Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Manhattan

Forget New York at Christmas or autumn in New York. New York on Memorial Day is where it’s at.

Nobody is around. There is TONS of street parking. No lines at my favorite bustling restaurants. Museums empty.

I LOVE Manhattan on Memorial Day.

In fact, we left town this weekend, and headed to my parents’ place in the Jerse, for some masquerading as suburbanites. We filled up a little wading pool with the hose. We had bike races. We gardened. The children played with worms. We even played baseball in the front yard. And all of us HATE playing with balls – every single one of us, including David and Primo – but I guess having so much open space got us heady and we started slugging that shit out. Afterwards I felt wildly proud of all of us, like we were a model family, doing what families should, covering all our bases, so to speak, fulfilling a conventional notion of summer fun. It’s something that I, as the leader of a bunch of bizarre eccentrics, feel rarely, but when the sentiment strikes, I do enjoy it.

But we always like to end our three-day weekends in suburbia one day early so we can get back into NYC before everyone else and enjoy the emptiness for a bit.

Primo is in the throes of a serious Greek myth fever and just last night, we finished Part One of Tales from the Odyssey, by Mary Pope Osborne. The kid is OBSESSED with Odysseus and I am OBSESSED with him being obsessed with Odysseus. The level of pretention is so friggin’ high right now in our house, it would probably make you yak. But since he started this new monomania, he’s been begging to go back to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, to check out (again) the exhibit on Gods, Myths and Mortals.

If you haven’t been to CMOM yet, go soon, because the exhibit will be coming down. And it is so fantastic. The exhibit basically takes kids on O’s odyssey from the Trojan Horse (there is a mammoth wooden horse with four levels of kid-climbing fun) to the Cyclops and the Sirens and Scylla and Charybdis. It makes former-English-majors like me swoon.

So on the way home, we stopped by CMOM and – wonder of wonders – no one was there. It was like they’d closed the museum for a private event – no elbow-jabbing between the kids in the Dora the Explorer fruit stand, no throwing sand at each other in the sand table, no bogarting the Siren karaoke. I never get a taste of VIP but today I did. David and I decided we couldn’t go back until next Memorial Day.

Then we walked down to Zabar's and bought some fancy cheese and coffee and a bunch of imported black licorice for my grandmother since it’s her birthday and that’s the only gift she won’t complain about.

I even got to try the gelato at Grom which usually has a super-long line down the street. There was still a line but manageable so Primo and I ordered a gelato with nocciola, ciccolato fondente and coco (I let the kid choose the combo, what can I say?)

First authentic gelato I’ve tasted in New York. The nocciola was a dream of Rome.

Only trouble was the small – SMALL – cost $5.25 so I made us all share one and sent David went next door to Beard Papa to get a few mochi balls ($1 each) to supplement our ice cream fix.

Lovely day.

Dreamy dreaminess.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Your Whole Life

Yesterday I was trying to get the kids through the turnstile at the subway, while carrying the diaper bag, stroller, library books and cup of iced coffee (the most indispensable item of all). As I am not an octopus, I found this challenging. So I asked Primo if he could hold my coffee for a second.

“Ugh,” he replied. Since I no longer have a cup holder on my stroller, this is a request I make fairly often.

“Oh come on,” I cajoled, “Just for a second.”

“OK,” he said, “but only if you promise you will never ask me again, for your whole life!”

“I don’t know about that,” I replied,” I mean, my whole life is a long time.”

“Not anymore,” he retorted.

Surely, I thought, I heard him wrong. Not only was it improbable that my five year-old would be telling me I was entering the autumn of my life, it was unlikely he’d be so cavalier about it.

“You’re already a grown up Mommy,” he explained matter-of-factly, like he was through pussyfooting around the subject.

I guess that means I can start making sweeping promises that I’ll honor the rest of my (numbered) days.

Then today I was telling him how I’d like it if we could help Nonnie make friends her age in Park Slope, and he inquired, “But YOU are elderly, aren’t you Mommy?”

Dude, I may have a few crow’s feet but come on, this shit is demoralizing.

I informed him I was not, in fact, elderly and then to help him tell the difference between ME and an elderly person, I pointed out that I wasn’t a great grandmother and I was not retired and also I didn’t have white hair.

“But you paint it yellow,” he said.

I've certainly taught the kid critical thinking but I may have overlooked teaching him mercy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't make these chocolate chip cookies

My kids do not know how to use a computer for one simple reason. I never let them within ten feet of mine. They have access to everything else I own - they jump on my bed, use my clothes as dress-up, eat the food off my plate and I am more or less totally cool with it. But hands off the computer.

When we were at my in-laws a few weeks ago, though, Primo's Bubbe gave him the green light to play around on her computer as much as he liked. And he liked. I introduced him to Mo Willems' Website because A. we love Willems in general and B. Primo's been having a really great time learning to read with the help of the Elephant and Piggie books. They are genius.

I left him playing the Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed game and about a half hour later, he comes over to tell me he found a delicious recipe for chocolate chip cookies, just like the dinosaur Edwina makes in Willem's picture book, and could we make them, too, ASAP?

"OK, I'll come take a look in a minute," I said.

"Don't worry Mommy," he replied, "I copied it for you." And he handed me this:

It must've taken him 20 minutes to copy all of those words, dear little soul. What could I say but, "let's preheat the oven!" And voila:

I feel it necessary to add that these were the worst chocolate chip cookies known to man. Not Primo's fault (or mine for that matter). This recipe sucks elephant ass. I will eat ANYTHING resembling a chocolate chip cookie, and I couldn't choke down more than one bite. There s no earthly reason to try and improve upon the chocolate chip cookie recipe printed on the back of the Nestle bag. But besides that, Willems' website is funny and sweet and simple for little kids and I wholly recommend.

What are your favorite sites for the 3-6 year-old crowd? Besides watching Bookflix on the Brooklyn Public Library website, my kids are web novices, but if there was a really great site, I could be convinced to let them take a look.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stayin' Alive

First there was Swimmy, the goldfish produced by a magician for Primo at his 5th birthday party. He didn’t last a week. Then there was Bandana, who made it almost three weeks before going belly-up. Next was Beethoven, the beta fish, who died within three days.

But Mr. Black and Mr. White have been swimming around in fishy glory for almost six months now. I credit the filter I conceded to let David buy for the tank, finally. At first, I didn’t think it was worth the expenditure.

“How do fish live in the ocean or river where there are no filters?” I argued, “The point of having a fish as a pet is for it to be cheap and easy! Otherwise you get a gerbil.”

After three fish died in just over a month though, David took a hard line. He single
-handedly provides all the care for the fish -- the cleaning, the food, the love and affection -- and he told me that he would not take care of any more fish without a filter in the tank. He also said he couldn’t bear to look at their depressed, lonely little fish faces, so I suggested we buy two instead of one.

Fourth time’s a charm I guess because Mr. Black and Mr/ White have been staying alive better than John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. They are doing so well, in fact, that Primo finds it rather strange.

“Mr. Black and Mr. White are living so long its like they are in the Bible!” he exclaimed.

“Because people in the Bible live a long time?” I asked

“Becase it’s a MIRACLE!” he clarified.

And then he made the following suggestion, “When they die, we should have a party. To celebrate how long they lived.”

I said I thought that was a superb idea.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Peeing Outside

Big thread on parkslopeparents recently about the permissibility of children peeing in the park. There are those who said, “Uh-uh, no way, under no circumstances,” and those who said, “A-Ok, peeing outside is fun,” and those who thought it was tolerable in cases of potty training emergencies.

I fall staunchly in the last category. Do I want to watch a kid drop trou and piss in the middle of a picnic area while I’m eating a sandwich? No. But I don’t blink an eye if I catch sight of a toddler or preschooler peeing behind a bush or next to a tree off the beaten path. I’m constantly dodging piles of dog shit on the sidewalks here and I think if I have to do that, then I’m entitled to let my not-fully-potty-trained-child relieve himself near a tree rather than wet his pants when he’s somewhere far from a bathroom/

But the thread did remind me of one time, a month or two ago, when I was in my local playground with Seconda.

We’d recently come back from a trip to Tennessee, where the backyard is literally a forest, and where Sec made a habit of letting herself out through the doggie door and peeing outside, just like the doggies.

I discovered she was doing this one day because she came up to me and said, “Mommy, I did pee-pee!”

I said, “That’s great honey, did you use the potty?”

And she said, “No, I went out to the woods.”

“Oh, OK,” I said, “But where are your panties?”

“As a matter of fact,” she replied, “they are in the woods and they are all wet.”

When we came back to New York, it was difficult to break her off this pee-outside habit. So one day we were in the playground -- not in the park, but a plyground in the middle of a busy street – and I looked over and saw a pair of little girl underwear on the pavement. Then I caught sight of Seconda next to a tree in the middle of the packed playground, about to squat down and take a piss.

“Sec!” I yelled, “What are you DOING?”

“I’m peeing in the woods,” she replied.

It was an honest mistake. Could’ve happened to anyone.

Where do you stand on the pee-in-the-park debate -- sometimes, always or maybe? Have you allowed your little one some license when it comes to emergencies?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

An explanation

By now, some of you devoted readers will have noticed what looks like typos nad frequent misjudgments of spelling on the pages of the blog.

“This broad can’t type for shit,” you probably have thought, “Has she never heard of spell check? Dude, this is embarrassing.”

That does sound like a plausible explanation. But you are wrong. In fact, my fingers never miss a key and I can spell "massachusetts" without even thinking about it. Each and every seeming typo was placed there purposefully and lovingly by me in order to offer the foundation for a solid drinking game.

Every time you see a typo, you take a shot.

Now you know. Or, should I say, Noww yo kmow.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It takes a village of edgy moms . . .

I had the pleasure of reading last night at the Edgy Mothers Day Reading and thoroughly enjoyed discovering fantastic new writers and hearing from amazing women I’m already a fan of.

Being in a room with such powerhouse women, mothers that clearly love their kids with everything they’ve got but also insist on some kind of figurative room of their own, was a reminder that no one of us can get through motherhood on our own. It takes a village, but not just because the other villagers will baby-sit sometimes or give you advice about sleep training. It takes a village because you need other people to get it – to balk at the outrageous, rage at the unjust, laugh at the embarrassing, and cry at the shit that breaks your heart. Nothing refuels me like a hefty dose of fellow feeling, and that’s just what I got last night.

Here’s a list of the women who read with links to their sites and blogs. Give them a looksee:

Marian Fontana, author of A Widow’s Walk

–Rosemary Moore, author of Side Street

Martha Southgate, author of Third Girl From the Left

Jill Eisenstadt, author of From Rockaway

Wendy Ponte, author of Mothering Magazine’s Having a Baby Naturally

–Sophia Romero
, blogger, The Shiksa from Manila and author of Always Hiding

Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of Breaking the Bank

Michele Madigan Somerville, poet and author of WISEGAL and Black Irish

Allison Pennell, parenting journalist and writer for Effed in Park Slope

–Kathy Fine, educator

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Second Born

When Primo was 3 years old, the age Seconda is now, I remember being at a playdate with one of his friends. The little girl was pretending to shoot everyone up with a laser gun and the mother was playing along, falling down when he was hit and exclaiming, “Oh you shot me!”

I remember because I raised my eyebrows (internal ones, only) at the way this mom was supporting her daughter’s violent play. She didn’t even attempt to steer the game away from weapons, just played right along like it was no big deal. When Primo was that age, I did not endorse gun play. I didn’t forbid it or anything, but I made it clear to him that I didn’t like guns and wouldn’t play guns with him. Primo, unlike Seconda, actually cared about gaining my approval so this technique was pretty effective.

It was a ridiculous line to draw. I know it now and I knew it then. Because I didn’t make such a stink about swords or bows and arrows and frankly, what’s the difference except those seem more innocuous because they’re outdated?

So there I was judging this mother, who I genuinely liked, when it occurred to me that the reason she was probably so laissez faire about the gun stuff was that this was her second child she was playing with.

I remember this now because last night when I asked Seconda at dinner what the best part of her day was, she said the following: “Oh Mommy! It was when we watched that movie the Corpse Bride, and did you know there was a woman in it who had a WORM in her EYE?”

“Yes,” said Primo, “she had a worm in her eye because she was dead. That’s what corpse means. And she was decayed.”

“Yeah, Mommy,” said Seconda, “and I liked that little wormey that she pulled out her eye because she was dead!”

“Wow,” I said later to David, “Do you think maybe the Burton movie was a little much for her? I mean, she’s only 3.”

“But Primo wanted to watch it,” he said, “So what are you gonna do?”

Primo at her age was watching The Wonder Pets. Little fricking Bear. CAILLOU! Nick Jr was ILLEGAL in our house until he was nearly in Kindergarten. And now my daughter watches whatever he’s into, which recently is a lot of Tim Burton.

We still don’t play a lot of gun games but that’s only because Primo isn’t a GI Joe or Transformer kind of boy. He’s much more into the strange shit, so I am often Medusa having her head chopped off or the unfortunate victim of a zombie vampire.

My husband’s right. What are you gonna do?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Edgy Moms Reading this Thursday!

Who me, edgy?

You bet your sweet ass I am. And to prove it, I'm reading in the Edgy Moms Mother's Day Reading this Thursday along with 10 other amazing local writer/ mothers, here in Brooklyn.

It is gonna be a rollicking good time full of fellow feeling, laughter and hey, did I mention the free booze? Here's some more info from the press release:

Brooklyn Reading Works presents the Fourth Annual Edgy Mother’s Day on May 20, 2010 at 8PM at The Old Stone House in Park Slope. It’s motherhood without sanctimony and an evening of maternal revelry, wisdom and irreverent fun.

This is not your mother’s Mother’s Day but a celebration of mommydom nonetheless that will shock, rock, and make you laugh ‘til your thongs snap!

Hear Brooklyn writers of non-fiction, fiction, memoir and poetry rant and rave about mothers and motherhood. They will shock, amuse, and entertain but won’t make you eat carrots before dessert.

Bring a friend. Or bring your mom.

Hosted by Louise Crawford and Sophia Romero, here’s the evening’s line-up:

–Marian Fontana, author of A Widow’s Walk

–Rosemary Moore, author of Side Street

–Martha Southgate, author of Third Girl From the Left

–Jill Eisenstadt, author of From Rockaway

–Wendy Ponte, author of Mothering Magazine’s Having a Baby Naturally a life coach.

–Sophia Romero, blogger, The Shiksa from Manila and author of Always Hiding

–Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of Breaking the Bank

–Michele Madigan Somerville, poet and author of WISEGAL and Black Irish

–Allison Pennell, parenting journalist and writer for Effed in Park Slope

–Kathy Fine, educator

–Nicole Caccavo Kear, writer of Dispatches from Babyville, a regular column in the Park Slope Reader and blogger for A Mom Amok.

The Where and When

Date: May 20, 2010 at 8PM

Location: The Old Stone House
Fifth Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets
Phone: 718-768-3195
7:30 p.m.: Open bar/Wine donated by Shawn Liquors
8:00 p.m.: Reading

Suggested contribution: $5 to benefit Old Stone House
Reading is open to all – not just mothers – though please leave children at home.

Its 4:30am! Up and at 'em!

In the wee hours sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning, I heard a child calling me from the kids' bedroom. As I made my way towards their room in the darkness, I tried to figure out which kid it was -- sounded like Seconda one second and Primo the next. When I opened the door to their room I discovered that it was BOTH Primo and Seconda, BOTH awake, and not just awake but wide awake, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. ALERT, like they’d drank a whole pot of coffee.

“Its time to WAKE UP Primo!” Seconda announced.

“I know, I know,” he grumbled at her, the way he always does like Archie Bunker did to Edith in All in the Family.

And he proceeded to climb down the ladder from the top bunk.

“GUYS!” I exclaimed (just short of yelling, thank you very much),”It is NOT time to wake up. It is the middle of the night,”

Then I looked at the clock to confirm.


“It is the middle of the night. See how it is completely dark in here?”

They didn’t look convinced but they did lie back down. I knew as soon as I left the room though, one would try to keep the other awake so I opted to just crawl into the bottom bunk to make sure there was no monkey business. The bottom bunk is always vacant because Seconda sleeps on the floor. Please don’t get me started on how much money we spent on this damn bed which she never uses. The upside is we have an extra bed in the house.

So I crawled in there, and tried to fall back asleep while remaining totally alert so that I could put a lid on the child who piped up.

But for a good half hour, the children were silent. They were flopping and kicking and tossing about like a bunch of rhinos in their sleep spaces but there was no talking.

Then at 5am, Seconda repeated her announcement: “OK Primo, its time to wake up!”

He had been apparently at the ready, waiting for her command, because he was down the ladder in a few seconds.

“GUYS!” I yelled (full on yelling now), “It is NOT time to wake up! It is FIVE O’CLOCK!”

“But its light out Mommy!” Primo pointed out, gesturing to the slim sliver of sunlight which came in from the sides of his room-darkening shades. Damn that shade company for forcing me to leave ¼ of an inch on either side so I could raise and lower the blinds. Damn the sun for stirring shit up. No one in their right minds considers 5 am morning.

But that was it. Kids were up. Good morning.

The funny thing is, that’s not even the annoying part of the story.

Nest night, we put the kids to bed, terrified that this insanely early wake up would repeat. Then, at 1:30am, we heard two sounds you don’t want to hear in the middle of the night. Your child calling and the loud blaring of an alarm clock in their room.

“WHAT THE FUCK?” I whisper-yelled to David and we both jumped up and raced to the bedroom.

Yes, somehow the alarm clock had been turned up to full volume and set for 1:30am.

(This is one of those things that never happened before we had kids and now happens with disquieting frequency because the kids won’t keep their grubby little fingers off the alarm clock. They never accidentally set it for 1:30PM though, I’ll have you note),

David unplugged the infernal machine and I tucked Sec back in, begging the heavens not to wake the other one.

Because once they are both awake, the jig is up.

Heavens smiled upon us, and Sec went back to sleep without waking her brother.

But too close a call for my liking. I mean, come on. Give a girl a chance to get back on her sleep feet, right?

Monday, May 17, 2010

My daughter cut her own hair

We knew this day was bound to come. In fact, I’m just glad she didn’t MY hair while I slept. Although I’m not saying that isn’t probable in the near future.

We were walking to school last week, and I was regarding her angelic face with fondness when I noticed something looked different.

“Is her hair layered?” I wondered. I knew it wasn’t done under my supervision but my parents had recently taken her for the weekend and this is precisely the sort of thing they like to do. It’s one of the small ways the wrest for control of my children. Last year, they decided Seconda should be wearing a bob and returned her to me with 2 inches shorn off her hair. I was just about to call my mom and read her the riot act when I saw that the haircut was way too ragged, way too wild to be my father’s handiwork.

“Sec, did you cut your hair?”

The great thing about 3 year-olds is that even when they lie compulsively, they still don’t do it well. She gave me a wide-eyed, faux-innocent look that could only mean one thing.

“Mommy won’t be mad, honey,” I bait her, “Just tell Mommy the truth.”

“I HAD to cut my hair Mommy,” she said, “It was too long long long!”

“When did you do it?” I asked.

“When I was going to sleep,” she replied.

Of course. Bedtime is the perfect opportunity to experiment with new, verboten hobbies. When ELSE would one try to cut one’s own hair?

I told her that I completely understood where she was coming from, but that from now on, she’d have to ask me and we’d find her a suitable doll to practice her shearing on. Because, honestly, she didn’t do a bad job. She may very well have a gift here. The next Vidal Sassoon. And I’ve always wanted a stylist in the family.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Not that kind of ass

We've been reading Aesop's Fables at bedtime and Primo is really digging them. He loves the fact that each story can be summed up in a pithy moral which he can then recite in an instructive tone to his sister: "Once bitten, twice shy," "Look before you leap." But some of the language is slightly outdated. Last night I overheard David read "The Fox, the Ass and the Lion."

"What's an ass"? asked Primo.

"A donkey," replied David.

"Oh," he said, "I thought it was a pain in the ass."

David explained there are asses and then there are pains in the asses but usually they're not the same.

But the kid can't get it out of his head. As David tucked him in, I heard Primo say:

"That fable about the crow and the water was good. But I didn't like the one about the pain in the ass."

This is how you know you need to tone down your language around the house.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fix Your Face

I was kneeling on the kids’ bedroom floor, shelving picture books when Seconda ambled in and said : “Mommy can you make your face beautiful?”

To which I replied, “Is my face not beautiful now?

“No, it’s not,” she informed me, in a matter-of-fact way, “Can you make it beautiful?”

The smart-ass teenager within me wanted to answer, “I don’t know, CAN I?’ but I suppressed her.

“Do you mean that you want me to put makeup on?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

All this time, every time I sit down to put on makeup or blow dry my hair (which doesn’t happen that often, lets face it) I’ve worried that I would be giving Sec a complex, making her think that we women needed to perform these grooming rites in order to feel beautiful. I have taken PAINS to demonstrate to her that though I enjoy fashion and makeup and grooming, it’s not necessary, that its something fun I do, but that we’re great just the way we are.

As it turns out, I should have worried that she’d give me a complex.

I kind of felt like Sec was one of those overbearing husbands who tell their wives, “You look nice when you put some effort in.” My husband could not be farther from that kind of man. He will tell me I look pretty when I’m wearing a pilly long underwear shirt from the 80s, sweatpants that are 5 inches too long and my dirty, crooked glasses, with a scrunchie in my hair. This is one of the things I treasure about him. It’s hard enough to muster self confidence without your life partner kicking you when you’re down.

So I have no idea where my daughter gets this stuff from. I blame Disney of course, and my mother, as any self-respecting modern woman would, and then I don't know who to blame.

But I will tell you this much: don’t be surprised if you see me around town with mascara-ed eyes and a bit of rouge on the cheekbone. Don’t wonder why I’m wearing earrings and my hair looks brushed. My kid gave me a complex.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brighten up. Think pink.

It’s raining and gray today in New York City and I am bone tired. Three year-old woke at 2 am for no apparent reason and drove us crazy with a maddening case of “eh eh”ing instead of actually using words to state her nocturnal demands. Then I had a nightmare I stole a warehouse full of couture inspired by traditional Japanese garb but none of it fit me.

Point is: I’m feeling cranky and drab on this already gray day yet I must dig deep to find a way to incite readers at All Kinds of Pretty, who rely on my weekly posts, to reach fashion brilliance. Thankfully, on Mother’s Day, I took the liberty of leaving my family at home and taking a few glorious hours to shop. Which means I have just the shirt to forcibly brighten myself today:

$24.90 from Old Navy. Yes, nothing says "fashion brilliance" like Old Navy. And while we’re on the topic, I feel like I always have to mumble the words “Old Navy” because it doesn’t have the cred of its comparably-priced stores like H & M or even the one-stop-shopping appeal of a place like Target. I am always loath to admit that I sometime shop at Old Navy. But I love this bright pink spring blouse. I am one of those rare women who never outgrew her childhood love of the color pink. Only now that I’m grown, it’s gotta be bright pink, so that my color choice is bold and not just plain odd.

Even fuchsia has its limits as a mood-lifting agent, though. Just look at the expression on my face when I took the picture — 15 minutes late for school, pre-coffee, with the girl screaming about how she hates school and hates shoes and hates breakfast and hates umbrellas. Even pink doesn’t stand a chance against all that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Fat Smash Diet

Have you heard of The Fat Smash Diet ? It was invented by Ian K. Smith, MD, the guy who makes former B list stars drop the pounds on Celebrity Fit Club and it consists of a few phases, the first of which involves you eating only steamed, grilled raw vegetables with 1 teaspoon of olive oil daily. Limited quantities of brown rice and egg whites are allowed. Oh, but you can have as much fruit as you want. After reading this, I was not at all surprised to hear, from my local listserv parkslopeparents, that it worked wonders. Nonetheless, I was more or less aghast at the prospect. When it comes to carbs, I’ve got to go all Charlton Heston on you: “From my cold dead hands, will you take this pasta away.”

I think this diet is an OUTSTANDING idea. I just don’t know that I have got the self abnegation in me. If I had tons of time to indulge in other weaknesses, like smokng and manicures and shopping, sure. But right now, it’d be tough. Especally since, did I fail to mention, for the frst phase of ths FSD, you can't drink COFFEE.

Let me repeat. I don't mean you can't drink vanilla lattees or caramel cappuccnos. You CAN NOT DRINK ANY COFFEE. Though you are welcome to drink unlimited quantities of herbal tea.

What good is chamomile tea going to do when my daughter wakes at 5am, like she did this morning?

I could deny myself meat and cheese and even baguettes but coffee? I would perish. And I am only half joking.

When I mentioned the fat smash diet to David, he said

“What kind of a diet is that? Do they just beat you? Smash the fat off of you?”

This is why I love that man.

But I did tell him that this idea of the fat smash idea might very well be more pleasant than the rest diet.

Anyone try it? And if you did, are you also the kind of person who runs marathons and never loses your temper? I just need to know what level of self discipline we’re talking about.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Portrait of a mother as a young woman

Before you become a mother, you could never imagine the pride, the gratitude and the total friggin' joy and jubilation you feel when your child hands you THIS on Mother's Day.

What I love is how a kindergartner's misspelling can make sheer poetry. Instead of "Mother's Day is here," its "Mother's Day is her."

Instead of "you are good," its "you are God."

Best Mother's Day present ever.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day

I spend a lot of time sharing what I consider to be embarrassing anecdotes about my grandmother (since she thinks she's always right, she’s not the slightest bit shamed about them) but this Mother’s Day I’d like to share a different side of my grandmother with you. So I won’t talk about the ordeal I’ve gone through this week trying to find a gift or activity for Mother’s Day that she won’t reject (“Its too expensive! I’m gonna return it!” or “This food taste terrible! Mine is much better!”) Instead I give to you:

Top 10 reasons I Love My Grandmother

1. Single best back scratching til you fall asleep, ever. I’ll do it for my kids for max 3 minutes, but Nonnie can seriously go all night.

2. You know Proust’s Madeline? For me, its Nonnie’s melted mozzarella on Italian bread. The smell of that melted cheese is the smell of my happy childhood.

3. Same goes for her pasta sauce, except that it is also the smell of my happy adulthood. Her sauce is so stellar that my high school ex-boyfriend who I’m not really in contact with just emailed me a few weeks ago begging for me to try and explain how to make it – again.

4. Ditto for the riceballs, stuffed artichokes, pizza, gnocchi, manicotti, and basically everything else that comes out of her kitchen. She literally wakes at 4am most days to start cooking homemade delicacies for my kids to eat for dinner every night. And get this -- Primo’s been obsessed with Spanakopita lately so she decided rather than have him eat the frozen ones, she’d make her own. With ricotta added of course. Italian spanakopita.

5. Loyalty. You don’t need a whole mafia when you’ve got Nonnie. She’s always on my side, no matter how wrong I am, and now the same goes for my kids, Once, when I was 13, I got into an Upper East Side elevator altercation with a haggy bitch who insulted my grandmother, and when the woman raised her hand to hit me, my grandmother literally beat her off the elevator with one hand, because the other one was holding a baby. You don’t mess with the Nonnie.

6. She tells dirty jokes.

7. Her favorite word in the English language is “sunofabitch,”

8. When Sec woke up at 5 am earlier this week and wouldn’t go to sleep, I called up Nonnie, who was awake of course, beginning her daily epic food preparation, and she was - I am not exaggerating – DELIGHTED to come pick up her great granddaughter at 5:10am. Kept her til it was time for school. She even made her chicken soup for breakfast.

9. Besides David and I, she is the only one in the world who truly understands how extraordinary our kids are.

10. For as long as I can remember, she’s always been there – for every good and bad occasion, every birthday, wedding, Christmas, every birth of a child -- loving me, and now my kids, like there’s no tomorrow, loving out loud, in living color, with everything she’s got. I can only hope my kids and grandkids and great grandkids will one day feel a fraction of the love and gratitude I feel for her.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

My little debutante

My daughter dresses like a debutante. She wears ball gowns every day. You know the kind of big poofy floor-length dresses people put their kids in to go to weddings and for Christmas and Easter? We have a closet of hand-me-down ones from a bunch of friends and Sec wears them to school, to the playground, to friends' houses. Its like one unending cotillion in our house. But she's not your conventional deb. Her fanciness has many facets.

Masquerade Ball Deb:

Victorian Deb:

Drunk Deb:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Double Hump Day Alert

Today I’ve got an extra hump to contend with. It’s Wednesday and an aunt of mine, by the name of Flo, is visiting me. Flo’s a real pain in the ass. Flo makes me cranky. Flo makes me bloated. I don’t feel much like taking big steps fashion forward when she’s in town. I feel like sitting on the couch in a plaid Snuggie, eating Nutella from a Costco sized vat and yelling insulting comments at the TV.

But that won’t do, now will it? What kind of an example would that show my impressionable children? Also, my husband threatened to stop making me coffee in the morning if I kept it up. So this double hump day, I pull my secret weapon out of the closet.

To find out what it is, read the rest at All Kinds of Pretty.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My House is A Pigsty

One of my mommy friends recently came over for a playdate and told me how refreshing it is to come to our house because I’m not one of those moms who’s worried about keeping up the appearance of having everything neat and tidy and in order.

“My house is a pigsty, you mean?” I said.

“And I think the state of mess in your house works in proportion to how happy you are with your spouse. And you and David are one of the happiest couples I know,” she went on.

“I know you’re not the kind of person who gets offended by that sort of thing,” she added.

I hastened to tell her that she was wrong on two counts: A. That David and I were one of the happiest couples and B. That I’m not the easily-offended type. David and I fight like we’re on Jersey Shore half the time and I, of course, want people to think that I am effortlessly perfect. 

“I don’t want people to think I am a slob, for crying out loud,” I exclaimed.

“You’re not a slob,” she said, “It’s just nice because I go over to other moms’ houses and everything is perfectly in place and it makes you feel bad about the state of your own house.”

The distressing thing was, I didn’t think my house was that messy.

I mean, it wasn’t a day where I swang my front door open with gusto, feeling pride over the fact that my dining room table could actually be used to eat on, rather than rest junk on. It wasn’t a day where my bed was made or where all the stray crayon masterpieces were stowed in their proper place or where I’d done the dishes. It wasn’t THAT kind of day. But it also wasn’t a day where I felt compelled to say, “My house s a total mess,” as I let the guests in.

“If I waited til my house was in order to have people over, we’d never see anyone!” I told her.

“I know,” she said.

“And every spare second I have, I’m working or playing with the kids,” I said, “so when can I clean?”

“I know," she said.

“Plus, as soon as I clean everything up, the kids walk through and instantly re-set it back to maximum mess,” I said.

My friend smiled but said nothing, waiting for the unexpected explosion of defensiveness to blow over. I guess I’d duped her into thinking that I was actually comfortable in my skin and brimming with self-acceptance which of course, I am not. Far from it. Because after my crazy defensive tirade, I proceeded to clean up my house, right in the middle of the playdate. Picking up discarded pajama pants and stray Legos, pairing up shoes and placing them by the door.

And I continued on this over-zealous cleaning jag for about a week, after which point, I found myself spent and relapsed as a slob.

So when my friend Amelia unexpectedly popped over last weekend, she found our house in its standard state of disrepair. What David likes to call Das Messenhaus.

“Your place looks like a tornado hit it,” she said, laughing.

“I know,” I said, “But it is precisely because of this mess that David and I are one of the happiest couples in New York.”

Monday, May 3, 2010

Five. Borough. Bike. Tour.

We spent the weekend at my parents’ place in New Jersey and bright and early on Sunday morning, we made our way back into the city to meet my friend Kim and her family at the Cloisters. I left a message for Kim when we were on the road, gleefully informing her that we were 7 minutes AHEAD of schedule, which is virtually unheard of in the history of our family and that we might, in fact, even be early.

“Don’t ever tell people we might be early,” David admonished, “We are not get-there-early people. Even if it looks like we’re going to be early, trust me, we’re not.”

“But we have THREE hours to take a one hour ride,” I replied, “How could we NOT be early.”

Anyone with any sense knows never to dare the powers that be like that.

Because five minutes later, Kim called me back.

“There’s a problem.” she said, “I just realized today is the day of the five borough bike tour.”

“Ooooh shit,” I moaned, “Crap.”

How can I explain the traffic ramifications of the five-borough bike tour?

They close the BQE and the Gowanus Expressway, they close the Queensboro Bridge and the FDR – they basically close the major thoroughfares of ALL FIVE BOROUGHS. In the middle of the day on Sunday. If you have ever driven in New York City, you can imagine the perfect shitstorm of traffic that results.

And here’s the thing about the five-borough bike tour. It’s never on a Sunday when we’re just hanging around Brooklyn. I’m never just having a lazy day, picnicking at the Park, and, "Oh, look at that, today's the day of the bike tour. Well, no bi deal, we have no place to be.” Every year, it is on a day when we have to get somewhere in Manhattan, somewhere we can’t get out of. The bike tour was the day of my sister’s bridal shower in Chelsea.

The bike tour was on the day of Primo’s birthday party at my parents’ place in midtown. It always screws us, this bike tour.

So not only would Kim and her family not be able to make it in from Brooklyn to meet at the Cloisters, we were, it appeared, never getting home.

I called my parents who were still in New Jersey to give them the heads up. I knew they’d have a coronary.

“Guess what today is?”

“What?” my father asked.

“The Five Borough Bike Race,” I replied.

“Oh SHIIIIIIIIT!” he yelled. Then to my mother, “Today’s the five-borough –“

Pandemonium broke out.

“OH MY GOD!” she shouted, “HOW could I FORGET that it was TODAY!”

Then my dad barked to my sister, “Get on the computer! We need route maps! We need closures! We need the schedule!”

“Get the maps! Get all the maps! WHERE’S THE GPS????”

“Hurry up and get in the car! We can beat it!”

“It’s too LATE! It already started!”


“I gotta go!” said my father. And the phone went dead. They had some major rerouting to plan. They would need to cross-reference their maps. They would need to triangulate. They would need to outsmart the bike tour.

We opted to wait it out. Hit the Cloisters, which wasn’t affected by the closures, then hung around Washington Heights, visited my good friend, took a pilgrimage to the Little Red Lighthouse, and by the time that was all finished it was past 5 and everything was open again. We flew down the FDR. Then, of course, we got caught in some truly nasty Bridge traffic, but hey, that’s to be expected on a Sunday night.

See that, Bike Tour? You can’t keep us down.

My parents, on the other hand, are probably still fighting over what route to take home.