Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer in the City and Vacation Envy

Is it me or are people vacationing more than they used to? When I was a kid,we spent a week at a beach somewhere and we were lucky, lucky dogs, super privileged to be able to do that. Maybe it's  the Facebook effect -- other people' vacations are not just mentioned in passing ala 1982 but hyper-documented -- all the minutia photographed and shared -- with every photo fomenting toxic envy. Maybe it's the fact that I live in a fancier neighborhood than my parents did when I was a kid, so my neighbors rally are taking off for two months at a time. Whatever the reason, it feels like everyone i know is spending all summer frolicking in dazzling turquoise oceans or jumping into serene lakes or eating ice cream in front of the Eiffel Tower/ Leaning Tower/ London Tower.  

All of which is to say, I am experiencing a higher-than-usual dose of vacation envy. It doesn't help that at the start of this week, Brooklyn was approximately five hundred degrees, in the shade. I started to understand why people in the 80s used to wear sweatbands. What a helpful accessory.

It is summer in the city and it is hot and muggy and all the not-hot, not-muggy places are so incredibly unthinkably, nauseatingly overcrowded - Pier 6, anyone? Feel like having a nervous collapse today?

All the non-hot, not-muggy places which are NOT crowded are expensive, too expensive, as in "If I could afford this, I'd be ON VACATION AND NOT IN THIS CITY"

It gets a girl cranky. Clearly.

And then yesterday evening, at about 6pm, we were waiting for David to get home from work at my grandmother's house -- she'd made spaghetti ala carbonara for dinner -- and I said to Seconda, "I'll take you to shoot some hoops." We're not a hoop-shooting or ball-batting or goal-getting sort, as you may have gleaned but she likes to dribble and it was a lovely evening so why not?

Ten seconds after she started dribbling, a little girl named Charity who we didn't know came i to the courts with her dad and stepmom. The dad introduced himself and asked if Seconda wanted someone to play with. She sure did. So Charity and Seconda played b ball (the onus falling on Charity to do so, Seconda being mainly clueless) and the  dad was rebound guy (which is, apparently a thing one does). I leaned on the fence and talked to Charity's stepmom, and we watched the dad give them shooting tips and the girls give each other high fives and we talked about having kids and living in New York and not having kids and living in Atlanta. The breeze was perfect and the sound of the ball hitting the pavement was a delightful metronome not the migraine-inducing cacophany it usually is. Then my grandmother called and said: "YOU BETTA GET HERE RIGHT NOW 'CAUSE DA PASTA'S GETTIN' COLD!" and I laughed and said, "OK"

As we walked back to my grandmother's apartment, I looked at my beautiful golden-haired kid in the beautiful golden light and I thought, "Summer in the city really isn't so bad."

And the pasta was still hot.

Friday, July 17, 2015

NOW I SEE YOU, now in paperback!

I have news! My memoir, Now I See You, is now available in paperback at Barnes and NobleAmazonIndie Bound and your local independent bookstore -- it's everywhere!

"Huh," you are thinking. "Haven't I heard about this damn book like four hundred times already, so much so that I have wondering if I am being punished for something I did in a past lifetime? WHY IS SHE TELLING ME THIS?"

Well, there are several scenarios in which one might be interested in my paperback release. Here they are:

1. You haven't gotten your very own copy yet, which means now is the perfect time. Maybe you've been deterred by the ponderous weight of the hardcover, or maybe it didn't fit into your favorite purse which, let's face it, is a dealbreaker. Now you can enjoy the same self-deprecating, tragicomic goodness in a lighter version! Perfect for the subway, beach or underground bunker! 

2. You already have a copy, but you have a good friend/ mother/ co-worker/ evil twin  -- or all of above! -- that would enjoy the book as a gift. Studies show evil twins love Now I See You. 

3. You're in a book club, or you know someone who is in a book club, or you overheard someone on the bus mentioning that they are in a book club. Now I See You is PERFECT for book clubs, proof of which is this book club discussion guide. Also, did you know I do Skype visits with book clubs? And that Now I See You was voted #1, nationwide, in Book Club Picks by 

4. You had a copy but you lent it your mother-in-law/ best friend/ dog and they kept it (or, in the case of the dog, ate it). And you want a copy on your bookshelf because that red! It's gorgeous! It pops! 

5. You already have 10 copies clogging your shelf and frankly, they annoy you but you love me and my children and you fear they will not get a college education if you don't buy 10 more copies. 

If any of these scenarios fit, go buy a copy and tell everyone you know on Facebook and Twitter to do the same. If none of these scenarios fit, forgive me for the intrusion. Close this window and forget this ever happened. We will never speak of it again. 

If you are on the fence, maybe you'll be swayed by this praise in the press (because the press never lies, as everyone knows).

“A frightening diagnosis is only start of the story…Now I See You is a funny, sassy, yet poignant story.”
--The New York Times

“Hilariously inspiring…Kear’s book is a showstopper.”

“A young mother going blind is no laughing matter, except, incredibly so, it is in Nicole C. Kear’s courageous, relatable and, yes, truly funny Now I See You.”
--Family Circle

“We’re here to tell you that Kear’s memoir, about finding out that she’s slowly going blind and what that means for the rest of her life, is one of 2014’s best books and one that will have you alternating between laughing and crying from page to page.”

"Nicole C. Kear's hilarious and poignant tale of her ever-dimming world sparkles with a winning wit and wisdom gained as much from seizing the day as from falling down."
“[Nicole’s] story is spunky and full of a zest for life that will open the eyes of readers to the little joys of the world. A tender memoir about love, life and going blind.”
--Kirkus Reviews 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

We matter

I'm on a John Green kick -- reading Paper Towns now, and just finished An Abundance of Katherines. As a memoirist, this passage, from the end of the book, absolutely slayed me. It's just brimming with the kind of hope a writer needs to keep writing:

"Maybe stories don't just make us matter to each other; maybe they are also the only way to the infinite mattering he'd been after for so long ... Telling it changes other people just the slightest little bit, just as living the story changes me -- an infinitesimal change -- and that infinitesimal change ripples outward, ever smaller but everlasting. I will get forgotten but the stories will last. And so we all matter, maybe less than a lot but always more than none."

--An Abundance of Katherines, John Green

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Best Bookstores in the World

Behold, The Best Bookstores in the World

(according to the Guardian, at least):

I've been to four of the ten and one of them -- The Strand -- is my all-time favorite. It was just about one year ago exactly that I did a reading there, when my memoir was released.

Basic takeaway of this article though is: I've got some traveling to do, I guess.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Babydoll names

I have discovered that my toddler has a highly marketable skill, though only if the market in question is Ikea.

Terza can name Ikea furniture lines.

Now, I know full well that Ikea furniture has Swedish names, and most likely, the names are Swedish words that mean something in Swedish and, in that respect, she's got nothing. However, were Ikea to run out of Swedish words, and find themselves in need of words that just sound vaguely Swedish, or more to the point, Ikea-ish, my daughter will be just the one they are looking for.

Whenever we play with her dolls or animals or figures, and I ask what the name of the character is, she invariably begins with: "Cala." It used to be that all the character would bear the same name - Cala -- which made pretend play very confusing, a little like when I go to family functions of my best friend from high school who is Greek, because there are always 20 Georges.

But now that she's a bit older, she's diversified her name collection. It now includes:






and Oliver.

(Ikea will just have to forgive her the last one. Nobody's perfect).

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Good news!

I have some exciting news that I am thrilled to share. Macmillan Kids' Imprint will be publishing the first six books in a new series for children, written by me!  The series is called The Fix-It-Friends, for kids in grades K-3 and it will be released in 2017. It stars an inventive, exuberant, totally unforgettable second-grader who leads a group that help other kids with social issues. My kids (aka test readers) give it two thumbs up and assure me it's funny. Here's a viideo about the newly-launched imprint, aptly named Imprint. featuring me and some other authors!

So, save a spot on your kids' bookshelves, if you please . . . 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A poop is not a lion

Terza is three, which is the age at which, I've noticed, children tend to develop a short-lived phobia of feces. Don't ask me why this happens. I know it has something to do with what they call "body integrity" which is also why, at about this age, they also develop a blood phobia. All of which is to say, I will definitely not be showing the kid any birth videos any time soon. Could you imagine what the implications of that would be on someone concerned about body integrity?

Because it's not my first time at the rodeo, I was prepared for the poop problem. When Terza has to go, I hang out with her in the bathroom and just chat with her and tell her stories so she does not have a full-on nervous breakdown about her imminent BM. While doing that a few days ago, I was reminding her of the fact that there's nothing to worry about. And she, in a moment of clarity and reason, agreed.

Then she expounded on the subject:

"A poop is not a lion or a tiger," she observed. "A poop can't eat you. So you don't have to be scared."

Exactly, my child. Exactly.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mourning Dove

Seconda's learning about birds in school and had a homework assignment in which she had to write about the morning dove.

She did it. But she spelled it "mourning dove."

"I'm concerned about Seconda," I told David, "Why would she automatically opt for mourning instead of morning? That seems so bleak and macabre."

"Are you sure that's not how it's spelled?" he asked me.

"I mean, I doubt it. Birds sing in the morning. They wake you with their cheerful chirps. Birds are optimistic."

And then I googled it and Seconda was totally right.

Mourning dove.

What kind of a doom-and-gloomer named that animal?

I was relieved, though, for several reasons. A: My daughter's paying a decent amount of attention during Bird Study. B. One less piece of evidence that she is bleak and macabre. And C: I think I may be a genuine optimistic myself, to have assumed the dove would have a cheerful, hopeful name. Of course, I'm the most neurotic genuine optimistic that ever lived. But still . . .

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Deferring Housework; or why it took five days for me to vacuum birdseed in the middle of my living room

Terza spilled birdseed all over the living room floor on a recent Sunday afternoon. I swept it up as best as I could (of course I'm visually impaired so, you know, my best in the sweeping-up-birdseed department isn't great). We were half out the door when she spilled it. I knew there was birdseed scattered on the rug, but I didn't have time to deal with unearthing the vacuum and plugging it in and sucking up all the birdseed in order to restore the filthy carpet to just normal levels of filth. 

"I'll do it later," I decided.

We didn't get back home until late that evening. We rushed to feed the kids and ourselves dinner. We clean up the rice Terza spilled, and the milk that Seconda spilled and a half dozen other minor messes I can't even recall because they are so routine I'm no longer even aware of dealing with them; I just go on auto-clean mode. 

David put Terza to bed, at which point I remembered the birdseed. I managed to pull the vacuum out of my bedroom and wheel it into the living room before I was called away by another child to take care of another crisis. Later that night, after the kids had gone to sleep, I saw the vacuum and remembered the birdseed again, but there was no way in hell I was going to risk waking the kids by running the vacuum. Did I say that emphatically enough? No. Fucking. Way. I'd rather sleep on the spilled birdseed than risk waking the kids. I'd rather eat it. So, I left the vacuum out, figuring I'd do it the next day. 

Days passed. Work, school trips, allergist appointments, emergency tooth extraction appointments, work, meetings, sibling smackdowns, work, fevers, overdue bills, overdue library books, first holy sacraments, preschool show and tell, work, domestic civil wars, strep tests. Every night, once the kids had gone to sleep, and I'd done the dishes (or nagged David to), emptied the lunch boxes, prepped for the next day, returned pressing emails, and showered, I'd walk into the living room and see the vacuum still there. Waiting for its chance to shine. 

"Well, I"m not going to run the vacuum now," I thought,"not when my sanity hinges on all three kids staying asleep for a few hours."

So for five days, the vacuum remained in the living room and the birdseed got more and more embedded in the rug. On Friday, the kids and I got home at 5:30, leaving a few hours before bedtime, no homework, no pressing emails to return. 

"It's go-time," I said to the vacuum. 

I plugged that baby in and I sucked that birdseed up, feeling buoyant with a dizzying sense of achievement.

"I did it!!!" I thought. "I've met my goal! And, most importantly, I CAN CROSS THIS SHIT OFF FMY TO-DO LIST!!!!"

It's a sad state of affairs when it takes you five days to vacuum up birdseed -- and even then, you're amazed that you actually did it. Even then, it feels like a minor miracle that you were able to squeezz that five minute activity into your schedule. 

Let's hope no one ever spills a gallon of milk on the floor. We might still be wading in it two weeks later. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Goblin, the game

My daughters have devised a new game of pretend. It is called, simply, "Goblin."

The game is simple. Terza, age 3, is a baby named Goblin. She is not, as I initially thought, a goblin baby. That would be absurd. Instead she is a human baby that has distinctly goblin-like characteristics, including growling, crawling on all fours and a generally aggressive disposition.

Seconda is her owner. Which is to say, her master.

You can see where this game is going. Seconda orders Terza around. Terza obeys. Terza is delighted. Second is delighted. I am mildly disturbed but they are amusing themselves so I say nothing. Seconda is a benevolent master, more maternal than anything else. She has a gentle scolding tone to her voice, but never issues a harsh rebuke.

It's all, "Oh no no no, Goblin! You know better than to bite the table!"

and, "Goblin, it's feeding time! What do you have to do if you want your bottle? That's right! Sit down."

and, to me, "You'll have to excuse my baby Goblin. She likes to bite people."

Goblin has no voice. The metaphor is not lost on me. Though I can't say Terza minds. Quite the opposite.

The other day, Seconda gave herself a character upgrade. She put on her communion veil and her communion glove and shiny, brand-new silver party shoes ("are these designer?" she asked  baffled me). Goblin also got an upgrade, though not as lavish. She hasn't received first holy communion, after all, so pickings are slim. Seconda pranced around the apartment, with Terza trailing right behind her, on all fours, barking and growling and looking positively elated.

I find it's best not to think too deeply about the fucked-up power dynamics one sees played out in pretend play. After all, isn't that what pretend play is for? And isn't that was big sisterhood is all about? I remember my sister singing back-up for me in our two-girl band for our entire childhood. Did it traumatize her for life, and give her an inferiority complex? Well, probably. But, on the plus side. it also gave her grit galore.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Seven Indictments for Seven Brothers

All five of us love Family Movie Night. The only trouble we tend to run into is choosing a Family Movie. Primo likes movies that are either too scary or too esoteric for the little kids. Seconda loves tween Disney flicks which Primo (and I) abhor. Terza's up for anything but loses interest after 10 minutes if it's not quite right for her, and by "loses interest" I mean she climbs on the furniture and yells menically or smacks her siblings in the head or throws Goldfish in the air like confetti.

So imagine my delight when I thought of the perfect Family Movie: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Had I ever seen this movie? No, I had not. But I distinctly remember it being my little cousin's favorite movie when she was a kid and also, it was old, so how inappropriate could it be? There was sure to be no sex and no cursing. And once, I googled it and a Youtube clip popped up featuring the coolest gymnastics/ dance number ever. Perfect, I figured.

And it was, for about the first hour. I mean, yes, it was dated, and the main character, Adam, treats his wife like a servant, and not like a human being, but that's something she takes issue with so it was a good talking point. But then, halfway through the movie, Adan started singing a strange song, about the rape of the Sabine women.

"This is really weird," I commented to David. "Why is he singing this song about the Sabine women?"

"Because that's basically the whole plot of the movie," he said.

"What movie?" I asked. "This movie?"

"Yeah," he answered. "Haven't you ever seen this movie before?"

"No," I confessed. "Are you kidding me? These seven brothers are all about to kidnap their brides?"

And - spoiler alert -- that is exactly what they do.


It is a modern day Rape of the Sabines. That's what the WHOLE movie is about. And guess what? It works out GREAT for the guys. Their captives get Stockholm Syndrome and never want to leave. So they all get married in one big group ceremony, and the only reason the girls' dads agree to that is the girls convince the dads they've gotten knocked up and are, thus, ruined. Thankfully that plot point is packed into the last two minutes and is glossed over so we didn't have to explain the whole concept of a shotgun wedding to our eight-year-old daughter.

"Why didn't you warn me that's what this whole movie is about?" I asked David,

"Oh, it's fine," he said/ "The men suffer the consequences of their actions/"

"Not really," I protested. "I mean, they sleep in the barn for, like, a month. And then the girls totally fall for them and they all get married. Whereas, really, they should all be incarcerated."

Promo overhead me. He was laughing his ass off about how ridiculous the plot was.

"They should call is Seven Trials for Seven Brothers," he laughed.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Everyone's a parenting expert . . .

I have an information addiction. I self-medicate with research. I guess it's better than a lot of other addictions, and it comes in handy sometimes, but at other times, it's bothersome and problematic. The biggest problem I run into, especially insofar as parenting is concerned, is that always doing research before making decisions creates the illusion that there is one right answer that can be found if only you devote enough time and energy to unearthing it under piles of reading and statistics. This, of course, is total and complete bullshit. 

Apparently, though, I'm not alone in my dependence. This fantastic Motherlode piece, Information-Hungry Millenial Parents, Making It Hard on Themselves, totally hits the nail on the head. Here's one of my favorite parts:
In the 1980s, when my mother raised me, it was perfectly acceptable to take your children to their annual pediatrician visit and defer to your doctor (or the older mothers in your neighborhood) about parenting dilemmas. Doctors had gone to medical school, after all, and other parents had experience. They were the experts. But I get the feeling that has changed.
Of the 10.8 million households with millennial parents at the helm, nearly all of them are frequent Internet users. Liberal, socially conscious, interconnected and peer-reliant, my segment of the millennial generation (wealthy in education and confidence, if not in our paychecks) has unprecedented access to what was once privileged information, as well as the opinions of their peers. We’ve become the experts, and as a result, we’re hyper-aware, constantly questioning, defensive. Baby boomer helicopter parents have nothing on us.

Is it lost on me that in discussing my information addiction on parenting issues, I just directed you to read an article about the issue? No, it is not lost on me. I just consider this Motherlode reading a kind of Methodone.

Monday, April 20, 2015

When I grow up . . .

Terza is three. This, I have found, is the age at which girls who have big brothers try to pee standing up.

The other day, I took her to use her potty and instead of sitting on it, she stood next to it, looking ambitious.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I want to pee like Primo," she explained.

Poor Primo. We took all the locks off the doors when we moved in, because the kids were little and we'd already lived through the "Seconda Locks Herself in the Laundry Room in Tennessee" incident. Now, of course, Primo's old enough to deserve some privacy, especially from his little sister who's prone to barging into bathrooms without so much as a how-do-you-do. Of course, because of Terza, we still prefer to have doors that can't lock. After all, we've already lived through the "Terza Locks Herself in the Bathroom at Brunch at Our Friend's House" incident and that was really no fun. So, as usual, a Sophie's choice.

When Terza told me she had big plans to start peeing standing up, I told her, as I told Seconda at the same age, that girls pee sitting down because girls' bodies are different from boys' bodies and it just works better to sit down.

So she sat. And she peed. And she mused.

"When I grow up, I want to pee like a boy," she reflected.

I was just beginning to worry about whether this was an indication that she might need gender reassignment surgery one day and if so, if that was covered by health insurance, and if not, was it smart to maybe start saving now, when she spoke again.

"When I grow up, I want to be a tiger," she said.

"Me too," I said.

And then I stopped worrying, and started enjoying my kid instead.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mom Parodies of Pop Songs

Seconda, who is now 8, has been bitten by the pop music bug. It's all about Taylor Swift and Katy Perry and Megan Trainor.  The maddening thing about pop music is that it's so damn catchy; as if it weren't bad enough to be listen to "Shake It Off" on repeat play in the car for a half hour, I've got the damn song lodged in my brain for two days after.

But, on the upside, my recent education in contemporary pop has made me appreciate these hilarious mom parodies of pop songs, courtesy of Deva Dalporto, a mom of two kids (5 and 8) in San Francisco.  Her videos can be found on the My Life Suckers channel on Youtube and it will make you laugh . . . Though, chances are, her lyrics will get lodged in your brain just as quickly as Taylor Swift's.

If you like "Shake It Off" . . . Knock it Off

"All About the Bass" . . . I Just Need Some Space

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Builds Character

Few people are more quotable than Helen Keller. She was one smart lady and she knew how to take all that intelligence and distill it down into little, digestible kernels of wisdom. My favorite, though, is this one:

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

The reason I like it, besides the fact that is rings so true, is that it makes me feel hopeful for my children. After all, there is never ease and quiet in our home. 

They are going to have more character than they know what to do with. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A new (insane) perspective on sibling rivalry

When I added another child to the family, I greatly multiplied the possibilities for sibling rivalry. If you were a math person, you could compute the exact number of permutations or combinations or whatever you call it. I am not a math person. I am a sandwich person.

By my count, we've got the following combos on the rivalry menu:

Big Boy vs Big Girl aka The Original Combo (Primo vs. Seconda)

Biggest vs Smallest ( Primo vs Terza)

Girl vs Girl (Terza vs Seconda)

and then your more harry fare, the two against one deals:

Bigs vs Small (Primo and Seconda vs Terza)


Girls vs Boy (Seconda and Terza vs Primo)

So many options for sibling throw-downs! Which is great, because variety is the spice of life!

Despite the number of possibilities, though, there is one combo that is far more popular than the others, winning by a landslide. That's the Original.

I don't know whether it's the fact that Primo vs Seconda deal has been on the menu five years longer or the fact that Primo and Seconda are just such contradictory flavors that it makes for an incendiary melange, but whatever it is, the big kids arguing accounts for 90 percent of all sibling rivalry. Roughly. I'm no mathematician.

If you're feeling irritated by this seriously overused metaphor, that really wasn't that sound in the first place, consider this: by thinking of my children as sandwich fixings and their showdowns as sibling panini, it makes the chronically unbearable business of sibling rivalry so much more tolerable. Since I don't have anything useful to offer in the way of advice for you, fellow parents, about how you might address sibling rivalry, let me suggest this coping strategy then: imagine your children as lunch meat.

It's the least I can do.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

In Darkness and In Light

It has long been a dream of mine to share my story in the Modern Love section of the New York Times.

A few days ago, that dream came true. You can read my story here.

If you'er looking for another story about love and blindness -- a stunning one -- read this Modern Love by writer Ryan Knighton, author of the memoir Cockeyed: Seeing The World Through My Wife's Eyes. Prepare to weep!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Facetime Babysitter

You have to respond to a pressing email or get dinner in the ocean and your 3 year-old is running amok. What do you do to get 20 minutes to take care of business? You may just dial up Aunt Rita or Grandpa Mo and ask them to babysit -- through your cell phone.

According to The New York Times's Motherlode,  FaceTime Babysitters  are becoming more and more popular for short stints of time -- when parents are at home but need to get stuff done. It's not the worst idea is the world but it's probably not the best idea either.
“The art of dealing with boredom or nonstimulation is an exquisite skill that children need to develop,” said Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician in Seattle and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Communications and Media. 
Of course, this begs the question: if Grandpa Mo or Auntie Rita are really boring, is it OK?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Opinions on parenting

I used to have a lot of opinions on how parents should raise their kids. 

Then I had children. 

Little by little, year by year, my opinions grew weaker until they began to disappear altogether. They were replaced by opinions on how I should raise my own kids, whose needs I understand thoroughly, and who belong to a family, whose needs, talents and limitations are very clear to me. 

But the more kids I have and the longer I raise them, the fewer opinions I have about parenting in general. That's because I see the tremendous range of children out there and the tremendous range of families who are trying their absolute best to support those kids and love those kids and make those kids into great adults. I see how little I actually see of families inner workings, and I see how many of my assumptions over the years have been inaccurate. And having seen all this, I realize there can never be one right way to do something as complex as raise a happy, healthy, good human being. 

Love your kids. Love yourself  Laugh. Ask for help. Give some thought to your decisions about their care. Try to see the forest for the trees. 

Those are my opinions. And if I didn't already believe every single parent I know was doing all of these things already, maybe I'd venture to offer them. 

The one opinion I have that I think parents need to hear is that if you have a lot of opinions on child rearing, you should probably keep them to yourself.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Oh my gosh, the lights!

Larry Hester, who has been totally blind for 33 years, recently saw New York City with restored sight, courtesy of a prosthetic retina.I read about him in this story in People magazine and it totally reduced me to tears. Especially this part:
"Oh my gosh, the lights," he says while squeezing his wife Jerry's hand on world-famous 42nd Street. "They're everywhere."
It's a terrifically inspiring story about hope and love and gratitude. Read it!

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Licking Phase of Toddlerhood

Kids go through many gross phases. They eat their boogers and scratch their butts and engage in all sorts of other similiarly distasteful habits frowned upon by medical professionals.

Terza is going through one of my least favorite phases yet.

The Licking phase.

Not to be confused with the Mouthing phase, which happens much earlier, well under a year of age. I find the Mouthing phase gross, naturally, but I don't fault the kids for it; after all, at 8 months old, they can't talk or walk or do anything really, except put stuff in their mouths. If the choice was Suck On a Slipper or Do Absolurtely Nothing, I'd suck on the slipper every time.

No, the Licking phase comes much later, and is -- at least from what I've observed -- much more about testing limits and getting a reaction than actually exploring the world around them. I have far less patience for this phase since at nearly 3, Terza can do most of the things I can do. She can pick out her own outfit, put it on, look in a mirror, decide she doesn't like it and change again. That alone, could occupy you for the better part of a day. There's just no need to lick things.

It wouldn't be so mortally revolting if Terza licked toys or plates or even clothes. The child licks surfaces. Walls. Counters. Floors. FLOORS.

But because she's my third, I retain a decent amount of composure about it all. After all, I remember, clear as day, when Seconda at this age, was riding the R train and I caught her extending her tongue to the lick the subway pole. That instantly became my new benchmark for Grossest Things to Lick.

A few weeks ago, though, a new benchmark was created. Over winter break, we took the kids to a cheap hotel near the Philly airport, one with a swimming pool in which we could fritter away many long, cold hours. When we got to the hotel, it was pretty shabby, shabbier even than we expected. It was the sort of place you check for bedbugs twice. The chain lock on the hotel door was broken, probably the result of a drug deal gone awry. Half of the electrical outlets didn't work. I voted we go home - our home was just as dirty but at least it was our own dirt and it was free. But we couldn't get our money back and the children, David pointed out, were delighted. They didn't mind the squalor -- they never do. And there was a pool!

If the hotel room was dirty, you can imagine what the pool area was like. On the evening we arrived, I asked what time the pool closed and the woman at the front desk informed me it was closed early because there'd been an "incident" and it needed to be cleaned. I was tempted to ask which manner of bodily fluids we were talking about but I decided it was better not knowing.

So the next morning, when we headed down to the pool, I wished we'd brought full scuba gear and possibly a acquatic Hazmat suit. That the pool was packed with kids did not make it more appealing or less gross. My own kids blithely jumped into the pool which was approximately 20 degrees.

I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. The pool was not only grimy but freezing and the hot tub . . . is there a nice way to say cess pool?

However, I am an intrepid woman and also, a strong believer in getting your money's worth, even if that will eventually require a long course of antibiotics. So I plunged into the hot tub tried to enjoy it.

I took Terza in the hot tub with me because she's too young to tolerate hypothermia. But after a few minutes she got bored, and climbed out of the hot tub, sitting on the edge with her feet in the water. If it was difficult to relax in the fungal hot tub, it was even harder to relax while watching my toddler walk around the slippery edge.

"Sit down," I told her. "You're going to fall."

So she did. Well, she didn't so much sit and drop down on all fours.

And then, as I watched, she lowered her head to the filthy puddle of water next to the hot-tub-cess-pool and stuck her tongue in it.

You know that slow-mo moment where you cry out in horror but it is too late because the damage is done? Yep, that about sums it up.

The good news is we got our money's worth. The bad news is, it's our money's worth of bacteria.

Can't wait for this phase to be over . . .

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

This Grimm deep cut will give you nightmares

A few years ago, I picked up this amazing audiobook collection of Grimm's fairytales at my favorite bookstore ever, The Strand. I could listen to the hypnotic narration all freaking day -- it's all these female British vocal talent artists who make me feel like I am in an episode of Downton Abbey. So, really, the fact that they are saying anything of interest is all bonus.

But what they are reading is of great interest. Those Grimm brothers were totally screwed in the head. This is abundantly apparent in tales like Snow White (we don't even blink when the evil queen says "bring me her heart in a box" but just take a sec and consider how fucked up that is). But if you want to really hear the seriously screwed up shit, you need to get into lesser Grimm. You need to listen to the deep cuts. Like, say: "The Wolf and Seven Young Kids"

Here's how it begins:
"There was once upon a time an old goat who had seven little kids, and loved them with all the love of a mother for her children. One day she wanted to go into the forest and fetch some food. So she called all seven to her and said, “Dear children, I have to go into the forest, be on your guard against the wolf; if he comes in, he will devour you all—skin, hair and all. The wretch often disguises himself, but you will know him at once by his rough voice and his black feet.” The kids said, “Dear mother, we will take good care of ourselves; you may go away without any anxiety.” Then the old one bleated, and went on her way with an easy mind."

OK, so first, I just have to say: the mom goes on her way with an easy mind? Really? A conniving, shapeshifting wolf is on the loose and she totally takes the kids' word for it that they've got this under control? Hmmmm. I'm all for free-range parenting, but dude, come on.

As you have probably predicted, the wolf comes immediately. Like, in the next sentence. Like, I'm surprised the mom didn't run into him on her way out. And he's like, "Little kids, let me come in, I'm your old mom." And they're like, "No way dude! You have that rough voice our mom told us about. And we are street smart kids. So get thee gone Satan." And he's like,"Drat! Back to the drawing board."

But he's a conniving old thing so he goes and swallows a big chunk of chalk, which, as everyone known, makes your rough voice turn silky smooth. And it works, of course. So he comes back and goes, "Little kids, let me come in. I'm your dear old mom." And the kids are like, "Well, she does have that silky smooth mom voice. BUT we're street smart so let's check the paws." And bingo, they're black. So the kids say, "Nuh-uh. Forget it. Get thee gone Satan."

Now THIS part, I love. The wolf knows he needs to cover his black paws in dough because, DUH, what else do you do to trick defenseless young kids that you want to devour? But when he goes to the baker to get the dough necessary for this endeavor, the baker knows better.

"Now hold on one cotton-picking second. I know what you want that dough for and you can forget it," says the baker.  And the wolf is like, "Oh yeah? Well, how about I just tear you limb from limb and eat your goddamn entrails?" And the baker is like, "Take all the dough you need there. Mr Wolf. Hope those kids go down easy."

The wolf goes back and this time, the kids let him in. After all, their mom just told them to look out for the rough voice and the black paws and they totally did and he's clear. So they let him in and he eats every one -- well, almost every one. The tiniest, and apparently smartest, kid, hides in the clock and seriously, what a good hiding place. Plus, after feasting on six kids, the wolf is kind of stuffed.

The wolf, who has gorged himself, goes to sleep. Then the mom comes back and she's like, "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE? I THOUGHT I TOLD THEM ABOUT THE ROUGH VOICE AND THE BLACK PAWS!!!!!" Then her smart little one pops out of the clock (that one is going to need therapy forever) and he tells the mom what happened.

The mom finds the hideous wolf sleeping and she notices his belly is, well, moving. And she realizes its all her six children in there, who are STILL ALIVE, because the wolf, as wolves are wont to do in Grimm fairytales, gobbled them up whole. Hallejuia!

She knows just what to do. Apparently, she's read LIttle Red Riding Hood. Get the knife, slice the wolf  open, and let those kids out. He's sleeping so, you know, it's all good. It's not like a little disembowelment will rouse an animal when he's napping.

HERE is where the story gets good (yes, I realize it's the very end but remember, good things come to those who wait). The mom gets all Kill Bill on us. Hell hath no fury like a mom whose six kids have been devoured by a wolf. She says, "Kids! I know you've suffered a terrible trauma but go get the biggest rocks you can find because your old mom has a plan!"

Then she puts the rocks in the wolf's belly in place of her children and -- Grimm brothers are sure to note -- she hustles because she doesn't want the old wolf to wake up, and she super fast sews him up.

The wolf wakes up and he is kind of thirsty so he walks over to the lake to get a drink and all the rocks in his guts knock together and he realizes something is amiss.

"Then cried he,

        What rumbles and tumbles
Against my poor bones?
I thought ’twas six kids,
But it’s naught but big stones.

And when he got to the well and stooped over the water and was just about to drink, the heavy stones made him fall in and there was no help, but he had to drown miserably."


These Grimm brothers don't pull any punches. The rocks in his guts slowly drowned him. Come on. That is some dark shit, even for the Grimms. It makes Snow White seem like a lovely little lullaby. 

So, there you go. Sorry if I gave you hideous nightmares. but at least you didn't play that story on tape for your young children. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Live from the Red Carpet . . . with a five year-old

When Primo was five, he and I broadcast Live! From the Red Carpet (or at least the red pillow on our couch). It was scintillating fashion coverage, his very first; you won't want to miss Primo's commentary on Penelope Cruz and Heather Graham and purple pocket squares. Now, prepare to fire up your time machine and go back five years to when my tween was just a tot (still full of ideas):

"This year marked Primo’s first time watching the Red Carpet for the Golden Globes on E! and it is official – I have a new viewing companion. Kid’s a natural when it comes to fashion commentating (just shows you what a child can get excited about when he gets to stay up late to do it). Ryan Seacrest, watch out. There’s a new pretty boy in town. He picks his nose on camera, digs unconventional couture and has no mercy for Fergie. Behold: Live from the Red Carpet! with my five year-old

I should add that when we first turned on the TV and I explained to him that the point of the show was to look at what everyone was wearing and see if you liked it or not, he chastised me: "This is very vain, Mommy!" And I agreed one hundred percent and explained that that's precisely why we only did it twice a year. I told him it was like Halloween: you couldn't eat that much candy everyday but once or twice a year it was perfectly unobjectionable to glut yourself. After that, he abandoned any concerns about the frivolity of our enterprise and dug right in.

Here's the sum-up:
Best Dressed: Jay Manuel
Worst Dressed: Fergie
Best Umbrella: Mariah Carey
Best Hat: Mickey Rourke
Best Accent: Penelope Cruz
Other highlights include when I ragged on Elisabeth Moss’s poor choice of color, he agreed but he did stand behind her choice of straps (“they are SUPPOSED to hang off her shoulders like that, Mommy!). He and I both loved Christina Hendricks’ Christian Siriano gown and we both despised Julia Roberts’ exceedingly humdrum frock. Vintage Yves Saint Laurent, my foot! As Primo put it: ”Its not fancy AT ALL!!!!” Give us glamour, people! My own regret is he didn’t get to see Chloe Sevigny’s Valentino get stepped on and the actress show her slip, so to speak, when she went all apeshit on the poor fellow who couldn’t help my trip over her riot of ruffles. He would have loved that wardrobe malfunction.
And now, an exclusive for you a mom amok readers, is what Primo deems the ideal ensemble to wear to the Red Carpet:
Big black overalls
Purple patent leather shoes
A tuxedo jacket with jewels all over it
A top hat
Big golden earrings
and of course . . .
A purple bow tie
Zac Efron, take note. Primo is available for consultation, on an after-school basis."

Friday, February 20, 2015

When you plant an apple seed, you get a . . .

Yesterday, I gave Terza an apple.

A half hour later, she came to me with a very chagrined look on her face.

"Mommy!" she said. "There is yucky stuff inside this apple!"

By which she meant the core. Which she had never seen before. Because she is two years old.

It was one of those moments where I was pierced suddenly by the revelation of how small she is, how unthinkably new. These moments always make me think several things at once:

1. How amazing and magical to be discovering everything for the first time!
2. Shit, she's so pristine. I can't possibly keep her like this. I'm going to screw her up.
3. No wonder she has tantrums and throws things. She's two fucking years old.
4. Kiss! Cuddle! Hug! Devour!

Once that exhausting thought process was through, I replied to her:

"Oh, look what you found! It's the apple seeds!"

"Apple seeds?" she asked, dubiously.

"Yes, and if we take them out and put them in soil and water them, do you know what will grow?"

Her eyes got wide and her face wore that "Knowledge is slowly dawning on me! I got this! I got this!" expression.

Then she shouted: "CARROTS!"

Repeat thoughts 1-4.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Why do kids love pretend shopping but deplore actual shopping?

When we were in Philly, I took my girls to the Please Touch Museum. Every time I hear the name, I think of my friend, who refers to it as the Please Touch Me museum. That is not relevant to the story; I just thought since I was permanently marked with that, I should mark you as well. I told that to my husband and he started referring to it as the See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me Museum, raising the crazy to nonsensical levels.

So, we went to the Please Touch Museum and the girls had a blast. We stayed for almost three hours and they didn't stop for a minute, just ran from one pretend play area to the next.

David and Primo went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (they did not run up the stairs singing the theme to Rocky, in case you're wondering, and that is precisely why my family needs me because I would have forced them to). When the boys picked us up, Primo asked hat they had in the Please Touch Me, See Me, Heal Me Museum.

"Well they had this huge pretend kitchen which led to a pretend supermarket and a pretend bakery and a pretend hospital with a pretend garden in back. And then, of course, there was the pretend garage with all the pretend vehicles, to say nothing of the pretend treehouse."

"So, it was all just pretend play stuff?" he asked.

"Yes, but the girls loved it. Especially the pretend kitchen. Imagine your workaday play kitchen, only twenty times bigger, so that it's really almost the size of a real kitchen." I explained.

Yes, the kitchen and grocery store was the piece de resistance and as the afternoon wore on, it got more and more crowded so that, again, it resembled a real grocery store mobbed with grownups doing actual shipping. Standing there, watching the children frantically filling and emptying their miniature shopping carts with groceries -- many of which were actual food boxes and cartons, covered in contact paper -- I wondered something:

"Why is it that when we go to the real grocery store, and do exactly this, it is pure torture but when we go to a "pretend" one, it is sheer unadulterated joy and hours of satisfaction?"

And then, immediately, I realized why. It's just the tiny little matter of control.

When they come shopping with me, they can't go where they please and push their own carts, and fill those carts with ten boxes of graham crackers and six loaves of Italian bread and then, two seconds later, throw all of the bread on the floor, and then ten seconds after that, put it on a shelf and then, five seconds after that, put it back in their cart.

So, I'd like to announce that I have discovered the secret to keeping kids happy while grocery shopping. Just give them a cart and let them do whatever the hell they want.

In fact, I'll go one step further and say I've discovered the secret to keeping kids happy everywhere and all the time. It's exactly the same thing, just without the cart.

Yes, I know, totally invaluable.

Friday, February 13, 2015

If you're sick of parenting experts, you'll love this

From the funny folks at the Onion, "Parenting Expert Has Nerve To Tell You How To Raise Your Own Goddamn Kids." Spot-on. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The "M" Word

Just read a really interesting article in New York magazine's The Cut, called  If You Aren't My Child, Don't Call Me Mom. Lisa Miller tries to put her finger on why that term triggers her gag reflex, when a grown-up uses it to refer to her:
 “Mom” derives from baby talk: ma ma. It’s a deeply intimate word that the tiniest humans learn at the breast and as such is inherently demeaning when applied broadly to all women with children, not too far from having your boss use lovers' endearments like “darling” or “hon.” It’s a kid’s word at heart, containing a kid’s-eye view of things. “Mom” is an overpowering presence: omnipotent, mythic, nurturing, and bosomy, a perfumed provider of succor, discipline, and food; but also (as the child grows up) embarrassing, annoying, nagging, insufficient, disappointing"
I don't mind the term the same way I mind "mommy" as an adjective, say, but this next point I found pretty fascinating:

"There are those who would say that “mom” is an honorific, somehow, a blessing and a tribute to those who do the hardest job of all. But if that were true, then “dad” would be, too, and it’s not. (Look at the text of Obama’s 2008 Father’s Day speech, a 4,000-word exhortation to responsible fatherhood. There, Obama said “father” 44 times; “dad” and “daddy” were each used once.) When we speak of male parents with reverence and respect, we use the word “father”: When we want to signal they’re fuckable we say they’re “cute dads.” 

So, all you mamas out there, be sure to catch this Mom Read.  (Yes, I'm being annoyingly sarcastic).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Snow Day? They should call it Heightened Productivity Day!

I'm not a homebody. I like being out in the world. Spending too much time at home tends to make me claustrophobic. It doesn't help that I share a small apartment with four very large characters. They are large and they are loud and they are messy. So, at the end of a day spent at home, I have:

A huge freaking mess
A headache from yelling at the kids to clean up the mess (and still, it remains a pretty sizable mess)
A headache from the general cacophony of kids at play and kids in fights and kids being kids.
A guilt complex from how much screen time they'd had
Did I mention the headache?

To stave this off, when we are stuck at home, I go into Super Intense Prpductive Mode.

So when my kids hear "snow day!" they think, "Yay!! No school! We can take it EASY!"

And I think, "Time to get shit done." If you dramatically re-enacted this scene for television, this would be the musical montage where you'd see close ups of me rolling up my sleeves, tying a doo rag over my hair and punching my fist into my open palm  in the universal, "It's on!" gesture.

I get VERY productive during snow days. Very. And I cannot help but involve the children in my intense industry because the largest project is always the "Rehabilitate the Children" project. Which is totally great from a multi tasking point of view. If this continues, my kids may very well be the only ones in the U S of A to hate snow days.

The real secret to my success for last week's snow day was that we dragged Nonny over to stay at our apartment for the blizzard. It was supposed to be this historic storm, and we didn't want her on her own. Also, we needed her to mop the floors and then wash the mop and generally help me take my Mommy Dearest act to new levels.

We did laundry.

We made chili.

We cleaned out our closets.

We changed the bedclothes.

We practiced math word problems.

We matched the mountain of unmatched socks (well, 20% of them, the rest have no match. But we hold out hope for them! Single socks will not be tossed away in our house! On a related note, we may be borderline hoarders. Not sure.)

We made piade, which are Italian tortillas.

Then the kids were poised for revolt so we let them play Just Dance for a while and then we made homemade Italian crema to forestall mutiny.

We super glued every item in the large pile of toys and accessories and hardware and home decor that has required super gluing.

We paid bills.

We cleaned out the high cupboard that only David can reach without a ladder.

Primo did most of his big school project on the Civil War and Seconda wrote an essay for a summer program she's applying to.

We scrubbed the bathtub and threw out the 8 year-old bath toys which probably carry dysentery.

It was so much FUN!

Then, when even Nonny could take no more productivity, we watched Pee Wee's Big Adventure and everyone, even the doubters among us, laughed their tired asses off.

And when the kids found out there was school the next day, I think they were more than a little relieved.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A side of Maurice Sendak you haven't seen before, which will make you love him even more than before

So I was curious about Maurice Sendak's personal history because I saw the world's funniest interview with him on the Colbert Report, and this lead me to this article on Mental Floss 
My favorite part of the piece are the quotes from Sendak himself. Good God, he's amazing. It just makes me love him even more. 
“A woman came up to me the other day and said, ‘You’re the kiddie-book man!’ I wanted to kill her.” 
  • On Max as an adult: “Well, he’s in therapy forever. He has to wear a straitjacket when he’s with his therapist."

  • On parents who think the Wild Things movie is too scary for children: “I would tell them to go to hell. That's a question I will not tolerate."

  • “I think it’s unnatural to think that there is such a thing as a blue-sky, happy-clouded childhood for anybody.”

  • "I refuse to lie to children."

  • "I'm totally crazy, I know that. I don't say that to be a smartass, but I know that that's the very essence of what makes my work good. And I know my work is good. Not everybody likes it, that's fine. I don't do it for everybody. Or anybody. I do it because I can't not do it."
November 23, 2013 - 9:55am

Friday, January 23, 2015

The best anti-bullying video you'll ever see

You hear a lot about bullying - a lot of news stories that make your blood run cold and keep you up at night, videos that make you weep, even posts and articles that purport the problem of bullying is exaggerated and it's kind of not as big a deal as we think it is. Everything I read or see about bulling makes me feel demoralized, kind of hopeless and panicked, because no one seems to have really good answers. I see a lot of effort, and that makes me happy and encouraged, but I don't see he kind of results I hope for, as a parent. Because this is a thorny issue, which gets to complex and elusive aspects of human nature. It's not an easy problem to fix. But it's critical that we keep trying.

Which is why I was surprised when I watched this short video -- An Open Door.

Take two minutes and watch it. You will cry but not in the usual way you cry after watching a two minute video about bullying. You'll cry with relief, with faith in humanity, with amazement at the resilience of people and admiration at this teenager's resourcefulness.

It's a story with a happy ending and it might teach you something. How often can you say that?

Study shows our kids inherit our nostalgia for cheesy songs

In point of fact, it's not just the cheesy ones, though those do tend to be popular favorites. Read this article in the Atlantic discusses new research which uncovers the critically important question of why our kids rock out to cheesy songs from our golden years. It's related to a term which sounds super pseudo-scientific and which I am very eager to use soon in conversation called  “cascading reminiscence bumps.”

I was hooked from the title because "Billie Jean" is one of Primo and Terza's all-time favorite songs, and now, I guess we know why. 

So, go grab your kids and rock out to "Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls", why don't you? 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Winter of Our Discontent

Here's what's nice about winter: 

1. Christmas/ Hannukah
2. Watching the snow fall and making a snowman (one time's plenty)
3. Wearing your cute winter hat (novelty wears off after three to four uses)

The rest of winter sucks sewage, particularly when you have a toddler. Because toddlers, as far as I can tell, have an allergic reaction to winter gear. Which is really terribly inconvenient.  

That's why I wrote this riveting treatise on winter suckage: The Winter of Our Discontent 

Brrr . . . 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Packing for the weekend; don't forget the doctor's bag!

We've had quite a week. Nothing so very awful and nothing so very unusual, just a string of winter illnesses, all badly-timed. The saga of Primo's surprise strep infection, served up with a side order or terrible croup/ stridor, which ambushed him while on a class trip to Pennsylvania, is a story for another day. I'll put aside the details of Seconda's infection, too. Suffice it to say that on the Saturday morning leading to the long weekend, our apartment was a convalescent home.

Did this stop us from adventuring on to New Jersey? Of course not. There were no fevers in any children, and everyone had seen a doc, and been prescribed the proper drug therapies. In other wods, everyone was on the mend. No reason not to enjoy the well-deserved and much-needed change in scenery,  the chance to spread out into a home with three floors and ample bathrooms. Provided, of course, we came prepared. 

So, in addition to the usual clothing and baby monitors and nighttime diapers and books and electronic equipment, I packed a medical bag. I always bring a small version of my doctor's bag when we travel overnight -- the thermometer, the children's Tylenol , sometimes allergy meds and always, always the stainless steel German lice comb for which there is absolutely no substitution. 

But this time, the bare bones Doctor's Bag would not do. This time, each child needed their own individual medical kit, and the items piled up so high, they could no longer fit in the toiletry bag I usually employ for such a job, nor the large freezer bag I use when the toiletry bag isn't big enough. This amount of medical equipment necessitated a shopping bag. 

First, I put in the Chidlren's Tylenol and Motrin, the Dimetapp and then, for extra measure, I threw in the adult's Motrin, since Primo is big enough to take the adult stuff and chances were good either David and I would be coming down with something too. Then there was the antibiotics for Primo and the different antibiotics for Seconda and the medicine for the Primo's monster case of croup. With so many  antibiotics, it would really be best to bring probiotics, to keep the guts in working order - so I tossed those in too.

We needed the Vick's Vapor Rub to help Primo's super congested nose breathe at night and the Aquaphor for the winter eczema they all have. I didn't think Primo was dealing with asthma currently, but he occasionally gets it as a result of a bad cold, and the croup was scary enough to make me bring the inhaler just in case. 

As long as I'm bringing the inhaler, I thought, I really might as well bring the chamber to make sure it gets inhaled correctly. What's a chamber without a mask, really, so I stuck that in as well.

Terza had developed the croup, too, and while it hadn't reached ER-visit levels, I've seen enough croup to know it certainly could over the next two nights and though a steam shower is really the best and most effective remedy, there was no telling if my parents would have hot water at 3am or if their bathroom would steam adequately. I could use Primo's nebulizer to steam her up if need be, and all I'd need for that was some sterile water. Which was fine since I just so happened to have a big bag full of sterile water, taken from my father's doctor's office before he retired. I mean, who doesn't have that just lying around.

So, in went the nebulizer and the sterile water. You know, what everyone takes for a two night getaway to a neighboring state. 

I thought I'd covered all my bases. After all, we were staying with my father who was a doctor and who had his own stethoscope. Wait, did he? I knew he had one in his Manhattan apartment but did he keep an extra stethoscope in the New Jersey house? I called my father to confirm and he said, no, regrettably not.

"No problem, " i said, "We''ll bring ours."

That's right. I have my own stethoscope. My dad brought it over to listen to Primo's breathing one day and he forgot it. I never gave it back because you never know when you'll need a stethoscope and you don't want to need one and not have it there, right then. 

So into the medical satchel went the stethoscope.

"If only we had a blood pressure machine and a heart rate monitor and a centrifuge for blood collection," I told David/ "Then we'd be REALLY set."

And this is how, in the period of twenty four hours, a normal woman can morph into a deranged lunatic.

I don't know how Florence Nightingale kept her shit together, I'll tell you that much. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Lice Apocalypse

I was scrolling down my Facebook feed and I saw a link for an article in the Huff Post on  Super Lice

I did not read it. Though I love whipping myself into a neurotic froth as much as the next guy, I draw the line at the Lice Apocalypse. The only Super Lice I want to hear about are ones wearing capes and saving lives, I decided.

And then, a minute later, I clicked on the link and read the article. My self-control could use some work.

I was glad I'd read it, though, because my fears were totally allayed.  It's breaking news that the lice shampoo alone isn't sufficient to kill the lice? Not to me. I've apprenticed at the hands of the Lice Ladies, though, so I'm Super Lice Girl, with a wealth of knowledge and a hard-core stainless steel comb from Germany.

I'm also slightly immune to the Super Lice fear-mongering because, for years, I've heard about the original Super Lice from my grandmother. Those were the World World Two Lice and those were about as apocalyptic as you get. My grandmother basically was lice-infested for the entirety of her childhood, and so was the whole village. Then, she says, the Americans dropped DDT on the village and whammo presto! no more lice.

Kinds of helps you keep everything in perspective.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Where To Pet A Dog

Seconda is a big-time animal-lover. We've never had one of those in the family so we're at a bit of a loss as to how to meet her animal-loving needs. We certainly can't get a dog or cat. The cat would be OK if I weren't very allergic to one. And I guess the dog would be OK too, if I had a fleet of servants to care for the animal and I lived in a mansion where the dog could have it's own wing, which is to say a place he could go where I didn't hear him. Neither of these possibilities are likely to occur, though. So, I found myself googling. "Playing with animals in NYC" and I found this:

Where To Pet a Dog

This webpage wins the prize for Most Useful Webpage ever. It includes such startling obvious tips as:

Visit a pet store


Hang out around dog parks


Make a friend with a dog

I guess it's what I get for running a stupid google search. Just as there certainly are dumb questions (don't believe those who tell you there aren't), there rare dumb google searches, and "playing with animals in NYC" is definitely among them.

Now. go hang around a dog park like a creepo.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Don't screw with my 5:30pm Mommy Break Time

At 5:30 at night,  I need a break. Most days, I've had my kids under my care for a few hours by then; I've schlepped them around in the cold and rain and general awfulness out-of-doors. I've helped them with homework, in the process teaching myself complex computation with fractions, or else earning a bleeding ulcer from agida. I've cleaned up juice and crackers and poop and pee from the floor, courtesy of Terza and I've served up roughly two hundred thirteen portions of snacks. I've counseled them through crushing defeats, moderated innumerable feuds, assuaged unbearable slights. I may have even celebrated, with preternatural gusto, some successes.

That's to say nothing of the day of work which precedes retrieving my kids. So, at 5:30, I'm ready for a little break. I'm ready to crack open my computer, respond to a few emails, take care of some annoying bits of business so that I won't be up until midnight doing it later. I need the break in order to make it through the rest of the night, which involves dinner and bedtime, otherwise known as Everyone Yell Loudly For Three Hours Time.

So, last night, at 5:30 when Terza announced in her most adorable voice: "I need my snuggly" I hardly even looked up from my computer. .

"What's that?" I asked.

"My snuggly bunny, Mommy," she said, really laying on the cuteness. She titled her head to the side and pouted her lips together in a patented don't-you-just-want-to-eat-me-up look.  "I need my bunny from my crib because I want to snuggle with it so I can get so cozy and toasty and warm."

For a second, I almost caved to the cuteness. It was really highly concentrated stuff, top shelf. But then my fatigue won out. The thought of getting off the couch was just too much to bear.

"OK," I said. "I'll get it for you in a minute."

Her cute-as-a-button face melted instantly into her Hell-hath-no-fury face. She was obviously vexed that I'd grown immune to her charms.

"No you won't!" she shouted.

She was a hundred percent right. I would not get the bunny in a minute, or even, probably, five minutes. It could be a good twenty minutes before I got up to get the snuggly bunny, so essential to my daughter's warm and cozy master plan. It would probably require one of the big kids to  have a major problem which prompted them to yell for me incessantly from the other room, enough that I'd get fed up listening to it and storm up off the couch and over to them. Then, as long as I was up, I'd get the snuggly bunny. This is what it means to be a third child. Your mother is always tired. Your mother has no time. Your snuggly bunny, no matter how adorably you ask for it, is never high on the priority list.

The guilt prompted by this revelation, combined with the realization that if I didn't get the snuggly bunny from her crib, she would do it -- which would require her to climb into the crib, which would cement that awful, hideous, deal-breaking, life-as-we-know-it-is-over habit -- made me get up.

"Here, " I said, tossing it to her and resuming my business on the couch.

Ahhhh, third children. How I feel for you.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Revolutions

When Primo was but a wee one, he used to call resolutions "revolutions." I much prefer to think of them that way; makes these commitments sounds a helluva lot more powerful, dangerous even.

I have a few revolutions underway this year but the main one is . . .

Work on patience

I have many strengths as a mother and as a person but patience is not among them. It's hard to be patient when you're ambitious, when a churning yearning is part of your very constitution. The propulsive forward momentum is not a bad thing -- it's why I get shit done -- but I'm finding it needs to be tempered. As I get older, I find more and more that patience is a critical ingredient in my recipe for happiness and success, especially in parenting. There is very little instant gratification in parenting. You can't tell, often for years, if some great, carefully-thought-out approach of yours is working. You might get little glimpses of hope from time to time, moments that will make you think, "Ah ha! My master plan of creating a happy, healthy, productive member roy society is working!" but chances are, you'll also have as many glimpses of doom, which lead you to think, "Oh no! It's all going to shit! What cleared me for parenting duty?"

The incubation period, when you're trying to raise a good person, is long and anxiety-provoking. But there's no way around it. And I think I'd be a good deal more pleasant and productive if I just accepted that. So, bam. Working on patience.

Did I work yet?

Not yet.

I'll keep you apprised.