Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm big in Australia.

This one's for you, Tor!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Yes, I'm still going on about this.

Today I had brunch with a boy I used to babysit. He's 13 now, almost fully a man. (Fully-fully a man, if he were Jewish.) It's a little strange seeing a kid who used to wait for me outside the bathroom door because he was scared of the dark sporting the makings of a fine mustache. He's still good-natured and funny and ferociously intelligent. In preschool his IQ tested above the 90th percentile, and it seems to have held: he just got accepted to Stuvyesant, arguably the most competitive public high school in the US.

So where am I going with all this? This kid, who was singing along to the Beatles before his first birthday and explaining the counterbalance pulley systems in elevators at age 7, spent every Friday of his entire 7th grade year working with a tutor to prep for a high school admissions test. During 8th grade, it was bumped up to 3 times a week. So he could pass a high school admissions test.

Yes, I'm still going on about this.

I can't get over the fact that kids prep for 2 years for the chance to go to a good school. I didn't even prep for the SATs! (Which could explain my score.) Not every kid has to take the test. If you want your child to go to the shitty school down the street - the one with the metal detectors and constant police presence (I'm talking to you, terrifying high school in my 'hood) or happen to be lucky enough to win the lottery, you're golden. (I wasn't kidding about the lottery. Many public schools are so overcrowded they select students randomly. Like out of a hat.) The really great high school in my neighborhood requires not only an interview, but a portfolio review. It's rumored to be harder to get into than Harvard.

This is a public high school, peeps.

In related news, Asheville's supposed to be nice, right?

Friday, February 19, 2010

I'm on a horse.

This has nothing to do with motherhood. It is, however, the funniest thing I have ever seen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My husband insists we won't test. Who will win?

I'm obsessed with this article. Read it and smile. Or weep, depending.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I just realized that I haven't bought a new pair of shoes in almost 4 years.

There are a lot of wealthy people in this city, and nothing makes that more clear than reading the NY Times real estate section. Three people and a couple of grumpy cats squeezed into a 700-sq-foot apartment (roomy by Manhattan standards) leaves a gal pining for the finer things in life. Namely a second bathroom. While I love playing "What Would I Buy" in the For Sale section, I'm always staggered by what people are able to spend. Like, say, $23.98 million.

$23.99 million. For an apartment.

And get this - the sellers only used it as a pied-a-terre. (That's a vacation home, for those who skipped 9th grade French.) Which means they probably only visited the place 2 or 3 times a year. How much money do you have if you can comfortably part with $24 mill? I really should have gone into hedge fund management...

I don't know why crap like this makes me so mad. It's not like I'd have more if they had less, but it feels like I would. Maybe this person funds orphanages or opens schools in West Virginia, who knows? But nobody needs a $24 million house. Nobody.

Want more ridiculousness? How about a preschool that costs more per year than my entire college education?

This, from

Ethical Culture Fieldston

Where: Manhattan and Bronx, New York

Two schools rolled up into one, Ethical Culture on the Upper West Side and Fieldston in the Bronx, which go from nursery through high school. The tuition for preschool is an astounding $30,440 (if you were wondering, this includes supplies, books, lunch and insurance!). It was founded by Felix Adler in 1878 as a free kindergarten to children of the working poor, and it was then called the "Workingman's School."

Mr. Adler would be so pleased by his legacy. More from Forbes:

"But paying the tuition is easy compared with getting in. Entrance to an exclusive private preschool is a painful right of passage for thousands of upscale New York moms every year, kicking off with a mad rush of speed dialing early in the morning the day after Labor Day to secure applications before schools run out of them.

The way the game works, at least for many top private nursery schools: You call to get the application, rush it back to the school and wait anxiously for word you will be granted a tour and your child will be invited to an on-site pseudo-interview the schools call a "play-date."

Some schools dispense with the play-date and just meet with families individually. Some ask for essays. Some just want to know where you live and work. (Presumably much information about your potential as a big donor can be gleaned from your address and employer).

Then there is the bone-chilling, mind-bending wait during which you agonize over your kid's performance during the play date and handicap her chances vs. the others (including that kid who went fishing in the classroom fish tank). While the process starts in September, it doesn't end until early March, when the notifications are mailed."

Nuts, right? But parents are a little stuck when it comes to preschools in this city. Almost all are private (including ours). Even at "cheap" schools (again, ours) the costs are impressive: Full-day will set you back $22,000. But aside from bucking the system and homeschooling (or "unschooling", for those who supertrendy) we don't have much choice. It all makes my stomach hurt.

Parents: What did nursery school cost for your kids? Was it worth it? And did you pay it while living in a $24 million penthouse?

*I should not that we love our school and don't pay anything close to those fees because of generous financial aid.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nothing says Valentine's Day like a kid in a diaper.

Lots of love on this most adorable of days.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I'm pretty sure our son thinks Valentine's Day is a celebration of his cat.

Valentine's Day seems like it should be right up my alley. It celebrates love. Chocolate usually makes an appearance. But as on New Year's Eve and the 4th of July, I generally find myself shrugging at the hubbub. Even when I was single, it felt like no big deal. I never went around bemoaning "Black Tuesday" (or in this case, "Black Saturday") or freaking out that I didn't have a date. (Although come to think of it, my first date with Matt was on Valentine's Day. 18 years ago. Jeebus. But neither of us realized what day it was when he asked me out so it doesn't really count.)

Anyway, it comes as no surprise that so far our biggest plans involve dressing Owen up like Cupid and sending out incriminating pictures. We'll probably get take-out. Maybe watch an episode of Caprica. Lame is the new cool, right?

What about you? Impress me with your plans.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The one where my son asks me to sing about penises.

Why yes, my toddler did just shout, "Hey mama! Bring me two books! Chop-chop!"

I may have laughed really, really loud. And made him repeat it several times. And show his dad. Which means that I will be hearing "chop-chop" about 70 times a day from now on.

Things have gotten a lot more hilarious around here since the kid started talking in sentences. ("Hey Chewbacca! How 'bout some chicken pot pie?") It's also interesting to see what sticks in his 2-year-old brain. His world mostly seems to revolve around cars, guys (the catchall term for his toys) and attempting to sing the theme song to Blue's Clues. Like most small children he's keen on singing and I am more than happy to hear his squeaky little voice. The only thing that makes him happier than listening to himself sing is listening to me sing. I may be a professional performer but a songbird, I am not. Owen doesn't seem to notice.

"Hey mama! Sing E-I-E-I-O?"
"Hey mama! Sing Frosty da No-man?"
"Hey mama! Sing da penis song?"

Uh, what was that last one?

Is there a penis song sweeping the toddler set that I don't know about? I suspect he wanted me to sing Old MacDonald and insert "penis" into the animal mix. I tend to be pretty flexible when it comes to his choices but I draw the line at making penis noises.

We're starting to have conversations too which is fun. Today he told me that he wanted to be a police car when he grew up.

That said, the Twos can indeed be terrible. Yesterday he cried for almost a solid hour because... oh, who knows why. I tried giving him food, reading him books, playing "shoot the basket" (basketball). Finally Matt came home and decided to let Blue's Clues handle the situation. Thank God for Steve and his stripey shirt. There's also an awful lot of throwing these days. Food, toys, cats - if it's able to be chucked, chances are my kid has tried.

I'm not even inching towards potty training. I see it up ahead. Looming. But aside from reading some really obnoxious books and asking him if he wants to poop on the potty ("NOPE!") we've kept things pretty cool. I figure until he can indicate when he's peeing, there's no point in trying to train. Luckily our preschool doesn't insist that he be diaper-free before enrollment. Considering he'll only be 2 1/2 when he starts, that's a gift.

Preschool. My kid starts preschool next year. (Excuse me - "Pre-K.") Do preschools in your town do afternoon classes? Because I think it's nuts. Especially since none of the schools I've encountered do naps. (I've heard that the US is the only place that does afternoon classes. Care to weigh in, Tor?) Owen's teacher told me that there was a boy who fell asleep every single day on the tricycles because he was so tired. He'd just slump over the handlebars and pass out. I'm gunning for a morning class but they do a lottery for spots. At least we're guaranteed something. Our Kindergartens are so full, hundreds of kids are having to wait a year because there's no place to put them. They're holding classes in broom closets, in BATHROOMS... I'm always glad to live here until I start thinking about school. (And rent. And terrorist attacks. Wait, why do I live here?)