Back to Work

September 8th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Ah, the first day of school. The little ones left. The not-so-little one bounded out the door, “By mom!” and I had to run to keep up with him. “Third grade is going to be cool!” he declared. The little-little one clung to my leg, sobbing, and had to be pried off by the principal and her teacher from last year. “I don’t want to go to first grade!” she cried.

And so it begins. The stress. The anxiety. The carpools. Tuesdays will be a real whammy with my delivering two children to Hebrew school and then another three to dance class. Yea, mini-van!

In the meantime, I’m a deer in the headlights, with so many things piled up—both literally (ack! Don’t even look at my desk) and figuratively—that I don’t know which way to turn. I have to write some comps for my agent, start the school newsletter, revive my committee at the synagogue, plan for Sunday’s eight-year-old animal birthday party, and generally do all the things that didn’t get done because I’ve had a child with me for the past, oh seven weeks solidly and a whole bunch of half days before that when the two had camp. Today is my first day alone in months and… well, to tell the truth, it’s a little lonely. But before I know it I’ll be back in the swing of things.

So, clearly, the first thing on my to-do list is procrastinate. Let me tell you what we’ve been up to!

  • We had a whirlwind weekend in NYC with the grandparents. We went to the Intrepid, MOMA, the Strand (three times for me!), and ate a whole bunch.
  • We are finally having our basement floor redone (remember those floods a year and a half ago? Well a year and a half of wet floors can cause a whole bunch of mold. Ew, I don’t even want to think what was under there!) so there are tile guys making lots of noise and coming in and out.
  • And the most insane thing? Let me ask you, what kind of freakin’ idiot has a birthday party in the middle of a Tropical Storm? Oh, right. Us. Yes, Pie had her Little House on the Prairie party in the middle—the absolute middle!—of Tropical Storm Irene. But those brave parents didn’t mind. Out of 13 guests, only two decided not to brave the weather. We lost power for about fifteen minutes, but hey! No problem! There IS no power on the prairie! But it turned out well with indoor potato sack races, making butter and rag dolls, playing pin the wheel on the wagon.



Now I leave behind my summer of relaxation and get back to the grindstone. That outline for the next novel isn’t going to write itself. Where’s the Novel Fairy when you need her?

You Don’t Play Around with the Funky Cold Medina

July 4th, 2011 § Comments Off on You Don’t Play Around with the Funky Cold Medina § permalink

My hair was a mess. It really need a good dye job. My gray roots were showing. “I look old,” I told Adam.

“No, you don’t,” he assured me, because he had to assure me because it was my birthday, I had agreed to go to his 20th high school reunion, and there was no cake. What was he going to say? “Besides, everyone at the reunion is going to look old. I saw some of their pictures on Facebook. Old!”

Guess what? No one looked old. Well, except for me and Adam.

Adam has one high school friend I really like. Correction: Adam’s high school friend is okay and all. Adam has one high school friend whose wife I really like (if you read this, high school friend, nothing personal). I asked Adam what to wear. I confused and flustered him with my question. He said he was wearing a blazer. So the wife (and I’m going to go ahead and call her by her real name, as she’s a blogger who writes somewhat sarcastic things about her kids and is therefore fair game. She’s Jen! Do you hear me? Jen!) and I conferred on what to wear, and I settled on jeans with no holes and a nice shirt. Ugh. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was completely overdressed. Borrowing Doodles’s Bruins jersey would have been the way to go.

The evening started off oddly when we walked in and I went to fill out a name tag. “Guests don’t wear name tags,” I was told. Welcome to you, too! I then had a moment of panic when I looked at my phone… no service. “Do you have AT&T?” Jen asked me. “Yes,” I said. She laughed at me. “Welcome to New Hampshire!”

My birthday. No cake. And no tweets? This was going to be a horrific night… but I was saved by wifi. Thank God for sports bars with wifi.

We had two drink choices: beer and a funky cold medina. (Which proves that math is not the school’s forte; “Funky Cold Medina” is from 1989. This was a class reunion from 1991. Yes, Adam is young. Yes, I robbed the cradle. Shut up already!) I chose beer. Jen chose the funky cold medina. One was wiser than the other (name the poem that line comes from and I’ll… um, I’ll be impressed). I’m pretty sure her drink was simply grape juice and vodka. My beer, happily enough, was all beer.

The best part of the night was watching Adam struggle. All of the name tags had folks’ high school pictures on them (note to self: educate Doodles on “unibrow” and “waxing” well before his senior year of high school). The minute we walked in, some guy covered his name. “Hey, Adam!” he said. “Guess who I am?”

Hey, guy! Guess who has no idea!

Adam couldn’t get it. He looked at the high school picture. Still couldn’t get it. The guy uncovered his name. Adam still had no idea who he was.

For fun I started a drinking game. I took one swing every time Adam was completely unsubtle in saying, “Hi”—eyes drift to name tag, he squints at name—“so and so!” I drank two swallows for every time Adam said, “Long time!” I got very drunk, very quickly.

I finally got to meet a high school friend of Adam’s whom I’ve heard a lot about. She sends a lovely newsy Christmas card every year. She gave me a big hug, chatted with Adam, and in 3 minutes 23 seconds gave us the lamest excuse to not talk to us anymore. Something along the lines of “Oh, you know what? I think I left my hat in my car! I better go check.”

The music was fun. The tweeting was good. And all of an hour and 12 minutes into the event, Adam said, “Okay, I’ve had enough. Let’s go.”

“I’m doing fine!” I assured him. Despite not being done with the beer I had, Jen shoved another beer in my hand so I was literally doublefisting. It was just like 1991!

“Yeah, but I’m done. I’ve talked to everyone I wanted to talk to. Let’s go.”

We walk out of the bar. Outside, a guy walks up to me, puts an arm around my shoulders. “Adam married you?” he said. “Wow. Who would have thought he could get a woman like you!” I’m liking this guy already! “Let me tell you,” he said, “your husband and I have known each other since kindergarten. We went to school together since kindergarten all the way through high school.”

“Hey,” Adam said. “Long time.”

We get to the car. “That was cool running into him,” I said.

“I have no idea who he is,” Adam told me.*

For that I didn’t get cake?

*Thirteen hours later, sitting at breakfast at The Friendly Toast, appropos of nothing, Adam shouted out, “I know who he is! We did go to school together starting in kindergarten!”

No More Pencils

June 24th, 2011 § Comments Off on No More Pencils § permalink

Every morning, I yell at the boy, “Can you please move it? Why are you so slow? Can you please walk with us?”

Today he skipped to school. A full block ahead of us. Skipped. Literally. Looked the crossing guard in the eye. Said, “Hi!” Ran to his side of the building before I could even give him a smooch good-bye.

Ah. The last day of school.

On Wednesday we had the end-of-year performances and the class slide shows. When Doodles class sang, “Take me out of the second grade/ It has been a good year… For it’s one, two, three months and/ Then we’ll be in third grade!” I just melted into a mess.

And the girl. Oh that girl:

Our after-school plans involved swimming and sand play. Our after-school reality included cold and rain. So instead we invited a handful of friends over for an after-school make-your-own-sundae and mojito party (the idea, of course, was to make sure the kids got drunk enough to let us moms have our ice cream in peace).

A fitting end to a crazy year.

Welcome, Summer. We’ve been waiting for you.

Summer Is Here. I Think.

June 21st, 2011 § Comments Off on Summer Is Here. I Think. § permalink

The lifeguards at our local pool terrify me. Seriously. This one woman is so whistle happy, I’m hearing the shrieks hours after the fact. I’m dreading going to sleep because I know those whistle blows will echo in my dreams.

Unlike the rest of you reading this blog—or at least 99% of you—we are not yet done with school. Thanks to the wicked bad Nor’easters (who says I can’t talk like a local?), we had six—count ’em, six!—snow days this year. One snow day was burned off by taking away a teacher’s professional development day. But we are paying for those other five snow days now, and our last day of school is this coming Friday.

But it’s the first day of summer and, school be damned!, we were going to make it be summer! Our Y membership gives us access to an outdoor pool, so we headed there today. I meant it to be a quick half hour swim, but two and a half hours later I was dragging the kids from the water. Doodles especially as this year he passed the deep-end test and now he can frolic in the long coveted deep end. Pie dolphins about in the shallow end, but we’re finally at a point where I can sit on the edge and watch her instead of feeling like I need to keep her at arm’s length. Not that the whistle-blowing lifeguard would let her do much.

Lucky we got this one day of summer in, because per the weather reports, it’s the last one we’ll be getting for a while. Tomorrow after school we’ll head to Barnes and Noble. I said to my kids this weekend, “There’s no need to get workbooks this summer, right? You guys don’t need them.” They’re at a point where they read and do math for fun and love writing letters that I in no way feel compelled to make them do pages of workbooks. But clearly I’ve forgotten who I’m dealing with.

“Mom! I want a math workbook!” the boy said.

“I want to do a workbook this summer!” the girl complained.

Yes, my children. The ones who do workbook pages for fun. I see lots of exciting blog posts for the summer. “Pie did four more pages in her workbook! Doodles completed a whole page of math!”

At least they’ll always be able to look back at today’s one day of summer.

Dance, Dance Baby!

May 18th, 2011 § Comments Off on Dance, Dance Baby! § permalink

You guys were all disappointed by that post on writing the other day, weren’t you? Because I know what you really want to know. I know what keeps you coming back here. You want to know, nay, you can’t sleep till you know…

…what happened at the school dance.

Let’s see. They served Oreos and popcorn. Which I like because the boy is incapable of eating an Oreo without leaving a trail of chocolate around his mouth. “Stop eating Oreos!” “I’m not—mumble, mumble, chew, chew—eating Oreos!” Don’t need Colonel Mustard in the library with the wrench for this one!

The girl found her friends. And was gone. For the night. I got one dance with her before I was ditched for the A-list crowd. Which apparently does not include me. If I make L-list, in her world, I think I should be excited.

True to his word, the boy gave me a dance. Well, not quite a dance. More like three swivels of his hips, when a lovely girl in a red dress from his class tapped his shoulder. He took one look and ran. She ran after him. The rest of the dance was spent with him attempting to break dance until she spied him, at which point, it was really more a 5k than a school dance.

And the best part of the dance? It’s every child’s worst nightmare. A mother with a video camera! You can see the action yourself:

Rocker Boy in His Own Words

April 27th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

The homework assignment: “Write a paragraph about one thing you did during spring vacation. Make sure to include at least three details. Make sure to check your conventions.”

So, am I proud that he fulfilled the assignment? Or mortified that this is what he’s going to turn in:

Minds of Their Own

October 10th, 2010 § Comments Off on Minds of Their Own § permalink

Let me preface this post by saying I’m on a train to Poughkeepsie, I’m severely hungover, and I’m sitting next to two backpackers who wish to perpetuate the stereotype of Europeans and their dislike of frequent showers.

So as most of you know, I have my children’s lives plotted out down to who they’ll roommate with in college. And up to now, everyone’s pretty much accepted it.

And then, yesterday:

Pie: I’m not going to school here.

Me: Of course you are. You’ll go to Tisch just like your mommy. You’ll live with Mimi, who’s also going to school here [a bonus about being friends with me: I’ll also plot out your kids’ lives].

Pie: I don’t want to.

Me: Yes, you do. The school color is violet. Purple is your favorite color.

Pie: I’m going to go to school in Arlington.

Me: Sweetie, there are no colleges in Arlington. But you don’t have to worry, because as soon as you come to NYU for school, we’ll be moving to New York, too! That way we’ll be right near you at NYU and really close to your brother at Princeton.

Pie: I’m not going to NYU and I’m not living with Mimi!

Me: Oh?

Pie: Yes! I’m going to Princeton and I’m living with Doodles!

Doodles: Oh man! I don’t want to live with Pie in college!

Me: Oh hush. It’s a wonderful idea! Absolutely, Pie. You can go to Princeton and live with your brother.

Doodles pouts. Pie is happy.

Pie: But you can still buy me a purple NYU shirt. I’ll still wear it.

Me: Oh joy.

The Preschoolers Are Dead. Long Live the Elementary Kids.

June 17th, 2010 § Comments Off on The Preschoolers Are Dead. Long Live the Elementary Kids. § permalink

The preschool videos are done, the teacher cards are made. Two dozen cupcakes and one cake have been made and decorated for the end-of-year picnic cake walk and cupcake spin. Class gift for other child has just been sent off for completion. Relatives have come and gone and getting ready to come again. Adam is cursing the Celtics and I’m eating spoonfuls of leftover of chocolate frosting.

Summer is about to begin….

We had the invasion of family, which began when the forty-foot RV pulled into our driveway. You haven’t seen so many folks slow down and stare since Adam did his naked dance in the front yard after getting his MBA.* Doodles loved it. Pie felt a little shy and refused to go into it for a few days but then couldn’t stop bragging about how she got a private tour.

In the meantime, little Pie has been on a roller coaster ride. Preschool has officially ended. And she’s really not sure how she feels about it. She vacillates wildly in her “Yea! I can’t wait!” and “Waaaa! I want to go back to preschool!” Last week she had her kindergarten visit. But the night before she lay in bed and wailed, “I don’t want to go to kindergarten! I want you to come with me! I want you stay with me all the time! But I don’t want to go to homeschool!” But we solved one of the major problems. She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to turn on the faucets in her new school (they are the push down kind and she sometimes has trouble reaching them), but we were at the school for Doodles’s art show and Pie’s teacher-to-be took her into the bathroom and showed her how to use them. She also promised that Pie could ask her for help if she couldn’t do it herself and I think that relieved a lot of worries.

Pie did great in her preschool end-of-year celebration. But we had to make a quick exit, as she started getting teary eyed (and, okay, I did, too). She was happy today when I had my last volunteer session in Doodles’s room and she came, and his (her future) teacher announced to everyone that Pie had graduated from preschool yesterday and she had them all applaud her. Pie loved that. And today was a meet-up for the kids in her kindergarten and she had a blast. I find it hard, though, because I look at her and all I can still see is “little.” How can she be heading into elementary school? Of course, as good as the day went, the night was rocky with her crying in her sleep. She made her way to our bed and then demanded, half asleep, that Adam leave as she only wanted me.

Meanwhile, Doodles has mere days of first grade left. It seems as if his school should have been done long ago–I’m ready for summer to be here in full swing. But yesterday was “the best day ever” for the boy. At his school’s fundraiser this year, I bought him the honor of being “principal for the day.” And that day was yesterday. The kid was in heaven. He got to deliver mail. He went into every classroom to “assess the learning.” He got to make announcements, including decreeing extra recess for the entire school. He was allowed to choose two friends to have a lunch of pepperoni pizza with him and the “other” principal. When I went to pick him up, kids were still calling him principal, even though he finished in time to change back into shorts and go to music class. ¬†When I was at workboard today, Mimi and Pie were in deep conversation when Mimi said, “Oh my God. Doodles was so handsome yesterday!” And Pie responded, “I know! Didn’t he look so cute?” And Mimi said, “His hair was really nice and he looked so good!” And then I shut the conversation down because it was just too strange for me.

And I now have to go to bed. Not so much because I’m tired but because Adam’s jumping and twitching over this basketball game has me jittery. And it’s also weirding me out that he’s watching TV with his eyes open. That never happens. Adam + couch + TV = sleep. The universe feels off. So goodnight. Maybe tomorrow things will be right again.

*Okay, so maybe there was no naked dance. But I was really struggling with a way to finish that sentence and that seemed to work so well.

The Downside to Education

April 21st, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

I love complaining about my children. You know that. I do it here all the time. And on Facebook. And Twitter. And IM to Adam. Complaining about kids is kind of like my hobby.

Until.

Until.

Damn that American educational system! The boy is actually reading! Reading, I tell you! Which is all fine and cute and dandy when he’s picking up Mouse Tales or Beyond the Dinosaurs: Monsters of the Air and Sea .

But when he’s standing next to my computer, asking, “Why did you write, ‘It’s… all… falling…a-a-pa-apart…here’?” well, it’s not so cute anymore.

Why didn’t we go Waldorf? They don’t learn to read till seven. I would have had another year and a half of private IMs and Twitters and whatnot to complain about those munchkins….

Builders, School, and Weddings, Oh My

September 19th, 2008 § Comments Off on Builders, School, and Weddings, Oh My § permalink

So, what’s going on with me? I’m not purposely neglecting you guys–I think it’s just that there’s so much going on and I’m just overwhelmed enough that I feel like I have absolutely nothing interesting to blog about. But that stops now! I’m cranking up the iTunes (so loving the new Genius playlist feature), ignoring the copyedit that’s whispering to me from the side of my desk (“Jenny! I have misplaced modifiers! I’m going to secretly removed serial commas! Look, Jenny, look! I’ve got inconsistent numerals…. Jennnnnny! Come fiiiiiix me!”), and I’m now prepared to give you all my full attention.

I’m sorry, what was the question?

Let me tell you some of the things I’ve learned this past week:

  • If you give a child 60 cents and tell him he can buy his milk at school, 5 times out of 5 times, he will choose chocolate milk. (Nostalgia: When I was in elementary school, lunch prices increased from 50 cents to 55 cents. And we didn’t have three lunch choices, including pizza pretty much every day.)
  • A house with no walls is way more interesting than a house with walls.
  • You can watch a cement truck pour cement for hours.
  • If your family can’t keep a decent-sized house clean, no way can they keep a 700-square-foot apartment clean. You will be stepping on Legos for the duration. And if your husband didn’t know what clean was in your house, he really won’t know what it means in the apartment. By the way, you are not invited over. Not any of you. Because this place is a mess.
  • No matter how little food you put into your son’s lunchbox, he will not be able to finish it. I gave that boy two falafel balls (note: not an entire falafel sandwich, just two of the little balls) and two slices of red pepper. He ate one falafel ball, one slice of red pepper, and complained that I gave him too much food because he doesn’t have time to finish it. Kindergartners get a half hour for lunch. He can’t manage to put away four small pieces of food? That boy is a Chatty Cathy is what it is. Today he said I was giving him too much lunch: a cheese sandwich and two red pepper slices. He said, “Just give me the red pepper.” Um, no? Because I’m not going to be the mom called by DSS for starving her child. At least I won’t starve him in a public setting. We compromised on half a cheese sandwich and red pepper. And this kid wonders why he doesn’t weigh enough for a “big kid booster seat” in the car.
  • If you buy your daughter a dress so she can be a flower girl, you’ll need to get shoes to go with the dress. Otherwise, you will wake up two days before the wedding and think, “OH SHIT! I didn’t buy any shoes!” and you’ll have to run to the store and pay top dollar to Stride Rite because your wide-footed daughter doesn’t fit into normal shoes and you don’t have enough time to order them online.
  • When your son says he’s not learning anything yet at school… he LIES! At back-to-school night, it was downright overwhelming to see how much they are learning. And sure enough, this morning, I said to Doodles, “In September, for awhile…” and he chimed immediately in, making hand motions, “I will ride a crocodile down the chicken soupy Nile. Paddle once, paddle twice, paddle chicken soup and rice,” and, oh yes, they have gone over some of the letters of the alphabet, and yeah, they do count every day, many times a day, and he has been writing his name, but no, he really isn’t learning anything. Okay, fine. As long as he keeps not learning at this pace, I’ll be happy.
  • If you’re size 4 son needs a suit, you will be paying hand over fist for it. In fact, he might even have to give up his brand-new room in his brand-new house, it costs so much.
  • Running 19 miles after taking two weeks off of running may not be the smartest thing in the world.
  • If, when you move, you think that purging your house of chocolate will prevent you from bingeing when your children are in preschool and you’re working, you are wrong. You will just find other things to binge on.

Okay, enough you people! I hear a “comprised of” (AAAACK!) beckoning me from the manuscript. (Where is my red pencil! Bad of, bad, bad, bad of.) We’ve got one wedding rehearsal, one party, one half marathon, two sets of formal photos, a mountain of logistics, and one wedding to attend this weekend. I’m sure I’ll have something to say about it all next week.

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    I read, I write, I occasionally look to make sure my kids aren't playing with matches.

    My novel, MODERN GIRLS will be coming out from NAL in the spring of 2016.

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