Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Baptism Before the Storm

On Sunday, while everyone else was busing preparing for Franken-storm, we had a baptism. Just squeezed it in there, right under the wire, an hour or two before they shut the subways done. A little blessing before the shit hit the fan. Pretty convenient timing really. 

We planned the baptism around when my cousin would be in town from Rome, and even though we just moved into the new place and have been swamped with unpacking and stuff,  we hustled to get in on the baptism prep classes so we'd be on schedule for the last Sunday in October. And we were, kind of amazingly, on schedule. 

Then my mother-in-law called last week to say she was going to come to New York for the baptism. Even better. Now we'd have almost all the important players. Couldn't be better.

Sunday morning, my aunt called to see if the baptism would still be happening. 

"Of course!" I replied, "Why wouldn't it?" My grandmother had been cooking for two days straight. The heirloom baptismal gown that my great grandmother had crocheted for me when I was baptized had been cleaned and ironed.  Everything was ready. 

"Well, they're shutting the subways down tonight," she explained, "Because of the storm."

Oh, for crying out loud. 

"Well, its on," I said, "We will wrap up the festivities before the subway shuts down."

We slid into the church minutes before the baptism started ("Terza Kear? Is the family of Terza Kear here? Oh good, we're all waiting for you,") but we made it and that little baby cried her head off when the priest poured the water over her head, just the way everyone wants her to. It was lovely. 

Then off to the party, and dishing out baked ziti and playing Phantom of the Opera music for the kids to dance along to and lots and lots of cannoli cake.

One upside of having a party just before a massive super storm hits town? It wraps itself up mighty quick. Usually, I have people hanging around while I take down the decorations and kids who refused to leave and there's the sorry-but-party's-over-folks dance. But this time, with the entire transit system shutting down, there was no hangers-on. Within an hour, everyone had eaten. In an other half hour, they'd laid waste to the cake and put their jackets on. In less than two hours, we'd packed up the remains of the party, swept up and were out of there. Pretty delightful. I think I may spread the news that a hurricane is about to hit every time I plan a large affair. 

The other upside of the pre-storm party is we had tons of leftovers to take back home and eat for two days, while we were holed up. We had enough for the doorman and to barter, if necessary (it wasn't). Nonnie's ziti is currency, make no mistake. There was my mom's famous dip to nosh on and chicken cutlets and juice boxes. And of course, about two tons of cannoli cake. I don't know that I would have made it through the storm without the cannoli cake. Pretty much been eating on it breakfast lunch and dinner. When school re-opens, I'll probably be twenty pounds heavier.  

We got to have a big, social rendez-vous and fully exhaust ourselves, which made it actually a very welcome change to have to spend all the next day at home. 

Now, the day after that was a bit much. And today, we're fully ready to have these kids back in school and out of our hair. But I'm just grateful we didn't lose power and I didn't have to get all Survivor Woman. And I'm glad we squeezed that baptism in, in the calm before the storm. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dispatch from the Storm

So, crazy weather we're having, huh?

We are safe and sound here in the Slope, all powered up, happily stocked on food and water and essentials. The worst damage we've had is to our inter-personal relations -- everyone is at each other's throats after being stuck in the house for two days.

Yesterday, day 1 of storm, we baked an apple pie, did seven loads of laundry, and taught Seconda to read -- and that was before noon. We watched a netflix DVD that we have literally had in our possession for seven months. Since before I had the baby.We moved houses and still, had the netflix DVD. I bet you're wondering what movie it is that we refused to watch for seven months.


Primo read it earlier this year and we thought it'd be cool to watch and then we just couldn't bring ourselves to have a movie night with popcorn as we'd promised.

So, thanks to the storm, we'd gotten our netflix queue moving again. We can proceed on to the first season of Gray's Anatomy or whatever thrilling masterpieces await.

Last night was intense, though. Lots of wind, windows shaking like crazy. I tried to move the kid's beds and pack 'n play as far from the windows as I could but even in our new place, there's not much room to play with. When the authorities say, "Stay away from windows," it always makes me wonder, "What normal-sized NY apartment has enough room for one to "stay away" from the windows? If there's a window, and you're in a 200 square foot room, you're probably near it.

But we're happy and relieved to be safe and spared. I hope everyone else is as lucky.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Who Doesn't Love A Rotting Rat Corpse?

You know you're raising city kids when the rotting rat corpse in front of your apartment building is the highlight of their month.

A few months ago we saw the first rat carcass. I saw it first when I almost stepped inside its guts  . . . AGAIN. You will recall of course, how I stepped inside a dead rat on Thanksgiving in Central Park a few years back. Thankfully, this time I stopped my foot just in the nick of time, in mid-step, and it hung in the air, suspended over the flattened rat for a second before coming down to the ground a few inches away.

"Careful kids," I warned, "There's a dead rat here."

You would have thought I told them there was a UFO here or a sarcophagus from ancient Egypt.

"WHERE!! WHERE??? SHOW ME!" they shrieked, overcome with excitement and disgust and curiosity.

"Gross," shuddered Seconda. But it didn't stop her from staring at it for five solid minutes

"Don't worry," I said, "I'm sure it will be gone by tomorrow."

I don't know who I thought would dispose of the rat carcass but ignorant me just figured someone would take care of it.

Of course the next day, the rat corpse was still there.

"What's going to happen to it?" Primo asked.

"Good question," I replied, "Maybe I"ll call 311."

I have never called 311 in my life. I'm just not that sort of person. But this seemed the perfect channel for getting information on the disposal of vermin remains.

And it was. The operator told me she'd transfer me to the Carcass Removal Department.

Let's take a moment here. That's a real thing. I didn't make it up. Did you know there is an entire group of people within the sanitation department who specialize in the removal of carcasses? Can you imagine a worse job?

I was dying to ask them what kind of carcasses they mostly dealt with, what was the weirdest carcass they'd removed, how many carcasses they handled on a weekly basis, where they found the densest population of carcasses and all SORTS of things like that. I wanted to make a freaking documentary on the NYC Carcass Removal Department. But we were walking to school and I only had a minute. So I just gave a very specific description of the place on the block where the squashed rat remains lay and they said they'd take care of it within 72 hours.

"Amazing," I told the kids, "What an incredible system."

Except that 72 hours later, the rat remained. And 96 hours later. And a week later. I intentionally didn't look at it again but the kids kept me updated on its decay. It appeared that dogs had gotten into it. People had stepped on it.

To say that I don't like rats is a gross understatement. But even I felt bad for the rat. Even a rat deserves some respect after death. Not that I was going to take care of it. I don't care about the rat that much.

And besides, it was the biggest news in my kids' life. Every day, they told someone new about the dead rat. We had a few playdates over to our place that week and every time, it was the first thing they advertised to their friends:

"Oh my God! There's this dead rat right in front of our house and it is SO GROSS!!!!! Don't worry, I'll show you!"

Their friends were equally excited to view the attraction. It was downright macabre.

Somewhere between week one and two, the rat corpse disappeared. It was more of a stain than a skeleton by that point but still, it was obvious that it was disposed of, rather than just evaporating. I was glad. Until the dead squirrel appeared in almost the same exact location a few months later. This time I didn't even bother to call Carcass Control. If I was a member of the vermin clan, I'd avoid that particular patch of sidewalk though. Really.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Girl Who Cried, "Gasp!"

Terza is six months old now and she has stumbled upon a new developmental milestone I don't recall either of the other two experiencing. Terza has learned to gasp. Not a nuanced little gasp, as in "Ooooh!  Organic soy crisps on sale this week?" or "Oooh! I almost forgot my husband's birthday tomorrow!" Hers is a horror movie gasp, as in "There's a man with a chainsaw behind you!" or "I thought you were a friend but you're the criminal we've been hunting all this time!"

I am, of course, inordinately proud of her. It is, of course, the very best horror gasp a baby could utter -- uncommonly loud, impressively sustained and, if I do say so myself, a pretty unique sound to be making in the first place. All of which to say, further evidence the kid's joining Mensa soon.

Trouble is, she makes her new, patented horror gasp all the time, with the same frequency babies give to all major developmental milestones, like rolling over and crawling and saying "No!" Approximately twenty times an hour I hear a high-pitched, emergency gasp emanate from the spot I've stowed the baby. It is more than a little disconcerting. And kind of inconvenient, because although I can be pretty suire she's just experimenting with her favorite sound, there's no way to be sure she's not experiencing an actual crisis for which the gasp would be appropriate.

She'd better stumble upon a new milestone soon because otherwise she's gonna be the Girl Who Cried, Gasp!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ye Old Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again

Want to hear a story about how I'm an idiot and David is savvier than me, even though he's not a native New Yorker? Behold, my new essay for the Park Slope Reader:

Ye Old Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again

Monday, October 15, 2012

Forgot to feed the baby

The baby's eating solids now, big girl that she is. In the beginning, she didn't need to eat, was just doing it for shits and giggles, emphasis on shits.  It was all fun and games, like "Which vegetable should we start with?" and "What kind of a face is she gonna make when she tastes those nasty peas?" But now that she's almost seven months old, the kid gets hungry. She wants to eat food on a regular basis. And the trouble is, I'm kind of booked and I really can't commit to feeding her two, or worse, three meals a day, not even if those meals consist solely of baby food I buy at the store. Its all so very time-consuming, sitting her down and getting a bib and warming the food and shoveling it in. I keep skipping days and then she'll look at me all pathetic and starving and I'll feel guilty, more guilty than when I notice her fingernails haven't been cut literally since she was born or that she hasn't been bathed since the summertime.

Which is why I find it so hilarious when I see other moms of infants making their own baby food. I can't even remember to feed my baby, much less make her homemade grub.

This is what happens to third babies. Hey, what doesn't malnourish you makes you stronger.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kid Logic

Last night at bedtime, Seconda was wrapping up her evening toilette and I walked in to expedite the process which can take night on an hour. She was just finishing up washing her hands.

"Hey, Mommy, smell my hands!" she urged.

"Ooooh, nice!" I replied, without even smelling. I don't have the energy for miultisensory validation after 8pm.

"Yeah, minty!" she squeaked.

She dried her hands and observed, "There was no soap left so I used toothpaste."

"That's great," I said, picking up an armload of dirty clothes from the floor. She was already back at her bedroom door when I processed the information, "Wait, what?"

Then I had to drag her back into the bathroom kicking and screaming because she liked the minty sticky feeling of toothpaste-scrubbedhands and didn't understand why soap did the cleaning job better than Aquafresh.

Resourceful, that one.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cash Grab

The other day at pick up, one of Sec's friends told me she was going to be Batgirl for Halloween.

As we walked home, Primo observed, "A lot of kids are going to be Batgirl this year, But to tell you the truth, I don't think she's so great. She's just like Batman, only made to be a girl. Its a cash grab."

I had to stop to take this in.

"Did you just use the term, "cash grab'?" I asked, "Correctly?"

"Of course," he said matter-of-factly.

"Who taught you that?" was my follow-up. It seemed a bit unlikely that he picked it up in school.

"Daddy," he said, "On boys' day."

Can't believe David had time to squeeze in the finer points of marketing after recounting the full plot of every horror movie in the 20th and 21st century, all while eating 10 oz burgers. I guess that's just the magic of Boys' Day. And I gotta thank him for it. One of my favorite moments all last week.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dirty Baby

People tend to think that Terza gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop because she's the third baby but in point of fact, she's much less neglected than I thought she'd be. I take a ton of pictures of her. We play a lot of peekaboo. She gets tummy time and I call the pediatrician neurotically on her behalf and  in general, she receives as much attention as a second or even first born. But the one area in which she gets shafted is Bath Time.

The kid never gets bathed. Like, I can't remember the last time we gave her a bath. It was over a week ago but not more than a month -- probably. I know now how dirty a baby can get and it is very apparent to me that Terza, who isn't mobile and doesn't eat real food yet, just doesn't get dirty enough to require bathing. I mean, it wouldn't hurt or anything. It'd be nice to have her smell like baby shampoo and shit but really, its just not worth the time it takes.

I wash her hands. As for the rest, my perspective is, once it gets visibly dirty, I'll deal with it. Once she starts to look like the little children in Dorothea Lange photos, I'll unearth the baby bathtub and deal. Until then, she'll be a bit scummy. Not a half-bad level of negligence for a third born, I think.