Friday, July 31, 2009


This is the conversation I just heard from the kitchen while my kids are playing in the yard:

Her: (crying)
Him: Did you fall down?
Her: Yes
Him: Did you get an owie?
Her: Yes
Him: You have to be more careful.
Her: I know
Him: Do you need a hug?
Her: Uh-huh.

I take back all of the horrible things I wrote about him. He's a gem. Now they're behind the house reprimanding their dolls and winnie the pooh for misbehaving.

Sleep tricks

Every night when my son goes to bed, after the bath and the pajamas and the snack and the dessert and the stories and the teeth brushing and the whining and the singing and the whining for more singing and the drink of water and the pee pee break, I ask him if he remembers the five tricks I taught him about how to fall asleep. And every night he doesn't remember. So every night I tell him these five things again and I tell him to put those five things in his head and lock them in there so he doesn't forget and then the next night he wants to hear them again because even though he locked them in his head they got out. A squirrel opened up his head with a key and took out all of the sleep tricks so he needs to hear them one more time. And there's a squirrel somewhere sleeping soundly.

So what are these tricks?
1. Count up to 100 and back to zero.
2. Look at your alef-bet quilt (hanging above his bed) and make up stories for every picture.
3. Have dreams about sheep jumping over a fence and count each sheep as it jumps in your dream.
4. Make up a pinky and pongo story.
5. Dream about everyone in the world that you love and everyone in the world who loves you and give every single one of those people a hug in your dream.

I mean I'm about to fall asleep just typing about these five tricks.

Tonight, ten minutes after I put them both to sleep and went over, again, the sleep tricks, he came padding into the office and sat down on the floor asking for new ways to fall asleep. For the love of ginger, just close your freaking eyes! But no, I threw out some more suggestions. Dream about folding all of mommy's laundry. Dream about mommy losing ten pounds on her new Nutella diet. He was not happy with these suggestions. Then I offered that I would give him one more suggestion and Aba would give him one more. So Aba said he should think about how much he loves riding his bike and I told him he should think about how great it was to swim using the noodle without holding on to any swim teachers (!). He still wasn't happy so that's when I started writing this blog entry. And three minutes into the period where I'm ignoring him and typing, he says I will do those two things and then he mentioned a third thing that I can't remember now because a squirrel came and took it out of my head. I'll go wake him up to ask him so we can start this whole exercise again because it was so much fun the first time around...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Noticing Moments

Well I got through a morning without blowing up at my son so I'm patting myself on the back. It's been that bad lately. I don't know what's going on but we are not in a good way. And I have said things I wish I could take back. Which reminds me, I was at my coaching workshop the other day talking to my life coach about my need for affirmation, likely linked to a host of things but probably having a lot to do with the fact that I've gone out on my own as an artist having had no formal training. Sometimes I'm afraid someone will pull off my mask and say, see guys? She's an impostor. She can't even draw a horse. So I seek validation in the form of web statistics, i.e. who's been on my website, how are they getting there, who's reading the blog, who's on facebook etc. It's really LAME. And a waste of time and energy. So she suggested I take a noticing moment whenever this urge arises and turn the urge into a choice point. Instead of defaulting to my usual behavior, I can decided to do something else, like do a sketch or make a cup of coffee, go for a walk or eat a pita with nutella (I just threw in that last one). So I'm trying that out for my work and I think I will give it a try with my son too. At those moments of heightened stress or exhaustion, after already employing my arsenal of situational techniques, it might be in everyone's best interest to take a noticing moment and turn my urge (to strangle him) into a choice point.

It's usually during a transition period, like bed time or getting ready to go somewhere, or leaving somewhere that our needs begin to clash. I think part of it is finding ways to communicate with him that are more succinct so that our discussions are shorter and I don't reach the end of my rope. I wish we could eliminate discussions altogether. I mean I don't mind discussing the merits of an 8-ink printer with him as long as it's not while I'm trying to get him to brush his teeth.

We did have some successes yesterday (which I think made it even worse when it all blew up during the very last minutes of the day). We had a great morning playing with friends at a park nearby that has a sprinkler area so the kids ran around and then we had a picnic. It was a lot of fun. When we got home my daughter went down for her nap and I explained to my son that he also has to lie down for a short while to rest. He was not happy about this. So I let him hang around with me as I tried to make sales calls but that wasn't working so I said, listen, when you stay at home with mommy there are rules. When your sister goes down for her nap you have to rest also. You will go in my room and lay down for thirty minutes and then you can watch a video. He was having none of that. He started screaming. So I said, decide how you want to calm down! Either lie down on your bed with your kitty, play with your dollhouse or sit in the porch swing! He chose the porch swing, stayed out there for ten minutes to calm down and when he returned he was ready to lie down in my room. He slept for two hours. And he was delightful the rest of the day because he was well-rested.

But then there's always something. We can't seem to have a tantrum free day. Even this morning he started crying because he was sure that Aba was picking him up early to take him to Jonathan's birthday party (which is Saturday). I have no idea where he got this notion. I would never have said anything like that. And then he started to cry and tell me I'm wrong. But luckily I had just bought his favorite cereal so I distracted him with frosted mini-wheats. We'll see what the afternoon brings.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


That's how I've been feeling. Kind of run down. Premenstrual, if you will. Perpetually annoyed and unable to see the silver lining. Like yesterday, when I had both kids at swim lessons, and I was looking around the pool for a spot where I could get in with my daughter so she doesn't willy nilly hurl herself into the pool out of pure frustration at having been too young to take lessons, I see the hottie lifeguard guy walking around the pool perimeter assessing what turns out to be a code PIP situation. Poop in Pool. Out comes the pool net. Out comes the poop. And five minutes into their lesson, out come the kids. Lesson over. Pool closed. And I'm asking about make-up classes or refunds and the teenagers who are running the pool are answering me in that teenage tone that makes you want to strangle them even though they are tanned and don't have cellulite. Um? Our manager? Um, she's on vacation? Until tomorrow? So we'll tell her what happened? But there probably won't be a make-up?

You didn't think I meant shitty in the literal sense. I did. Yes, actual shit. Not even a floatie. A sinker.

But was I grateful that at least my daughter and I had not made it into the infested pool? Nope. Was I grateful that hottie pool guy had the good sense to get everyone out before an outbreak of E. Coli started? No, frankly. I wanted my kid to have his lesson. That E. Coli didn't have a chance in hell with the way they chlorinate the public pools...

So that's where I'm at. Shitty. But tonight I have a night off and I'm sitting in Cafe Roma in Berkeley typing on my laptop, gradually feeling a shift in attitude. Deep breath in...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Scared sleepless

Last night I went to sleep right after I put the kids to bed which was around 9:30. I've been staying up late the last few days watching episodes of Arrested Development to fill the void caused when Lost went on hiatus in May. Aside from being incredibly funny and situated right near where I grew up in southern California, it is especially satisfying for those of us who always loved the Jason Bateman character on Silver Spoons. Way more than the Ricky Schroeder character. Finally, a little love for the wise ass best friend.

So of course I woke up at 2:00 am because what on earth would I possibly do with eight, dare I suggest nine, consecutive hours of sleep. That would be so indulgent. I was warm so I opened the window. And then, as though along with the night breeze, my head started to fill with all kinds of horrible thoughts namely about some awful monster breaking into our home (through the open windows) and doing terrible things to my kids. I won't freak you out with the details but let's just say I might have a future writing horror movies. My friend Ali says it's from watching too much crime television and she might be right. Although who needs crime TV when you can just watch the news.

But back to my insomnia. So I literally was lying there imagining all of the horrible scenarios and finally I got up and locked all the windows in our house. That helped a little. Then I started singing show tunes - always mood lifting. Unless you sing Les Miserables. Which I did not. And then my daughter arrived at around 3:30. I hadn't set out any bedside blankets for her because she had sort of given up the habit of nightly visitations, but there she was. So I told her to come on up and we spooned ourselves back to sleep.

Tonight we sleep with the windows locked.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Happy reunion

While I wait for a painting to dry and since I've almost dipped my paintbrush in my coffee for the fifth time, it is obviously time for a break. Hi. How ya doin?

I picked my kids up from school yesterday having not seen them all weekend and they were HUGE. They each grew nineteen inches. My son had a mustache and my daughter had boobs. My kids were running the school. Making phone calls in the office. Decorating the bulletin boards. I said, excuse me? Sir with the mustache? Do you know where my son is? He's about forty inches high and hasn't gone through puberty?

And he said, mommy, it's me! You were gone so long. A lot has changed. Now I'm in charge of preschool. I drop Aba off at work and then drive here in the black car. The curriculum focuses primarily on cell phone technology and dress-up. Would you like a chicken nugget?

Me: What about your sister?
Him: She works with me! And her kids are in preK! We missed you mommy.

It was amazing. They had changed so much. And as we got in the car and drove to swim class the shock of having not seen them in three days wore off and they returned to their normal prepubescent selves. And when my son started crying at swim lessons because he wanted to be back in level one, then I knew it had all been a trick of the imagination and I was reassured that I had not actually missed that much and all was back to our version of normal.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I mentioned that over the weekend my friend and I saw the movie Away We Go, which, if you haven't seen it, is worth the $10.50 plus the price of popcorn. There's a scene where two sisters, one who is pregnant, are sitting in a giant bathtub (in a bathtub showroom) talking about their parents who died when they were in their early twenties. And the younger sister makes a comment about the pregnant sister "bringing them back" in a way, referring to this yet unborn baby girl. The next day on our hike my friend asked me if I think about my dad very often. Every day. That's the deal. Your parents die when you're of a certain age and you think about them every day. Every single day. And especially today - the day he died seventeen years ago. And it occurred to me that I've been living without him almost as long as I lived with him.

It's true what they said about "bringing them back". My son looks just like my dad and he knows it too. You ask him who's eyes he has and he'll tell you my grandpa's. And so he feels connected to the grandpa that he'll never know and we feel reconnected even as the days and years continue to pass.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I'm on vacation. I left Friday evening and I go back tomorrow morning. And for the last two days I've been on vacation. So I have nothing to write about. No one pooped in their underwear. No one had a tantrum in a bathtub. And not a single person called me mommy in 48 hours.

I'm in San Diego with my friend (since we were nine years old) Andrea at her parents' condo and we are doing whatever we want. Yesterday we ate giant homemade yogurt parfaits out on the balcony overlooking the bay. Then we walked to downtown Coronado and looked at pretty things in shops. Then we had a yummy lunch and we ate it leisurely and chatted. Then we bought candy. Then she went to get a facial and I got a manicure pedicure. I had to pay an extra $10 for the woman to use a special tool to remove all of the black crust from my heels. But I was happy to pay because she got it all off and now I have human feet again. Then we walked home, took showers, put on dresses and went to see a movie. We saw Away We Go and it was great. Then we drove home and Andrea made me a caprese salad and some garlic toast. We talked until midnight and then went to bed. Today we woke up and had coffee. Went to a cafe and had more coffee. Drove to Torrey Pines State Park and hiked down to the beach where we realized we had no bathing suits and went in the ocean in our underwear. Then we hiked back to the car, drove home, showered and made giant caesar salads which we ate on the balcony. Then we drove to downtown San Diego and walked around, drove home and ordered greek food take-out which we ate while watching five episodes of Arrested Development. And now it's time for bed again.

And I just spoke to my favorite husband who said he had another great day with our kids. And I feel refreshed enough to be their mommy again.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Behold, the poo poo

Well she's done it. Her Majesty has pooped in the potty. Here's how it all went down (or came out rather). After the final swim lesson and the congratulatory pizza party, we drove home. My daughter had been dry all day. She's been a champ actually. Never had any accidents at school. Only a few at home. And then the daily poop in the underwear thing. The other day she apparently was in the pool with my husband and I had forgotten to give him a swim diaper so he was on high alert asking her every three minutes if she had to go. She finally said poo poo and he hoisted her out. She asked to be in her towel, sat down on a chez lounge and did her business in her suit. So we figure she knows all about the sensation. She's just afraid of the end result.

We get home and she's playing in this little indoor tent and next thing I know she's yelling pee pee woo woo and it turns out she peed on Julio the rat and baby Julio, the smaller rat. So I get her out of what we now call the urinal and bring her into the bathroom. I strip her down and she and my son jump in the tub. Then he suddenly has to poop so he gets out and makes a dash for the toilet. Meanwhile I go outside to hose down the tent and I hear some noises and finally some crying. I rush back into the bathroom. The boy is still on the pot and my daughter is standing over her potty terrified because she has just pooped in it! Straight shot! So we're all clapping for her, including my son and she's shrieking. But we quickly wipe her and give her two chocolate raisins and soon she is equally joyous and everyone returns to the bath with an empty bowel and enjoys their own washcloths and no one has any tantrums and the world is peaceful.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday's Child

This past Sunday we hosted the first annual reunion of the Lubell siblings and the Rubin brothers. The Rubins are a family that grew up with us - elementary school, Little League, July 4th parties. You get the idea. The youngest Rubin was three years older than I am and a year younger than my middle brother. The middle Rubin was my oldest brother's age and grade. And the oldest Rubin was two years older than that. So I was significantly younger than all of them. But somehow, when I was about 16, I reconnected with the oldest one, Adam, who was then 24, and he became a kind of mentor to me. We've stayed in pretty good touch over the years even though our brothers, much closer in age, lost touch after Bar Mitzvah season.

Anyway, my husband and I went to Adam's wedding back in March and I got to hang out with his younger brothers - two extremely funny and likable guys. I decided then and there to host the first annual Luby-Ruby reunion and get everyone together with spouses and kids at our house for pizza and beer. Amazingly we found a date that worked for everyone and I have to say it was ridiculously fun to hang out and reminisce. There's something about growing up with people. There's a crazy bond that goes along with living on the same street for ten years or carpooling to Hebrew school with someone that makes you connected forever. And so the Lubells are connected to the Rubins.

But all that is just set-up for what this post is really about. Half an hour into the love fest, the youngest Rubin, Matt, said something like, weren't you kind of brooding and freaky as a little girl? Who remembers that? And the other Rubin brothers chimed in unanimously in agreement. Adam's been telling some version of this narrative for the last twenty years but they went on to paint a picture of me as Violet from the Incredibles - thick-banged, awkward, painfully shy. Or Wednesday from the Adams Family - just plain creepy. Really? I can imagine at social gatherings where I was the youngest by many years I probably didn't have a ton to say. I certainly wasn't playing capture the flag with the rest of the pack. But I wasn't casting voodoo spells on people either. I was too busy lacing their drinks with laxatives. After I defended my endearing, if not peculiar, childhood mystique we moved on to making fun of the size of Adam's hair in the early Eighties.

That's maybe the one downside of childhood friends. Their perceptions of you are locked on a particular moment in time when you were who you were for whatever reason. You had mean brothers. Your parents' friends didn't have any kids your age. You were extremely shy and fiercely independent. You were the only four year old on the planet who wore glasses...where am I going with this...

Oh yes. I even see it now with my own kids - how I already have them labeled the sensitive child and the free-spirit even though there is obviously so much more to each. I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes by George Bernard Shaw, not to be confused with value vintner Charles Shaw, who wrote:

"The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wrath time

It had been such a good day until bath time. I had a great meeting with a shop owner in Los Gatos and she ordered a bunch of framed prints. Then I did some work at home and headed over to Stanford to drop off the animal prints for the new waiting room in the Pediatric Oncology center. The administrator showed me where they were planning to hang them and it's going to look fantastic. Then I bought a bag of cherries and ate half the bag. And then I went to catch up with some friends at Stanford before I was on a panel for a group of young women at the Stanford Institute for General Management. We talked about what it was like 10-15 years into our careers and balancing work/family etc. I think I was a last-minute addition but I passed along some nuggets of wisdom without quashing any of their dreams of corner offices, designer strollers and imported nannies.

Then I picked up my son and we went to swim lessons which went swimmingly. And there was a new swim teacher and he was HOT. Seventeen and LOOKING GOOD. We drove back home, had some dinner, watched Clifford the Big Red Dog in Korean and then started bath time. Just at that moment my daughter comes running in. She had been at our friend's pool (the one at her condo complex where we sneak in) with her aba. They're not in the tub more than two minutes before they start bugging each other. My son has his two red washcloths and she's got a green one and a blue one. And now he wants a blue one. Sorry pal. And as I'm soaping up her hair he starts putting the washcloth on her head. She doesn't like it and I ask him to stop. He continues. I ask him again to stop. He doesn't. I grab the washcloths from him.

And he pitched a fit the likes of which I have not seen since I accidentally flushed his poop down the toilet instead of letting him do it. He screamed in the bathtub for half an hour. And there's something about the way he screams. It sounds like someone is torturing him. It's a very loud and sustained BELLOW is what it is. I just can't bear to hear it so I got my daughter out and left him in there by himself because I feared that if I'd stayed to listen any longer I would start bellowing back at him, are you KIDDING me you little shit!? You're screaming bloody murder about a goddamn washcloth. WASH CLOTH. Get over it! Or, hey, I have an idea. Why don't you try LISTENING to your mother for the first time in your life! And I went about drying and dressing my daughter while he just kept right on yelling over and over I want my red washcloths! After a few minutes I went back in and told him that he could have them back for his next bath time if he used them correctly to wash himself instead of dripping them on his sister. Nope. He wanted them back now. This is your punishment. You can have them next time. NOW! He just could not let it go. After a half hour of this his eyes are the color of the damn washcloths and he's starting to wheeze. But he stops his crying long enough for me to wash his hair and when he resumes the bellowing I leave the bathroom again. Finally he's ready to get out so I dry him off and he's very still and quiet. He gets in his pajamas and we go read a few stories including his favorite one, Sloth's Birthday Party. A modern classic. Or rather a classic from the mid-seventies that my mother-in-law found in her attic. It might be the only children's book in the world with a sloth for a main character.

And by the time he got into bed we were both exhausted. And tomorrow I have them for the whole day. I hope we all three survive.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Read the story and answer the questions below

Today I took my son for a language test given by the school district for kids who speak other languages at home. I naively marked on his application for elementary school that he speaks Hebrew so the state mandates he has to take this test. We're not even sending him to school next year but we live across the street from the school where it was scheduled so we walked over this afternoon just to see what it was all about. I figured he'd meet with some school counselor who would talk to him for ten minutes and mark that he knew plenty of English. End of story.

Not so much.

I let them know we'd arrived and then a proctor came along to bring him to a testing room. She asked me to wait outside and I was pleasantly surprised when my son did not pitch a fit. He walked right in and sat down across from her at the table. Then she whips out this , I'm not joking, sixty page booklet like he's taking the freaking SAT. Only she's got the number two pencil and is filling in the bubbles. And it's everything from story comprehension to following complex directions (circle the cat's tail and draw a line to the piece of fruit - that kind of thing) to adding punctuation at the end of a sentence. And I would say, from what I could hear hovering at the doorway, he did fine. But, for instance, the punctuation bit was a joke. They were obviously testing to see if he knew the difference between a question or a statement. The proctor read the sentence and he was supposed to point to whether it should be a period or a question mark. The first sentence was something like "Can you help me find my cat" and the proctor read it with the proper intonation. My son pointed to the question mark and she said, very good. So for the next five sentences in the series he pointed to the question mark. To be sure he understands positive reinforcement. Punctuation is another story. They also asked him to pick a scenario he liked better (I think it was between a zoo and a fire station - a place he could choose to visit) and then give two reasons why. He picked the fire station and said he wanted to see the fire engines and then something else I couldn't hear. These were not easy questions. And halfway through he started yawning. Poor kid. Then came the analogies. Training wheels are to riding bikes as floaties are to....? Just kidding. There was no analogy section.

Afterward he said he enjoyed talking to the woman. But if this is the level we can expect in kindergarten then that just further validates our decision to hold him back another year. I suddenly got a taste for the education express he would soon board and I knew another year of preschool would be a gift for him. For the first time I was glad I had the choice to make.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Mensch with the wrench

I have to hand it to my handy husband. He's like Macguyver. There's no problem that duct tape, a switch and some wires won't fix. I mentioned the problem we had with our analog television - that we couldn't watch DVDs anymore because the converter was set to the video channel. The cable was only reading info from the converter box and not from the DVD player. Or something like that. I don't claim to understand any of this. Anyway, on Friday night when I told him I'd had enough and I was buying a new television he said he thought he knew a way to fix it. Of course he does.

This seems an appropriate time to mention the car that we had ten years ago when we lived in Israel. My husband was a student at the university where I worked and we were the only ones of our friends who had a car. It had been his mom's - a fiat something or other that we lovingly called Fifi. But my husband had treated it like a jeep going off-roading and what have you in the desert. The poor car was a wreck. But that didn't stop us from hauling up to six people around town in that thing. At one point it needed a new transmission which would have cost more than the car was worth so my husband put it in himself which took four months (did I mention he's a mechanical engineer and not a mechanic?). I walked to work. I think it was summer. 100 degrees by 9am. Good times.

Anyway, once the transmission was fixed the thing ran great. But then the car itself started falling a part. First the handle snapped off the inside of the driver's side. So I had to roll down the window to open the car door. No problem. Then the passenger side ceased to close altogether so we had to tie it shut with a string. No problem. Then the ignition stopped working one day. I put my key in there and the thing wouldn't turn. I was late for work so I just left it and walked to my office hoping someone would steal the damn thing. No such luck.

Two days later my husband had performed an ignition-ectomy. Removed the whole thing. In it's place were two wires. That's when I learned to hot-wire the car. No problem. Except for the slight spark I would sometimes get when the two wires connected. Eventually, when the wires started to fray and I started to worry I might electrocute myself and my passenger, my husband found a better solution. He added a switch which meant we could turn the car on or off with the push of a button. With this thing in place we were limitless. We could continue schlepping our friends around. Hell, we could rob banks with a fast getaway. And so it went for another year until we ended up selling that car for $50 before we left Israel to go traveling.

But back to the television. He popped over to his office on Saturday and came home with a switch and some wires and before long we had ourselves another homemade contraption allowing us to hot-wire the television. Switch it one way and it was a TV, the other way it was a DVD player. Genius. Unfortunately we're still stuck with the same channels, but the legend of Fifi lives on in our TV. I just hope I don't electrocute myself trying to watch the Korean home shopping network.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thirty minutes

The other day I was putting my sneakers on to go to the gym and my son asked when I'd be back.

Me: About half an hour.
Him: Is that how long you're supposed to go to the gym?
Me: It's a good amount of time.
Him: Is that because the lady in the exercise video told you?
Me: No, but that's how long she exercises too.
Him: How long is half an hour?
Me: 30 minutes.
Him: 30 minutes is a long time.
Me: It's not too long. I'll be back soon.

Pause. I actually thought the conversation was over.

Him: It's longer than 29 minutes.
That's when he flashed me a giant grin.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Move over Michael Phelps

Yesterday was such a fabulous day on so many levels. I made two sales. Always good. I finally got up the courage to make a few cold calls to some Bay Area Judaica shops. All three were very pleasant on the phone and I didn't trip over myself during my pitch. Kept is short and sweet. I asked if I could send them an email with a link to my work and all were happy to give me their email addresses. So I sent off my charming email and by the end of the day one of the three was thrilled with the work and wanted to know when we could meet to decide on what he would purchase. CHA-CHING.

I also spent two hours sketching and getting frustrated that nothing was looking like I wanted it to look. Like when your horse looks like a dog? Ever happen to you? This is why I never draw horses. I haven't painted in a while and I started to panic that three weeks into this new career my well cf creativity was dry.

Not so! I made a birdhouse! And I went back to the thing I like to draw most which is trees. And then I remembered I used to draw these "trees of life" with branches full of all good things so maybe a series of those is on the horizon. Anyway, the main thing is that I actually painted something.

But the nutella on top of an already pretty great day was swim lessons. I picked up my son and we went straight to the pool. He changed into his suit in the car and we walked over to the meeting place. One of his buddies was already there. He asked for his pink goggles that he had picked out with his dad from Target and we waited patiently until it was his group's turn in the water. I started chatting with one of the other moms and before I knew it, my son was lining up and then lowering himself into the pool and clinging on to the ledge with everyone else. And he was SMILING.

And for the next thirty minutes he had FUN. He blew bubbles and did a semi-head dunk. He went out with his teacher on the kick board. He did assisted floats on front and back. He was amazing. And all of the parents were on the side cheering for our kids and each other's kids. I loved it. When it was time to come out I wrapped him up in his giant towel and we were both so proud. And on our way out we saw the barfy girl from the day before. She looked much better. There was enough great day to go around for everyone.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fuzzy is good

You know why digital television sucks? It's because now we get probably forty crystal clear channels, none of which I want to watch. We don't have cable so over the last five years I have grown accustomed to watching only shows on NBC, ABC and PBS. They came in fuzzy but good enough to watch the occasional show. We didn't watch much but if I happened to be home for the four o'clock hour, I'd catch a little Oprah. Or a little late night with Leno. Maybe the news with the news team I recognize.

But times change and we are forced to march begrudgingly toward the future. And the future, my friends, is digital. So we got our subsidized converter box for our 2002 RCA 22-inch fat-screen television. We even bought a new flat antenna so that at least something related to the TV would be flat. We hooked everything up per the instructions. We pressed the button to make the television scan all available channels. So now we get twelve Korean language stations, seven Spanish language stations, a NASA channel (to my husband's utter delight), CBS , the CW and a bunch of other local stations (like the radio - who the hell listens to the radio on the television?) The channels so obviously missing from this line-up are ABC and NBC. How the hell am I going to watch LOST if it ever comes back on the air? What if I want to catch an episode of Days of Our Lives (which I have been watching three or four times a years since 1986 and, miraculously, can still follow)? I'm screwed! I got nothing! Sure, we still have PBS. Only now we have like six PBS channels and I can't figure out which one is what. And none of them have Animal Planet.

Yes, I have tried moving the antenna and reprogramming. Nothing brings back my channels. Plus, did I mention, now that there are fourteen things hooked up to our television to make the damn thing work including our toaster and my hair dryer, the DVD player doesn't work?

I bet it's a right wing conspiracy to get me to learn Korean. OK uncle! 삼촌! Just give me back Oprah.

Monday, July 6, 2009

More swim lessons

Today we tried swim lessons again. Let's just say the universe is conspiring to keep my son from learning to swim. I signed him up for a two week session. It meets Monday through Thursday for two weeks. Today was our first meeting and we talked through some early anxieties. He was concerned about swallowing water. About falling in the water. About drowning basically. Valid concerns. I tried my best to validate his concerns and assuage any fears. I likened his use of swimmies to his use of training wheels. It's unclear if he was able to complete that analogy.

Anyway, the lessons are at a middle school in Palo Alto so we give ourselves 25 minutes to get there which is PLENTY of time. And indeed we get there with ten minutes to spare. Fabulous. We'll get set up...check out the pool area...go pee maybe... do some deep breathing...

Wrong pool. This pool was a swim school that does private lessons and swim team. Any idea where our pool might be? Try Rinconada pool. It's around the corner.

So we walk back to the car and drive around the corner and park and then walk very quickly to the pool. We don't see anyone we know and it becomes clear that this is also not our pool. By now it's 5:45 and we're already ten minutes into our half hour lesson. The lifeguard there tells me it's at JSL - another middle school - ten minutes back in the direction we just came from. So we rush back to the car and of course my son trips and skins his knee and now he is shrieking and trying to walk while holding his knee and I feel kind of bad for dragging him along but I mostly just want him to shut up. It's not even bleeding.

He cries the whole way in the car and FINALLY we get to the right place just as everyone is getting out of the pool. I ask if he can drop in on the next class to which they agree but my son wants nothing to do with the pool and is still hyperventilating about his skinned knee. Meanwhile his friends are all squealing YOU MISSED THE CLASS and I feel like a chump.

So we stick around for the next class just so he can watch and see what it's all about. And of course a girl gets in who is three and maybe a little too enthusiastic because she starts to make heaving coughy noises and then of course she throws up though thankfully not before the swim teacher lifts her out of the water. So my son and I are sitting by the side of the pool looking at the little girl's barf and listening to the woman I presume is her grandmother yelling at her for throwing up in the pool and she's crying because she threw up but also because she wants back in the pool but of course she can't get back in because she's the barfy girl and has to wait til tomorrow. And I'm thinking I'd rather have the barfy girl because at least she wants to get in the pool. But I don't say this out loud which means I'm not as mean as the the nasty grandmother. So I give myself a pat on the back.

Halfway through the lesson my son starts whining to go home and I'm annoyed because I want him to stay for the whole thing but eventually I relent and as we get up I say to him, I'm so disappointed. To which he replies in a very teary small voice, don't be disappointed in me mommy.

I've been using this new method (or trying to at least) of talking to him where I really name the emotions he's experiencing and we talk about them and we've had amazing results. I've been able to completely diffuse tantrums. We go whole days without incident. Sometimes just talking through our frustrations makes them dissolve as quickly as they appeared.

So I tell him, sweetie, I'm not disappointed in you. I'm disappointed in me and everything else. That I took you to the wrong pool. And then another wrong pool. That we missed your lesson and all of your friends. That you didn't get to have fun in the pool. And he agreed. Mommy, I'm disappointed too. And frustrated. Tomorrow will be better though because we'll come to the right pool and I'll go in the water.

Life lessons for the price of a swim lesson. I'll take it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A girl and her flower

This morning my daughter woke up and told me she needed to use the poppy (her term of endearment for potty) and when I took off her diaper it was DRY. She didn't pee all night. This is mind blowing. For a girl who sleeps so deeply that she unconsciously shimmies her way under her brother's bed all the way to the wall without waking up, it is remarkable. And that is why I am currently remarking on it.

Anyway, she peed on poppy and then yelled at me for trying to poor the pee into the toilet for her because she wanted to do it. I apologized. It's her poppy after all (can you tell that I love saying poppy?) Then she wiped herself and wiped her nose too. Oops. That was a teaching moment. Then tonight after her bath we put on her diaper and in the middle of good-night songs she asked for her poppy again, relieved herself and then told her Aba she didn't want her diaper anymore. Tonight she's going commando. Wish us luck.

And to be honest I don't think she's especially mature or tuned in to her excretory needs. I think she just wants better access to her vagina. Like many her age this is a girl who really loves the ole v'jay. So when she's not in a diaper she likes to lay back and "relax". Though sometimes with gusto. When she's in a diaper she often uses her belly button or her toes as a proxy but obviously nothing's as good as the real deal. You go girl.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


The night before last my daughter woke me up at 3am moaning for me. It was kind of a muffled maaaawmy...maaaaawmy...I finally hauled my 600 pound ass out of bed (that's how heavy my ass feels at 3am. Like I might need a forklift). I walk into her room and see her head and half her body is under my son's bed. She's stuck under there. She's basically unconscious so you can see how it would be difficult to shimmy backwards in that state. How did you she get in there? Good question. Their beds are catty-corner. His bed is in the corner of the room and her mattress is against the back wall, flush with his, but on the floor. They make an L or a lower case R. So there's a space where she might be able to crawl under his bed. But why she scoots herself in there while she's sleeping is a mystery. Anyway, I pulled her out and put her back in her bed and since she was asleep this whole time there was no protest. And I hauled myself back to bed.

Last night, same thing. Only when I went into their room, she was missing. And just as panic was setting in I took a breath and realized I could still hear her mommy moaning. I waved my hand under my son's bed and came in contact with a xylophone, a roll of butcher paper, grandma's neck pillow, a stack of puzzles and a tool box but no toddler. But I could hear her in there.

Now, just so we all understand, this is a twin bed (with a lot of large items stored underneath). It's not a queen or a king. I finally get on my belly and really reach my whole arm under the bed where I feel her leg. She has inched herself all the way over to the wall, navigating between the aforementioned obstacles. I can't really comprehend how it's all possible. I decide at 3am that she must have magical powers beyond my tired imagination. I pull her out, put her back in her bed and barricade what we now refer to as the crawl space.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Kids sort of love soccer

I signed my son up for soccer. Did she not learn her lesson after the swimming? Don't remind me about the swim lessons. I signed up for more of those too. What can I say? I like torture. But I did. I signed him up. For a number of reasons. You see I'm pals with some moms of other kids in his class and they were signing their kids up (this would be their SECOND session) and I thought, well, if there are other kids in the class that he knows, maybe it won't be horrible. Maybe it will just be awful which is a big step up for us. Also, I've seen him pass a ball around with his uncle, CIF Champion 1987, and he's pretty coordinated. For a four year old. He's no Pele or Ronaldo but he's also not Brazilian, born with cleats for feet. Anyway, I figured we would try it. 

So I bought him soccer socks and shin guards and shorts but I skipped on the shoes which seemed to me like a bigger investment. The program is called Kidz Love Soccer and as a former copywriter I have to question the Z. Really? You want to make it plural with a Z? Suit yourself.

The week leading up to it I'm telling him that he's going to learn to play soccer like uncle Aaron and his friends from school are going to play too and won't that be great. And he's going along with it, probably for my benefit. The morning arrives and he wants out. Has no interest in soccer practice. He already knows how to play soccer. His uncle Aaron taught him and now he's even better than me. As if. 

Anyway, after much discussion I convince him to go except he won't wear any of the gear. Fine. Not a problem. And when we get there he starts to cry and begs me to stand with him so I stand behind him where the kids are all lined up. And his buddies are all trying to encourage him and invite him to stand next to them which he eventually does, as long as I'm behind him. Which I am. Holding my daughter. 

And so it goes for the half hour practice. At first he doesn't know what to do but by the end he is listening to the coaches and doing the drills and doesn't even notice that my daughter and I are not exactly behind him anymore. In fact we're passing a ball ourselves because my daughter is a KICKASS soccer player and has a huge future in the sport. 

After practice ended we went to Starbucks to reward ourselves with a latte/chocolate milk and a morning bun. And he asked if he could get soccer shoes. My mom then went and got him a soccer ball for graduation and everyday since that first practice he's asked to play soccer at the park across the street. And I bought him cleats. He wanted the ones with pink stripes but settled for the yellow stripes. Kidz love soccer cleats, to be sure. The jury is still out whether kidz love soccer.