Oh When Those Saints…

January 24th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Many of you know that my father is, proudly, from New Jersey. Don’t go teasin’ with any of that “What exit are you?” He’ll have none of that.

But you may not know that my mother is an actual Southerner. I don’t mean Miami Beach. Plenty of people have asked me what it’s like to live in the South. And I don’t know. Because Miami and Miami Beach are not the South; they’re the East Coast. South of Orlando is the East Coast; north of Orlando is the Deep South.

My maternal grandmother and her big sister were born in Chipley, Florida, where people came from all over to see if “the Jew baby had horns.” My great-grandfather had to travel a couple of hours to Alabama to buy kosher meat to bring back for my barely-spoke English great-grandmother. My maternal grandfather (whom I called Abba) was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. My mother, while born in Memphis, moved before her memory even kicked in and spent all of her formative years in a suburb of New Orleans. My mom comes by the “y’all” honestly, and it doesn’t take too much riling up to get her accent out.

Let’s move to football. Once upon a time, I cared a great deal about football. Abba was a serious fan. He had season tickets for the Dolphins for as long as I could remember, and occasionally, I’d get to go see, first Bob Griese, and then Dan Marino play. Abba would travel to watch the Dolphins and he was at the ’73 Super Bowl when the Dolphins had that unforgettable year. I became interested in late high school, when it was a fun way to hang out with Abba. We could bond over the Dolphins. When I lived in Seattle, football was amazing because it was never on past my bedtime, and I had two good from-Miami Beach buddies who would, week after week, go to the sports bars with me at 10 a.m. for beer, fries, and Dolphins.

But then kids came along and I became a Dolphins fan in name only. Sure, if they’re on network TV and it’s not starting past my bedtime, I’ll watch. But I have no idea who is who. As Dave Barry once put it, at this point I’m pretty much just routing for the color. I do watch enough to know that the evil man Jimmy Buffet replaced the Dolphin’s fight song at touchdown with a stupid Landshark song, but my loyalty is pretty much a remnant of the past that shall always remain. I follow playoffs, I watch the Super Bowl, but I’m not as invested as I used to be. Perhaps one day I’ll have a good team again, my kids will be big enough I can lounge on Sundays, and I’ll be able to spend a little time caring.

Okay, this is the part where we bring everything together: Deep South mom and football. My mother knows exactly two things about football: 1) Peyton Manning, the quarterback for some team, went to Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, which is the same school she attended and 2) Peyton’s little brother, Eli, the quarterback for a different team, also went to Newman.

But suddenly my mother has found a bandwagon. And she’s jumped on it. In an e-mail last week to me and my father, she announced, “Okay, I care about the Super Bowl. Geaux Saints.”

My father had to point out that the Saints weren’t in the Super Bowl yet, and she’d have to get through a playoff game. Her response, “Oh shit. That means I have to watch two games.”

Tonight I went out and had a lovely dinner with Pie at a friend’s house (a friend who is so creative and engaged with her kids that she makes the rest of us look really, really bad. I know you read this! Stop that now!). I got home and Adam was putting Pie to bed, so I started cooking a little dinner for him (I’ll take cooking for anyone any day over putting her to bed) and I turned on the game. It was a commercial, so I called my mom.

“I just got home and it’s a commercial. What’s going on in the game so far?”

My mom replied, “Um, the Jets lost?”

“Yes, I know that. What about the Saints game. The one that’s on right now?”

Silence for a minute. “Um, I forgot. Let me go turn it on.” We hang up.

A few minutes later she calls back. “It’s not on!”

“Yes, it is. Of course it is. Put on Fox.”

“Oh. I guess it’s a commercial.”

Theoretically she’s watching the game right now. Ask her who the quarterback for the Saints is. She won’t know. He went to high school in Texas. Geaux Saints.

The World Goes Round and Round

August 10th, 2009 § Comments Off on The World Goes Round and Round § permalink

Growing up, my father played Quiz Questions at dinner with me and my sister, although the game quickly became known as “Quiz Questions Me First!” because that’s what we’d shout out as soon as he sat down. The questions would be current events or history or science or whatever, such as “Who discovered the theory of relativity” or “Count to ten in binary numbers.” One of my mother’s great pet peeves in life is that my father loved to ask us geography questions, but he never used a map or globe to show where he was asking about. To this day, the only reason I remember that the capital of Ecuador is Quito is because of “Quiz Questions Me First.”

This weekend my parents were in town, and my father started discussing geography with the kids. Only we don’t own a globe. We tend to use maps on the computer, but it doesn’t give the kids a real sense of perspective on where things are. Yesterday morning, we took a trip to the Museum of Science before we brought my parents to the train station so they could head home. Lo and behold, my mom spotted in the gift shop a globe, which my father then purchased for the kids.

This morning, the kids were playing their own version of geography. Doodles would ask Pie a question and she’s randomly spin the globe as fast as she could and point.

Doodles: I got one for you, Pie! Where’s Israel?
Me: Can you find Israel?
Doodles, with a sigh: Yes, Mom!
Pie spins the globe with a quick jerk and then just sticks her finger out.
Doodles: No, Pie. That’s South America. Where’s Israel?
Pie spins again and points.
Doodles: Nope. That’s Hawaii.
I look over. Sure enough Pie has her finger planted in the Pacific Ocean in the general vicinity of Hawaii.
Me: How do you know that’s Hawaii?
Doodles: I just know!
I can’t figure out if he knows where things are or if his reading has improved that much, but either way, who am I to complain?

Doodles eventually gives up–Pie clearly has no interest in playing his way–and Pie just continues to spin this apparently amazing top.

Pie: Mommy?
Me: Yes?
Pie: Is it going to glow?
Me: Glow.
Pie: Yeah, glow.
Me: Um, no. It doesn’t glow.
Pie: Then why is it called a glow-b?

She’ll do okay, even if she doesn’t know where Israel is.

Sew What?

August 5th, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

Once upon a time, or so the story goes, because I have a horrific memory and this is my dad’s story that I’m relating… Anyway, once upon a time, my mom cooked us all breakfast. According to my father, they were fabulous breakfasts. Some days it was scrambled eggs. Some days it was French toast. But every morning, before school and work, my mother cooked us breakfast. But, my father loves to tell me, I ruined it. Because I was never happy with what was served. If it was French toast, I wanted scrambled eggs. If it was scrambled eggs, I wanted fried eggs. If it was fried eggs, I wanted French toast. So one day, my mother had enough. And she declared, “I’m not cooking breakfast for you people anymore.” Which is why, to this day, my father resents me for him losing his breakfasts. And he likes to remind me of this. Frequently.

I will now shift topics, but rest assured, I will tie it all together at the end. I always tie it all together at the end. Don’t I?

A few years ago, I wanted to learn how to sew, so my grandmother gave me one of her sewing machines. My grandmother was an incredible seamstress–she sewed her clothes, her curtains, her everything. My parents got married on a week’s notice. My grandmother bought a size 12 white cocktail dress from Neiman Marcus and sewed it to size for my size 2 mother in literally days (and as I know the definition of literal, you can know that I mean that). My grandmother dutifully taught my mother how to sew. I have plenty of pictures of me in adorable little dresses that my mother sewed. Granted, she sewed out of necessity–another thing my parents frequently like to remind me, they had little money in those days and sewing my clothes was the only way to keep me clothed. But she did sew some awfully cute things. Fast-forward thirty-some-odd years later, my mother and grandmother still have their sewing mojo and the two of them collaborated on sewing the huppah for my and Adam’s wedding.

Now, as expert seamstresses, you’d think some of that might have rubbed off on me. It didn’t. In my defense, I’m pretty sure no one ever taught me. It’s possible my mother may have offered to teach me to sew, but I have no recollection of it. She taught me to crochet. She offered–on multiple occasions–to teach me to weld, solder, and use a band saw. I declined. But that’s a story for my therapist, not for you. Point is, no one ever taught me to sew.

Here I am. A grown woman with a little girl, a not-quite-so-little boy, and a sewing machine. I’ve got a manual. I’ve got a box of spare needles, empty bobbins, and… well, stuff. And I have no idea how to use any of it. I’ve got this fairly sophisticated machine and I can–almost–sew a straight line with it. But I’ve got this crafty streak that wants to be able to use the machine. I have this not-at-all secret side of me that longs to be Martha Stewart. I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’m working on my novel (yes, yes, I am!). But I have lots of time when children are occupied, but not so occupied that I can do anything that requires total focus (like writing). For instance, when a playdate is over, and I am summoned approximately every 14.7 minutes. A good time for sewing.

A bunch of weeks ago, I went with the kids to Jo-Ann’s Fabrics. I was going to sew. With the help of the Internet, damn it, I was going to sew. I let the kids go wild. The boy wanted a cape. The girl wanted headbands. I thought I might, just might, try my hand at a skirt.

And then we saw it. The dress. It was on a mannequin and the girl just swooned over it. “Mommy! I love that dress. That dress is beautiful!” Next to the dress is a free pattern. “Easy” it reads. “Simple” it promises. So I look at the girls face. And I look at the pattern. And I sigh and say okay. The girl and I choose our fabric. We choose our ribbon. And I promise that eventually I will put it all together.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I sew a few capes (complete with the Air Force fabric that I couldn’t talk the boy out of). I make a headband that is worn for five seconds before the girl declares she can’t stand it. I start working on a few projects for upcoming birthday parties.

The fabric for the dress sits. It’s in my office. And every few days, Pie wanders in and says, “When are you going to make my dress? I want my dress. Can you make my dress, pllllleeeeeaaassssse?”

One day this week, Jasmine and Pie are playing. Playdates for Pie of late have been iffy–we’re in the midst of a full season of perfect temper tantrum storms these days. They emerge from nowhere, build to awe-inspiring fury, and then spend themselves, leaving only a helpless wrath of destruction. Therefore, a playdate is no longer free and easy time. It’s on-call time on a new level. No writing, No reading. Nothing that requires substantial concentration or my leaving the general three-room vicinity.

Hey, how about sewing? I can sew! So, I start sewing. Have I mentioned that I’m not a sewer? So “Easy” and “Simple” are “Laborious” and “Tricky.” And I had to stop every few minutes to run into Pie’s room to fix a toy, find a purse, or answer a question. Luckily no change in weather patterns, so it was a relatively calm afternoon. And an afternoon later, I’m just about done. Even with a matching headband. Yeah, the seams don’t quite line up. Okay, so maybe the double hem wasn’t exactly intentional but the only way to keep the bottom from falling down. Maybe, it’s a bit big. It’ll fit perfectly next summer. Or at least the summer after that. I have the girl put it on so I can mark where the ribbon ties go.

“Where’s the ribbon?” she asks.

“Right here,” I say, showing her the green ribbon we picked out. Together. The two of us. Me and Pie.

“No!! That’s the wrong ribbon! I want flip-flop ribbon! I want ribbon with flip flops on it! Where’s the flip-flop ribbon? I don’t want green ribbon! That’s the wrong ribbon!” And the tears ensue….

All right. Thirty-three years later. I admit it. I should have just shut-up and eaten the French toast. Sorry, Mom.

Welcome to Miami

November 17th, 2008 § Comments Off on Welcome to Miami § permalink

Did you guys know that there’s a show called Paris Hilton: My New BFF, and I haven’t been watching it! What has my life turned into?

But that’s not what I came here for. This past weekend I headed down to Miami for a weekend without my children. It was a novel event. Although, little do they know, it’s the start of a trend because I also have a trip without them planned for both December and January. This weekend, in theory, was for a serious family event, however, if you know my family, it was pretty much anything but.

For starters, that lovely photo above was taken off my cousin’s boat. It’s a gorgeous view isn’t it? The weekend was unexpected. I arrived a little late on Friday to a house full of people at my parents’ place. I stayed up too late talking to my parents and then, all because of a five minute nap on the plane, I couldn’t sleep (um, remind you of a daughter of mine?). Which would have been fine except my eight-month-old cousin woke me up in the pre-7 a.m. hour the next morning. Now, don’t get me wrong. This cousin is incredibly cute, very well behaved, and exceedingly quiet for a baby. But you know how it is. Once you have a kid, you’re programmed. The slightest baby noise and you’re up, calling, “What! What! Bottle? Diaper? Potty? Bad dream? What??” And then you’re up. I swear, I felt bad for my other cousin, the eight-month-old’s mother, because I’ve somehow reverted to single gal in babyhood terms. I took the baby, and pretty much felt like I was holding her at arm’s length, like, “Cute baby. What do I do with you again?” Those early years have been erased from my mind. I seriously didn’t know what to do! Yes, my child-bearing years are done. The family is complete. Done. Finis.

Saturday though was a whirlwind. My favorite cafe con leches and Cuban toast. A pedicure. A ride on the Triple Play (and here comes the inevitalbe shout out to B., her freakishly smart daughter, H., and her always charming mother, C. Hi guys! It was fun!).

The next night I was up way too late because I spent the night at my cousin’s house and he’s building a new house around the corner, and of course I needed a tour. And then we got up at 4:50 the next morning to run a half marathon. (My cousin is running his first marathon with me in January. I called him and said, “We should do a long run while I’m home.” He said, “I can’t, I’m doing a half.” So I signed on! He did amazing for a first half. Really pushed himself. Wait till he sees what I make him do at the marathon!) Family function. Family drama. Trip to the airport. Make my way home to my claustrophobic little apartment.

And what did I come home to? I came home to kids who were clearly happy to see me (or perhaps it was the Epicure cookies I brought home for them). But the euphoria was short–very short–lived. I stayed up waaaay too late in order to spend time with Adam–I got back to the apartment at 10 p.m. and he had to leave at 6 a.m. for an almost-week-long trip to L.A. and there was oh-so-much to catch him up on. So I’m exhausted but at 5:42 a.m. I hear, “Mommy, you’re back! How was your trip? I got a flashlight. Daddy, Doodles, and I walked to Trader Joe’s and I got to use my flashlight. It’s green. That’s your favorite color! I want breakfast. Where’s Daddy? Is he at the gym or is he on his trip? The clock? It says thirteen hundred o’clock. Did you bring me something? I went to a movie, and I got glasses! The astronaut scared me but I laughed when he broke the glass and…”

I get the kids up and fed and clothed with little trouble. Pie is definitely in a volatile stage–so much so that after nearly a year, she’s sent me back to the parenting books–and I made it to Doodles’s school on time. Pie and I went back to check on the house. Progress is amazing. Shingles going up on the family room roof, electricians doing their thang, things are just falling into place. Only Pie tells me she has to go to the bathroom. I run her to her preschool, and magically, she no longer has to go. Hmmm. She didn’t go all morning. Of course, she doesn’t want to enter her preschool, so I end up slinging her under my arm, a la a football hold, and carry her in screaming. But I make it out with nary a scratch.

I head home to do a little Nano-ing. A note on the Nano. As you can see by my word count, I’m woefully behind. But I’m psyched to say that I’m making steady progress on my novel (doing editing as I go, which is verboten in Nano world), and I’m feeling good about it. So no, I won’t hit 50,000 words, but I just might finish this damn thing! Anyway, a smidgen of Nano and then off to volunteer at Doodles’s school. I started out in the cafeteria at kindergarten lunch. Um, do you guys remember your kindergarten lunch? As far as I remember, it was sink or swim. Not anymore. For starters, kindergarten, first, and second graders are not allowed (plastic) knives. Today was pancake day. So my job was to go around and cut pancakes for kids. Seriously! I also opened milks, peeled clementines, and told kids to get their butts back into their seats. I also spent five minutes consoling my son when it was time for me to leave. He was happy to see that I was there, and pretty much ignored me. But toward the end, he got the rubby eyes and the teary frowns and then the clinging for dear life to my arm. Eventually the teacher’s aide was able to release me, but it’s a terrible way to leave your child. Thank goodness I had to pass by the room later, and I saw him very happily building a habitat out of blocks with friends. Otherwise, the guilt would have stayed with me all day.

And then I went to pick up Pie. Pie Pie. Potty-trained Pie. Potty-trained Pie who was wearing the school’s pants because she had not one, but two pee accidents at school today. And did she care? No. She was just happy because Jasmine’s mom told her she could wear Jasmine’s sandals (someone was shoeless because she peed all over her shoes) so we didn’t have to go straight home after school. Oy.

So now, I should be sleeping. I should crawl into bed because tomorrow is all Pie all the time and I know she’ll be up at 5:42 a.m., I’m instead telling you about my life. Actually, I’m not crawling into bed because of the five (yes five) cups of coffee I had today. But let’s pretend it’s because of you. Somehow that just makes it all a little better.

Changing Times

October 29th, 2008 § 1 comment § permalink

I so clearly remember the absolute horror I felt when my father described to me his childhood. What do you mean you didn’t have color TVs? How do you listen to a show on the radio? No tape players? How did your grandmother do the laundry? How much did the movies cost? You couldn’t have copies made? No electric typewriters? WHAT was your phone number? How could a phone number have a word in it. How far did you walk to school? In the snow? Uphill?

And now, it’s a game I’ve inadvertently fallen into with my children. Yesterday they went to get their flu shots. Which I still call flu shots. Even though what they got was actually a flu nasal mist.

“It’s a new thing, guys! It squirts up your nose. It won’t hurt at all!”

“Did you mind getting flu shots when you were a kid?” Doodles asked me.

“Actually, we didn’t have flu shots when I was a kid. They weren’t invented yet.”

“REEEEAAALLLY? So what did you do?”

I shrug. “I guess we got the flu!”

It’s funny, we joke about the kids not knowing why we say “dial the phone” when there’s clearly no dial. But the kids play these games, where I hear Doodles saying things like, “Check us out at jumpingonthebed.com!” or he’ll say to me when I don’t know the answer to something, “Can’t you look on the computer? Use Google.”

I wonder if I’m being naive but it seems like the distance between my father’s childhood and mine is shorter than that between my childhood and my children’s. (And why my father and not my mother? My mother never told as many stories about her childhood, so I don’t have the same frame of reference there.) In other words, life in the 1940s was different from life in the 1970s, but not as much as life in the 1970s is different from life in the 2000s.

In my pre-twelve year old life, we had multiple TVs, but no computer, no cable. Our first computer came in 1980, when we bought a TRS-80 Model III with a cassette drive and what we called “the red button of death” (press it and with no confirmation, everything you worked on disappeared forever). I took BASIC programming my senior year of high school, which put me ages ahead of most of my peers in computer literacy. I didn’t get my MTV until high school. I remember begging my parents–pleading–in the late ’70s for a princess phone. Remember the smell of dittos in elementary school? Ah, the scent of the mimeograph machine.

My son is conversant on using the iPod. My daughter can pause live TV. Doodles begs for time to play the new game on pbskids.com. The both receive their party invitations on evite. “Let’s watch a DVD!” they plead. Pie is capable of displaying all the photos on my iPhone to her friends.

Well, just wait. One of these days they’ll ask for the own cell phones. And I’ll look at them as if they are crazy and say, “You know, when I was a kid, I had what was called a ‘party line,’ and I couldn’t even call my friends when I wanted and I had to get off the phone when a neighbor wanted to us it.” (True story of my brief life in Colorado before returning to my rightly position as a Floridian.) And then when they stare at me in horror, I’ll explain how I had to ride my bike to school, two miles, in hurricanes, uphill… in both directions. See my childhood wasn’t that different from my father’s.

Math Is Hard

June 11th, 2008 § Comments Off on Math Is Hard § permalink

The Nana was visiting last weekend, and while she was here, we decided to watch Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash biopic. In the opening of the film, it reads, “Folsom Prison, 1968.”

Me: 1968! That’s the year I was born!
Adam: Yes it is.
Me: That was forty years ago, you know.
Adam: Yes it was.

A couple minutes in, the screen reads, “Someplace, Arkansas, 1944.”

The Nana: 1944. I was one years old.
Me: What?
The Nana: I was one years old. You were talking about how old you were and now I’m telling you how old I was.
Me: Um, but you were born in 1945.
The Nana: Oh. [pause] I guess I did that backwards.

I guess you can say I come by my math skills honestly.

Busy, Busy, Busy

April 2nd, 2008 § Comments Off on Busy, Busy, Busy § permalink

This past week has to have been one of the busiest ones yet. I feel like it was nonstop, and I’m not ready to collapse in a heap at my computer. What have I done? It’s all a big blur.

Adam had a night out with friends, I had a night out with friends (hi Elizabeth! It was fun!), I had (have) a job I’m working on, a preschool project that I got suckered into doing, a family Shabbat dinner, a meet-up with a fellow blogger whom I’d never met before but was in Boston for a conference, a women’s community Passover seder (no Passover hasn’t started–this was a fun, feminist version that involved many tambourines). Throw in some boot camp, a bit o’ running, and a zillion chores (dentist appointment? Made. Eye doctor appointment? Made. Camp for Doodles? Taken care of. Car inspection? Done.) and that’s what I’ve been up to.

Oh, and our little trip to New York. But this time for a day. Eight whole hours. Yes, I know how fun that sounds. Surprisingly it was incredibly uneventful and actually quite a success. I almost hesitate to blog about it, because nothing untoward happened.

After not nearly enough sleep, I roused myself from slumber at 5:30 on Saturday morning. Slapped together some sandwiches, woke the rest of the family, and we were on the road by 6:15 a.m. The purpose of the trip was dual fold: My mom has a show up right now at Nohra Haime Gallery (that’s it on the walls and on the table in the pic; if you’re in NYC go see it–it’s up till April 26) and there was a breakfast at 9 a.m. and we thought it would be fun to go to. And then the other reason is it was my dad’s birthday (random aside: did anyone else realize that when your parent’s age equals the year of your birth, your age will equal the year of his or her birth; so for instance, my dad turned 68. I was born in 1968. And this year I’ll turn 40. My dad was born in 1940. Try it–it works).

We made the trip in 3 1/2 hours, having parked and made our way to the gallery by 10 a.m., and my father was dutifully surprised. We spent the morning at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, which was cute but nowhere near the level of the Boston Children’s Museum. We had a fabulous deli lunch at Artie’s (it’s the kind of place that has pickles and slaw on the table for you a la Wolfie’s), kids got their subway rides, and then hung out at my parents place. I walked around a bit, hit a flea market. We had cakes from Citarella. At about 6:30 p.m., we put kids in pjs and headed home. Both kids were passed out before we left the Bronx. We were home by 10 p.m.

I wish there was more to tell you. I wish we’d had a meltdown or two or Pie peed somewhere or something, but it was such a manageable trip, I’d consider doing it again.

¿Quién es el más macho? Not Me!!!

February 27th, 2008 § 3 comments § permalink

When I was 26, I quit a good job, packed up all my belongings, spent three months driving cross country to reinvent myself. When I was settled in Seattle, I’d sometimes look at my life in wonder and think, “Wow, if I could that, I can do anything.”

When I was 28, I spent six and a half months picking kiwis on a kibbutz and then I spent a month and a half idling my way through Eastern Europe. When I survived three weeks in Bulgaria, I really felt it was an accomplishment. “If I could make it through Bulgaria on my own,” I thought, “I can do anything.”

When at the age of 32 I let my guy friends pressure me into riding a single-day double-century bike ride from Seattle to Portland (previous bike ride length at that point: 16 miles), I can’t begin to describe the feeling of elation I experienced when I, alone and tired after fourteen hours on a bike, crossed into Portland, Oregon. “I just freakin’ rode my bike two hundred miles!” I thought. “I can do anything!”

When at the age of 36, with a fourteen-month-old son, I completed my first marathon, I thought I was a rock star. Sure, it took me over five hours, but I did it. “I ran twenty six point two miles!” I thought. “There is absolutely nothing I can’t achieve.”

Last week I pushed my boundaries. I left my kids for the first time, I cross-country skied for the first time, I ran in seven degree weather. You guys all know how macho I felt. I am a freakin’ woman of steel.

Until. And then. Except.

Somehow, somewhere, for some reason, I decided it was a good idea to take my two children–my two-and-a-half-year-old toddler and my four-and-a-half-year-old preschooler–to New York City. In a car. By myself. For fun.

I have discovered that thing that I cannot do: I cannot survive thirty-six hours alone with my children.

I am broken.

But let me start at the beginning of this debacle. Doodles has been obsessed with Egypt, pharaohs, and pyramids for a long time now. Remember his birthday party? So I got this great idea (please read “great” dripping with sarcasm) of taking him to the Metropolitan Museum to visit the Temple of Dendur. “Wanna go to New York?” I asked him casually. “YES!!!!” came the resounding response.

Truth be told, I dilly dallied on the whole thing. I checked with my parents (who live in NYC part-time) and my sister (who lives there full-time, but works a hectic schedule) if they’d be around. I checked the weather. Hmmm, looks like snow. I thought about it. And then I realized, “This is a really stupid idea.” I basically told everyone we weren’t coming. “That’s probably a good idea,” my parents told me. My mother had foot surgery and has been hobbling around on a cane, not ideal for sightseeing with little ones. My sister would be teaching all day. Both my parents are currently spending a lot of their time searching for a bigger apartment.

Alas, the road to insanity is paved with stupid ideas (that’s how the expression goes, right?). On Wednesday morning, I was poking around Priceline. It was a gorgeous morning and I thought, “I can handle this!” so before I could come to my senses: Boom! I’ve booked us a room for two nights in New York.

That’s when the panic started. I called Adam, “What the F was I thinking? I can’t do this!”

“Don’t go,” he said.

“I already paid for the hotel room.”

“So what? We can eat the cost if we have to.”

But I, for one, am never one to “eat the cost,” frugal soul that I have, so while Doodles was at a playdate, I frantically packed us up, sinking ever deeper into a depression over my recklessness. After all, what does a four-and-a-half-year-old ever remember? Take a kid on a thousand dollar vacation to Paris, and what he’ll talk about is the bug he found crawling across his shoe at the Parisian playground.

So I sent Doodles off on a playdate and I packed up as fast as I could, trying to anticipate everything they’d need. It would have helped if I had tried to anticipate what I might have needed–in which case socks and deodorant might have made their way into my bag, and yes, I was a wee bit ripe by the end of the trip. Yet I wanted to keep everything to my one bag, their ice skating bag (I had visions of Wollman rink), plus toys in each of their backpacks. And a bag of snacks for the car.

The trip down was pretty uneventful. I picked up Doodles from his playdate and cleared up the confusion (“You’re taking him to New York to see the temple where the Jews pray?” I clarified it was where the Egyptians prayed, but he didn’t quite believe me). Pie slept for about an hour and a half and woke in relatively good spirits. Doodles was thrilled to get Triscuits–Triscuits!!–from a vending machine. Neither one got at all fussy till we’d already hit the Bronx. Including the one bathroom/vending machine stop, we made the trip in just barely over four hours. Found the hotel with no problem. Parking was just two blocks away. Trip is already a success!

We hop a subway to head to my parents’ apartment. Pie utters the comment she is to make every time we get onto the subway, “I LIKE the subway!” and Doodles scrambles for a window seat, despite my repeated insistence that we are underground and there is nothing to see! “Yes there is!” he insists. “Look! A wall!”

Dinner a Benny’s Burritos (the West Village one) is fine, although surprise surprise both kids make a dinner of chips. We leave my parents at about seven to head back to the hotel. “I LIKE the subway!” “I need a window seat!”

Out of the subway. Walking back to the hotel. And then it starts. The screams. “I want to go home!!!!” I assure Pie we’ll be back at the hotel in minutes. “No, HOME! I want to go home! RIGHT NOW!” For two blocks the munchkin is screaming and she won’t be appeased till we get back to the room and I turn on the TV. I make up a lovely nest for them on the floor–they’re so excited to sleep on the sleeping bag!–and in three seconds, they’ve happily ensconced themselves in the bed. So much for spacious living. Of course, Pie is incapable of falling asleep without some tears, and she cries for about thirty minutes, while I lie right next to her, ignoring her as I read my book. It’s really the only thing to do.

And then, they’re all asleep. It’s not easy to sleep with the two monkeys next to me. They end up head to head with each other, all cozied up, and then the next thing I feel is four little feet kicking my side as they’re lying perpendicular to me. But at least I can stop worrying about one of them falling out of the bed and I can drift off…

…until 2 a.m. Which is when the screaming started. Did you guys know that there is no toddler-appropriate TV on at 2 a.m.? Really! I know it’s shocking. I didn’t know how to calm the munchkin who has not only woken me and her brother, but I’m pretty sure is waking the whole hotel. So for an hour, she gets to watch The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It was the most appropriate thing I could find.

At 4 a.m., she drifts off into sleep, and I’m determined to eat the second night’s hotel cost and head back. Yet, at 8 a.m., when everyone is awake, I feel delirious from lack of sleep and think, “We can make it one more night. Right?”

Surprisingly, the day was somewhat of a success. The kids loved the Met. Doodles was fascinated by the mummies and the Temple of Dendur and Pie seemed to enjoy the Degas collection (one of her favorite books is Dancing with Degas). My mother met us for a bit and Tweeds came when my mom left. We had lunch at the mus
eum and when Tweeds had to go to work, the kids and I took a bus down a ways (“I LIKE the bus!”) and I let them go hog wild in Dylan’s Candy Bar.

Back at the hotel room around 3, and there were no complaints when I let them gorge themselves on their candy and watch PBS. Pie was tired–I didn’t bring a stroller out with us–but she revived quickly when presented with chocolate. I didn’t revive quite so quickly. The wear and tear of corralling those two through the museum (“Don’t touch that! Don’t wander off! No, you can’t eat in the museum! No I won’t buy that! Don’t touch! Don’t touch! DON’T TOUCH!”) took a toll on me and all I could do was let them rest so that I could have a minute of downtime (“Mommy are you going to sleep? No, Mommy!” Pie says laughing. “You have to wake up! WAKE UP, MOMMY!!”) We met my parents for dinner again and Pie told them her favorite part of the day was, “I like the Degas,” and Doodles told them, “I got to watch TV… during the day!”

On Friday a snow storm was predicted so I wanted to get out of town nice and early. It was nothing major–just two to four inches–but I figured why risk traffic and snow. Of course, by the time we woke up at 6:45 a.m., three inches had already fallen and five to seven inches was expected, so I rushed the kids through their hotel breakfast (“Can I have a yogurt? Can I have an orange? Can I have more cereal? Can I have a bagel with cream cheese? Can I have another waffle?” and “Just a waffle for me. Okay a little cereal. No milk in it!”), and I managed to trudge through the snow with Pie in the stroller, the skate bag around my neck (“Why didn’t we go ice skating?” “Uh, I took you for candy instead.” “Okay!”), the clothing bag also around my neck, and the diaper bag hanging precariously as I discovered that, no, a $10 umbrella stroller cannot make it through the corner snow banks. But we got back to the car, and headed out in the mess.

The trip home was painfully slow–I skidded a few times on I-95, the snow was so bad–and the kids were edgy. At one point, I’m on the Triboro bridge, looking for signs for the Bruckner expressway. I’m trying desperately to see through the snowy fog and the moron car in front of me doesn’t have his lights on, making him nearly invisible. The snow is coming down fast, and I need to make sure I don’t accidentally head toward the George Washington bridge. I’ve shushed the kids as I’m trying to not skid across the road, but I keep hearing a “Mommy! Mommy. MOMMY!” and finally I yell back, “What, Pie? I’m trying to concentrate here,” and she asks, “Can you open my window?” and then adds, “Pleeeeaaaase?”

The “No,” didn’t go over that well. So she then turns to her brother: “Doodles? Doodles! DOOOOODLES! Are you awake, Doodles?” As if he had a choice.

Just over five hours later, we’ve arrived home. Of course, I needed to shovel my way into the driveway, as the storm followed us, but soon we were inside, ready to collapse. Pictures, by the way, are posted.

Would I do it again? Sure. In three years. With a nanny. And a lobotomy.

Time Warps

January 2nd, 2008 § 3 comments § permalink

Coming back to Miami Beach is something of a time warp. Oh, I don’t mean running into old friends or visiting old haunts or anything like that. I mean my parents’ apartment.

You know how there’s that moment when you realize that your parents are verging on the edge of doddering? The thing is, my parents are quite young, relatively speaking. They lead this very hip life. My mom is an artist who teaches art at a well-known Florida art school/college. She’s relatively hip and up-to-date. To be honest, I’m frightened by the presets on her car radio (NPR, I expect; the hardcore hip hop was a bit of a shocker). My dad may be retired, but he works as much almost as much as he used to, plays tennis as often as he can, and is a regular at his New York gym.

Which is why I find it so odd that they’re have these–well–old people quirks. It started with Listermint. Adam came out of the guest bathroom and said, “Do you know you have a Listermint that expired in August of 1991?”
My dad: So?
Adam: That’s a little old.
My mom: 1991? That means it was expired when we lived in the old house, and yet we still packed it and moved it into the condo.
My dad: I’m sure it’s still fine.
I moved the Listermint out of the bathroom and onto the shelf of his study as I figured it qualified more as a period piece than toiletry item.

I opened up the medicine cabinet and found more.
Me: There’s a Kaopectate in here with a pull date of 2003. I’m tossing it.
My dad: Don’t you toss that! 2003 is practically new!
Me: But if you get sick, it’s expired!
My dad: I’d rather have that than nothing. Look, you can throw out anything you want with a pull-date before 2000. Don’t throw out anything with a pull date post-2000.
For the record, following this rule, I was still able to throw out a considerable amount of medicine.

But it’s not just the medicine. Adam found four packets of tuna in the cabinet with a pull-date of 2006. I don’t care about any kind of “2000 rule,” they’re gone.

And then there’s the bathroom reading. Currently, in the bathroom, are the following: If you’d like some current events, there’s a Smithsonian magazine from March 2004. Other than that, there’s an edition of Civilization magazine with a headline that screams, “How Not to Starve in 1999!” There’s the book Top 10 of Everything 2002. And a cartoon issue of the New Yorker from December 7 and 14, 1998. One book was in the bathroom for years and I did enjoy reading it, but it’s since migrated to my father’s bathroom. It is a book that highlights all of the idiocies the president has said and done. It’s quite funny. Oh, and the president? George W? Nah. George H.W.? Nuh-uh. Try Reagan. It’s all about Ronald Reagan.

For the record I found a the be-all end all. It’s a prescription. For my sister. In the guest-room dresser. From 1974.

As I’m sitting here my blogging, my father just said to me and Adam: I have something to confess. I retrieved from the trash the Neosporin from 2006.
Me: But we just bought a new Neosporin on it for the rash on Pie.
My dad: I know. But there are multiple bathrooms. We’ll have one in my bathroom and the other in yours. The new one, how many years you got on it?
Adam: I think at least 18 months.
My dad: I hope you got the smallest tube. Because 18 months. That could last till 2012!

By all means, don’t be afraid to come visit my parents. Just don’t get sick. The medicine might send you to the hospital.

(Note: My father read this and said to me, “You write like having expired medicines is such a bad thing!” As I said…)

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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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