Sunday, July 28, 2013

Down South

Reporting to you from North Carolina, y'all. 

We are drinking sweet tea. 

We are catching ghost crabs. 

We are boogie boarding and sand castling and shell searching. 

We are hard core vacationing, folks, and though I'd love to spare more than a few minutes reporting to you, I just can't. Contractually, I'm obligated to indulge in massive amounts of leisure. Apart from the work of parenting, that is, which allows for zero leisure. at least when there's a toddler concerned. Plus, let's face it, what I do here is bellyache and I have nothing to bellyache about here. Besides the three hours of traffic we hit yesterday, which I have decided I'm going to just wipe out of memory in the service of happiness. 

So, enjoy your week. I'll be stuffing my face with pork sandwiches and letting the baby throw sand in my face. Ahhhhh . . . . .  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

3 kids, 10 hours in the car: how to survive

Oh, I hope the title of this post didn't lead you to believe I was going to dole out advice on the subject of all-day road-trips with a clown car full of children. Au contraire. I'm looking for advice. We leave for North Carolina in a few days and my ideas, thus far, about how to avoid total insanity on the trip there and back include the following:

Sedatives -- for me or for the kids. Not for David, since he's driving the whole way.

Alcohol  -- for me, not the kids, or David.

Noise-cancelling headphones, for me, and the kids, and the baby. Not David. He needs to keep his wits about him, he's driving.

If you've discerned that David is totally screwed in this equation, you are correct. That's why I'll have to make it up to him when we reach NC, which is why I'll need my sanity intact. No one wants a person in the midst of a nervous breakdown doing them sexual favors.

What else?

Oh, video games and movies. Video games and movies non-freaking-stop. I'm going to let those kids gorge themselves on video games until they look up from the Ipad and ask if they can get a texture pack for the backseat of the car and hallucinate candy dangling on ropes which they must cut at all costs at the rest stop. They will feast on movies until they are shocked that the world around them has three dimensions instead of two. Millions of their brain cells may perish. They will lose precious IQ points and may forget how to read. That is the price of driving to NC. And I accept it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

You have impeccable taste

Announcement: I have a new best friend. His name is Richard Stile and he writes for NY Metro Parents and on their website he sang the praises of this here blog that you are reading right now (yeah, you have impeccable taste), offering the following:

"Everyone has one of those friends who says all of the painful truths that the rest of us only dare to think, and Nicole Caccavo Kear (aka A Mom Amok) is exactly that person."

And this: 

"For a split second you may think that you are reading a script to a future episode of Modern Family, and there is a good chance you’ll be laughing just as hard as you would be at the show."

So yeah, we're basically besties now. Because, with me, flattery will get you everywhere.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Do French Mothers Have It Better?

The grass is always greener on the other side, and I, for one, spend a lot of time wondering if life, in particular, motherhood, in particular working motherhood, would be any easier if i lived somewhere else . . . the suburbs, down South, France, maybe? In an illuminating piece for Slate, my friend Claire Lundberg sheds some light on the matter:   It's Amazing To Be A Mom In France -- Unless You Want A Job

Yes, French mothers get a four-month maternity leave, five weeks of vacay yearly, affordable health care and day care which we New Yorkers would consider cheap as dirt, but it ain't all roses. It never is, of course.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Abraham Lincoln, Fame-Hunter

We were walking to camp the other morning and discussing fame. Its a subject my children are especially interested in. I find it regrettable (but not surprising) that at the age of 6 and 8, already they seek fame. They have a lot of potential strategies for securing popularity on an international basis; Primo's are more fleshed-out and usually take the form of some amazing comic book concept that is just going to BREAK OUT. Seconda doesn't have a solid plan for how she'll win world recognition, and this worries me. I'd better keep that one away from the internet until she finds a means I can get behind.

Regardless of how they get fame, they are decided that it is coming to them.  And the other day, Primo clarified for me why he's so convinced about this.

"It's like Abraham Lincoln said," Primo pronounced, "We all get fifteen minutes of fame."

I was tempted to ask if that was a part of the Gettysburg Address I missed  . . . or possibly included somewhere in the Emancipation Proclamation? Instead, I just told him, "I think it was Warhol, honey, who said that," and he laughed.

"Oh, its an easy mistake," I reassured him, "I'm sure people mix those two up all the time."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

City Kids

We took the kids to the country this weekend and I learned something: I've got me some bona-fide city kids. The which is to say, we need more country time.

It wasn't like we went into the deep country or anything, just drove an hour up to the Bear Mountain area where my high school friend Miriam and her husband have a little house. Still, it had a screen door which as far as I can tell, legitimizes any country domicile. I can count on one hand the number of times I've heard that creeeak! of a screen door; makes me feel like I'm in a Eudora Welty novel.

What got the kids' attention was the diversity of bug life. Here in NYC we have roaches, flies, mosquitoes, ants and the occasional spider. In the spring you'll see butterflies every so often and the sight of them blows my kids' minds: "OH MY GOD IT'S A BUTTERFLY! LOOK!"

On Saturday, no sooner had the stepped out of the car then we were inundated with bugs. Thankfully, the kids didn't wimp out on me and get all bug-a-phobic: in fact, it was the opposite.

"WOW! Mommy! LOOK! It's a Gran' Daddy Longlegs!" Seconda gasped.

I don't know where she learned that term. Must be her Tennessee gene which afforded her the ability to identify various kinds of hopping insects.

"Can I pick it up?" she asked.

"Sure, I guess." I wouldn't know a Gran' Daddy Long Legs from a Venus Flytrap but it sounded friendly enough.

"Oooh! there's another!" shrieked Primo.

"And here's another one! And another!" Seconda chimed in.

"Yes, kids, I think the country is full of them."

In their investigations in the dirt they found all sorts of bugs, all of which were impossible for me to identify but which David determined were millipedes, beetles, roly polies and "potato bugs."

"Can I touch them?" Seconda asked.

"Yeah," I guessed, hoping none of the bugs in question were black widow spiders,  "Knock yourself out."

Then came the worms.

In community gardens here in Brooklyn, the kids look for worms and we can spend an hour digging in the dirt and find one, maybe two. These worms are priceless. You'd think, from the jubilation which breaks out when one is spotted, that we've stumbled upon a nugget of gold.

As it turns out, in the country, there are worms everywhere. And not tiny, pathetic half-dead worms which barely a wiggle left in them; thick, beefy, nasty-as-all-hell-get-out, are-you-sure-that-isn't-a-snake? 3-inch-long worms.  The kids were dumbfounded. In particular, Seconda.

"We need a way to COLLECT THEM!" she yelled. I knew she was already planning on bringing some back to Brooklyn, to repopulate the worm world here.

Miriam's husband brought her a coffee can to collect the worms. An actual tin Folger's coffee can with a plastic lid that we poked holes into.

"That is so old-school," I noted appreciatively.

Then he said, "Once you're done collecting, we can go fishing with me."

Now, I defy you to find any activity more country than fishing with worms in a tin can.  I mean, I don't know from personal experience, but I've read a lot of books about this sort of thing and let me tell you, watching the kids drop the worms into that can, I felt like I was reading The Adventures of Tom Freaking Sawyer.

They did paddle out in the lake and catch fish (I stayed behind at the house while the baby slept) and afterwards, we all took a dip in the "swimming hole." You can not imagine my delight at being able to use that term. Being a city kid myself, I seriously fetishize this shit. That there were fish in the water in which we swam blew Seconda away; she spent a good fifteen minutes trying to catch one with her bare hands.

When we got home that night, the kids sacked out like a bunch of drunks, my dream come true. And I saw to David, "We need to get to the country more often."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Real Mothers' Bodies

Falling under the category of "Totally Amazing Projects That Make The World a Slightly Better Place," is this new collection of nude photographs of real, un-photoshopped- mothers' bodies : A Beautiful Body. 

The project started when photographer Jade Beall, took self portraits of herself, nude, with her five week-old son and posted them on her blog along with a post about her post-baby body.  She was flooded with emails from other mothers wanting to share their own thoughts, stories and pictures . . . and just a few months later, she found herself hopping into an Airstream Trailer with her partner and her son to photograph women all over the country and try to capture the beauty in all of our unique, strong, sometimes ravaged bodies, those same bodies which gave life, and give it, day after day after day.

Pretty damn cool.

Friday, July 5, 2013

No, please, not the sunscreen

From the way kids act when you try to apply sunscreen to their faces, you'd think it was toxic waste.

"No!" my kids yell, "Not the SUNSCREEN!"

"There is nothing unpleasant about this!" I exclaim back, "Or at least, there doesn't HAVE to be."

"It smells weird! It's cold! Its going to go in my eyes and burn me BLIND!" is the retort.

"Oh come on, you know that only happens when Daddy does it," I reply. It's true. David is about as adept at applying sunscreen as a grizzly bear. It's like the moment he squirts sunblock into his palm, a chemical reaction occurs, melding his fingers together into a paddle-like paw. He spreads sunblock on the kids' faces like he's spreading icing on a cupcake -- and do you know when the last time was I let him ice a cupcake? He's a good man, a smart man, a talented man, but he can't ice a cupcake worth a damn.

So if they give me a really hard time, I just threaten, "Do you want DADDY to do it?" That straightens them out. It also helps that Primo is old enough to do the job himself now, though he lacks the follow through to really rub the stuff in, and walks around with streaks of white on his face,  the which doesn't look unlike bird shit.

All of which is to say, I totally laughed my ass of at this slideshow of kids in Central Park getting sunblock'ed up:  Here Comes The Sunscreen

Have a good Fourth of July weekend, and stay shady.

Monday, July 1, 2013

No more pencils, no more books

I remember when I was a kid and the end of the school year would fill me with delight and feelings of freedom. Now, as a parent, its just the opposite.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm looking forward to taking the kids to our annual family trip to North Carolina and I'm excited about diverting but exhausting day outings to places like Governor's Island and Storm King. It'll be nice not to have to brave the mobs at school pick up for a few months, too. But make no mistake: it is the kids' vacation, not mine. I'll still have deadlines; only difference is, I'll have to meet them with my kids beating the crap out of each other next to my computer and begging me to play more video games because they are so bored.

Of course, there's camp, blessed, wildly-expensive summer camp that my kids will be going to, despite the fact that they insist they need time to "do nothing" (aka watch TV and trash my house). But that only accounts for a few weeks. For the rest, I think I'll have to hatch a plan, one which includes lemonade stands the kids can run on their own while I sit nearby on my laptop. Maybe they'll make enough money to pay for their own babysitter -- or at least the electronic babysitter known as Netflix. Modern parenting, at its finest.