Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Typical Day at Work

I am sitting on the couch with my laptop on my lap. I am ready to write something brilliant. Or just something not terribly boring with bad grammar. Lucy is standing behind me on the couch with her arms looped around my neck. She is trying to climb up my back.

She just said “Mommy, you have a funny neck”. She laughs a lot while she repeats this over and over. Note to self: Check neck in mirror later. Look for funniness.

I keep tapping away at the computer. But she is trying to crawl up my back and she is trying to lodge one foot in the small of my back and use that to hoist herself up. Her foot keeps slipping and my body is rocking side to side.

I keep writing words like this, msdb djshdjskd sfskdj and I have to go back and fix them.This is all going slowly.

Edie just walked in and threw a Dora book on the keyboard and said very clearly, “Dora!” She says 'Dora" like she is scolding me. She is now repeating it over and over, “Dora!...Dora!...Dora!” and will probably keep repeating it until I read Dora Goes to the Dentist. I feel scolded. I’m working right now, so I won’t be reading to her, which means she’ll keep chanting “Dora!” over and over. I decide to tune her out.

Oh! An unexpected move! Edie just threw the book on the floor and is now jabbing her fingers on the keyboard. We’re now typing words like this, ksdjfjdn kdsjf jfijfkdnvn kf. Her favorite thing is to reach over and turn off the WLAN so I’m no longer connected to the Internet. The WLAN button is a bright, shiny, blue button that stands out from the rest. (Thanks to the Geek boy without kids who designed this laptop.)

Oops! Just as I suspected - there goes the WLAN. Who needs access to the Internet anyway? Edie keeps typing words like ncababscn asjd .

Lucy has decided that trying to climb up my back is either impossible or it is not garnering enough attention from me, so she has moved on to hanging off my neck…and swinging. She still has her hands looped around my neck only this time her fist is kind of wedged into my larynx. This is not painful, but it does make me wonder how much of this my neck can take before it just snaps off like a twig.

Oh! Edie has tired of punching buttons and is moving onto the couch. Ten bucks says she’s going in for boobie. Wait for it…Wait for it…Wait for it…Oh yes! She has my boob in her mouth. She is kneeling next to me and is bent over with my boob in her mouth, kinda half sitting, half standing. As Lucy swings back and forth on my neck, my body swings a little with her and so does Edie and my boob.

I keep typing words like sdjfsdbnsb dfbfsdbfsbdbdvhbv hfbshdbvbsv kdjb.

Now Lucy has jumped off the couch. I stop gasping for air. She grabs my sweater and – Oh! Very clever! – uses it as a rope to climb back up the side of the couch. And – Oh Yes! – the side of me. I’m like her rock wall. Okay, she’s behind me again and back swinging on my neck. I feel the decrease in oxygen to my brain.

Okay, Edie seems finished with the boob and has gotten up and moved in back of me with Lucy. Uh…yeah…now both of them have their arms looped around my neck. They are trying to pull me backward. They are laughing.

Hurting Mommy is hysterical. They are having a blast. Note to self: Kids seem to have a lack of empathy. Ask pediatrician at next Wellness visit if he thinks they are psychopaths.

Oh! A spat has broken out. They are pushing each other. They are fighting to see who gets to swing on Mommy’s neck. They are both lying on my back and trying to push the other off of Mommy.

Someone starts to scream. Edie is pinching Lucy’s cheek. She has a hand full of her face. She is digging in her nails. Lucy retaliates by sticking her foot against her sister and pushing with all her might. I think about intervening, but I have work to do and they are pretty evenly matched now. I decide to see how it all turns out.

There are screams. Cries. They tumble into a big pile on the couch behind me. Edie still has a wad of face in her hand. Lucy is on top of her sister, pushing her fingers into her stomach. I think I’ll have to break it up. I start to put down my laptop. But then….

Laughter. They are laughing. It is so clear. And tickling each other. Lucy is tickling Edie and yelling “Bellybutton!” and Edie is curled up trying to protect hers, but she is screaming with glee.

They are happy again. And no one is crushing my voice box. I can breathe again. I rub my neck and I start typing words that make perfect sense and are spelled correctly. The words are flying onto the page now.

I AM PRODUCTIVE!!!!...for like 20 seconds. I take what I can get.

The girls slide off the couch, chasing each other and run into their toy room. I keep typing. My phone rings. It’s a client. I’m ghostwriting his book. I answer, but tell him I can’t talk because I’m writing.

And I am now. So, really I’m not lying or anything.

xxxooo YM

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Dear Dora, I'm Going to Scratch Your Eyeballs Out...

An Open Letter to Dora The Explorer

Dear Dora,

I think you’re cute. I do. That hair gets me every time. Like a dead cat draped over your big round head.

I like the way you’ve taught Lucy to count to 10 in Spanish even though I had no idea where she learned Spanish, so when she just started counting things one day…uno, dos, tres…I thought she was some kind of savant and I had momentary delusions that my child was a genius. Then, I remembered it must be your show - you make it hard for me to hate your squeaky little voice when you do nice things like that.

I like that you always have everything you need right there in your backpack. Need a canoe to get across the Raging Rapids? Check the backpack. Need an umbrella because Hannah Hurricane is ready to blow? Check the backpack. Need a noose to hang yourself because your TV show is so nauseating? I bet you got one of those, too.

I kind of like Swiper, too He can be a mean little bastard - trying to swipe your friendship ring or make it impossible for you to get to the chocolate tree – but I enjoy dropping whatever unimportant thing I’m doing so I can run into the other room and scream “Swiper No Swiping” at the TV set, because Lucy is convinced that it is my all-powerful voice that gets Swiper to stop his misbehaving.

This is usually not a problem unless Swiper decides to swipe something right at the moment I'm going to the bathrom and I have to run from the other room with my pants down around my ankles, hobbling through the house with Edie hanging off my boob and toilet paper stuck to my shoe. But although not pretty, I always get there in time to scream “Swiper No Swiping” and he actually obeys me. I'm a mess, but a powerful mess.

I have to be honest. There are a few things that really piss me off about you, Dora. I hate that your chubby little face is on every toy imaginable. I hate that all those toys are right on the shelf at eye level with my kid’s eyeballs. Really, it’s uncanny. No matter where my daughter’s turn their heads, you are right in front of them. On shoes. On little plastic cash registers. On games. On battery-operated bubble machines. They cannot escape you.

There may have been a day when Lucy decided that you weren’t cool anymore and she wanted to move on to other toys, but up against your corporate-sponsored-peer-pressure-machine, she couldn’t do it. She wasn’t strong enough because THERE ARE NO TOYS OUT THERE WITHOUT YOUR PICTURE ON IT.

(Okay, there are a bazillion Barbie toys out there, but fortunately they are on a higher shelf, one directly in line with a 10 year old’s eyeballs and so this is of no concern to us yet. I'll write something special to Miss Barbie a decade from now.)

You should know, Dora, we are much poorer because of you. In the last 2 years and 10 months we have never left any store anywhere in this city without purchasing some toy with your big head on it. And you are sooooo smart because many of your toys are inexpensive and you think, “Well, what could it hurt?...She really wants it and it’s only $3.99”

Or we're in the back of a long line at the check out at Pathmark and I know the Dora bubblebath bottle will keep them occupied and since we have 2 kids, it’s not just $3.99, it’s more like $8.00 and so they both get one and it does, in fact, keep them happy while we are waiting in line, but then we get to the register and I realize we have to pay out the $8 and add that to the 5 days of $8 we've been shelling out. And I realize we are approaching $100 in little tiny, crappy plastic toys that have been made in China and are covered in lead-based paint that we purchased over the last 2 weeks and are now rotting at the bottom of the toy bin. By the time I do the math on the whole 2 years and 10 months, I'm shitting myself.

And I wish I could have all that money back and maybe go to Paris with my husband for lunch or send the kids to some horribly pretentious private school or just stare at our bank statement and relish all that extra cash in our bank account or something or anything, except have 20,000 plastic, broken, forgotten Doras in our house.

And that's when the desire to smother the life out of you starts to set in.

(Note to our friends who mean well but don't have kids and don't know what to buy kids and are hell-bent on buying them something with Dora on it - Don’t do it. Just don’t. Step away from the Dora. Put down your Visa card. Walk away...Good...Feel good that you just saved our friendship.)

Really, Dora, you have to take your mantel of power more seriously. You are influential, like the president or something, I know this because the only word Edie will say besides "Mama" is “Dora”, which she says perfectly and clearly and this is funny because that is the only word she says except for “Mama” (but when she says “Mama”, she means me, David, Lucy, the concierge, the homeless man on the corner, the guy at Starbucks with the beard, anybody in earshot).

But not you Dora – you are so influential you have your own name. When she sees you, she is drawn to you as if in a trance and this child with the attention span of a lizard will be mesmerized by you for a half hour with her nose pressed up against the TV. And in her catatonic state, I hear her, the TV smeared with snot, saying “Dora…Dora” over and over and pointing to the TV all proud and excited. And I smile at her so happy for her accomplishment but I’m also gritting my teeth wondering how I can squeeze the dear life out of you and then, dance on your lifeless body, singing “We did it! We did it! We really really did it? Lo hicimos!...”

Still, I know even that won't keep you down for long. Fortunately we are moving out of the Dora stage and into the…Princess Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty) stage.

I have a letter for her, too.

xxxooo YM

This post would've been up much sooner, but Lucy just bounced into the room and mesmerized by Dora's face, made me scroll up and down, looking at each of the Dora images and pointing out Swiper and all the things Swiper does and letting me know she would like the party set for Christmas and then, we had to keep doing it over and over and examining in detail each of the images and deciding on more Dora things we'd like for Christmas, before she finally told me this was her favorite of all my blogs, which means she prefers to look at pictures of Dora rather than pictures of herself and her sister...and then, her head nearly exploded with pleasure when I added the picture of Princess Aurora, because she luuuuurves Princess Aurora and carries a little figure of her around and dresses her in the pink princess dress and undresses her and puts her in the blue princess nightgown and undresses her and then, starts the whole thing all over again. By last count, we've read and re-read this post about 20 times...with no sign of letting up. Splendid. Continue Reading...


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Martha Stewart Has a Blog

Martha's blog is going to keep me in material for some time to come.

Actually, it isn't Martha writing, of course. It's her sister and executive assistant "capturing her voice". This is a bit like finding out that the Santa at the mall is really the unemployed fat guy who lives two streets over, but I get it - Martha, like the real Santa, has bigger things to do.

She has ferns to re-plant and boxwoods to cover before the first big snow and she has holiday centerpieces to construct out of figs, candy canes and bits of leftover holiday ribbon. She has to inspire me to mop my floors more often.

I've been perusing her site. Here are some thoughts that popped into my head:

This is a picture of "doorman gifts" that Martha's daughter, Alexis, is giving out.
Note to Alexis: Your doormen want CASH, not toffee.

This is Martha's cellar...Notice the floors.
Now, look at all the long-haired cats lounging on WHITE towels.
Nary a hairball or stray piece of fur.
It's like she lives on some kind of clean planet where dust and grime don't exist.

This is Martha's freakishly organized basement.
I give this system 15 minutes before Lucy has unrolled all of the spools of ribbon and yarn and trailed them through the house.

My children run wild through the house naked,
but Martha has time to dress the cats for a party.

Paw Paw thinks Mama Martha has a leeetle too much time on her hands.

I think the face says it all. This guy is bound for doggy therapy.

This is Martha's guest house.
I'm imagining staying here with the kids - Lucy picking flowers out of the vase and walking around with them pretending to be a princess, with water dripping all over the carpet and pulling the petals off and grinding them into the chair cushions to make "flower soup" and Edie dribbling breast milk all over the white bed linens. Then, Edie pees on something priceless. Then someone bleeds. Next, I'm standing in front of Martha confessing and she gives me a 20 minute demo on the best way to get blood out of sheets.

Ahhh! The perfect weapons for Lucy - a crystal vase, water and delicate,
but sword-like candle sticks that could be used to impale her sister.
It's a veritable playground inside Martha's house.

xxxooo YM

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Under the Category of Good Things to Eat…

Lucy was chewing on something the other day, which I thought was strange because I hadn’t put out any food and I hadn’t seen her in the snack shelf in the fridge. Our conversation went something like this:

Mommy: Baby, what’s in your mouth?
(Lucy is smiling and trying to be cute so as to distract me from whatever she’s doing. She is very good at this. I’ve only recently caught on.)

Mommy: Hmmm…
(This is my skeptical “Hmmmm….” And it goes with my skeptical face. She recognizes them immediately)

Lucy: I have something in here, Mommy!
(She’s pointing to her mouth and teasing me.She knows I’m imagining a small rubber ball that can be perfectly wedged into her larynx)

Mommy: What’s in there, Bugs?
(I’m acting calm, but she knows any minute I could go commando and pry my fingers into her mouth and fish around for the offending object. We have history here. Once, I went in convinced she had eaten cat poop. She was eating turkey. She’s barely forgiven me.)

Lucy: (Laughing) I’ve got somethin’ in here…
(She’s pointing to her mouth and saying it all sing-songy, like she’s the class bully and she’s holding my puppy over the well. I flash back to kindergarten)

Mommy: Okay kid, what’s in the mouth?…Fork it over.
(She ignores me. It’s like I’m not even in the room. Again, I flash back to kindergarten)

Mommy: Do you have an M&M?
(At this point, I’m wishing for lint-covered stale M&Ms from under the couch)

Lucy: Look!
(She dives into her mouth, fishes around in there and pulls something out. I squint. I know she’s holding something – she’s not a very good mime - but whatever it is, it is invisible to me.)

Mommy: What’s that, baby? What do you have?
(I take her hand gently and steady it. I lean in closer. I see something. A bit of translucent something. I am perplexed. My mind runs through the possibilities. I come up blank. I think it might be a bit of rat poison.I panic. But then I remember we don’t have rat poison. I feel better)

Lucy: I ate my toenail, Mommy!
(Sure enough, there it was…I recognized it now - a sliver of clear toenail that had been gnawed off by a toddler. She was laughing and jumping up and down with the toenail in her hand. She carried it with her in the pocket of her corduroys all day. She was proud)

Me too. I'm considering including this story on her preschool applications.

xxxooo YM

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Simon & Garfunkle Pasta

I just tried this Gourmet Magazine dish called Winter Herb Pasta. It was easy to make and a BIG hit with the kids. I’m forever calling it Simon & Garfunkle Pasta now, because it uses (big surprise) parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

Not terribly original, but you’ll thank me six months from now when you are killing yourself trying to think of a quick dinner idea and you’ll say to yourself, “Why don’t I make that Yummy Mummy dish that sounded so good!…Now, what were the herbs in that? Hmmm…”

Remember when you thought these guys were hot? Love the hat, Paul.

And then, you'll think of Paul Simon with all that 1960's hippie hair and mustache and Scarborough Fair will pop into your head and the familiar strains of Simon and Garfunkle will flood your ears and you’ll start humming and you’ll know what to make. You'll also curse me at three in the morning when you are still singing that damn song...but at least you'll have eaten well.

Let's just remember them this way, shall we?

This pasta was a big hit with the kids (mine and Lucy’s friend, Hidaya from down the hall). If your kids haven’t been introduced to lots of herbs, this is a great intro because it combines new tastes with the familiar, noodle-sucking, fun of bucatini (or a very thick spaghetti).

This dish is a sophisticated enough meal for an adult lunch or dinner and quick enough for a weeknight supper. The mixture of Simon & Garfunkle herbs is a lovely and delicate surprise and a great change from the usual ways of preparing spaghetti. And don't get me started on the deliciously oily, toasted bread crumbs on top - they give the pasta a crunch that makes the dish special and memorable.

Also, Gourmet doesn’t lie – this dish is 30 minutes active time (if you chop the herbs and do the bread crumbs ahead, you can do it in half the time!)

Xxxooo YM

Winter Herb Pasta

Makes 4 to 6 (main course) servings


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a baguette, but if you don't have enough bread on hand, you can supplement with some good quality bread crumbs)
1 pound dried bucatini or thick spaghetti
2 teaspoons chopped sage
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1 cup chopped parsley


Heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until foam subsides. Cook garlic, stirring, until fragrant and pale golden. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, reserving skillet.

Meanwhile, cook bucatini in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain.

Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook sage, rosemary, and thyme, stirring, 2 minutes.

Add pasta, 1/2 cup reserved water, and parsley and toss well. Add more water to moisten if necessary. Serve sprinkled with bread crumbs.

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Monday, December 3, 2007

I Want to Tell You Something Very Sweet about Edie

Edie doesn’t like blankets.

No matter what she is wearing or the temperature of the room, she will kick the blanket off and lay there all bare-legged and happy. She also really doesn’t love long sleeve pajamas either, so if you put her in wintery ones, she’ll act as if you put her in a hair shirt and she spends the next 15 minutes clawing at the sleeves until she gets the shirt halfway over her head and her arms are all pinned inside and stuck up over her head and she can’t move up or down and she looks like she has been working on Houdini’s straight jacket trick, only it’s not gone so well and one of us has to rescue her and take the shirt off and she snickers and smiles all happy because she is that much closer to being naked again.

We’ve learned our lesson. We now buy her short sleeve pajama tops.

But this very cool thing has been happening at night. And before I tell you the rest of the story, I have to fill you in on what will be glaringly obvious by the end of this paragraph - Yes, we all sleep together in our big family bed and yes, I know there are a bunch of "family-bed detractors" out there who are sure we could roll over our children and smother the life out of them in the folds of our loose, flabby skin or that the kids will end up freakish and weird (as if they had been home-schooled by Mennonites, no offense against the Mennonites who I respect for their stylish dress). We believe that as long as we don’t stumble into bed all bleery-eyed and hopped up on Vicodin and Jack Daniels our kids will be very happy cuddling next to us at night.

And they are. And we are.

This is how I know Edie is waking up in the night cold, because I can move my hand two inches to the left and feel her little Popsicle legs. That or she starts kicking me in the back until I roll over and attend to her. And this is when the very sweet, very lovely thing happens…

I pull her little body into me and pull the covers up around us and she melts into my side and I give her the boob because this is Edie and Edie ALWAYS wants the boob. And I warm her up with my hands under the warm covers and we sort of disintegrate back into sleep together all curled up, like two little heaters.

This has been happening a few times a night now because we have been keeping the bedroom a little cooler and even though I would prefer she sleep covered, I’m really loving our little ritual. I can say this because it only lasts for a little while and then she bucks and kicks the covers off again and rolls out of my arms and back to her barely covered up state and then, we go back to being individuals, not Siamese twins, and that works for both of us, until it all starts again.

This magical experience should in no way be confused with those nights when Edie cannot sleep without having my nipple in her mouth – not drinking by the way, just lightly sucking – and I spend the entire night on one side, with an arm over my head that has fallen asleep and leg cramps and a wet, puckered nipple that is sore from hours of constant sucking.

And then, as David astutely remembers, Edie and I have a middle of the night “dispute” where Edie cries and fusses when I try to take the nipple out of her mouth and then, I mumble something about how I'm going to start weaning her STARTING TOMORROW and David says it looks like we might come to some kind of standoff, but we all want to get back to sleep, so I give in and groan a little about the drudgery of motherhood and demand that David start learning how to breastfeed.

Eventually, I give in to my lot in life and roll over on my aching side as mothers have done since the beginning of time and prop up my numb un-feeling arm on the pillow and stick my puckered, water-logged nipple back in Edie's mouth. And Edie sighs gratefully and David slumps back in bed thankful that the whole debacle has ended and we haven't woken Lucy... And nearly all of us get to go back to sleep.

And that's why I treasure being Edie's part-time heater.

xxxooo YM Continue Reading...