Wednesday, January 27

If They're Like This Now...

Six. That's right, six. The magic age when a child becomes embarrassed by his mother. My son has suddenly blossomed into tweendom. Walking home from school, I was chatting up a neighbor girl. A second grader. Who lives on our block. Walking home with her father and her younger sister. The humiliating conversation?

Me, first to Tab and then to Doodles: So, anything exciting happen today?
Tab: No.
Doodles: Mmmph.
Me to neighbor girl: How about you? Anything exciting happen today?
Neighbor: Well...
Doodles, hitting me with his jacket: Mom! Cut it out!
Neighbor: We watched a movie at school today.
Me: That does sound exciting. What movie?
Doodles: MOM! CUT IT OUT!
Me: Sweetie, I'm allowed to talk to our neighbor if I choose to.
Doodles: No!
Neighbor: It was a Magic Schoolbus movie.
Me: What was it about?
Doodles, still hitting me: CUT IT OUT CUT IT OUT CUT IT OUT CUT IT OUT CUT IT OUT!
Neighbor: It was about gravity. Because we're learning about the moon!
Doodles: Cut it out!
Me: Doodles you're being rude.
[pause a few seconds]
Doodles: Mom, can I have computer time when we get home?
Timing isn't his forte. And for the record, the answer was no.

Pie, four-year-old little Pie, isn't immune to tweendom, either. Her birthday is six months, four weeks and one day away. Pie is suddenly into the rock stars and she's planning a rock star birthday. ("Can I have a swimming rock star birthday?" "That might be a bit much." "Okay, then this birthday will be a rock star birthday and my six birthday will be a swimming party.") She's obsessed with being a rock star. Which has led to some interesting outfits. Pie has a number of dresses that she loves, but which she's clearly grown out of. A few weeks ago, we agreed that she could keep wearing the too-small dresses but with a pair of leggings underneath.

A couple of days ago she put on one of those dresses, which barely grazes her tush.
Me: You've definitely grown out of that dress!
Pie: Oh?
Me: It's too short on you. Why don't you put some leggings?
Pie: Oh, I don't need to!
Me: I thought we said when dresses are too short, you'd wear them with leggings. Lots of rock stars wear leggings. It's very popular for rock stars.
Pie: But, Mom, I saw Hannah Montana! And she had on a really short skirt with no leggings! So I'll just wear tights with the dress.

Just shoot me now.

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Sunday, January 24

Oh When Those Saints...

Many of you know that my father is, proudly, from New Jersey. Don't go teasin' with any of that "What exit are you?" He'll have none of that.

But you may not know that my mother is an actual Southerner. I don't mean Miami Beach. Plenty of people have asked me what it's like to live in the South. And I don't know. Because Miami and Miami Beach are not the South; they're the East Coast. South of Orlando is the East Coast; north of Orlando is the Deep South.

My maternal grandmother and her big sister were born in Chipley, Florida, where people came from all over to see if "the Jew baby had horns." My great-grandfather had to travel a couple of hours to Alabama to buy kosher meat to bring back for my barely-spoke English great-grandmother. My maternal grandfather (whom I called Abba) was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. My mother, while born in Memphis, moved before her memory even kicked in and spent all of her formative years in a suburb of New Orleans. My mom comes by the "y'all" honestly, and it doesn't take too much riling up to get her accent out.

Let's move to football. Once upon a time, I cared a great deal about football. Abba was a serious fan. He had season tickets for the Dolphins for as long as I could remember, and occasionally, I'd get to go see, first Bob Griese, and then Dan Marino play. Abba would travel to watch the Dolphins and he was at the '73 Super Bowl when the Dolphins had that unforgettable year. I became interested in late high school, when it was a fun way to hang out with Abba. We could bond over the Dolphins. When I lived in Seattle, football was amazing because it was never on past my bedtime, and I had two good from-Miami Beach buddies who would, week after week, go to the sports bars with me at 10 a.m. for beer, fries, and Dolphins.

But then kids came along and I became a Dolphins fan in name only. Sure, if they're on network TV and it's not starting past my bedtime, I'll watch. But I have no idea who is who. As Dave Barry once put it, at this point I'm pretty much just routing for the color. I do watch enough to know that the evil man Jimmy Buffet replaced the Dolphin's fight song at touchdown with a stupid Landshark song, but my loyalty is pretty much a remnant of the past that shall always remain. I follow playoffs, I watch the Super Bowl, but I'm not as invested as I used to be. Perhaps one day I'll have a good team again, my kids will be big enough I can lounge on Sundays, and I'll be able to spend a little time caring.

Okay, this is the part where we bring everything together: Deep South mom and football. My mother knows exactly two things about football: 1) Peyton Manning, the quarterback for some team, went to Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, which is the same school she attended and 2) Peyton's little brother, Eli, the quarterback for a different team, also went to Newman.

But suddenly my mother has found a bandwagon. And she's jumped on it. In an e-mail last week to me and my father, she announced, "Okay, I care about the Super Bowl. Geaux Saints."

My father had to point out that the Saints weren't in the Super Bowl yet, and she'd have to get through a playoff game. Her response, "Oh shit. That means I have to watch two games."

Tonight I went out and had a lovely dinner with Pie at a friend's house (a friend who is so creative and engaged with her kids that she makes the rest of us look really, really bad. I know you read this! Stop that now!). I got home and Adam was putting Pie to bed, so I started cooking a little dinner for him (I'll take cooking for anyone any day over putting her to bed) and I turned on the game. It was a commercial, so I called my mom.

"I just got home and it's a commercial. What's going on in the game so far?"

My mom replied, "Um, the Jets lost?"

"Yes, I know that. What about the Saints game. The one that's on right now?"

Silence for a minute. "Um, I forgot. Let me go turn it on." We hang up.

A few minutes later she calls back. "It's not on!"

"Yes, it is. Of course it is. Put on Fox."

"Oh. I guess it's a commercial."

Theoretically she's watching the game right now. Ask her who the quarterback for the Saints is. She won't know. He went to high school in Texas. Geaux Saints.

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Tuesday, January 19

Donkeys and Elephants at Home

One of the most annoying things about having a mixed marriage is that in a hotly contested election, like say the Martha Coakley vs. Scott Brown for the Massachusetts Senate seat, we get twice the phone calls. As a registered Democrat, I've received calls from Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and of course, Martha Coakley. As a registered Republican, Adam's heard from a different crowd. I love checking the messages and being able to say, "Sweetie, it's for you. It's the pro-lifers." He's heard from the pro-lifers, Scott Brown, and the Catholics.

Adam ran out early this morning to cast his vote. Since the voting is at Doodles's school, I offered that I could go early so Doodles and Pie could come with me to "cancel out Daddy's vote." Which led to a discussion of what is a Democrat and what is a Republican.

Have you ever tried to explain a topic like that and remain unbiased and neutral? I don't think it can be done. I started out with some reasonable basics. "Well, the Republicans believe that government should be smaller, with people taking more responsibility for things. The Democrats believe the government should do more for people." Which of course is just generic enough to not explain anything. Adam came home from voting as I was trying to explain. "You know how we have a nice home and--even if you don't like the food I offer you, we have plenty of food to eat? Well, if we couldn't afford food, we could get something called food stamps, which are given to people by the government so no one has to go hungry. Food stamps are like coupons that people without enough money can exchange for food. But someone has to pay for that. So we pay taxes. We pay on taxes on our house, on the money we make, on the things we buy. And those taxes pay for things like food stamps. The Democrats believe we should pay more taxes to help more people. And the Republicans..." And this is where I flounder. Do I say, "let people starve" or "think only rich people should eat"?

I start again. "So, the Democrats like to help people..." Adam bursts out laughing. This isn't really the unbiased explanation I'm going for. I laugh, too, and tell Adam, "Screw this!"

So as we're getting on our winter clothes to head for the school to vote, I simply say to Doodles, "If Harry Potter were an American citizen, he'd be a Democrat."

End of conversation. Take that Scott Brown.


Monday, January 18

Snow Birds and Snow Babes

My kids have personalities as different as can be. But nowhere does it show itself as clearly as it does in their reaction to the weather. Doodles, who claimed that his favorite thing about the trip to Miami Beach was "the hotness," constantly bemoans the fact that we live in New England instead of Florida. The minute the temperature drops, the boy becomes a couch potato, piling up a stack of books, planting himself in front of the fireplace, and settling in for the day.

The girl has the opposite reaction. She wakes up. "Snow? Can I shovel!" She's the first one in her snow pants and ready to play outside. This morning as I attempted to shovel us out--attempted because it was one of those wet, heavy snows that doesn't want to cooperate with the shovel--she proclaimed, "Do you know what my favorite season is? It's winter!" And then she attempted to make a snow slide out of the mounds being shoveled.

I want to buy all of us snow shoes. Pie says, "Can we go today?" I tell her, "I haven't bought them yet!" Doodles protests, "I don't want snow shoes. It's just walking in the snow with tennis rackets on your feet. And I hate walking."

My sun worshiper and my snow baby. And never the 'twain shall meet.

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Monday, January 11


I wake up every morning these days hungover. Headache. Fuzziness. Dry mouth. Which I wouldn't mind, if I had actually been drinking. Which I haven't been. So it must be winter. We really need a humidifier.

I had fully intended on doing a bit o' new year's reflections, but my plans were thwarted because Adam no longer keeps an at-home work computer. Being tied to my desktop means that I don't blog. Because if I'm at my desk, the kids aren't home. And if the kids aren't home, I'm working on the novel, not writing to you (nothing personal). We've budgeted a new laptop for me in March, so perhaps there will be more blogging then. I'm here now because Adam--and his laptop--are home from work and I can use his laptop during his naptime. Truth be told, though, you don't even have my full attention now, because I've discovered the United States of Tara on demand, and I'm working my way through them at this moment. I can try, though, when Toni Collette isn't distracting me.

My father will quickly dispute that 2010 is not the start of a new decade, but considering I am a sheep, I counted 2000 as the start of the millennium. How odd is it that 1/1/00 doesn't seem long ago at all. I remember new year's so clearly, my annual party at Barb and Steve's, hanging out with Pam, who was a brand new friend from my night-shift stint at a warehouse in McDonough, Georgia, a dry town that housed one of Amazon's brand new "distribution centers." I lived alone in Seattle in a small house I had just bought myself three months before. I was not only single (well, sort of single--I was a profuse dater), I hadn't even met Adam yet (actually, we've pieced together that perhaps we had met once, but neither of us registered on the other's radar). I was still--on paper--an Internet millionaire. I'd just done my first triathlon and I didn't know it, but in another month, I'd be training for my first and only major bike ride--a double century (in a day when it wasn't sponsored and was much more rugged--really!).

And now? Well, if you're here, you know the now. In some ways, I feel like I've lived so many lives. New York me. Grad school me. Kibbutz me. Seattle me. And now haus frau me. Each is so distinct and feels so separate and yet so integral to who I am.

So what's next? Every year I make fairly elaborate new year's resolutions. Some I keep; most I don't. I read somewhere that instead of new year's resolutions you should pick one word to represent the year ahead. I decided to go with this idea. But then I had to come up with a word. What word? At first I thought "focus." I need to focus on my novel, focus on better eating, focus on the moment. But that didn't quite encapsulate what I was looking for. So I went with "order." I want my life in order. Um, no. Passion? Too cheesy. Awareness? Too Zen. Drunk? Closer, but not quite it. So I think this is the year I go resolutionless. And let's see what I can accomplish.

If only I could get rid of this hangover. Or get a humidifier. Does that count as a resolution? Moisture. Hmmm. Could work...


Monday, January 4


Dropping Pie at preschool today, I fully expected a completely meltdown. She bawled for an hour on the flight home last night because she wanted the Nana. Her first words upon waking this morning were, "I want Nana!" But it's when you most expect anything from children that it least happens and vice-versa, isn't it? She gave me a smooch and ran off to her classroom. I, on the other hand, am ready to crawl back into bed and not come back out till the tulips do. Readjustment after the Miami Beach trip is always hardest on me.

Spa day at the Standard. More martinis and cafe con leches than I could count. Movies--first run!--in a theater, on a big screen. Boat rides. New Year's party. Breakfast outside on Ocean Drive. Ice cream. Shorts. Walking to dinners out. Swimming for the kids. Family. Friends. I so don't want to be back in Arlington.

However, there are a few pluses. I will say that I do enjoy an excuse for hot chocolate and we have that in spades. I whipped up another batch of homemade marshmallows this morning. Boy do I love me them homemade marshmallows. They melt so much better in a cup of hot chocolate. And our friends up here are amazing. Our plane got in a few minutes late and out the window we were greeted by a world of white. We rushed out, got luggage, and the car. We went straight from the airport to drop Doodles and Adam's off at a cub scout meeting. Pie and I went home to shovel... only Beetle and her husband had already shoveled us out! Can you ask for better friends than that? While Pie was mildly disappointed, I was quite thrilled.

And now it's time for some new year's reflections, I suppose, but that will have to wait for a later post, as one of my resolutions is to get back into the swing of writing, and since I'm off soon to get Pie for gymnastics, I better get a few pages written.

Welcome back to real life!

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Sunday, January 3

And the View From Out Back at 3:40 p.m.

The View From Out Back at 7:33 a.m.

Friday, January 1

You Do the Math

To get your brain jump started on today, the first day of 2010, I have a math problem for you:

On December 31, 2009, Pie woke up at 5:43 a.m. She immediately began whining. On this same day, Doodles woke up at 6:03 a.m. Both children spent the day swimming, running laps through the apartment, and asking, "Is it time to go to the party yet?" At 6:32 p.m., the two children departed with their parents for a New Year's Eve party. At 7:23 p.m., Pie announced she was too tired. She ate six out of eight pieces of an avocado roll, clung to the leg of her father as if it were a life raft, and fell asleep on a couch in the middle of the room at 8:07 p.m.

Doodles eats no dinner, but consumes one cup of caramel popcorn at 8:27 while watching Spongebob Squarepants with T. Rex, Pad, and Elf Girl. At 9:02 he eats three coins of Hanukkah gelt. Doodles opens five presents, including "Draggy," which he totes around for the rest of the night. At 11:48 p.m. Pie rejoins the awake world, opens presents, and walks around dazed.

Meanwhile, Adam consumes two beers, I drink three beers, two glasses of white wine, and a glass of champagne. Adam is a semi-loser in the Yankee swap (a Reflexology set), while I came out pretty darn sweetly (a set of Restoration Hardware shot glasses).

At midnight, the entire Brown-Medros clan, including senior Brown members--the Nana and the Peter--toast in the New Year. At 12:29 a.m., we drag an unhappy Doodles out of the party and a willing to go home Pie. Both children fall asleep in the car at 12:46 a.m.

At 6:03 a.m.--mere hours later--Pie awakes. At 6:34 a.m., Doodles awaken.

Here are your questions:
1) How long till Pie loses the shoes and tiara from her new Arielle doll?
2) How many Honey-Nut Cheerios can Draggy eat?
3) At what time will Doodles find himself seasick on Ollie's boat?
4) How many cafe con leches will it take for my eyes to a) pry open and b) remain open
5) At what time will I abandon cafe con leches for beer?

Bonus points if you can tell me what time the melt-down will happen when Doodles and Pie realize that T. Rex and Pad leave early, early, early tomorrow to go back to their home.

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