Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I'm back from the land of open skies and mega malls! I cozied up to the local Target, ate fast food for the first time in years (Lion's Choice AND Mickey D's! My conscience, she is heavy - but damn those fries were good) and stayed immensely grateful to the Toddler Gods for giving me a boy who loves travel. We stayed in four different places in one week and the kid handled it like a champ, albeit an occasionally screamy one.

I always have mixed emotions about leaving the Midwest. I love, love, looooove my family and nothing brings back those anxiety producing "I'm really a grown up" feelings like airport goodbyes. At 37 you'd think I'd get a grip but leaving my folks still kills me. That said, I have an irrational and unwarranted loathing of the suburbs. I get the appeal - safe, good schools, living spaces that include a washer and dryer - and my Midwestern friends have managed to avoid the dreaded cookie-cutter housing sprawl, opting for older (read: awesome) digs. But driving past the chewed up farmland, watching the historical downtown disentigrate - all those gorgeous limestone buildings, wasted! - just makes me want to cry. I doubt we'll stay in NYC forever but I wish there was a happy, hipster medium between the Big Apple and the (always-in-my) Heartland. I miss seeing sky.

The boy turned a year and a half while we were visiting, which we totally didn't celebrate. (We didn't even see a movie! Free babysitting and no movie!) Aside from the screaming and the fury and the misplaced sense of entitlement, 18 months suits the little guy. He's got a head full of strawberry blond ringlets for which he'll hate me when he's 13, and a big, flashy grin. The walking that I was so worried about 2 months ago? Dude practically runs these days. We're hoping his verbalizations happen the same way. He's still not saying much (in words, anyway. He says PLENTY, babble-wise) so we're having Early Intervention take another peek. It feels awfully Helicopter Parent to hover over every developmental thing but at 18 months you expect the kid to be saying something. He communicates great - who needs words when you can point to what you want? (Or better yet, just go get it.) I've also become an expert on his body language. I can tell by the timing of his freakout whether he wants a drink or a book or to go outside. If I were an observer I'd tell myself to stop giving the kid what he wants in order to force him to talk. Sounds reasonable. Unfortunately that logic holds no sway after 5 minutes of this sanity-blowing bullshit:

Boy, pointing to cup: "Dat! Dat!"

Me: "Juice. Say Juice".

Boy, pointing more vigorously: "Dat! DAT!"

Me: "Juice! J-J-J-Juice. Say Juice. Juuuuuice."

Boy, looking at me like I'm an idiot: "Daaaat! Dat!"

Me: "Juice? You want the juice? Say Juice! Just say Juice!"

Boy, growing red faced: "Dat! Dat, dat, dat, dat!"

Cue frustrated sobbing/flailing/screaming until juice is handed over. Lather, rinse, repeat (and repeat and repeat).

Sometimes he mouthes the word like he wants to say it. I've found him alone in his room, pointing to pictures in a book and announcing them in gibberish. His babble is multi-syllabic and follows conversational tone - it's clear that he thinks he saying something. But the only real words he says are "mama", "dada", and "good", and mama and dada are only said if prompted. ("Say mama!") He knows who I am - if asked, he'll look right at me - and last time he was evaluated he came out tops, cognatively. So why no speakee? I want to be all zen and "children develop at different rates" but there's a15 month old on the playground with a 30 word vocabulary - IN SPANISH, TOO - and damn if his father doesn't live to rub my nose in it. (What, your kid can't say hi? Say hola, Jacob!") It's hard to walk the line between doing what's best for your kid and letting him be who he is...

Monday, June 15, 2009


Inspired by a friend who sent me her list. (I'm not procrastinating on my writing if I'm writing, right?)

- Kale

Seriously, I will put it in anything. Except maybe booze. For now.

- Really large men in really small Speedos

My gym has a really awesome pool. It's often filled with buff, hairless Broadway boys who wear their banana hammocks with ease. But occasionally a less streamlined example of the male species decides to brave the waters in something barely-there and when he does, I can't help but applaud. I'm not saying it's pretty, but it takes balls (look, there they are!) to let it all hang out. (ba-da-CHI!)

- This email conversation

To make it clear, I have no interest in the recently deposed Miss California. I don't care that she posed nude for Jesus or that she hates the gays. But I definitely gets a thrill when bitches get their comeuppance. Ever treated someone like shit? Read this and you'll feel miles better. (Start from the bottom and read up for the full effect. It's short.)

- The mysterious Louis Vuitton tote

Okay fashionistas - one of you has to know this. Every so often I come across a style maven toting a LV bag that appears to be made from an old ad for their luggage. It's made out of canvas... square... Ringing any bells? It's awesome and I will never be able to afford it no matter how magically I think, but I like knowing it's out there.

- The Sound of Young America on PRI

Jesse Thorn floats my boat. Not only does he have one of the smoovest radio voices around, his at-home interview show (it's recorded in his den) never fails to be either interesting or hilarious (usually both) making it a Must Listen on dish night. (In other words, me and Jesse is tight.) You can download podcasts on iTunes (early favorites: Ira Glass, Rob Corddry, Dan Savage - who also has an awesome podcast - and the guys behind the book "Holy Headshot!") Fast forward through the obnoxious theme song (the show's only flaw) and try not to Google image the host. *Note to self: generally speaking, radio personalities are on the radio for a reason...

- This extremely creepy story

Okay, seriously. What the hell is this thing? (Warning, the picture is scary. Not "cover your eyes" gross, but definitely brow furrowing.)

- The fact that there's a Two Boots opening up a block away

For non-New Yorkers, Two Boots is the world's greatest pizza place. Californians have their In-N-Out (bastards!), Topekans have Bobo's (bastards!), but New Yorkers with a hankering for a cornmeal crusted slice of awesome head to Two Boots. They offer a variety of pizzas named after pop culture characters (Mr. Pink, Nelson, The Dude) and a fantastic plain slice, all thin and crunchy and spicy sauced. They've been tottering on the brink of Open for a month now. Any day... (Midwestern tourists, do not make this rookie mistake! It is called a "slice", not a "piece", of pizza. Just ask my poor mom. Also, tourists in general - no backpacks worn on the front of the body. It automatically identifies you as an out of towner, I don't care what the guidebooks say. Back me up, locals.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

God I hated retail

I cannot tell a lie - I get triple five smug when I encounter a mother who's more insane than me. Oh ho, it's rare! But sometimes I overhear a conversation so nutballs I can't help but be reassured that I'm doing okay. Take MusicalMom, for example. I found her testing out a toy piano at a children's store. Toy piano. Keep that in mind as you read.

MusicalMom (cringing): "Is this supposed to be C-flat?"
Salesgirl: "Um... Is it out of tune?"
Mom: "I was a professional violinist for 14 years. I have perfect pitch." (turning to 3-month-old daughter) "But I guess if YOU like it..."
Salesgirl: "You could probably find someone to tune it."
Mom: "I suppose I'll have to."


Yep, as a parent I'm doing juuuuust fine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I have become a cliche

I'm pretty sure I was lying down when I took this.

Somehow I managed to miss National Donut Day. Luckily there's still time to catch Fudge Day on the 16th. (June is brought to you by Weight Watchers.)

Truth be told, I've never liked fudge much. Granted, my sole encounters with the stuff were during our annual trips to Silver Dollar City. One's palate can't exactly be trusted at 10. (All I remember is being shocked by the sweet - which is saying a lot, coming from a kid who used to eat Nestle Quik straight from the can.) But it always looks so tempting, like undercooked brownies. (Dude, when's THAT day?) I'm tempted to make some from scratch to see if I like it better as an adult. Maybe I'll find a way to add kale to it.

Feeling a little stagnant with the writing lately. Since I practically single-parent it during daylight hours, once baby's down for the night I am DONE. I have plenty of time after 7 (well, I would if I turned off So You Think You Can Dance) but I'm always too wiped to summon the creative. I know, I know, J.K. Rowling wrote "Harry Potter" during her daughter's naps (I'm pretty sure she drugged her) but man, were you all this tired when your kids were small?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

This is what happens when you chase a glass of wine with a bag of M&M's

Where'd this guy go?

Sweet, sweet 17 months. Seriously, if you don't have a 17 monther at home run out and get one because they are the awesomeness.

At 17 months, the boy is still deliciously unselfconscious which leads to much barbaric yawping on the playground. He runs around shouting happily at the other kids, announcing his presence like a tiny, benevolent king. Seriously, I'm going to weep big, raindrop tears the first time someone refuses to play with him. I get ferocious if kids say no when someone asks to play. Before I know what I'm doing, I turn into the kind of meddling, unhelpful adult that every child loathes, barging into their business and demanding that they allow Johnny NoFriends to join them. I'm probably just trying to make up for the fact that I spent most of 4th grade hiding from Eulalia Martinez during recess, even though I knew that it hurt her feelings. (Pardon while I wrastle with this mound of guilt.) It swells my heart that Baby B has full faith that everyone is his friend. He offers up his big, overbite-y grin to almost everyone he encounters (his patented "scrunchy nose" is generally reserved for those wearing glasses) and still squeals with delight whenver he sees something he loves. (Today that included the sprinklers, a helicopter, and a box of crackers.)

It's bittersweet seeing my toddler waddle towards boyhood. The "baby" in my baby is disappearing quick - it's hard not to get grabby about the things that remain. I find myself reaching for his chubby little hand far more than I probably should. (And far more than he'd like, judging by his evasive, "Get off, mom!" shake.) His dumpling thighs have turned long and lean. He's figured out how to pucker (or at least keep his lips closed) so no more big, openmouthed smooches for daddy and me. Saddest of all, morning cuddles are caput. We used to pull him into bed at 5:30 for a good 10 minute snuggle (that's how long it took for him to remember that he had toys) but now he's up and into the toy box/books/soccer ball before we can even demand a hug. (Yep, still at 5:30 am. Sorry, neighbors.)

Anybody else start craving another infant around this age? Or were you eyeing the Terrible Twos and girding your loins?

(Speaking of The Twos, the boy is there, peeps. There's cute - so much cute! - but the whining makes me want to eat my own hair. I remember reading that a baby's cry is calibrated at just the right pitch to make parents respond quickly without making them want to kill their young. Incessant, infuriating toddler whining, however...)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Don't worry, nothing gross

Whenever I question my abilities as a parent, I just read stories like this... or this... or this...

Actually, I think she was 7.

How could anyone be mean to these cheeks?

I almost called a 7-year-old a bitch to her face.

The B and I were at the playground yesterday when he caught sight of a girl wheeling a giant stuffed penguin around in a doll cart. Because the boy is obsessed with:

A) large stuffed toys, and
B) anything he can push

he started toddling after her. He managed to maintain a respectful distance for a few minutes, grinning and babbling in hopes of charming her out of her toys, but eventually he couldn't control himself and tippy-toed over to the penguin to tap it on the nose.

The girl yanked away her stroller and screamed "NO!" with all the force her lungs could muster. Then she looked at me, scrunched her face into a huge scowl and yelled, "I DON'T LIKE IT WHEN OTHER CHILDREN TOUCH MY TOYS" before storming off. She stopped her exit twice to look back at me and scowl.

It was such a Nellie Oleson moment I almost laughed. Almost.

After I reassured the boy that everything was cool, we walked over to the jungle gym and started playing on the ladders. The girl came over, climbed up next to him - inching her feet really close to his hands, the way kids do when they're thinking about stepping on another kid's fingers - and growled, "I'M playing here."

Here's the part where I point out that I understand that she's just a child. I get that pre-pubescent children are possessive of their toys and lack self-control. But I also think that some kids deserve a damn spanking.

It wasn't just that she was acting like a bully to a MUCH younger child - she was trying to bully me too. Sorry, Mama doesn't play that. I don't like it when children act like they're my equal. Because they're not. They're children. I don't need kids to call me by my last name or anything like that - I am happy to treat the Rated G set with compassion and respect - but in my world, you don't get to act like an authority figure until you can legally purchase porn. I wish I could say that I yanked that little brat down and sent her crying to her distracted Scandinavian mother but I didn't. I just looked her in the eyes, lowered my voice, and said "ENOUGH." Then I removed my baby from the situation before I did something I'd regret. Because no matter how much the little bitch deserves it, it's hard to come out looking like the hero when you cuss out a 2nd grader.