Sunday, September 23, 2012


Last Saturday afternoon I went to the mall to find a birthday present for my husband. I had about two hours to myself before I had to run home and feed the baby before bed. I was frantically hopping in and out of stores, desperate to find the perfect gift. Periodically, I would dip into a children’s store to pick up a couple of new outfits for my three-year old. I was thoroughly drained from a long day of soccer practice, apple picking, and chores. When I passed Brookstone I was very tempted to collapse into one of their inviting massage chairs. After an hour I paused to reassess which stores I would hit next.

“Would you like a sample, miss?” 

I turned around to find myself facing a fancy tea shop and saw a woman holding out little cups of steaming elixir.

 “Are you in a fruity or spicy cinnamon mood?”

Frankly, I had no idea what kind of mood I was in. I hadn’t thought much about myself all day. I had deliberated over the quickest approach to cleaning up my baby’s leaky diaper without missing too much of Big Bro’s soccer game. I had also worried about making sure Big Bro got his apple cider donut that was promised him. I had rushed to do the laundry and make some attempt at cleaning up the living room so that we could at least walk across the floor without tripping over ten different toys along the way. I had considered whether I had the spare time to make it to the dry cleaners or post office, and fretted about the fact that I should have gone to the supermarket to pick up some provisions for the week.

Now here I was being approached by a stranger trying to sell me some overpriced tea, and all I wanted to do was hug her. Someone actually cared what kind of mood I was in.

“Fruity.” It felt really good to say it out loud. As she handed me the miniature cup of tea I took a deep breath and exhaled the stresses from the day. 

“Does this come in tea bags?” I wanted this serene moment where my only focus was enjoying my 1 ½ sips of tea to last forever. As the woman began to offer her very detailed explanation as to why loose tea is preferable, I allowed myself to sink deeper into the moment. I wasn’t tending to anyone else’s needs or stressing about my to-do list, I was just focused on my fruity tea.

I decided to allow myself the remaining minutes I had left to focus on myself and ended up purchasing a couple of cute tops. I left the mall feeling rejuvenated, not from the tea but from taking a moment to check in with myself and what kind of mood I was in.

I just hope my husband appreciates the tea I bought him for his birthday this year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Last week, my mom bought my son some Silly Putty, and I was so happy to see that he could derive enjoyment from such a simple toy. The Silly Putty didn’t talk to him, it didn’t move around the room, and it didn’t teach him how to count or spell. All he needed to have fun was a little imagination. I suddenly became nostalgic for other toys from my own childhood. Below are some of my favorites.

I may not be so great at spin class, but I was amazing at Mousercize. I loved putting on this record and dancing along to all of the songs. I think you can still purchase these songs in iTunes, but what’s the point if you don’t have the helpful guide book that came with the record to show you how to do all of the groovy moves?

Garbage Pail Kids
It’s wonderful how so many characters and toys created for children nowadays impart all sorts of valuable lessons about individuality, tolerance, and feelings. Garbage Pail Kids did the exact opposite and I collected them all. The best part was that every pack came with a stale, sugary piece of chewing gum that would help to loosen any teeth I had not yet lost.

Cabbage Patch Dolls
I’m pretty sure that Garbage Pail Kids were made to parody these dolls, although they really didn’t need much help to make them look disturbing. Each doll came with a birth certificate with the name of your doll. I think mine was named Cissy. I recently visited the American Girl store, and those are some beautiful dolls. Cabbage Patch Dolls? Not so much. But I still loved mine, which I guess you could say taught a valuable lesson in loving something no matter what it looks like.

All of the children’s apps I buy for my son have some sort of mathematical, verbal or cultural lesson incorporated into the game (or at least I tell myself that to justify the purchase). As far as I can remember, all of the Atari games involved hitting balls, eating dots, or digging holes. I didn’t learn a single thing from any of them, and they were all amazing. Joust, Centipede, Ms. Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, Asteroids, I loved them all.

I wasn’t the most artistically inclined child, so I mainly used those little plastic choking hazards to spell my name over and over again in bright lights. Apparently, they now make a Lite-Brite app for your iPhone. Lazy!

Speak & Spell
I think the voice from Speak & Spell was Siri’s grandfather, because they really sound alike. Seriously, is anyone else surprised that with all of the advances we have made in technology, we have made no improvements when it comes to creepy computerized voices?

What old school toys are you most nostalgic for?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Murphy’s Mother’s Law

If you obsess over finding the perfect little suit for your infant’s first wedding invitation, he will end up pooping all over himself before the valet has even reached for your car key.

Even the most stable marriages will be tested by at least one leaky diaper incident that will almost lead to divorce.

Whether you are preparing a turkey sandwich or beef bourguignon, your child has an innate sense of when you are about to sit down to eat and will choose that very moment to wake from a nap.

The night that you tell your child that he has to go to bed the second his television show is over will be the same night that Nick Jr. decides to air an hour-long Fresh Beat Band movie.

No matter how annoying you find the Fresh Beat Band, you will find yourself alone one day and without thinking start humming “Go Bananas”.

If you spend time lovingly preparing a meal of breaded chicken cutlets or homemade mac and cheese your child will push his plate aside, insisting he wants “the real one, not the fake one”.

Those who assume that potty training will be much easier for them than it was for any of their friends will three months later find themselves still strategically placing towels on chairs and rugs around the house, praying that they only have to do two loads of laundry that day.

 The later your child falls asleep, the earlier he will wake up.

If you prevent your child from napping before a flight, he will still stay awake for the entire flight.

When you ask your husband to watch the screaming kids for five minutes while you step out to drop something off at UPS and instead sneak off like a fugitive to get frozen yogurt and retreat to the back corner of the store savoring each spoonful as slowly as you can and return home and concoct some lie about having trouble finding the right box at the UPS store, your neighbor will see you and mention bumping into you at the frozen yogurt shop in front of your husband the following week.

Pee, poop, vomit, and runny noses will suddenly not seem so gross to you, but watching the myriad of foods your child insists on dousing with ketchup on will make you gag.

No matter how adventurous a child starts out being with food, by 2 ½ they will end up requesting four meals: chicken fingers, mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly and a bagel with cream cheese. And oddly in my son’s case, miso soup.

The only time your child will want to try anything new will be when you are eating it, and they insist they are starving and must have a bite.

The day that your child has his first Dum Dum lollipop will be the initiation of him begging you for a lollipop every hour, every day, for who knows how long.

There will always be someone out there voicing concerns over whether your child is hungry, eating too much, too cold, too hot, needs a nap, shouldn’t be kept on such a strict sleeping schedule, has too many toys, or shouldn’t be deprived of anything his little heart desires.  The more unsolicited advice you ignore, the happier you will be.

Monday, September 3, 2012


The other day I was on the phone with my mom and she asked what I had planned for the day.

“Well,” I replied. “I was going to do some straightening up but it’s such a nice day out that I think I’m going to take the kids to the playground instead.”

“Honey,” my mom responded, “I think it’s just wonderful how you don’t care what your house looks like!”

One might assume that I would be offended by that comment, but I actually took it as my mom meant it, as a compliment. Her point was that the house will always be there, but there are only so many beautiful summer mornings that I will have to spend with my two young children at the park.

Three years ago, my priorities might have been a little different. I think that especially with the first child it is natural to want to keep a perfect house. How dare anyone wear their filthy shoes inside the house where my beloved child crawls on the floor! Keep that dirty binky that just fell to the ground away from my child’s precious mouth! And the bottle of Purell kept handy for visitors meeting the baby for the first time was big enough to be seen from space.

After my first son was born, the living room was still a fairly presentable place to host guests. Skip to a few months later, and suddenly my living room had become a playroom and toys were everywhere. His little toy box was suddenly spilling over with trucks, cars, stuffed animals, puzzles, etc. and my son had a fun little habit of taking his entire toy box and tipping it upside down. Every ten minutes. He hasn’t really outgrown this habit and recently developed a new morning routine: about two minutes after I start my shower I hear him climbing out of bed, and around the time I am rinsing the shampoo out of my hair I hear a huge crash in the hallway.  No worries, he’s just dumped his entire box of trucks upside down, right outside of the sleeping baby’s room. By the time I’ve rinsed the conditioner out of my hair, there is usually at least one entire game of Memory and a puzzle dumped on top of the truck pile. And a crying baby on top of that.

Toys are not the only things that pile up in my house. Ever since I had my second son, I have worried whether my house has started to resemble an episode of Hoarders. There are piles everywhere: unread New York Times, old magazines, unopened mail, and preschool artwork that I cannot bring myself to get rid of. Then there are the piles of laundry that need to be tended to, not to mention the piles of dishes in the sink.

As my newborn grows older I find myself having a few minutes more to myself every day to chip away at these piles, and slowly my house is returning to its normal state. Soon, my children will not be begging me to eat the pretend meal they carefully prepared for me in their mini kitchen, or requesting that I read them the same book for the 11th time. And I know that it won’t be long before I am taking a shower and no longer hear the sounds of all of those trucks crashing onto the floor. And I will miss it. 

So I plan on going to the playground instead of tending to the piles of housework for as long as I can.