The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Thursday, December 29, 2005


It is awful, of course, to see your child sick. Terrible to see him in pain or even discomfort, awful to listen to his coughs and to his cries and to know that he is so miserable. It is excruciating to see him trust in you to instantaneously make him better and to know that only time and perhaps some antibiotics can actually perform the kind of magic he expects you to immediately produce.

And yet, that feeling of your child's arms wrapped around your neck and his body nestled into your lap? The sensation you've not felt since his infancy of not knowing where he ends and you begin? The calm as you surrender yourself to the situation, cancel all plans and hunker down to offer unlimited snuggling and soothing and Sesame Street for the duration? Not so bad. Not bad at all.

Get well, sweet Evan. But maybe... not too fast.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Even the Barenaked Ladies had better taste in gifts

Julia's been dropping hints about the Chanukah gift that she made for us in school ever since she started working on it a few weeks ago, but she somehow managed to keep the contents of the package a secret until the big day. She was quite excited about her surprise, and the minute the candles were lit for the first night of Chanukah on Sunday, the present was unceremoniously shoved into my hands. Inside the gift bag she'd painted herself, I found a lovely pencil holder (i.e. decorated coffee can) with Julia's photo on it.

It was a lovely gift, to be sure, but it was the card that accompanied the gift which I loved the most. The kids were each asked what they would buy their parents for Chanukah if they had a million dollars, and their answers were written in their cards. I guess it was her teachers' attempt at humor -- instead of this recycled coffee can, you could be getting this fine gift. The joke was on us, however, because it turns out if Julia had a million dollars, she would buy us...

a dreidel.

A million dollars, and all I get is a spinning top made out of clay? There is absolutely no way I am ever giving this child an allowance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas return #1: the toy the kid can't touch

Evan received a Thomas Big Big Loader for Christmas this year from his cousins. He was delighted to see Thomas on the box when the paper came off and immediately demanded that it be opened up and put together. It took us a while to get around to honoring this request, but yesterday morning, I finally sat down to help him assemble it.

Dumbest. Toy. Ever.

It took me the better part of a half hour to assemble the tracks according to the cryptic directions, during which time both of my children lost interest in the process and moved on to greener pastures. Julia rejoined me for the applying of the decorative stickers, which we both agreed was the only enjoyable part of the assembly process. When everything was finally ready to go, we called Evan back over to watch the toy in action.

Watch was the operative word. I turned the toy on and we all sat silently and observed as the train moved around the tracks, picking up bits of coal and depositing them into compartments. When the loop was completed, the process began again. And again. And again. Julia shifted her weight from one leg to the other. Evan laid down on his belly to get a better vantage point. He tentatively reached out to touch the train and it promptly fell off the track.

"No, no, Evan," we cried. "Don't touch the toy or it won't work!"

The minute the words were out of my mouth, I started to laugh. What the hell is the point of a toy that a kid can't play with? But Evan dutifully listened. He sighed and took his hand away and I started up the train again. He reached out for it. It fell off the track and we had to re-start it again. One more loop around the track, two more failed attempts to actually play with the toy and Evan gave up. He went to his toy shelf, picked up a regular die cut Thomas train and headed off for a quiet corner where he could drive it around on the floor. A toy he could actually play with... what a novel concept.

UPDATE: Guess this thing's not going back to the store. My kids spent the majority of the morning sitting in silence and watching, transfixed, as Thomas circled the track delivering coal. I have no idea what the appeal of this toy is, and I suspect it's probably even worse than television for them, since TV might at least teach them something as they sit there watching it in silence. But when Thomas is running, no one in this house is fighting, yelling, back talking or causing any kind of trouble whatsoever. They're just sitting quietly. Weird. But very, very useful.

Friday, December 23, 2005

December 23rd

I knew something was up the second I walked into the room. Julia was sitting on my bed watching the Sesame Street holiday show, which seemed innocent enough, but Paul had an odd expression on his face. "Tell your Mommy what you just told me," he prompted her.

"When I grow up, I want to be Christian," Julia informed me.

Paul made a funny strangled coughing sound and turned his back, but I wasn't all that concerned. It's December 23rd, after all, and I've been a Jewish child on December 23rd. It's awfully hard, as the world reaches a fever pitch of Christmas mania all around you, not to feel a tiny pang of longing on December 23rd.

"You can be whatever you want when you grow up," I told Julia. "After you've learned more about Christianity and Judaism, you'll be free to pick the religion that's right for you. But for now, all you need to know is that there's far, far more to choosing between Christianity and Judaism than Christmas and Chanukah."

"You're lucky to have a Christian Daddy and a Jewish Mommy so that you can experience the best of both religions," Paul added, sufficiently recovered now that he'd seen that I wasn't going to blow a gasket over this one. "And a Jewish Evan," Julia replied happily. The moment had passed.

When I was growing up, Christmas Eve was a time for eating Chinese food, going to the movies and having sleepovers with my few Jewish friends. As I got older, I volunteered in a soup kitchen on Christmas Eve to make sure that everyone who wanted a holiday meal got one. That soup kitchen was held in the basement of a church and I remember passing by the congregation celebrating mass as I left each year. The lights were always dimmed, the carols always hauntingly beautiful and the air always felt warm and welcoming. Every year, I felt like such an outsider, and that feeling was accompanied by not a small amount of wishing that I belonged inside that church. Forget the Santa thing and the pretty trees and lights. I just wanted to be a part of all of that joy and love and community. But Christmas is only one day of the year. The other 364 days, I found all of those things and more in my own house of worship. The other 364 days of the year, I was happy to identify as a Jew. It was, in the end, a balance I could live with, despite those annual pangs.

Growing up in an interfaith household, Julia will never go to the movies or eat Chinese food or volunteer on Christmas. She will celebrate the holiday with the Christian side of our family, complete with the tree and the lights and a pile of gifts from Santa because she has a Christian Daddy. I had thought that might be enough to spare her that familiar feeling of being an outsider in December for at least a few more years. Apparently not. There's no way to tell what religious choices Julia will make when she grows up. But the fact that she's feeling a little left out right now tells me more than anything else that at least for today, my daughter is every inch a Jew.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Misty watercolored memories

One of the most gratifying parts of blogging for me is the fact that it gives me the ability to look back and see things as they really were. Sometimes, I'll re-read an entry from 6 months or a year ago and realize with a shock that the moments I've been so nostalgic about were actually far more agonizing than I had recalled. The passage of time does that, I know; it blurs the rough edges and softens the harshness of reality more and more with each passing day until even the challenging moments start to look good in hindsight. It's refreshing sometimes to have reality here in black and white to shake me out of my reverie when I get a little too wistful about the days that were.

Other times, however, looking back can remind me of how good I had it. Case in point: this entry, from almost exactly one year ago. I was thinking of it tonight as I put Evan to bed and smiling at my premonition that I would miss the routine when it was gone. A year later, those Groundhog Days are as gone as gone can be. Our nights of snuggling up in the glider to nurse are long behind us, of course. So is the sweet childhood tome with the melodic rhythm I so enjoyed. It's been replaced with a horrible lift-the-flaps Elmo book which Evan adores and can't get enough of and which I find more insipid and maddening with each passing night. He points out his favorite characters with just as much reverence as he pointed out that red balloon, but somehow I have trouble mustering up the same amount of enthusiasm for the Count and Big Bird that I had for the two little kittens and the pair of mittens (oh, how I miss those kittens and mittens).

As if that weren't enough, there are elaborate new routines we must follow before bedtime now, ones that are entirely of Evan's creation. He must kiss his giant Cookwah before the lights go out. Flipping off the light switch is his job now, as is adjusting his noise machine and the closet light which he uses as a night light. The lullaby I loved is gone, too, replaced with whichever song he is fixated on that week (C is for Cookie just doesn't have the same feel to it as a true lullaby, I'm afraid, no matter how softly and sweetly I try to deliver it). Even the way he lies down once he's in his crib follows an exact routine he has devised. I simply follow along and play my role in a process which has completely and totally slipped from my control. At nearly 2, Evan is clearly driving the bedtime ship around here. That's how it should be, I know. But when I look back at what things were like a year ago, that parental nostalgia thing swings into full blown force and I want my sweet baby boy back in my arms again. Re-reading that entry is as close as I can get.

A year ago, I wrote these words:

I find myself wondering how we've gotten there again so fast, how the day, which seemed so interminably long while we were in the midst of it, slipped away from me so quickly. No matter how distracted or busy I've been all day, no matter how many times my quality time with Evan has been derailed by a request from Julia, a phone call from a friend or my own inability to concentrate on anything for more than 3 minutes, I am 100% focused on Evan at bedtime. I had plenty of that focused time with Julia at this age, but precious little with Evan. Often, I find myself wishing that I could stall the routine myself, that I could slow down time and keep my baby safe and warm in my arms for just a little while longer.

As much as things have changed, I can honestly say that I still feel that way each and every night. I recognize now that it's that feeling that mattered the most -- more than the book or the song or the way he snuggled into me when he nursed -- and I feel damn lucky that it remains to this day. It's slipping away too fast, this babyhood of Evan's, and that makes me nostalgic and sad. Yet I must confess, even as I grit my teeth and start the hunt for Elmo's blanket yet again each night, that the child he's becoming is every bit as exciting and fun and memorable as the baby he used to be. Every single night, when I put Evan to bed, I still find myself wanting to stall, to stay in that moment in time when he is so sweet and funny and unmistakably himself and to bask in the warmth of my son's glow a little while longer. What more could I ask for as my child grows and changes?

Some day soon, Evan's bedtime routine will evolve yet again. Cookwah will fall out of favor. He'll decide that singing is for babies. For all I know, he'll be snuggling up to a die cast train in a few months' time. And that makes me sad, because even as I mourn the old way, and even as I now recognize that the love I feel for my son won't change even if he does, I've also come to embrace the new routine and the way it so completely embodies his quirky 22 month old self.

I want it to last forever, exactly as it is right now. And if I can't do that, I at least want to capture it here and make sure that I'll never forget it.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

If there was any doubt I was losing it here, this should clear things up quite nicely

God bless ye cheery FedEx man, who brings me things each day,
The thought of going to the mall, it fills me with dismay
You've made my life much easier, but this I have to say

O next year, I'll pay for the gift wrap (just 4 bucks more)
Yes, next year I'll pay those stores to wrap

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

If Mama aint happy, nobody is happy (and guess what Mama aint right now)

Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.
Next year I will save myself and my family countless amounts of agitation and stress by simply downplaying the holidays.

If only it was as easy to cut and paste giftwrap as it is to cut and paste on a computer... this mantra would be significantly less necessary and I'd have the time to write a real blog entry.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The flip side of social growth and development: a play in three short acts

The Scene: Julia's school Chanukah party

Act One: Julia and her best friend dance happily, hand in hand, to the holiday music. Another little girl approaches them and tries to join in on the dance. They clutch hands even tighter and refuse to let her in. The child gives up and walks away sadly. Julia's friend's mother tries to include the third child in the circle and the girls suddenly become tired of dancing and refuse to continue.

Act Two: One of Julia's favorite children in the whole world (and one for whom I hold a particular soft spot) asks Julia and her best friend to pose for a picture with her. The girls line up for the photo, and chaos ensues. Julia and her best friend staunchly refuse to let the child pose between them. When she tries to break through, they simply circle around again to each other, giggling. Finally, the mothers intervene and line the girls up. No one is smiling in the picture.

Act Three: The same little girl tries to follow Julia and her best friend over to the puzzle table, where they ignore her completely. She walks away crying. I shepherd her back to the table and encourage the girls to play in a group. My success is limited and fleeting.

It's a sad, but established fact that girls can often be catty and exclusive. I remember this from my own childhood and I remember how much it hurt. I've seen it happen to Julia on occasion and that hurt me, too. But watching my child be the one to inflict the pain on others? That hurt the most of all, by far.

My little girl is growing up, and I don't like it one bit.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Say what?

Ever since last summer, I've been harboring mean spirited thoughts toward a certain little boy in Julia's class. I'm not alone in my distaste for this kid; nearly every parent I know has something not so nice to say about this particular boy and his partner in crime. They are admittedly not so nice themselves, and if our own kids' feelings are worth being protective of, we're probably at least a little entitled to our dislike. But it occurred to me in a conversation with Julia the other day that I was perhaps directing an adult sized amount of venom at a child sized bully.

"I played Henry's Mamika today when we acted out his journal entry," she told me after school the other day. "That's nice, I answered absently. "Did your teacher pick you to do that?" She shook her head. "No," she replied, "we have to volunteer if we want to act out someone else's journal. I always raise my hand to be Henry's Mamika."

"You volunteered to get up in front of your class and play his Mamika?" I asked, clearly still a little stupid but frankly shocked to hear that my quiet child had raised her hand to do anything that would put her in the spotlight. She nodded. "Do you volunteer to be in other kids' stories, too?"

"No, only Henry's. It's fun to be his Mamika."

"So Henry's your friend now?"

"No, I'm not friends with the boys. But he's OK."

Huh. I guess it's time to stop hating Henry so fiercely. Apparently there's a likeable side to this kid after all, and now I feel kind of bad that I misjudged him for so long. But if it's any consolation, he's in good company. Because if Julia is really raising her hand and volunteering to get up and try out her acting skills in front of her class? Well, then obviously I don't know much of anything about her either.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Julia no one ever sees

Don't take all of them, OK, Matthew? They're my special tissues. Look what's on the back of them. It says "my special tissues." If you need a tissue, go ahead and get it, but don't take all of them or there'll be none left. Wait, Gofo needs a tissue, too; look at his nose. No, no take them slowly. You don't need a lot; the tissues are big. Look how big they are. I'll show you how big they are.

If there were 2 more tissues then we'd have 5 and you don't want 5. We'll just get one more tissue. Watch. We're going to break this in half... I'll rip the sides. Here you go. I'm the girl with tissues. Matthew, I bet you only need 4. Here's 2 of them. Wait -- one at a time. Here's one. Here's another one. You just need one more tissue? OK.

Wait... I'm a REAL person, OK? So I guess I get ALL the tissues...

And so on and so on and so forth and so forth. My fingers are tired of typing at this point, but Julia's still got plenty to say on the subject of tissues and her imaginary friends with drippy noses.

Julia spends an hour and a half in her room each day for "quiet time," but no activity could be more completely misnamed. There is rarely a full second of silence in the entire 90 minute period that Julia spends upstairs ostensibly resting. She just stream-of-consciousness talks the entire damn time, playing multiple roles in elaborate conversations, singing songs and otherwise entertaining herself. A minute after this tissue diatribe had ended, she was belting out a grunted version of Jingle Bells and reciting This Little Piggy. Three minutes after that, she was opening an imaginary umbrella and consulting a non-existent thermostat to determine whether or not she would need mittens. (But I LOST my mittens. I usually put them in my backpack, but they're not in my backpack. I checked all the pockets...)

I love the fact that Julia can entertain herself so beautifully on her own and I believe with all of my heart that the time she spends alone each day playing and singing and imagining and... well... babbling is invaluable. It's such classic kid stuff, but coming from a kid who is somewhat less than forthcoming with the classic kid stuff when other people are around, it's truly gratifying to hear her do these things in the safety and comfort of her own private space. I frequently giggle as I listen to her games and conversations with her imaginary friends. Often, I learn about school activities or interactions she hasn't otherwise mentioned to me. Occasionally, I even become aware of an issue or concern that needs to be addressed. But mostly, I just cherish my 90 minutes of peace while she cherishes hers, and at the same time, I cherish this glimpse at the goofy inner self hiding within my quiet, contemplative child.

I'm not going to have p-i-z-z-a at the z-o-o. I'm not even going to have i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m. Are you saying I'm going to have 2 pieces of p-i-z-z-a? No, I'm not. Evan, do you know what p-i-z-z-a spells? That's right, pizza! Do you know what b-a-n-a-n-a spells? That's right -- banana! Cookie Monster, could you pass that to Evan, please? Oh, here's a song... THREE little monkeys jumping on the bed. ONE fell off and bumped his head...

How on earth does this child manage to stay so quiet at school?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ode to misplaced joy

Sighted on the way to pick Julia up at preschool this morning: an entire fleet of vehicles deployed by our town DPW to finish the leaf collection job they had not completed before last week's snowstorm. What should have been a simple task was vastly complicated by the mounds of snow covering all of the leaves, and as a result, the job required quite a few more trucks and workers than usual.

Evan, delighted by all of those big rigs, chattered happily about the trucks all the way to school. He wasn't the only one amused by all of the activity. I'll probably curse this entry when my increased tax bill arrives next quarter, but for today, I found an inappropriate amount of pleasure in the fact that I'm clearly not alone in my inability to get my shit together. It's a heck of a lot easier to dispose of an iced over dead mum than four million tons of snow and dead leaves, and the smug satisfaction that this realization gave me nearly made up for that embarrassing dumb plant which is still on my front porch.

Schadenfreude is alive and well and living in New Jersey.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The true definition of insanity

THIRTY EIGHT birthday party invitations signed, sealed and ready to go. Every single one of them a reciprocal invitation.

Shoot me now.

Monday, December 12, 2005

If this is all just a romantic notion, please don't burst my bubble

The preschool schedule for next year came out last week. Apparently more is more, because as predicted, they're radically increasing the hours for virtually all of their classes. My options for Julia: M/W/F 12-2:45 and T/Th 9- 2:45, M/W/F 9-2:45 and T/Th 12- 2:45 or M-F 9-2:45. Or, of course, another preschool.

I presented the situation to Julia after I'd received the mailing, and her first response was predictable. It was too much school. It was too late in the day. If Pre-K was going to be so long and it was going to be mainly in the afternoon, she didn't want to go.

"That's fine," I told her. "We can find another school and you can go in the mornings, the same way you do this year. She immediately looked horrified. "I can't leave my school and my friends," she replied. I frankly agreed. It's taken Julia 2 years to feel comfortable enough to open her mouth in school at all, and she's still speaking primarily to her friends and not the teachers. She finally has a tight knit group of friends and a clear comfort level at school. To start over fresh would essentially be to waste the majority of next year on transitioning to a school she'd only spend a year at anyway. We'd have to start over with new friends, new playdates, new everything. Julia is not a start over kind of kid. I was relieved that she recognized that.

"Well, nothing's going to be perfect then," I told her. Either you pick a less than ideal schedule or you pick a less than ideal school." So we hashed out scenarios for a while. And in the end, we came up with something which we think will work. Julia will go to school M/W/F 12-2:45 and T/Th 9- 2:45. Evan will go to school M/W/F 9-11:45. Each of my kids will have 2 or 3 morning a week alone with Mommy. And despite all of that tuition money I'll be shelling out, I will not get a moment to myself.

Julia loved the plan once she realized there was special alone time with me built in. Evan, if he truly understood the situation, would love it, too, since this means he will be playing happily at school rather than sitting around waiting during Julia's chosen extracurricular activity and all of her playdates.

And me? I will be driving to the temple 2 to 3 times a day every day of the week to drop children off and pick them up. I will be schlepping children with me to the grocery store and to Target and to do every other errand on my list. That writing career I was hoping to establish some day soon? No time for that next year. (Deliberate sabotage, I wonder?) Trips to the gym and doctor's appointments? I'll be squeezing those in or forgoing them for yet another year. The freedom of having 2 children in preschool at the same time? Lovely pipedream, but there'll be none of that for me.

I did have a choice here. I could have put Evan in school the same 2 mornings Julia would have been there and had those 2 mornings to myself. But then I would have had both kids with me the other mornings. Evan would have had to schlep around to his older sister's activities and I would have had no time alone with Julia at all. I frankly wasn't sure the 2 alone days were worth it. I might have selfishly chosen that schedule anyway, but Julia changed my mind. That look on her face when I suggested we might be able to spend some mornings alone together? I'll never forget it. How could I say no?

I should be furious about the situation and I should be dreading next year, but instead I find myself curiously excited. Julia's enthusiasm about spending time alone with me was a little contagious, and her obvious need for my undivided attention made me realize how fleeting these days are going to be. Some day, I'll write and work out and push a shopping cart in peace. But next year, I'm going to do what I set out to do when I decided to be a stay at home Mom; I'm going to spend time with my kids. And hopefully, the "I'm a good mom" feeling this decision fills me with will turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Sign number 8 gazillion that I don't quite have my shit together

This is the welcoming sight which currently greets visitors when they arrive at my home:

It would (ahem) appear that mum season is over. I obviously missed the memo. (And the forecast. And the dead plant on my doorstep.)

What can I say? All those good intentions that pave the road of my life are buried under 6 inches of snow...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The grownup equivalent of a handmade construction paper card

Dear Mom,

If you're reading this, you've obviously followed the link in my birthday email to find your gift. It's not exactly the kind of thing one wraps in pretty paper (though I'll give you one of those when I see you this weekend), so let me explain.

Over the past few years, you've told me countless times that I ought to be writing down the cute kid stories for posterity. At one point about 2 years ago, you even suggested that I ought to be keeping a blog. I was surprised at the time to even hear that you knew what a blog was, since the term was so new to me at the time. But I listened to your advice (I always do, you know, even when it seems like I'm not listening at all), and I gave it a whirl.

I started this blog on Rosh Hashanah a little over a year ago, and I've been steadily writing ever since. In the archives to the right of this letter are hundreds of entries detailing the past year of my life. Most of the stories you know already through our frequent conversations, though you'll probably find a few hidden gems and some unexplored territory if you dig deep enough. Some of the writing I'm proud of -- proud enough to consider trying to publish some day -- other entries are entirely forgettable. I'll leave it up to you whether to read every word, skim a bit here and there or simply pick up reading from here.

For a long time, this blog was my secret; my private place to record and reflect and my personal opportunity to reclaim my love of writing. As time has passed, others have come to read what I write here. Some were strangers who stumbled upon my blog and liked what I had to say, a few -- like Paul -- I invited to take a look. My favorite readers are Dan and Jordan, who found this site by accident a few months ago and now tell me they've come to know me and my children better than ever before through their daily visits here. Now I'm inviting you to do the same.

Over the past year, I've written a lot about my relationship with my children, trying to preserve for posterity what I know will inevitably change as they grow. I've reflected a lot on my experience as a parent, and in doing so, I've given a lot of thought to the way I was parented. Two years ago, when I was on bedrest waiting for Evan's arrival, you said something to me that I'll never forget. You were helping to straighten the chaos of my house as I laid helplessly there watching, and I tried inadequately to thank you for all of your help. "You're my daughter," you told me as you brushed off my thanks. "You're a mother now, so you should understand what that means." It was all you had to say. And the intensity with which I suddenly did understand brought tears to my eyes.

I've thought countless times since that day about that conversation, and about how differently I view our relationship now that I'm raising children of my own. Some day, I hope that Julia and Evan will read what I've written here and come to know themselves and me better through my writing. It was Paul who originally suggested that this might be a great opportunity for you to do the same (I knew there was a reason I loved the guy). So this year for your birthday, I'm giving you a place to get your daily grandkid fix. I'm giving you an opportunity to get a closer look at the person your own child has become. And I suspect I'm also giving you an occasional walk down memory lane as you reminisce about your years at home with me and Dan. But most of all, I'm entrusting you with something that is important to me, and in doing so, I'm trying to tell you how important you are to me, too.

Happy birthday, Mom. And thanks... for the writing gene, for the parenting role model and for the relationship I hope to replicate with my own adult children some day. I love you.


What a difference a day and a 102 degree fever make

Last night's prayer: "Please let the meteorologists be over reacting again... I can't handle the idea of a snow day this Friday."

This morning's prayer: "Please let that storm hit tonight. If Paul gets snowed in, I won't have to deal with a sick kid alone tomorrow."

Snow forecasts, a fever for Julia and runny noses all around. The calendar be damned... it's winter.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Joie de vivre

Julia is every bit as excited about her 11:30 a.m. dentist appointment today as she is about the 3:45 Chuck E Cheese birthday party she's been invited to attend.

If only I could summon up the same amount of enthusiasm for my role as chauffeur...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Mommy math

They didn't teach this stuff in any math class I ever took. Perhaps pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing were all I ever really needed to unlock my inner math genius, because it all seems so clear to me now...


1 + 1 = 3 (or more!)


"what he has" > "what I have"

the last hour of the day = all 23 of the other hours combined

"what he has" = "what I want"

a + b + c + d = a great song to sing over and over until Mommy has a terrible headache

"what he has" = "what I NEED"

m + m = bribery at its best

"what he has" = "what I MUST have RIGHT NOW"

patience possessed < patience needed

love = infinite, despite all rational proof to the contrary

Monday, December 05, 2005

The annual holiday card dilemma

Do I use the picture in which Julia is smiling beautifully but Evan resembles a giraffe? The one in which he looks completely darling but she is making a face which embodies everything I hate about the "nearly 4" stage? The one that's lousy of both of them but is beautifully set with an attractive background? Or the reasonably clear, completely unremarkable photo in which no one is really looking quite at the camera or smiling, but no one is doing anything offensive either?

There's too much empty space on the card if I just put our names, so clearly I need a greeting of some sort. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy New Year? That's a mouthful -- and a boring one at that. Season's greetings from our family to yours? A big fat ick all around. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2006? The Grammar Bitch in me cannot help but note that this is not a complete sentence. Maybe I could use a dash instead of an exclamation point?

Before I had children, I bought a couple of packs of holiday cards, wrote them all out in an hour in front of the TV, stuck them in the mail and that was that. And now, suddenly, the holiday card tradition has become the albatross of my holidays season; a month-long obsessive quest for perfection. Every year, as I devote the better part of December to dressing my children up in strange outfits and chasing them around with a camera in search of the perfect holiday card photo, I wonder who the hell I'm doing all of this obsessing for.

No one on my holiday card list is going to look twice at whatever I send. They will say "look how cute" regardless of whether anything about the picture or the card is actually cute, because that's just what you say when holiday cards arrive. They will hang our card up with all of their other holiday greetings (or they will stuff it in a drawer or the trash, I suppose) and they will check their own lists to make sure they've sent us their card, which, truth be told, I won't look at all that closely either. I know all of this. And yet, just as I do every year, I've spent an embarrassing amount of time worrying about my holidays cards over the past few weeks.

Forget the integration of Chanukah and Christmas into one household. Forget long lists and people who are hard to buy for. Forget the crowds and the chaos and the items out of stock. This is what I find myself worrying about three weeks before Chanukah and Christmas. Insanity.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Painfully shy

"She's shy," Julia's teacher said during a frank discussion today. "Painfully shy."

She was telling me nothing that I didn't know before. And yet, I was struck once again by how upset her words made me. Not the shy part... I long ago came to terms with the fact that my daughter and I have vastly different personalities, and I suspect that in the end, her quiet nature may serve her better than my boisterous one has ever served me. But that first word -- painfully -- that one gives me pause each and every time I hear it.

My thesaurus has 31 synonyms for painful. Aching. Afflictive. Agonizing. Arduous. Awful. Biting. Burning. Caustic. Difficult. Dire. Disagreeable. Distasteful. Distressing. Dreadful. Excruciating. Extreme. Extremely bad. Grievous. Hard Harrowing. Hurtful. Hurting. Inflamed. Irritated. Laborious. Piercing. Raw. Saddening. Sensitive. Severe. Sharp. Smarting. Sore. Stinging. Tedious. Tender. Terrible. Throbbing. Tormenting. Troublesome. Trying. Uncomfortable. Unpleasant. Vexatious.

The very idea that any of these words describe the way my daughter feels during every day social situations? Now THAT is the true definition of painful to me.