?
Pie: A marathon doctor! A racer doctor!
Doodles: There's no such thing!
Pie: No?
Doodles: There are four kinds of doctor. There's no marathon doctor.
Me: What are the four kinds?
Doodles: There are ambulance doctors, hospital doctors, office doctors, and come home doctors.
Me: What's a come home doctor?
Doodles: That's the kind of doctor who comes to your home.
Me: Oh.
Pie: I'm going to be an office doctor. A racing marathon office doctor.

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Friday, April 24

Easily Distracted by Shiny Objects

Pie, going through her "treasure drawer," unearthed her shiny flip flops.

Pie, to me: Look, Mommy! Here are my shiny flip flops!

Then, to her flip flops, with longing: I've missed you!


Thursday, April 23

Two Truths and a Lie

Everyday I ask Doodles what he did at school. And everyday he gives me the same answer: "I don't remember."

I was flipping through a parenting magazine (can't remember which one) and it had some ideas for conversation starters with kids. One of the things they suggested was the game Two Truths and a Lie. The game is pretty simple--you name two things that are true and one that's a lie and others have to guess which is the lie.

This game has completely revolutionized conversation with the boy. He loves the game, and we all go around the table to take a turn. He's actually gotten pretty good at the game (oh,yea! I'm teaching my child how to be an effective liar!).

But the thing is, Pie wants to play too. And Pie just doesn't get it.

Pie: It's my turn! My turn!
Adam: Okay. You go.
Pie [whispering to me]: What did I do today?
Me: [whispering back]: Why don't I go first so you can hear?
Pie [whispering]: Okay.
Me: Okay, so, um, let's see. I bought chicken taquitos at Costco. I watched Doodles and Pie get their teeth cleaned. And I watched an alligator at--
Pie: No!
Me: What? I'm not done!
Pie [shaking her finger]: Mama, you're wrong! You're wrong! There was no alligator. Remember? They said there was no alligator!
Me: We're playing the game. I need to make something up.
Pie: But you're wrong! Okay, my turn.
Me: Go for it.
Pie: Okay. [whispering to me] What did I do?
Me [whispering]: You went to the dentist. You went to Costco. You saw the animal show at the library.
Pie [whispering]: Right. [to the everyone] I went to the dentist. I went to Costco. And I saw animals at the library.
Me: You did all those things.
Pie: I know!
Me: One of those is supposed to be a lie.
Pie: What?
Me: You are supposed to make something up.
Pie: But I did do all those things!

I have one great liar. And one great talker. Why do I think both of these are going to bite me in the butt later?

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Tuesday, April 21

The Downside to Education

I love complaining about my children. You know that. I do it here all the time. And on Facebook. And Twitter. And IM to Adam. Complaining about kids is kind of like my hobby.



Damn that American educational system! The boy is actually reading! Reading, I tell you! Which is all fine and cute and dandy when he's picking up Mouse Tales or Beyond the Dinosaurs: Monsters of the Air and Sea .

But when he's standing next to my computer, asking, "Why did you write, 'It's... all... falling...a-a-pa-apart...here'?" well, it's not so cute anymore.

Why didn't we go Waldorf? They don't learn to read till seven. I would have had another year and a half of private IMs and Twitters and whatnot to complain about those munchkins....

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Monday, April 20

Fast Friends

Ah, Patriots' Day. The start of spring break. Five days. Me and my kids. At home. With four days of predicted rain. Fun all around!

Actually, I love Patriots' Day, as I attest every year. It's like 4th of July, but with jackets and better parades. We started out the day at the marathon. This year they were more enthusiastic about going than last year. Of course, stopping at Whole Foods to buy them both their own box of bunny snacks (cheddar for him; snack mix for her) that they weren't allowed to open till we got to the race helped tremendously. But we headed down to Framingham, and although we only saw one out of five friends who were running, it was definitely worth the trip. I'm determined that I'm not running another marathon this year, but watching those folks go make me doubt myself. "It wouldn't hurt to do one more this year, a nice easy fall marathon." Doodles was fine, coloring a poster, and Pie was fascinated, watching the runners go by. No matter how many times I told her it was not only okay, but encouraged, to use her "outside voice," she just watched. But for me, I love yelling at the runners, calling out folks as they run by. We stayed an hour, after we saw the slowest of our runner friends (and Pie loved the fact that out of the five runners we knew, the four women beat the guy by over an hour [sorry, Fishy, just telling it like it is!]. A big shout out to Ana-Maria, Sue, Sue, and Saskia for not just finishing the race but really taking it to a new level--two qualified for next year's race and the other two ran at speeds I can only dream about). When it was time to go, Doodles was ready, but Pie complained. "I want to see more runners!" then she asked, "I want to run marathons. Will you teach me how to run, Mommy?" Made my heart go, Zing! She's definitely my baby.

We swung by Adam's office to have lunch with him, which the kids adored. I'm not sure if Pie was more excited about lunch with Daddy or the chance to write on his white board, but she was thrilled. Then we headed back to Lexington. Pie was a little disappointed--"I want to see the runners again! Please can't we go back and see the runners again?"--but then when she realized where we were going, she perked up. The kids were in their true spirits. Doodles was in full negative tilt: "I don't want to go to a parade!" Pie was brimming with joy: "I love parades!"

Of course, toward the end, the temperature had dropped, the wind was blowing, and I asked, "Should we go?" and Pie said, "I'm ready," but Doodles said, "No! It's not over yet!" I have to learn to ignore everything that boy says and just make him do things, because he never wants to do anything and then always has a great time.

By the time we made it home, we were all exhausted and happy. Another successful Patriots' Day. Now to think about that next marathon. For me. And who knows? Maybe, one of these days, for Pie.

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Sunday, April 12

Conspiring Against Me

For the past few weeks, my life has been all about unpacking and preparing for Passover. Well, the seders have passed. The house is 97% unpacked. And I was looking forward to finally getting my office all in place and getting back to my writing! I'm jonesing for my computer. Eager to get back to my writing. Last week, Pie didn't have school on both Wednesday and Friday for Passover. Doodles was out of school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday because he was sick. Friday no school for him because it was Good Friday.

So this is my week! Except... Adam just reminded me that tomorrow we have to go to close the loan on our house refinance. So I won't work tomorrow. And he's leaving town tomorrow night for a couple of nights in NYC for work, so there's no back up at night. And normally that's rather fun for me because I can put together a girls' night in, but with the kids being sick, I can't count on them to reliably sleep through the night and I don't want to leave guests for two hours while Pie has night terrors/trouble sleeping. And of course there's no extra night of sushi ordering, because of Passover. Oh, and Wednesday Pie has no school for the last days of Passover. And Friday is a short day--Pie is only in school from 9 till noon, which means I can either get my office going or I can get a smidgen of writing done.

But the week after... Oh, wait. The week after is spring break. Right. Both kids have the entire week off. And Adam's company, for all the things they do right, don't see Patriot's Day as a holiday.

My to-do list is growing: I have birthday gifts that are well over a month old waiting to be mailed. My office supplies are rustling loosely in a box, waiting for a home. I still don't have a desk. I have a Torah portion to read at my bat mitzvah in, oh, about a month, and I haven't even begun to try to decipher the Hebrew never mind the Torah trope. Nothing major, but as a Type-A label-making, superorganized person, the little things not being in their place make me crazy.

Enough whining. Time to go to bed. I'm got a closing to go to tomorrow. At least it's close to a Container Store. Organized drawers, at the very least, here I come!

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Pass the Matzah

Why was that night different from all other nights? Because it was the first night I was able to host a dinner for 18 people and not stress about it! There was plenty of room in our house, the fridge amply held all the food, I had plenty of burners for cooking, and I could relax knowing that with 8 adults and 10 kids, it didn't really matter what I did because the night would be such complete chaos that no one would know what the heck I did. The only downer of it was that Doodles has some sort of weird something that's been going around, where during the day he seems pretty fine, but he tends to run a fever at night, so he's been homebound and lethargic for a while.

So I was pleased with the way the seder went--I went a little cheesy at points (the Pharaoh called in the middle to demand the kids build pyramids; I messed up the story of the Exodus and had to give the kids prizes); Pie complained about my singing (she covered my mouth and whined, "No, Mommy! No!") although she executed one of the four questions beautifully, if through tears {she had been injured in rough Passover play); I had to simply yell the end of the seder to be heard over the kids ("NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!"); but the food was eaten, the wine was drunk, conversations seemed to flow, and we made it through the (homemade) haggadah. What else can you ask for?

But now we are in the middle of Passover, and all I can do is despair that my diet is normally absolutely, completely, and totally carb based. Sushi on Saturdays. Spaghetti once or twice a week. Rice, tortillas, bread. Snacks are popcorn, veggie chips, snap pea crisps. Passover isn't a big deal in the sense of "Oh my gosh, how will I make it!" because really, it's a freakin' week. I can eat this way for a week (although Doodles is another story--that kid may starve before the week is over; the kids are eating about a dozen eggs a day. Pie woke up yesterday morning crying, "I want Cheerios! I want Mighty Bites!"). But it's a big deal in, "Oh my God, what is my diet?" Every Passover I swear I'll eat better. And for one week, I generally do. More fruit. More veggies. This is the way we're supposed to be eating. All year. Not just at Passover.

Of course, it might all be negated by how much matzah and jelly and matzah and cheese and matzah and cream cheese I eat. And the candy fruit slices. I do eat a lot of candy fruit slices. And the Passover brownies. They're actually better than normal brownies. I mean, how can you go wrong with any recipe that starts with two sticks of butter (and every Passover recipe starts with two sticks of butter and a dozen eggs).

Tonight's dinner is a veggie lasagna (zucchini instead of noodles). It'll be nice and healthy. Which is good, because I just got another box of fruit slices. The yellow ones are the best!

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Saturday, April 11

The Printed Word

I feel so dirty. I mean downright nasty. My mom had all these extra Delta miles that were about to expire. So she called us up an offered us magazine subscriptions. Adam took one to Barron's. I immediately claimed one to Martha. But then she tried to push more subscriptions on us. "I have to get rid of these!" she said. And that's when I did it. My nasty deed. I told her to get me People.

My first issue just arrived. And, oh, it was good. So very, very good. Just don't tell anyone...

As I hear more and more about the decline of the Boston Globe and it's possible demise, I become increasingly nostalgic for a time I never lived in. How can newspapers be disappearing? How is it the publishing world is in a state of decline?

On one hand, yes, I contribute by reading People magazine, getting my headlines off the NYT app on my iPhone, and watching Real Housewives of New York City. But on the other hand, I still subscribe to the Sunday papers (the Globe and NYT), even if I never get much farther than the Style section and Week in Review (okay, the Style section). And while, yes, I do subscribe to the aforementioned magazine and Real Simple and Running World, I also subscribe to The Sun, Creative Nonfiction, Brain, Child, and One Story. While I do make ample use of my library, I also try to buy books on a semi-regular basis, because I think it's important to support authors you like.

I always wanted to be Dorothy Parker, but without the suicidal tendencies. To have lived in that era, when writers were glorified and the written word meant something. To be a glamorous, witty writer and sit around drinking martinis with other glamorous witty writers, turning out brilliant News About Town pieces or scathingly funny reviews ("She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B").

I use my toys more than most--I update Facebook, I tweet, I'm a compulsive e-mail checker, my iPhone entertains me when I'm waiting for my kids, and while I've slacked on it lately, I've been a blogger since the wee days of blogging--but I really think that the Internet and computers has detracted from the quality of my life. I miss the days of being unconnected. I miss picking up a book because there was nothing on one of the four channels. I miss the feeling of having to hurry to get to a movie because soon it would be gone and that would be it, I'd never get to see it. Once upon a time, I read The New Yorker from front to back. Every week. I'm sad that I don't even subscribe anymore.

But then things change. Things evolve. Newspapers died even then. Remember "Remember me to Herald Square"? The Herald was sucked up by the Times before I was even born. It's not always for the worst. I know I'm not alone in nostalgically longing for a simpler time (and even as my life grows bigger, I become more obsessed with those go the voluntary simplicity route). But things change and it's really not a bad thing.

I think it's time to restart my subscription to The New Yorker. Right after I finish this week's People....

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Friday, April 10

Too Much TV?

Me: I need to run by the store and get some Oxiclean.

Pie: What for?

Me: To get the grape juice and wine out of our table cloth.

Pie: I seen that on TV.

Me: Really?

Doodles: Yeah! And you can get a spray with Oxi power! It'll really clean. All you need is one squirt and it cleans!

Me, vaguely horrified: Oh?

Doodles: See, Mom! TV is good for some things!


Friday, April 3

Dem Bones

Today I was rolling out the bread dough, preparing to braid it for our Friday night hallah. Doodles's friend, Tab, was over. The two of them and Pie were sitting at the counter while I did this.* Now, have you ever seen hallah rolled out into logs before it's braided. It has a distinctly, um, shall we say phallic look to it? So I cringed when Doodles said to Tab: "You know what that looks like?"

Tab: "No, what?"

And now I'm preparing to jump in. Not sure what I'm going to say. Doodles has been going out of his way lately to be rude, disruptive, and to shock (but luckily only at home--he's on best behavior at school).

Doodles: It looks like bones!

I'm greatly relived. But then he surprises me by continuing.

Doodles: Do you know which bone it looks like?

Tab: No.

Doodles: It looks like a femur!

Me: How do you know what a femur is?

Doodles: From school. [He points to his leg.] The femur is right here. [And I had to look it up just now to confirm he was right. And he was.] Do you know how I remember?

Me: No.

Doodles: Femur in front! So the patella is in back.

In those moments, I'm reminded that this kid has his own life. I, a runner who should know better, have no idea what the bones of my body are called. He's got this whole world going on that I'm not part of where he's learning and doing in his own life and becoming this real little person.

And then, then he reminds me. He's just my little boy. Take dinner tonight:

Pie: I fed Haver at school today! [Haver means "friend" in Hebrew and it's the name of the guinea pig in Pie's classroom.

Doodles: You did?

Pie: Yes! He took the lettuce right from my hand.

Doodles: Who feeds Haver at night time?

Adam: The leave food for Haver at night, probably. And then, when everyone leaves, he watches movies on TV.

Doodles: Really?!?

Pie: No. He's a guinea pig.

Doodles: I want a guinea pig!

Me: We'll think about that.

Doodles: But who would feed the guinea pig lunch while I'm at school?

Pie: I'll feed him when you're at school!

Doodles: No! You can't feed him. The only one who's allowed to take care of Haver...

And here I'm thinking, "Hey, maybe he is mature enough to have a small pet."

Doodles: ...is Mom and Dad!

And there goes the guinea pig, folks. Once my baby boy, always my baby boy.

* This, I have to say, is my absolutely favorite feature in the house--that we have a peninsula in the kitchen where the kids can sit and have snack or do their homework while I'm in the kitchen; the kids love it, too, although they don't realize it yet as I've been baking for them a ton more lately and that they're in to. Just yesterday I made the most amazing pumpkin-banana muffins and they were oil free, If you try these yourself, I cut the sugar down to 3/4 cup for each, didn't use oat bran, but instead used extra oatmeal, which I first ground in a hand blender to make it less textured for little boys who don't like texture--the boy's eaten four in the last 24 hours and only because I cut him off. Am I Martha yet?

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New York, Old Me

Last weekend, we headed down for NYC for Saturday night to celebrate my parents' 45th wedding anniversary and my dad's 69th birthday. Our trips to New York are so brief these days that I don't get to see old friends or do much of anything that doesn't revolve around the kids. I'm hoping this summer to take the kids for a good week or so and then I'll get to call people and get out a bit more.

This time, though, I kept thinking I'd seen people I knew. For example, on the subway with Pie on the way to hang out with Tweeds in Soho, I could have sworn I saw my former boss from my publishing days. She was sitting on the platform, with her trademark gray streaked hair. I was seconds away from saying something to her when it occurred to me that she looked exactly as she looked... eighteen years ago. If I saw her today, there's no way her gray streaked hair would still be streaked. At this point, it would be entirely gray or solidly not (if she colored it). The woman was in her mid 30s. These days, my former boss would be in her early 50s. I thought I saw a guy I dated briefly in college and two friends from film school. But the people I was seeing were the age they were back then.

I think the issue is, I don't picture myself as 40. I feel like I'm eternally about 26 or 28 (never 27. Don't know why, but 27 never enters my thoughts). Forty just doesn't fit right on me. It's kind of like the house remodel--I told Adam, "The new house feels like the kind of house a grown-up would live in. I'm not old enough for a grown-up house."

Growing up, my parents would always say, "Our house, our rules." When I was 19, I lived in a loft-style apartment in New York near Gramercy Park. My mom came to stay with me. At about 2 a.m., a friend of mine called. My mom was on the couch below and I saw her jump up when the phone rang, with a look on her face like someone was about to get in trouble (no phone calls after 10 p.m. had been the rule). And then suddenly her expression changed as she realized she didn't have a say any more, and I said, "My house, my rules! Calls are welcome at any hour!" I felt like such a grown-up! I definitely felt more grown-up then than I do now. (For the record, nowadays calls are almost never welcome, at any hour, and certainly never after oh, let's say, 7 p.m.)

But grown-up I am. Pie loves to check on my hair roots. "Mommy, pull back your hair! I want to see the white!"

I pulled back my hair, but I had had it colored two weeks ago (yes, I have my hair colored). Pie said, "It's not white!" Then she paused and said, "But it will be!"

Yes. Yes, it will.

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