Sunday, December 30, 2012

I resolve

This year, I'm going to be reasonable about resolutions. 

Let's face it, I'm probably not going to start going to the gym in 2013.

I'm probably not going to take the Calcium supplements my obgyn has been telling me to take for ten years

I won't stop cursing though I might be able to cut out the hard stuff, aka "motherf%&^r"

I doubt I'll manage to read books on a regular basis, apart from bedtime fare which frankly, now that Primo's 8, is getting sophisticated enough as to sate much of my adult literature appetite

I'm not going to use the slow cooker I bought 

But that doesn't mean I can't make resolutions. 

I resolve to keep showing up. To life in general. To tap dance recitals and class trips and tumbling shows and informal art galleries set up in the kids' bedroom. To middle-of-the-night wakings. To sick visits at the pediatricians which occur on a bi-weekly basis in the wintertime. To homework help. To bedtime reading. To birthday parties. To the three childhoods I know I am shaping, for better or worse.

I resolve to keep trying to be thoughtful, mindful and premeditated in parenting, and hell, why not, in all that I do.

And I resolve to eat more spinach salads because they taste damn good and they're damn good for you too. 

I think that's about all I can reasonably manage. Probably a good deal more, in fact, but one has to aim high. 

Happy New Year! Here's to much peace, laughter and many a good night of sleep in 2013. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wanna laugh your ass off?

I've got a little Christmas gift for you . . . .

Funniest Autcorrects of 2012

I look forward to this list all year. I swear, I laugh 'til I cry.

There are chicken vaginas involved. What more enticement do you need?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Because you could use a pick-me-up

This morning, I was awoken at a very reasonable 7am by the sound of the baby guffawing in the living room. Seriously, she was chortling so hard I thought she was crying at first. Then I heard David say, "Was that funny? Yeah, that was funny."

I rolled out of bed into the living room and asked what he'd done to make her laugh so hard.

"I didn't do anything," he said, "She made herself laugh. She farted so loud that she cracked herself up."

She was still smiling, satisfied with herself.

"Well, we know for sure now that she's a member of this family," he added.

What a wau to wake up.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Brave Mother

There are few events I've found as hard to talk about as the tragedy at Newtown; I think we all feel this way. There's no insights I can make, nothing I can observe, I can't even really find the words to describe the awful sadness and the terrible fear in my heart. But this woman, this mother, has something to say, which I think is insightful and important and eye-opening, and you should read it, if you haven't already:

I am Adam Lanza's Mother 

As a writer, and as a mother I stand awed by the courage this woman. And I thank her too, because in a tremendously powerful way, she's made us look at something we want to ignore, but can't.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shitty Christmas Gifts For Your Kids

I just died laughing at this blog post by Drew at on  Shitty Christmas Presents For Your Kids. Died.

My highlights? His description of giving clothes as gifts (someone should clue my mother in because every year she gives clothes to the kids and every year they almost vomit in thier mouth and I have to yell at them for being ingrates and the whole thing is a big pain in my ass) :
"Clothes aren't a gift. Children know full well that you bought them that shirt for your own sake, so that you could treat little Kayleighanna as your own personal American Girl doll. They aren't falling for that."
His riff on the outrageous cost of American Girl dolls (which we, by some act of grace have thus managed to avoid mainly because I tell Sec "Uh huh, don't even think of asking for one - they're too expensive):
"Is she an ACTUAL girl? Can she grow up to help with dishes and whatnot?"
His definition of Duplos:
"giant Legos made for stupid children"
And his tirade at parents that give their kids his own (or, as he puts it "its own") Ipad:
"Screw you. Your child is an entitled little shit and I hope he trips and falls in the mud and his little iPad gets ruined and he cries all the way home in the back of your BMW SUV because you clearly own a BMW SUV."

I think Drew is my ideal match blogger husband. If we raised kids together, our offspring would curse like sailors and have VERY good taste in everything.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Moving makes you hot again?

Our first morning in our new apartment, I was getting dressed and could not find a pair of underwear. After rooting through my suitcases and boxes for a few minutes, I stumbled upon a very lovely pair of lace-trimmed 100 percent silk Mary Green boy-panties. The last time I wore them, I had only one child.

"Ugh," I said, "Where's my REAL underwear?"

But since it was drop-off time, I pulled the fancy panties on and proceeded to look for a pair of pants to wear. David came in the bedroom and saw me bending over my suitcase, donning sexy underwear. It was very disconcerting for him.

"Nice panties," he said.

"They were the only ones I could find," I complained.

"I like moving," he replied. He liked it even more when the only pair of pants I could find were super-tight skinny jeans that are so damn uncomfortable I haven't worn them in half a decade. That's how it's been going all week for me -- being forced to wear the really nice, good-looking apparel I should wear in the first place but am usually too lazy and homely and old to cope with. I've been getting compliments left and right and several people have asked if I lost weight. And those people aren't even privy to the Moulin-Rouge-type baby-blue ruffled thongs I'm wearing underneath.

Moving has made me hot again. But don't worry as soon as I can locate my Park Slope Frump Uniform, i'll be back in it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What doesn't kill you makes you pissed off and exhausted: or Moving!

So, we moved.

Like how I said that like it was no big deal?


The only reason I haven't been blogging about the long, drawn-out home-buying-and-selling nachtmar which has dominated the better part of a year is because it is so unthinkably BORING I wouldn't want to punish you people with any of it.

Of course now that its over, I can punish away.

Here's the short version: The five of us were living in a one bedroom apartment. Before baby came, when it was just four of us, somehow it was OK. Not great. Pretty stinking miserable, but OK. For some crazy reason, during my pregnancy, I thought it would STILL be Ok once Baby came. I blame the hormones. That, and who, given any other alternative, even living with three kids and a husband in a one bedroom apartment, would ever want to tackle the misery of moving?

But as soon as Terza touched down, it became exceedingly clear that we would not be faring well if we stayed in our tiny place. Maybe if all of us, or even any of us, were more low-key, it would work. But all my kids, and David and me most of all are high-maintenance, loud, inflexible people who it is frequently hard to share a room with. And when you only have two rooms, total, and five people to share them, this means unpleasantness. It wasn't even that I minded so much hissing incessantly "Be QUIET! The baby's SLEEPING!" Or that I had to listen to the kids bicker non=stop or play the bongos or sing Phantom of the Opera for two hours straight. I have a high tolerance for stuff like that. It was nighttime that made everything unbearable.

Because my children, despite the fact that they have been doing it every night for 8, and 5 years respectively. STILL DO NOT KNOW HOW TO GO TO SLEEP. Also, they'd don't know how to stay asleep. The entire sleep department needs serious work. And, by the way, its not for lack of my trying. See old blog posts for evidence.

So the kids couldn't manage to quiet down at night, and thier ruckus threatened to wake the baby, and me, who -- deranged from sleep deprivation with my newborn -- wanted to turn in before 11 occasionally. Then, in the middle of the night, the baby would, of course wake, since she was a newborn and all, and then often, she'd wake one or both of the others, or they'd wake first nd get her up.  The first person to wake up in all these different scenarios was me, of course. It was a three ring circus. A shitty, cranky circus no one would ever pay to see with no tricks at all and just lots of screaming and under-eye bags.

It was so bad, in fact, that it made selling our apartment, finding a bigger one we would afford, buying it and then moving palatable. That's how bad we're talking.

Of course, we're here now and all's well that ends well. I got my Christmas present early this year and its called Deliverance from Moving or Return to (relative) Sanity.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Saying No to Family Dinner

Now, I should say up front that we eat family dinner together most every night but before I sound all self-congratulatory, I'll clarify that's only because most nights, my grandmother cooks it for us. There's no passing up a home-cooked meal particularly when its been home-cooked by someone else, particularly when that someone else is my grandmother. So we go to Nonnie's house and we eat amidst total, unmitigated chaos.

My grandmother's on the phone with her family in Italy, screaming her head off because that's the only way she knows how to communicate on the phone. The kids are clamoring for our attention -- talking over each other constantly and then arguing about who interrupted who. Seconda is jumping out of her seat and rolling around on the floor half-naked and then when she does sit down, she wipes her hands on her hair instead of her napkin (seriously, its gross). Primo eats with his knees drawn up in front of him and drops half his meal on the floor beneath his seat. And I'm busy trying to jam baby food into Terza's soldered-shut mouth while feeding myself. Some nights we have a good laugh and some nights, we manage to share interesting insights and information but for the most part, it isn't terribly enjoyable and not remotely good for digestion. Its certainly not something I'd make other people feel bad for not doing. It works for us but it doesn't work for everyone.

Which is why I liked this piece by Ian Mendes on called Why We Don't Eat Family Dinner. I enjoy hearing parents confess their dirty little secrets even when the secrets aren't especially dirty or even really secrets. We've all got to do what's best for our individual, initimable family and its hard enough to do that without feeling like you're being judged on top of it. Different strokes, it takes different strokes to move the world.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Something's got to give

When I brought Terza to her six month well visit, she weighed in at a scrawny 25 percentile. Being an Italian mother, my default state is set to "Is the baby starving?" and this did not reassure me. The doc  seemed confident that she's just a really active little sucker who's burning calories up through her constant cardio (unlike her mother) but still, I worried. So I resolved not to forget to feed the kid her solid foods anymore -- no matter if most of the food ends up on the floor rather than in her gut. As per the doc's instructions, I have been unfailing in delivering two ample meals to her a day.

Only trouble is, something had to go to make time to feed the kid. So she no longer gets dressed. The child has not been out of her pajamas since the doctor's appointment. It's fine because those footed sleepers are nice and warm and who gives a shit? She's a baby. But seriously. What am I gonna do when she has to eat three meals? What other family member will remain in their all day long?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day of Thanks

That stunning specimen of babyness regarding his impeccably made-up mother with suspicion a mere day after being born -- that's my boy, born on Thanksgiving day eight - pause while I gasp at that -- eight whole years ago.

I remember it took me 15 minutes to put that suit on him, I was so terrified to more his little appendages. But despite being terrified to the point of nausea, I was as happy as I look. And proud. My golden boy.

Ever year around his birthday, I like to look at this picture and tell him the story of his birth. So hunker down around teh fire, readers, and listen:

On Thanksgiving morning at about 6am, I woke to a contraction. I smiled to myself. Today I'm going to meet my baby, I realized. I felt . . . sigh . . . so very peaceful. 

Fast forward eight hours and I wasn't remotely peaceful anymore. I also wasn't smiling. After writhing around our apartment all freaking day, I demanded that David take me to the hospital despite the fact that my contractions weren't of the proscribed duration and all that. I was pretty convinced that my doc would report I was at least 5, maybe 8 centimeters dilated. Instead, she told me I wasn't technically in labor.

"Your make-up is still perfect," the doctor said, "Come back when your mascara is running."

Since I was already totally demoralized, I figured my parents couldn't make things much worse. And since the thought of returning to our apartment where I'd spent 8 hours laboring to no avail was so unappealing, I decided a change of venue was in order. To my parents' place on the Upper East Side, where Thanksgiviing dinner was in full swing.

My father harassed me with his cameras, documenting every grimace over antipasto. My grandmother forced me to eat, against doctor's orders. And my mother offered moral support, if by support you mean asserting that i didn't look like I was getting very far with this labor of mine.

Two hours later, by the time dessert was served, I was writhing around in the tub, buck naked, moaning and crying, while my grandmother, aunt and mother sipped wine tub-side and offered unsolicited advice.

I was really very regretful that I'd eaten a bowl of homemade cappelletti when I upchucked the lot of it over the side of the tub. I put on a pair of my father's boxers and instantly they were wet. I sobbed to my sister that I'd wet my pants and she pointed out that perhaps, seeing as I was in labor and all, perhaps my water had broken.

Oh yes! That's it! Good thing for sisters.

I got David, threw up on him a bit, bellowed in agony, sobbed a lot and gasped that we had to go to the hospital. If the doc said it wasn't time for an epidural yet, then well, I'd vomit on her until she changed her tune. But I knew it'd be time. My mascara was running.

My sister Melissa came with David and I to the hospital and since I was a very respectable 5 centimeters dilated, I received a big needle in my back. By midnight, I was fully dlated. At long last, and after a sizeable injection of morphine, here was the tranquil labor I had hoped for. As
I waited for this famous "urge to push," Melissa brushed my hair and David held my hand. We listened to the Beatles and I put on a fresh coat of lipstick. After nine months of wanting things to hurry along, I was finally in no rush. I had this keenly poignant sensation of being in the moment before, and I wanted to linger here, savoring the anticipation of the great encounter which was about to unfold.

When I couldn't resist the urge to push any longer, my doctor told Melissa and David to each grab a leg. I felt like a wishbone. Everything moved very quickly then and after only a few pushes, I was reaching down to feel the top of my baby's head, which was unthinkably soft and warm and so near. After that, I didn't need any encouragement. I pushed with a vein-popping force and within minutes, his head crowned. "Look down and see your baby," the doc said.

How can words encompass something this sublime? "Miracle" has never sounded so mundane. His tiny head was just wedged there - perfect, oblong, intricate beyond imagining. Nothing could have made me look away. I was roused from my wonder by my doctor's words: "Come on girl,one more push!"

I bore down and as I watched, my baby's body slipped right out of me, in an enormous rush. He was revealed to me entire -- shoulders, arms, torso and legs poured out in a wriggling mass of life. It was then that I screamed.

Later David would tell me he'd never heard anything so animal-like coming from a human. My sister thought that maybe I had torn. But it was a the sound of release, of relief, of marvel.
There he was, my son.

They placed Primo immediately on my chest and he was heavy there and warm and wet. We were all hysterical, David, my sister and I, all of us shaking and crying, in the moment now, the great moment which had ruptured and was pouring over us. "My son," I kept repeating, "my
baby." I sobbed with my eyes wide open so I could drink him in. Every inch of him, all 20 of them, was a masterpiece, and so brand new. He reached for my face then, stretching his spindly fingers toward my chin in a jerky gesture that some might think accidental and I thought totally, perfectly pre-destined.

It was after midnight and I was a mother. The prayers I prayed each day for nine months, and for a long time before that, were answered all at once. The day of Thanks had ended about an hour earlier for everyone else but not for me. Not for me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thoughtful Parenting

The hard thing about having three kids, I've found, is I have no time. Like right now, as I'm writing this blog, I'm not doing about five essential things I should be to keep this house and family running smoothly. A dozen dishes will go unwashed, a load of laundry unlaundered, a flu shot forgotten, a playdate un-arranged. But that shit doesn't matter to me. Not really.

What does matter, what I do feel the loss of, is time to be thoughtful about my parenting. I mean, I am mindful about it, just at about 10pm, after all the kids are asleep and the emails have been replied to and the house is restored to a livable state. In the moment though, there's just no time. There are three mouths demanding to be heard, three stomachs demanding to be filled, three sets of eyes crying about a million problems. Solving all those problems is a Sisyphean task -- as soon as I take care of all three of their pressing needs, another one pops up again. Help with the homework, find the favorite nightgown, feed the baby and damn, you forgot to take your allergy medication and no, I don't know where it is, and while I'm looking for it, the baby yakked all over her sister's favorite nightgown. It is like this, basically, every waking second that I have the kids in my charge. I feel like I'm just putting out fires all the time and when you're always putting out fires, there's no time to do other, really essential work. Like teach your kid anything.

I'll give you the perfect example. A week or two ago, I heard a cafe near our house was collecting stuff for Sandy relief. One of the things they needed were newborn clothes. I posted about it to my building listserv and collected a bunch of clothes and formula and diapers within the same day. Now all I needed to do was bring it over to the cafe. A day passed, consumed with pick ups here and dropoff there and retracing steps looking for the beloved cat toy this one lost and searching through the lost and found for the other one's winter jacket and oh shit, I almost forgot the baby has a checkup. The next day passed in just the same way. I kept looking at the bag of Sandy Relief stuff and flagellating myself. This is important, I thought, I need to make this a priority. And I did. The next day, after school, I brought the bag to pick up and dragged the kids over to the cafe and dropped it off. Except that I wanted to be able to have a conversation with them about it, about being a member of a community and how everyone needs help sometimes and its important to do that. But the kids hadn't talked me me all day and were fighting about who would get to tell me about the fire drill first and there just wasn't time. So all I managed to say about it was, "Mommy needs to run in here to drop these clothes off for a family who can't stay in their house because of the hurricane." and honestly, I'm fairly certain the kids stopped listening after "Mommy needs --"

These are the fails which make me feel like a lousy mother. But then I think that thoughtful parenting isn't a pass/ fail sort of thing. Its something you work at every day, and hopefully the working at it is as much as a life lesson as the life lessons I'm not imparting on purpose.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


When David recommended this middle-grade book Wonder to me as a bedtime book to share with Primo, I was dubious. He said it was about a very severely deformed little boy who starts school for the first time in 5th grade. He gets bullied, he said. Sounded suuuuuuper depressing. Big-time downer.

But he kept bothering me about it. "Just read a few pages," he said, "I think you're going to love it."

My husband is a smart guy sometimes, especially when it comes to matters literary.

I started reading the book with Primo about a month ago and we finished it last night. And now I'm sad -- the way you are when you finish a book so consuming you don't want to let it go.

Here's what I love about the book: it is, in fact, about a very severely deformed little boy who starts school for the first time in the fifth grade, and he does in fact get bullied but it is not even remotely depressing. In fact, its one of the most deeply inspiring books I've read in a long time. Its hard to write a book that is uplifting without being maudlin or sentimental but Wonder gets it just right. RJ Palacio follows the little boy, August, from September to June, in his first year of school. As you can imagine, its no cake walk at first -- or really, for almost the whole year. But by the time the year ends, something miraculous, and totally believable, happens. The other kids, and us as readers too, learns to see past August's face. Its simple and maybe even predictable but the trajectory is so well drawn, so vivid and touching, it packs a powerful punch.

And here's the other thing -- the story is incredibly relatable, despite being about a condition that is, in this day and age, almost unheard of. The particulars don't matter though. Even as we as readers wonder how Auggie or his parents could go through life saddled with the enormity of his burden, we also can understand. Everyone of us has something that makes us feel apart, like an outsider -- its just most of us are able to hide these things, unlike Auggie.

I must have broke down in tears half a dozen times throughout the book but at the end, I was left exactly as I like to be left at a book's conclusion -- feeling hopeful, feeling motivated to be a little better than I was before. I know that Primo felt the same way. And that's what I think is so spectacular about R. J. Palacio's story - its the right story for kids to hear at a time they can (hopefully) still really hear it. I genuinely feel like Primo will carry some of Wonder's message with him and try to be, as August's teacher likes to say, a little kinder than necessary, every day.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rocking the vote, plus three

This morning, it feels fantastic to have rocked the vote. This morning, i'm glad I took all three of my children with me to the voting booth. Hopefully, they learned that every vote counts.

No matter how much of a pain it is to cast it.

Yes, yesterday, at the voting booth, I wasn't so euphoric.

I'm going to pause here to point out, for the record, how much I value my right to vote. How much I respect it. Which is to say, do not mistake my whining for ingratitude. I LOVE MY VOTE. Of course, the greatest testament to my gratitude is the fact that I stayed at the voting place, even after I saw the line around the block. The line wouldn't have been a big deal were I by myself. Since I was with the three kids and my grandmother, it sent a chord of terror done my spine.

Didn't help that I'd come directly from taking the baby to get her shots at the pediatrician, or that she was overdue for a nap. Also didn't help that in my coterie was a perpetually-whiny, incurably-impatient five year-old as well as that child's sworn enemy, who happens to be my eldest child. My grandmother was there, too. Her and a shopping cart full of melting groceries. We only waited an hour and a half there but I have to say, it felt like at least a whole work day.

Suffice it to say, it was not the enriching lesson on democracy, as I'd hoped.

It was, let's be frank, a shit show.

If I didn't really, truly treasure my right to vote, I would have spun on my heel and got the hell out of there. I won't lie -- it occurred to me. The thought, "Fuck it. I just can't." did occur to me. I know it occurred to other people, too, because the woman who got in line behind me, a woman my mom's age, with no children at all, said as much.

"Oh this is bullshit," she said, "I'll just go home and vote in four years."

But she didn't. She stayed. We all did. And in return, my children tortured everyone.

When I approached the school where we vote, I saw right away that the line snaked all the way out the door and around the block. I'm not good at estimation but I'm gonna guess five thousand people? No, that can't be right. Let's just say it was a freaking lot. Enough to give me heart palpitations.

"We'll come back later," I told my grandmother, "But we can't come back too late, or else it'll be worse, with people getting off work."

While we were deliberating whether to stay or go, a big group of people were allowed entry and the line got short enough that it just stretched to the corner, not around the corner. Something about this small change swayed me. It was exactly like how stores price everything at $.99 rather than a dollar because the cent off really tricks your brain into thinking you're getting a deal. The line decreased only by like ten, fifteen people but I suddenly felt optimistic.

That was short-lived. As soon as we stopped walking, children made their pressing needs known.

Seconda was "dying of hunger."
Primo was "sick and tired of his stupid sister torturing him."
Nonnie was concerned about the Turkey Hill ice cream she'd bought on sale.

I convinced my grandmother to hold our place in line for a bit while I let the kids push Terza on a swing across the street. This boosted morale somewhat. Then we returned to our line-waiting and soon enough, some official-looking person directed our district-dwellers to a different line, inside. We lugged the shopping cart, screaming baby and fist-fighting children up the stairs and joined a different line. Which, after a minute or two, I realized snaked back somehow, to the same line we had been on.

"Is this the line for distirct 88?" I asked the people in front of me.

"No," said one lady.
"Yes, "answered another.
"Nobody knows," said someone else.
"This is bullshit," said the woman behind me.

Thus began a debate about what the hell kind of line we were on. The line I had just left began the exact same debate. The baby started clawing at my face and my children laid dow in a supine position on the floor. Nonnie remarked that her ice cream was melting.

"Fuck it," I thought, "Let's just go home."

But no! No! NO! We would persevere! Standing in line with three badly-raised children (and who'se fault is THAT?) was an infinitesimal price to pay for the right to vote! I imagined the suffragettes who'd won me this right and how much more they'd had to endure. I decided to tell Seconda about the suffragettes. She made it quite clear she didn't give a flying fig about them.


Ahhhhhh. How lovely to pass on the gravity of this day to the young minds I'm helping to mold. So glad we could experience this historic event together.

"You can't vote anyway!" I barked at her.

"WHAT?" her eyes popped out of her head. She was outraged, betrayed, "WHY NOT?"

"Because," Primo explained, "Children don't make good decisions."

"THEN WHY ARE WE HERE????" bellowed Seconda.

Everyone was looking at us. My grandmother was melting in hunilation like her Turkey Hill ice cream.

"Because,"I hissed, "Mommy is going to vote. And you are going to help. And learn things. And be inspired."

The hubbub caught the attention of someone in charge.

"Are you in district 88?" he asked.

"That depends," I almost said, "Is that the one whose turn it is now?"

"Yes,"I replied.

"OK. come on," he said, leading us through the throng to the gymnasium which was full of smaller throngs.

Sometimes it pays to have the worst-behaved kids in the room. People can't wait to get rid of you.

We waited on line in the gym for another 30-45 minutes. I put my down coat on the floor and let Terza crawl around on it for a bit and then when she started ctaerwauling again, I asked one of the helpers if I could use a folding chair to nurse her.

I was kind of hoping that the sight of my bared breasts would scare people away. It didn't. I was contemplating just hosing them down with breast milk but then I reminded myself that it was GOOD that everyone was voting like this. Democracy and everything.

While I was nursing the baby, Seconda waltzed up to the front of the line and asked, real casually, if she could vote, please. Nice one, Sec. No, they told her. She was a child.

"Awwww," she whined. That is her speciality.

Finally, finally we got our ballot and then it was quick. Whiz Bam, fill it out. Scan the thing. Done and done. Then i felt GREAT.

"WE DID IT!" I yelled, giving all the kids high fives and feeling terribly excited and proud of us, "WE VOTED!"

I'm glad I don't have to do it for another four years, though.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hurricane Babies and Hurricane Divorces

I wonder how many hurricane babies were created over the past week?

And how many hurricane divorces? Because when you already have one, or two, or wait for it -- three babies running around your apartment with an intense case of cabin fever and record amounts of energy, there is no slim possibility of banishing boredom with some carnal embraces. And without the carnal embraces, all you're left with is bickering. Especially when you've just moved into a new apartment and there's about five thousand little, totally-non-essential things to be done to make Mama of the House happy and Daddy of the House beleaguered.

I've been trying to trap David at home to hang up pictures and change lighting fixtures and seal the countertop forever, and now I have but after five days at home with Franken-children, he's too grumpy to comply. We are both nearing fatal levels of grumpiness. Kids not faring much better. Seconda and Primo are locked into mortal kombat sibling rivalry from where there may be no return. Getting back to school yesterday was a tiny reprieve but then with the day off today, it was back to warfare. Those two will end up getting a divorce if we lose any more days of school.

Of course, its pretty damn innocuous stuff compared with losing your home and everything you have. So I feel duly guilty about complaining. In atonement, I think I'll volunteer my husband to donate blood or manually scoop water out of a flooded tunnel.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sandy can't stop New York spirit

My sister sent this link to me and I love it, especially the post-it notes at the end. Especially the one that says, "Yo Sandy! What up bitch?" Couldn't say it better myself.

Sandy Can't Stop New York Spirit 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Its a Sitter's Market

School's been closed all week, and then, of course, this Tuesday, too. If my own desperation to unload my kids to someone else is any indication, babysitters, those who are mobile, are rolling in it, with no shortage of work this week.

I'm considering scribbling a handwritten sign to tape up in my lobby, "Sitter wanted ASAP. $1000/ hour." I just worry they might get a higher offer. Maybe I should scrawl, "Sitter wanted ASAP. I'll give you whatever you want. No references required. Experience unnecessary. Just come quickly."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ways to Help With Sandy Recovery

Wow. The stories surfacing now about the damage and devastation caused by Sandy are just heart-breaking. But for every sad story I read, I find a heart-warming one about little acts of kindness and generosity as New Yorkers try to find ways to help. My aunt, who just got power and water back in her apartment on the Lower East Side, is full of first hand stories of neighbors banding together, sharing flashlights, taking turns groping their way up and down fourteen flights of stairs to get the food and water being handed out in the neighborhood. I've gotten a half dozen emails from friends and neighbors collecting needed items to drive over to Red Hook. It's little stuff, so small in the face of what's been lost, but its a start.  If you're looking for ways to help with Sandy recovery, there's plenty.

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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Swimming in Sewage, Part Deux

To pick up where we left off . . . 

As I walked down Carroll Street from Fourth Avenue, I found the water level getting higher. Suddenly. Within three steps I found myself waist deep in sewage.

This is, by the way, not an exaggeration. I had to lift my purse in the air so that my iPhone didn't get saturated. In sewage.

I could almost feel the bacteria creeping through my epidermis. Except for the time that I stepped inside rat guts in Central Park on Thanksgiving Day, I have never been so scheeved. But even slipping in rat intestines couldn't compare to swimming in sewage. WIth the rat, it was only my foot, inside a shoe, that was immersed. In the sewage situation, it was my whole body, a multi sensory shitstorm.

Just as it appeared I might be forced to doggie paddle my way down to Third Avenue, the water level dropped and soon I was on dry land again. A gaggle of mechanics at a car repair shop were standing under their awning, watching me. They were laughing their asses off.

"Hey," one of them shouted, "That's sewer water,"

"I know!" I shrieked back. I stood in front of them,  my clothes so sopping set that my skirt was hanging nearly falling off form the weight of the water.

I then speed walked the rest of the block to Primo's camp, my skins crawling. At drop off, I'd noticed a rack of T shirts in the from room and this seemed incredibly fortuitous now, since I estimated that I could tolerate another two minutes of being in the swear clothes before I had a vomiting fit. I would be stripping down naked in two minutes and it would really be preferable that there be another item of clothing for me to wear at that point because otherwise Primo could  never show hs face back in camp, much less my face. So i'd change into a T shirt. I only hoped they had one large enough to cover my ss. Because there was no doubt in my mind that if they did not, I'd walk home bottom-less. Done and done. Yes, it would be humiliating but it was better than catching cholera. I know you can't catch cholera from keepings sewage-sokaed clothes on for five extra minutes but what can I tell you? I wasn't thinking rationally. I was deranged.

Thirty seconds later I was at Primo's camp.

"MOMMY!" Primo yelled, "Did you see the rain?"

"Yes," I replied, "As a matter of fact I did."

And then turning to the gaggle of teenager counselors by the door I said," I just swam in sewage. On Fourth Avenue."

They looked at me blankly, like I was speaking another language. I realized they kind of couldn't care less but I had to tell someone about it immediately. So I continued.

"It was up to my waist. I'm not kidding. Can you smell this? Can you smell the sewer on me?"

One of the guy teenagers said, "Ummm, yeah?" in an attempt to get me to wrap the crazy tirade up.

"I need a T shirt. The biggest one you've got."

He rifled through the rack of T shirts and handed me one which was XXL, the which  I took directly into the bathroom. I then peeled off my skirt and shirt and hoodie and deposited them in the garbage. It was a good thing I haven't worn an attractive piece of clothing in five months since I had the baby or else I might have lost some decent apparel. I had to pause when I got to my underwear. That stumped me. On the one hand, it was as soaked in sewage as the rest and should go. On the other hand, the chance that I'd have to cross another sewer rive on the way home was pretty high and if I had to swim in sewage again WITHOUT ANY UNDERWEAR ON, I'd die. I wouldn't wait around to see what VD floated up inside of my privates. I'd just perish, period, on the spot.Better a compromised barrier than no barrier at all. So the underwear stayed on.

Before I put on the clean T shirt, I gave myself a bath in the bathroom sink. A half bath, from the waist down. It was tricky to scrub my legs in the tiny sink but, by George, I managed it. I then washed my shoes, and dried off with paper towels. Then I put on the XXL T shirt which came nearly to my knees, thankfully.

"Mommy what happened to your clothes?" Primo asked, laughing.

"Garbage," I replied, "They were compromised,"

"Mommy, no offense but you look like a crazy person," he observed, still laughing.

"I am aware of that," I told him, "Its OK. I just hope you don't have to go through the sewage on the way home. Let's just keep our wits about us."

He didn't have to, incidentally, I circumvented the massive puddles by walking down Third Avenues which for some reason was untouched. There was still Armaggedon like thunder and lightening but by this point that was child's play to me. When we reached my grandmother's door, she stood there speed less.

"Wat de hell happen to you?" she finally managed.

"I can't talk about it right now," I told her, " I have to get in the shower."

You can imagine the zeal with which I scrubbed my body clean then  . . . . and later that night  . . . and again the next morning. I was like Lady Macbeth with the damn spot. I just couldn't get clean enough. For a while I thought the sewage incident might send me over the edge of sanity, take me to a land of OCD from which I'd never return. They'd coin a new expression after me, "She's just one sewage swim away from the looney bin."

But after three showers, I felt satisfied. I had no open wounds, thankfully, and I hadn't drink the stuff. I might avoid cholera after all.

The next day, when I dropped Primo off at camp, I shuddered crossing Carroll Street. Wouldn't you?

Monday, September 24, 2012

I am Sewer Mom

Recently, I went swimming in sewage. Even for those who enjoy extreme spots, I don't recommend it. Sewage stinks. It is very unpleasant to swim in it.

It was a few weeks ago at the tail end of summer and the kids were still in summer camp. Just before pickup, my grandmother called me, as she likes to do, to tell me it was raining. I blew off her warnings, as I like to do, demising them as the wild ravings of a neurotic woman.

"I'm not going to MELT in the WATER," I assured her, "I'll be fine."

"Leave de baby wit me," she pleaded.

"Fine," I conceded, doing her a big favor and letting her babysit.

It was pouring buckets when I picked up Seconda from camp, and the thunder and lightning was so intense and cataclysmic that I actually jumped a few times. I really didn't want to get hit by lightning. Life's hard enough with all my wits intact. When the rain didn't let up after I'd gotten Sec, I thought maybe I should bring her by my grandmother's house and go get Primo myself. Her place was on the way after all.

By the time we got to my grandmother's, I was soaked through. Wringing wet. I popped upstairs, put on a hoodie which I had some naive idea would protect me from further saturation, grabbed an umbrella for Primo, then promptly set on my way. It was true that the super-cool engineering camp I'd sent him to for the week offered after school care by the half hour, but I didn't want to pay the extra $5 for another 30 minutes. Besides, a little rain couldn't hurt me.

A little hail, on the other hand, could. And did. Two blocks into my walk and I was being assaulted by hail, enough that I was muttering "What the fuck?" over and over, out loud to myself. A little like a crazy person. The hail got so hard I ducked into a hair salon for cover.

When it was clear that the hailstorm wasn't about to let up anytime soon, I figured I might as well just get it over with and rushed out into the thunder and lightning again. When I got to Fourth Avenue and First Street, I was stopped short at the intersection because the curb was flooded in sewage. The manhole had popped off and a geyser of sewage was spewing into the street. The stench was pretty damn revolting.

There is no way I am wading through that, I thought, But on the other hand, I have no choice.

I trudged through the mammoth puddle, which reached my mid-calf. It was nasty and full of floating pieces of garbage but it was over fast  -- until I got to the next intersection where the water level was even higher.

Fuck me, I thought, grimacing.

But I was nearly to Primo's camp so I screwed my courage to the sticking place and stepped in. This puddle reached my knee, dragging the bottom of my skirt down.

Now I stunk, really stunk. The thunder and lightning intensified, as did my shouting expletives.

Well, at least I've only got one more street to cross, I figured, The worst is over.

I was only halfway down the street -- in between Garfield and Carroll -- when I realized the worst was definitely not over. I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk because the water was already up to my ankle and I hadn't even made it to the intersection yet. The sewage water was LAPPING in waves over the sidewalk back and forth, back and forth. On the street, the water was up to the level of the car bumpers. Huge black garbage bags were floating down Fourth Avenue, as if it were a river. I couldn't even see the intersection, there was so much water,

At that point, I climbed up a small ledge in front of a new condo development so that I'd be out of the sewage water and called David.

"What the hell am I supposed to do?" I asked him, "I can't go home without Promo and even if I could, I'd have to trudge back through the massive sewage puddles I crossed already. But I can't cross Fourth Avenue. I just can't. It is an actual river of sewage. Seriously."

A clap of thunder erupted directly over my head.

"I also can't stand here and wait," I told him, "Or I am going to get struck by lightning."

"You better just get it over with and get that boy," David concluded. He's not much in the pep talk department.

So I jammed my cell phone deep in my purse, took a deep breath and just went for it. It was nasty getting to the intersection and then jumping off the curb was a real leap of faith because I couldn't even see the asphalt under the sewage water. It was as gross as I'd feared, sewage up to my knees.

"Ugh eh fuck bleh ugh meh fuck,"I moaned.

I was close to gagging when I got to the other side of Fourth Avenue, but at leas, it was over. I could rest easy now. I was done trudging through sewage.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Riddle me this

Seconda rad a library book this week featuring a stinky giant who tells a bunch of riddles. This has got her really into telling riddles, most of which she makes up and which are not riddles, in the typical sense. Or any sense, actually. They are not even jokes, in point of fact. They are more like lines of dialogue from a Richard Foreman play. I quite enjoy them.

Primo, on the other hand, knows real riddles, being almost 8 and all. So a few days ago, he asked Sec to riddle him this:

"What has four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon and three legs in the evening?"

Because of course, that Primo, my inimitable boy, knows the riddle of the Sphinx.

Seconda considered a moment, obviously churning the gears in her mind. Four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, three in the evening? The answer was clear.

"A BARRACUDA!!!!!" she squealed. She said it with confidence and triumph, in her inimitable way, fully assured it was the only answer one could come up with.

All of us laughed, even the baby, and Seconda too.

"That exchange right there," I told David, "That about says it all. That just typifies who each of them are. And why I love each of them so goddamned much."

He couldn't help but agree.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sleep training: why alcoholic beverages were invented

For a long time, Terza was a great sleeper. I was loathe to even admit what a great sleeper  she was because I didn't want to jinx myself. But at the same time, I figure I should savor these positive developments because they do tend to be few and far between. I knew I should have trusted my first instinct and never expressed gratitude and appreciation for small favors. Because as soon as I took Terza to her four month checkup and told the doctor, "She's a great sleeper!" she ceased being one. In fact, she became an abysmal sleeper, just awful.

At first, I thought she was teething. Or had an ear infection. Or was experiencing some thrilling milestone. But the doctor took a look at her and said that none of that stuff was happening. And every night, her wakings got more frequent  -- at first, she was just weirdly waking once or twice more than she normally did, and within a few days, she was waking every hour. It was, like so much in parenting, a little problem that grew into a big problem fast. I went from nursing the baby two or three times a night to nursing her constantly, taking her in bed and keeping her attached to the boob. And even THAT didn't work. Which is when I realized the time had come for sleep training. Thankfully, I've already done this with two children so I'm an expert, right?

Wrong. Because I've basically blocked out everything that occurred over a year ago out, to save my sanity. All I remember is that the first night we sleep trained Primo, he cried for an hour and that the first night we sleep trained Seconda she cried for five minutes. I figured Terza would have to fall in between the two. I called my best friend, Miriam, who had her first daughter nine months ago and read no less than five different books cover to cover about sleep training and I told her to give me the bullet points. Just the facts, please. So desperate was I to wrestle the chaos of Terza's sleep into some sort of order, I decided in the middle of my conversation with Miriam, to start immediately.

"Hold on," I told her, "I'm going to put the baby down right now and start sleep training. Right now."

So Miriam listened to Terza scream for forty minutes and told me exactlywhat to do. That, as they say, is what friends are for.

By the time David got home from work, I'd already gotten three check-and-console cry-it-out sessions under my belt.

"This shit is on like Donkey Kong," I told him.

And that night, probably exhausted from her daytime crying fits, she slept better. A lot better. It helped that I absented myself from the process by sleeping in Primo's bunk bed, while he slept with at his greg grandmother's house. I woke after six hours to a sharp pain in my breasts. I'd take the engorgement for sleep any day.

Its been two weeks and all I can say is, its no magic bullet. That sounds a rather drastic metaphor. Its no panacea. The baby will go down without a tear for three days in a row than cry for an hour at night for a week then cry for every nap for a day then not cry at all again. There's no rhyme or reason to it. But its better than nothing. And also, all I got. Isn't that just the story of parenting?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Toxic Bobsled

The kids are in my front hallway, where I've relegated them since the baby is sleeping and they are playing what sounds like a VERY fascinating game. Primo is coming up with a whole bunch of obstacles for his sister all of which involve her getting past him in the narrow hallway while he pretends to be supernatural evil creatures. He started with generic spooky creatures, so at first he was a vampire and a goblin and a zombie but then he just let go and transitioned over to really freaky things. What I like best about this game is how much Seconda is going for it, totally accepting whatever weird scenarios he sets up.

"OK so now I'm a toxic bobsled and you have to get by without touching the blanket I'm holding up," said Primo. 

"OK but what part of the body does the toxic bloodsucker attach to?" asked Seconda, "Like is it your arm or legs or your butt or what?"

Good God, this is terrifying shit. My kids could write horror movies. 

"No, no, no," said Primo, "Not a toxic bloodsucker, a toxic bobsled."

Because that makes so much more sense. 

"Ok now I'm an evil skeleton and in this level, I can take off my bones and hit you over the head with them and you have to get by without making any sound effects."

"OK, now I'm the Phantom of the Opera and I throw chandeliers and if you get hit by one, you're dead."

"But I don't want to be dead.," Seconda pipes up.

"Well, you'll only be dead for three seconds. Then you'll come back to life. By the way, if it touches your skin, you leak blood and the chandelier turns red. OK?"


"And then for the last level, I'll be the grim reaper and I will have a skeleton sword which makes me unable to bleed. He is your hardest enemy because if he wins then he throws a portal at you and you go through it and begin all over again."

A lot of the time what they play sounds painfully dull but this game is off the hook. If I had more energy,  I'd totally play this. As it is I'll have to just listen in and blog about it.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Brooklyn Cyclone -- again?

Over the weekend, we had another twister in Brooklyn. See for yourself:

Kinda reminds me of the Tornado in Park Slope that traumatized my prophetic son for almost a year. Who knew Brooklyn was such a twister target?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

One Day More!

Yes, I am singing the song from Les Miserables. It perfectly expresses the thrill and excitement I feel, combined with a heavy dose of foreboding and dread. This has been the Longest Summer Ever and I can't wait another day for these kids to be off at school, being productive members of society or at least someone else's charge for a while. They need the break from each other; being stuck in this tiny apartment, constantly being shushed so they don't wake the baby who sleeps every two hours. has not been a situation conducive to sibling harmony. Too much togetherness. So, it will be a relief for all when Primo and Seconda get their friends back, and get their worlds expanded a bit.

But, of course, no one is excited for the return of homework and the mad race to drop off and standardized testings and packing lunches and bullies on the playground and mean lunch ladies and all the rest of the stress and weight which is Back to School.

So, I'm singing night-before-the-battle songs. Once more into the breech, dear friends, once more.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My cracking knees gonna wake the baby

The baby's been a pretty good sleeper. For a baby. Still, when I put her down in her bassinet, I am always in terror that she'll wake up, because she does, at least fifty percent of the time. The other day I was lowering her into the bassinet, ever so gently, releasing one finger at a time, as if she were a bomb I was trying not to detonate which is precisely the case. I managed to transfer her to a surface apart from my chest and was just rising from my squatting position near her bassinet when my knee joints cracked.

It was a sound as thunderous to my ears as a fire engine roaring by.

i cursed my decrepit knees as I stood there frozen, waiting for the cry to emanate out of the bassinet.

When did I get so damn old that my freaking joints crackle like kindling in a fire?

And when did I get so crazy that I worry about this waking the baby?

This is my THIRD BABY. I am supposed to be chill and confident and GOOD at parenting by now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Never ending summer

Hey, anyone else out there feel like the summer is NEVER going to end? In March, when I signed the kids up for summer camp, and opted for five weeks, that seemed sufficient. We'll have a week of vacation in North Carolina, that covers six weeks. Isn't that nearly the whole summer? What's left over -- two, maybe three weeks? Three and a half weeks isn't very much. Summer camp is so expensive.

You know what's more expensive? A lobotomy. After three and half weeks of having the kids at home with an infant who is being sleep trained while I try to work and secure larger accommodations for this family, I am approaching insanity. What the hell was wrong with me? Three and half weeks is way, way too much, especially since by this point in the summer everyone we know in Brooklyn is on some terribly exciting vacation terribly far away. Playdates have dried up. Babysitters are scarce. Its just me and the kids, totally sick of each other.

At present count I have one and a half weeks to go. I think I can I think I can I think I can

Monday, August 27, 2012

Harsh critic

The other day, I made the unfortunate mistake of looking at myself int he mirror. I was washing my hands in the bathroom and I nearly gasped at my reflection.

"God," I muttered, "I really look terrible."

Primo was in the living room and overheard me. He concurred.

"No offense Mommy," he said, and thats a phrase which never bodes well, "But you do really look terrible, when your hair is two different colors."

He is referring to the fact that my roots have grown out a good inch to two inches.

"Primo!" I exclaimed,

"I said 'no offense' Mommy," he defended myself.

Two days later, I found myself in the salon, getting highlights.

"Can you make them brighter this time?" i asked the stylist.

My son has given me a complex.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You're not invited to my birthday party

It would be impossible to imagine how many times a day I hear the words "You're not invited to my birthday party." A lot. I'm guessing a  million. Its Seconda's new way of saying, "Go to hell. I deplore you." OK, maybe just, "I'm five years old and have no control other anything, so I'm seeking to empower myself however I can."

What makes this proclamation especially ridiculous is that her birthday is not until FEBRUARY. Nonetheless, it is never to early to begin drafting an invitation list.

I, personally, am never un-invited to the birthday party and that's because though she is moody, she is one smart cookie and knows full well that without the Mommy Machine powering the party, there will be no party. Her brother, however, is totally dispensable.

"Fine!" she'll yell, if he doesn't give her the action figure she wanted to play with, "You're not invited to my birthday party."

What happens then makes no sense but at the same time is totally unsurprising.

"WHAT?" he bellows, "MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY! Seconda said I'm not invited to her birthday party! Its no fair! I want to go!"

"Honey," I whisper, "you know full well you will go to her party. She's just saying it to make you upset."

"Seconda," he then asks, "Am I invited toy our party or not?"

"Not," she assures him.


"You are BOTH driving me crazy."

Yesterday we went to the playground and Sec made a friend. It took approximately thirty seconds. She showed the girl how to do a trick on the hand rings and then they pushed each other a few times on the swing. Done and done.

Sec ran over, "I made a friend. She's my best friend. AND she's invited to my birthday party."

My daughter already knows the power of the list at the door. So Hollywood.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I drank the Katy Perry Cool-aid

My kids wouldn't know a top 100 hit if it hit them in the head. We don't really listen to the radio and our time in stores where such hits would be piped in on repeat play is limited. But a few weeks ago, their pristine pop-free musical tastes were suddenly sullied when at summer camp, they were taught to sing the Katy Perry hit "Firework."

They loved this song. So much so that Seconda asked if we could download it onto the iPod for her. We agreed, though I grumbled a lot about it to David.

"Ugh." I lamented, "I can't stand this peppy, chirpy garbage."

Then we were stuck in the car for two days and I had no choice but to sit and listen to every word Katy Perry crooned. And what I discovered was . . .

I love that freaking song.

I LOVE it.

It took at least four or five listens but finally, my annoyance abated and soon, I started singing along. Then I turned up the volume and paid close attention to the lyrics, which my children were singing right along.

"Do you ever feel like a plastic bag/ Drifting in the wind/ Wanting to start again? "

Why yes, Katy Perry. Often, I do feel that way.

"Do you ever feel, feel so paper-thin/ Like a house of cards/ One blow from caving in?"

I do. I DO sometimes feel that way. Tell me more. Tell me what to DO.

"Ignite your light and let it shine"

Yes, yes, then what? THEN WHAT?

"And own the night like the fourth of July!"

Can I, Katy Perry? Can I really do it? How do you know?

"Cause baby you're a FIREWORK! Come on show them what you're worth! Let them go oh, oh, oh and you shoot across the sky, sky, sky."

At this point, I began to sob. So moved was I by Ms.Perry's inspiring words.

"She's right!" I told David, "We ARE fireworks! All of us! What a beautiful message for our kids. What a beautiful message!!!"

"Mommy, why are you crying?" asked Seconda.

"Because Mommy just loves this song so much. And I feel bad because I judged Katy Perry unfairly without giving her a chance. Now that I gave her a chance, I love what she's saying. You are a firework, honey, and Mommy always wants you to feel special like that. Never hide who you are. Let your colors burst! Make 'em so high high high as you shoot across the sky sky sky."

We listened to the song approximately twenty times in a row. And we just kept on singing. Well, not David. He appreciated the message, but wasn't didn't drink the Katy cool-aid the way I did. Yep, I drank it down. Got bit bad by the Katy Perry love bug.

Matter of fact, I feel like I could use a little listen right now. Start the week off right.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Playing favorites, with my boobs

After a rocky first two weeks, where I got treated to the usual bleeding nipples and agonizing latch-on pain, breastfeeding with Terza has been going swimmingly. And thank God for that. When I remember the trials and tribulations I went through with Primo, I think I must've been a martyr to keep going. I just don't think I'd have it in me with number three to endure that kind of mammary difficulty. And since Seconda, who was a champion nurser from the start, ran into a rough patch at about three months (a rough patch which turned out to be acid reflux), I'm now very attuned to Terza's nursing and on the lookout for any telltale signs of trouble.

But while I've been on the lookout for all these special nursing culprits who are thankfully absent, I've neglected to do some very basic things, like keep up with which breast I've just fed the baby off of. In the chaos of the day who can really remember which side the baby nursed from, and really, what's the difference? 

The difference is, I now have one mammoth boob and one teeny tiny one. I've been favoring one side over th ether, leading with my right as it were, and now my left breast is half the size, and totally under-producing. As if the first few months don't give you enough freakish physical problems, I now have a lopsided rack. My grandmother pointed this out to me the other day.

"Listen, I don't wanna tell you wat you doin but you gotta one big breast and one little one," she pointed out.

And she was right. 

Now I've got to see if I can un-do the damage of my favoritism, see if I can equalize my lactation situation. Guess I'll have to dust off the old pump. Since I know what awful fate awaits these boobs once I wean, I can at least have them equal and symmetrical for when I lose a cup size and get all droopy. I mean, David did wed me and my rack for better and for worse but I can help a guy out and not go all Amazon on him if I can help him. Wish me luck. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Drive a mile in my shoes

At 60 miles an hour, this minute-long video of our road trip gives you a mile in my shoes. Lots of fireworks going off. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Grown-up Business

We were on hour four of our never-ending road trip to North Carolina when Primo saw a U-Haul truck driving beside us.

"What does "u-haul" mean?" he asked.

"Oh, it is a moving truck company," I explained, "You pay money to rent a truck and then you load up all your furniture and boxes and things in the truck and move it to your new house. Mommy and Daddy have used it a few times before we got a lot of stuff and decided to use movers to do it for us."

Primo was silent a full thirty seconds, considering. Then he said, "That is grown-up business I am not at all interested in."

It cracked me up, because he really weighed the issue, considering it from very angle, to see if there was any minute amount of interest he could coax out of the subject before concluding that no, this was one matter that was totally, one hundred percent devoid of interest.

And frankly, I agree. It is boring grown-up business and I am not at all interested in it either.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Road Trip

Sorry for the radio silence but I've been tied up the past week "vacationing." Maybe its really obnoxious of me to use the word "vacation" with quotation marks because after all, I did just spend a week in the stupendous Outer Banks, lounging in the pool and sitting seaside while the kids hunted for clams and made malted sand balls. We saw wild horses and admired the moon path on the ocean and got sand in our butts and salt water in our mouths. That part was all vacation without the " ".

But GETTING there was another story altogether. Driving to North Carolina could not be considered a vacation even with extra quotation marks. The drive was supposed to take around 9 hours and instead took 14. Fourteen hours in a vehicle where the car seats are packed so tightly Primo can't even buckle his booster seat belt because it is underneath Terza's infant car seat base and only David, a highly trained specialist, who can basically detach his hand from his wrist to reach under, can handle it. Fourteen hours with children suffering from volume immodulation disorder (and regrettably, the volume is immoderately high, not low). Fourteen hours of fighting over whose turn it is to play 20 Questions, which song we should listen to, which DVD we should play on the DVD player that David and I bought thinking it would eliminate, not instigate fights. Fourteen hours of "I'm hungry!" and "I'm car sick!" and "She hit me!" and "You're not invited to my birthday party!"

And that's not even including the baby. 

The baby was actually the only easy going personality in the car, and for the first day of traveling, when we went to DC, and hit only a little bit of traffic, the baby was actually very smiley and patient and accommodating. But on the second day, when we checked out of our hotel in DC and headed straight into the heart of darkness known as Driving To The Outer Banks on Check In Day, well, she was just fed up with the whole scenario. And who could blame her? But the waves of infant screams emanating from the back seat were enough to cause permanent mental damage on all of us. 

The second day of driving was just a clusterfuck in general. Traffic everywhere. Diaper Explosions constantly. We had to stop every ten minutes, either to change a diaper, breastfeed the baby, console the baby, bring a kid to the bathroom, get some food or just escape from total insanity. So, although we only drove or 9 hours that day, we were on the road more like 12. The worst part was the total gridlock that we faced before we crossed the bridge to cross over to the island. The cars just wouldn't move, for hours. Finally, we crossed the bridge and I made David stop so I could nurse the baby and then I refused to get back in the car. 

"We can't go on," I said. 

"Nicole," said David, "we're like 15 miles away."

"Yes, but with the traffic, that's like another hour. I can't. I just can't."

"So what are we going to do?"

"We will just have to stay overnight here. In the parking lot to Kitty Hawk Elementary School."

"What is Mommy doing?" asked Seconda. 

"Mommy's having a nervous collapse," I said.

"What's that?" asked Seconda.

"She's just feeding the baby." answered David, "Give her a minute."

Of course, I got in the car and took deep breaths for the last hour it took to get 15 miles. And when we pulled into the driveway of the rented hours, twelve hours after leaving DC, my in laws said we were just in time for pizza. 

"We ordered it two hours ago but it just got here, with all the traffic."

And just as I was beginning to recover from the drive down, our vacation came to a close and we had to brave the drive back. But that is a lamentation for a another day.  Today, I'm just luxuriating in stretching my legs.