Thursday, May 31, 2012


Today, by the suggestion of a fellow mom, I found my myself at a local nursery (not the baby kind) that also has wooden death traps structures for kids to climb on and a petting zoo. As a proud helicopter mom, there was a lot to be concerned about.

The wooden structures were...borrowing a quote from the Russian figure skating coach in The Cutting Edge, "Legano...Illegano...Is grey area." I'm fairly certain the wooden ark didn't pass safety standards and regulations. How Alice didn't get her leg stuck, leaving her body flailing around, suspended between the levels in the ark is beyond me. But, it wasn't the play equipment that worried me.

A stones throw from the play area were the animals. Goats, horses, turkeys, geese, an emu, and a pig. The goats were innnn-sane! Vicious, child-eating goats, and one was loose running amok with the kids. Weaving in and out of the angelic children brave enough to try to feed the caged animals, his head down and his horns right at rib level. Again, I wasn't worried.

I was preoccupied with another matter entirely. We arrived at 11:00. We ate at noon, and by ate I mean whined, cried, and generally threw a tantrum for all to see, temporarily refusing to eat the horrible lunch I packed. And now it was 1:00. My mind was ruminating. It was eminent. Too much time had passed and she had ate and drank. As the saying goes, what goes in must come out. The facility was nice, but it was a fairly bare bones establishment. Public bathrooms were not going to be an option. I saw a line of 4 porta-potties when we walked in. I'm not sure if you've had the pleasure of taking a small child into one of these pristine enclosures, but I'm sure you yourself have been in one. It's never something anyone enjoys doing. I have a friend who, at a camping music festival, didn't shit for 3 days out of porta-pot fear. A decision had to be made, leave now before the urge hits her or pray for the best, knowing the inevitable was coming.

The decision was made for me.

"Mama, I have to go potty." ....wait for it.... "It's poop."

For a moment I contemplated what to do. I could ask her to hold it, but I remember how that turned out when Alice ended up shitting on the side of some back road off I95. I could take her to the car and use the in-case-of-emergencies-handy-dandy-portable-poop-in-a-bag potty. But then my almost 4 year old is pooping in my car in a parking lot. I guess it was time to suck it up and brave the porta-pot.

Armed with a pack of wipes, we walked over. Picking which door to open is sort of like Russian roulette. I chose door number one...mistake. As I opened the door I saw a sight common in the portable toilet sector, a man's back to me as he's standing there peeing. What is it with guys not locking the door? Men! Lock the freaking door! I have no desire to open door after door seeing you and your junk pissing. I said a quick "sorry" and let go off the door, dumbfounded as to why I was apologizing for walking in on him. Thankfully, Alice was in la la land and didn't notice.

Up next, door number 4. I opened the door and ushered Alice inside, laying down the ground rules. "Don't touch anything." I surveyed the scene. It wasn't pretty, but surprisingly, it didn't stink. Pee all over the toilet seat and dribbles on the floor. This was going to be tricky. I pulled her shirt up and tucked it under her chin as I mulled over whether to take her skort completely off or pull it down. All the while, she's talking.

"Mama? What's that? Why is the water blue? Why's there so much blue water? Why's there pee on the seat? What's that in the potty? Watch me, Mama."

"Alice just be still. Stop moving. Pretend your feet are glued to the floor. Don't touch your shoes, please, Alice."

In one fell swoop I pulled Alice's skort down and lifted her into the air. So far, so good. Step one done and minimal contact with urine. Holding her little bum over the potty, I told her to go for it. And go for it she did as pee started to flow. This was where things started to get dicey. She must have had to pee like a race horse cause the pee was flowing with some force and I could hardly see where it was going. Holding her entire body above the potty, I moved her around to aim the pee in the hole. It was trial and error, really. If pee hit the edge or splattered on me, I knew it was time to readjust. Step two done, with a bit more damage. Though, at least this time I was sure who's urine was on my toe. Note to self, remove skort completely next time.

"I don't need to poop, Mama. Poop's not coming," she pleaded.

"Alice, we're in here. You said you had to poop. You're trying." The last thing I wanted was to go through all that for her to demand a bathroom on the way home. Holding her a bit more firmly, I gave her no choice. A bit of grunting and a few pushes later, she was done. I thank the Gods, when the poop fell into the depths of the blue disinfectant it didn't splash back on us. Step three, check.

We were almost in the clear. All we had to do was pull her skort back up and we were home free. This step was definitely harder than I thought it was going to be. As I dropped Alice to her feet, I neglected to hold her flowery skort. I watched as it cascaded down around her Tevas. I saw the dribbles of pee scattered around her feet. I cringed at the thought. As fast as I could, I grabbed her skort and her Rapunzel undies and tugged upward. They got stuck at her knees. See, it was a hot day, things were sweaty. I was forced to drop the skort and work solely on the undies.

"Alice, help me out. Come on. Stop moving around and help me get your undies up. Stop! Your skorts getting in the pee! DO YOU SEE THE PEE?!"

It was obvious. She didn't care about the pee. She was walking around, her skort down around her ankles, skimming the disgusting, feces stained porta-pot floor. Her undies we rolling and sticking, refusing to go in place. I was forced to abandon the porta-pot. I grabbed her, opened the door and procedded to dress her outside. Step four, done. A little more urine and possibly trace amounts of feces rounded out the mission. All in all, a success.

Alice resumed playing like portable toilets were no big thing. And really, they're not. They are disgusting hot beds for germs and probably diseases I can't even name. But, when you've got to go you've got to go. I just worry about what I'm going to do when she's too big for me to hold over the potty and yet too small to hover feet on the floor. Do those kids actually sit their behinds on the porta-potty seat? I shudder at the thought.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Moss Is Cool, Right?

I'm a bit odd, quirky even. I'm the first to admit. I'll never be one of those people, convinced she's normal when everyone around her thinks otherwise.

Take, for example, my newest oddity, I'm giddy about moss. Right. Moss. Just simple moss. I'm like, smile ear to ear, do a little dance excited about moss. I don't even know why. I'm really so very weird. Normal people are delighted when they see puppies or roses, but moss is what gets me off.

Proudly, I have passed the love to my daughter. She takes great pleasure in pointing moss out on our dog walks. She's got the eye, that one. She can spot it a block away, hidden in a crack on the sidewalk. She'll stop whatever she's doing to talk about it. Alice was skipping enthusiastically when I took her and Hatta on a mission to steal moss from a nearby hiking trail.

I know, who steals moss? Who even wants moss? Aren't most people trying to kill it? All very normal questions, but I've already admitted I'm not completely normal.

Living in a city rowhome, my front yard is small and flanked by insanely large ginkgo trees. It's shaded, very shaded. Grass barely grows. For two years I have tried growing a lush lawn that would make the neighbors jealous to no avail. This year, I'm embracing my individualism and going against the grain. I'm growing a moss lawn.

I flirted with the idea after a three day rain spell this spring when moss began growing in a low spot in the middle of the yard and in between nearby sidewalk cracks. I wondered what the kind neighbor, who mows everyone's lawn, would think when he got to mine. Would he be stumped or incredibly thankful to have one less yard to mow? I fantasized what passersby would think when they saw moss in place of grass, "Wow! She's a genius to think out of the box. Look at them finding such an easy solution to an unsightly lawn. And so green and plush!" In my head, it's all accolades.


Not nearly as impressive as in my mind.

I'm pretty sure I know what people think when they walk past my house, "What in the world is this plot of dirt supposed to be? Why does that silly girl keep watering the dirt?" I'm not concerned. I'm sure by next year my little plot of dirt moss will be the talk of the neighborhood. I will be a point of reference. "Go pass the house with the moss lawn..." People will be jealous of my no water, no mow, soft, vibrant yard.

I'll still be quirky, and my lawn will be impressive.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I'm Not Judging, Really I'm Not

Dearest Mom of the 7 year old boy I nearly brawled with at the pool,

I want to take a moment and let you know your son was dropping it like it's hot, the f-bomb that it. I'm sure you're not aware of it, being the awesome mom you are. Obviosly, he didn't learn it at home since you would never use such profanity in front of him, rather from that pricey private school you send him to. I thought you ought to know what your money is buying you. For the reasonable price of 20K a year, your son has learned to curse like a sailor in front of 3 year olds. I've heard other mom's in your position use soap or hot sauce in the mouth to fix such problems.

I saw your dear, sweet boy run to you to tattle on me after I embarrassed him in front of all his friends. I'd like to express my apologies. Normally I'm not the type to meddle in other's parenting, but since you were preoccupied with your fourth cocktail of the morning, I thought I'd do you a favor and shut your kid up. I don't want my little girl exposed to such vulgarity at such a young age, and, really, when she learns it I'd like it to be from me.

I was going to confront you in person regarding this matter. But, just as I was about to, your little angel slipped from your sunscreen covered hand and cannonballed into the pool. You seemed to have your hands full trying to order him out of the pool, threatening time out. When you finally waded into the pool to fetch your delinquent, I figured it was best just to let you handle the matter you were currently dealing with. No need to overwhelm you before your fifth drink.

Again, my sincerest apologies,



I'm not judging you. If your child was my son, I'd likely be drunk before noon, too.

***I'm not condoning hot sauce or soap as behavior modification. But, hey, soap seemed to work for Ralphie's mom. I'm also not endorsing drinking before noon. Even though Mimosas are packed full of vitamin C. On second thought, maybe soap and pre-noon binging should be a case by case decision.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

There Will Be Cake

A very important birthday is coming up in a few weeks. No, not mine...Alice's. She's turning 4.

What the what!? When did that happen? How is it even possible that she's almost 4 all ready?

Anyway. Any mother knows a birthday and a party go hand in hand. It's expected. People start asking about the impending party weeks, even months in advance.

Suffice it to say, I'm actively planning a birthday party. Except, I'm not. Let me elaborate, I'm having a party for Alice, but I'm not actively doing anything about it. It's refreshing!

The previous years, I have found the party planning to be exhausting, daunting really. I'd create lists and lists within lists, spreadsheets even. I was worried about having enough food, too much food, and foods to feed my picky eater. I'd lose sleep thinking about the entertainment planned for the party. Will the little kids be entertained and the big kids engaged at the same time? What about the adults? At a 2 year old's party, you tend to have a fair amount of adults. Then, there are the party favors. What do I give that kids will enjoy and isn't going to be broken or thrown in the trash the next day? You'd think I was planning Kendal Jenner's sweet 16 party, and frankly, that may have been less stressful.

Something happened this year. Something clicked. Maybe it's my attempt to be more carefree and easy going. Maybe I'm figuring this mom thing out, finally. I don't know. I do know I haven't made one list, not even a mental note in preparation for this party. I didn't send out invitations. I told a few people the date and time, and I finally got around to send out an evite yesterday. I'm not allowing this birthday party to stress me out. Kids will attend. They will have fun. There will be cake. And isn't that all that really matters anyway?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Visions of Sugar Plums

My daughter wants to be a baker when she grows up. This has been her ambition for several months now. After reading Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes at bedtime a few nights ago, her and I talked.

"Mama? What's it called, what I want to be? Not a cook..."

"A baker."

"Yeah, that's it. I wanna be a baker and make cakes and cupcakes, like Fancy Nancy did. But I'd make chocolate."

"Chocolate is good. Is that your favorite flavor?" I asked.

"Yes. But Mama? When I'm a baker, I might need some help. I'm not very big and I can't reach the big bowls and I can't do the oven. Will you be a baker with me? I might get lonely, too, doing it all by myself in the kitchen. And I will need your help. I don't know all the ingredients. I know butter and sugar and chocolate chips and vanilla and raw eggs. You're my best friend, so will you be a baker with me?"

"Of course. I'll be a baker with you," I tell her.

The odds are, Alice will have many career goals before she gets to college. Even then, she's likely to change majors and down the road, possibly change careers all together. That's entirely okay. I will support her dreams.

For now, her dreams are literally about cakes. The other night, having sleeping troubles in her own bed, Alice found herself in my bed, dreaming. I was awaken to the sound of her halfway crying, calling out, and very distraught.

"NO MAMA! I wanted the icing on it! Mama, NOOOO!"

I'm not sure about the criminal act I was committing. Seriously, how dare I take the icing off! I mean, everything is better with icing. What I do know is Alice eats, sleeps, and breaths sweets. All children do, I suppose. My girl seems to take it to an extreme. Sweets are constantly in the forefront of her mind. She could stare at the pastry counter in Whole Foods for hours admiring the pretty cakes, tarts, and petit fours, asking for clarification about the names of items. She looks through my cake cookbook with the same sparkle in her eye as when she's reading Sleeping Beauty or Rapunzel. If 20 years from now she's pursuing a career as a pastry chef, I will proudly say I knew it all along. Then again, a few months ago, part of me thought she was destined to be a UPS driver. So there's that.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Breaking Point

breaking point: noun

1: the point at which a person gives way under stress

2: the point at which a situation becomes critical


Today, I hit my breaking point. Maybe, quite possibly, I had previously thought the same. I stand corrected. The early "Alice incidents," however destructive they were, did not cause me to give way under stress. In other words, lose my mind. Screwdriver in hand, today, I lost my mind...momentarily.

Anyone know what that is? And if you say, merely a hinge with a bad paint job then you are wrong my friend. That's a glorious photograph of my breaking point.

Alice is a door slammer. Place her in her room for time out and she slams the door repeatedly. Pissed off and stewing, over and over again..slam, slam, slam. It's maddening to listen to. MADDENING!! I try to ignore it. Negative attention is still attention...they say. I've tried confronting her, appealing to her voice of reason. "Alice, if you keep slamming your door, the angel hanging above it is going to fall on your head and break your skull and blood's going to gush out. And I'm not taking you to the doctor if that happens." No matter what I say, it doesn't matter. She keeps slamming the damn door.

I had threatened before. Several times actually. Finally, either I had enough balls to do it or I had gone mad, but I had had enough! The door was coming down. In time out for some reason or another, maybe she yelled at me or hit me. Maybe she kicked me. I don't even remember. All I remember is the sound of the door as she, pissed off, slammed it shut over and over again.

As I was unscrewing screws that had been permanent fixtures for more years than I know, I heard Alice's tear filled lament.

"Mama, NO! You can't take my door. No, Mama! That's my door! What am I going to do without my door. I NEED my door, Mama! Papa's going to be so mad at you."

I have to admit, momentarily, I did have that Hatta going to be pissed at me for potentially causing us more work down line. You never quite know with these old homes, maybe when we try to reattach the door, the screw holes will be striped...but just as quickly as I thought it, I dismissed it. She's a defiant terror and drastic measures need to be taken. Down it came. I was in charge, oh how the tides had changed. Quickly I realized what a privilege it had been for her to have a door. Maybe, just maybe, I stand a chance to win this battle against my 3 year old. Here's to hoping.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Yesterday Was My Day

I know what the problem was, yesterday was the best day I'd had in awhile. Not sure what it was, maybe the stars were aligned properly and the cosmos was working in my favor. It set the bar entirely too high for today. Silly me, woke with brilliant optimism, thinking today could be another yesterday. Ha!

I should have known better, right from the start, when Alice broke her 8 night record and woke me up at 6am with pee soaked sheets and pajamas. Hind sight. Instead, I got out of bed with a spring in my step. Opening the windows, breathing the crisp, morning air, the day held the promise of possibilities.

I'm not sure when it started to deteriorate. Maybe when Hatta called and told me he had been pulled over on his way to work for the very same expired tags he received a ticket for a week ago. Or possibly when I knocked a snack cup of Goldfish on the floor. Perhaps when I over watered 2 house plants and the water poured over the radiator down to the floor. Maybe it was when I, yet again, spilled water all over the floor in an attempt to water the front garden. Perchance it happened when Alice, jumping on the dog bed, smacked her head into the wall leaving a lump. On her head, not the wall.

No. It wasn't that. At that point I was still naively thinking today could be a close second to yesterday. I hadn't given up, as my tweet said, "I'm trying really hard." I had every intention of rocking it at the mom job. I wasnt defeated. I took Alice to a playground near the airport. We usually have a picnic and watch the planes fly in to land.

Nice pic, huh? Except, I didn't take that today. No. See, today, the planes were not landing for our viewing pleasure. Instead, they were departing, over top of our heads, at the rate of 1 plane every 15 minutes. Not nearly the impressive impact on a 3 year old as the usual, 1 plane landing every, I dunno, 3 minutes. My outing was a bust. Alice was bored and tired. I was finally defeated.

Ready to concede, I told Alice it was time to go home. She burst out sceaming "NO!" repeatedly and as loudly as possible. Everyone was watching, I'm sure. Whatever. I was so done, I wasn't even embarrassed as I climbed the playground to drag her naughty behind out of there, crying the whole way. You know what? She cried the entire 25 minutes home, too. Icing on the cake.

Today, Friday, May 18th, you win. Today was not my day. I was its bitch. And sadly, I still have many hours left before I can pull the covers over my head and wishfully hope tomorrow is better.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Guilty By Association

On Tuesday, the glorious "red envelope" arrived in the mail. I keep the Netflix que a secret, so it's arrival is greeted much like Santa Claus.

This week...Mulan.

You know what that means? I've been living and breathing Mulan for 3 entire days now. Don't dare call her Alice, it's Mulan. I've been playing the part of the grandmother. It's really a minor role compared to my normal parts, Mother Gothel, The Evil Stepmother, and Captain Hook. I'm not reading into my daughter's casting at this time. Besides, I rather like playing The Evil Stepmother. Her bossiness is right up my alley.

Let it be known, I'm not a fan of the Disney Princesses. They do far too much cleaning and talk to far too many woodland creatures for my liking. That being said, this Mulan chick rocks! She is a total bad ass. She doesn't spend her days twirling around in full length sequined gowns. She's not waiting for a fairy godmother, or worse yet, a man, to save her. Instead, she's shooting arrows and scaling buildings, all the while convincing the other warriors she's a man. Her animal creature, it seems they all have to have one, isn't a mouse or a bird. It's a dragon. A fire breathing dragon. And quite possibly the best feature of all, she doesn't fall head over heels in love with some guy, only to live happily ever after. It was refreshing.

I'm glad Alice has taken a liking to Mulan. I only have one teeny tiny problem...Disney insists on calling her a princess. She is not of royal lineage. She doesn't marry a prince. So why the eff does Disney feel the need to lump her in with all the others? I think it brings her street cred down a bit. Guilty by association, if you will. But if they must do it, they need to treat her like all the rest. I want to see Mulan's warrior suit for sale in the dress-up section of the Disney Store, right next to Rapunzel's purple dress. I want her sword next to Cinderella's glass slippers.

The power of the Disney Princess to a little girl is strong. Sronger than myself. No matter how hard I tried, how many wooden cars and blocks I provided Alice with, the Disney Princess line sought my daughter out, targeted her, and invaded my house. The least they could do is give her all the options. Let her choose what kind of princess she wants to be today, a tulle wearing, girly girl or a total bad ass.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Inner Merrymaker

I wanted to write something really thought provoking today, a real pot stirrer. Or maybe it would have been a hysterical take on some random aspect of raising my daughter.

But, sad to say, I just can't. Not today.

It would be wonderful if I had a killer explanation for you, but I don't. It's simple really.

I'm tired and hung over. Yup. A classic case of not enough water, a really good band, and too many beers. As a result, my brain is not thinking much. I do believe it's pissed off at me for the night I had.

I'm not in this predicament often. Taking care of the needs of Alice while I'm suffering from this unbearable affliction is lousy enough to keep me in check 98% of the time. However, every once in awhile something happens. Something inside me says, "Lighten up control freak. Enjoy yourself. Go ahead. You can do it. Just have one more drink. You'll be fine. Do it! Do it! Have fun!"

Last night, with Alice away at a sleepover with my sister, I succumbed to the peer pressure of my inner merrymaker and enjoyed myself with the help of two very good friends, Mister Dogfish Head and Sir Lagunitas. Thanks, guys, I had an awesome time last night. Your hospitality was exceptional. And the band, ALO, was phenomenal as well.

ALO at U Street Music Hall, DC

Monday, May 14, 2012

Big Fork and Spoon

Did you every see the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond titled "Baggage?" The one where Ray and Debra have an unspoken battle over who's responsibility it is to put the suitcase away after a weekend getaway. Ray goes to such extremes as to use a plastic grocery bag as luggage when going away on a business trip, but not before he secretely places cheese in the suitcase. Marie mentors Debra by sharing a similar story of a battle of wills her and Frank had involving the big fork and spoon in their kitchen. "Don't let a suitcase filled with stinky cheese be your big fork and spoon," Marie advises.

The light in my living room ceiling fan is my big fork and spoon. Though, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one that knows it.

I'm a strong woman. I'm all for women's lib. I believe women can do anything. That being said, I live with a man. I do feel some tasks are better suited for certain genders. I may be able to mow the lawn, but I know from experience using our old fashioned push mower, it takes me far longer than my husband. I don't ask for much. But I think it's only fair for him to take out the trash, kill the bugs, and change the lightbulbs in the ceiling fixtures.

For months now...months I tell you, the light in the ceiling fan has been burnt out. If Alice wants to play with her dollhouse, I have to turn the kitchen lights on so she can see. People who walk in our house must think we are extremely cheap, not wanting to pay for the electric, or vampires. Even with the table lamps on, it's dark. Really dark.

I didn't want to change it. It wasn't my responsibility. Hatta and I had already had this battle last summer. The glass globe over the light shattered and it had to be replaced. When the globe arrived, it sat in it's box for months. He opened it when it was first delivered, looked at it and put it back. There it sat, being our big fork and spoon until, finally, I installed it. Now, here we are again. The damn light. The mother effing light that he doesn't seem to realize even needs changing. He's learned to live with it. His eyes have adjusted, I suppose. I've subtly mentioned it several times, hoping he'd get the hint and fulfill his manly duties. Instead, on Saturday, I pulled out the stepstool, got the old bulb down and took it to Home Depot to find a replacement.

Which brings me to today. I succumbed to the desire to see my living room again. I changed the light. Let it be known, I did it. I got the suitcase, er...the lightbulb.

When Alice walked into the living room after lunch, she said "Mama! The light?"

"Yes, baby. I changed it." It had been so long, she completely forgot what the room was supposed to look like illuminated.

"Oh Mama! You're the best Mama ever! I love you so much! Thank you! I'm so sorry I spit on you and kicked you. I won't do it again. Mama, you are the best!"

Obviously, the lack of light had been depriving her. If I had known how appreciative she was going to be, maybe I would have changed it sooner. Maybe.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Day at the Flower Shop

Mother's Day is on Sunday. For me, the day is very bittersweet. I can not fully embrace it with my mother no longer living. However, I am a mother. The day was created for me, too. So, I do my best to think of positive memories of my mom and let the sadness go and be happy.

This morning, while showering, I was thinking. My best thinking happens in the shower, it has to be said. Anyway, I was thinking of childhood memories involving my mom. I found myself lost in a scene in my mother's flower shop. I was about 7 years old, I'm guessing. It was summer time, and not being old enough to stay home alone, I would accompany my mother to her shop. I loved it. My mom would come armed with craft projects galore. Paint by numbers, friendship bracelets, wooden boxes to paint. I can't even imagine how many loop n loom pot holders I made that summer! She would give me odd jobs around the shop, my favorite being pre-filling the floral water tubes. Living in a beach town, I would walk up to the boardwalk and bring us back the most delicious french fries drenched in vinegar. My mom would stop working and share them with me. We would sit on our tall, wooden stools together and talk. It made me feel important. Special.

Now as an adult, a mother myself, I think about that memory a little different. I see the other side. I believe you truly appreciate your mother when you become one yourself, when you've walked in similar shoes. I'm sure my mother loved the time we spent together during those summer days at her shop. I'm also sure, given the choice, she would have rather sent me to summer camp so she could work more productively.

I believe my mother was juggling it all at that exact moment. Divorced from my father, she was primarily raising me and my oldest sister alone, while working full time running her own business. Occasionally I remember seeing my mother stressed, like, for example, during the second biggest flower gifting holiday, Mother's Day. But mostly, I just remember how damn happy she was. Sunshiney happy. She never let on to the feelings she must have been feeling as she embarked upon a day at the shop, daugher in am I going to keep Nelly occupied for 8 hours straight so I can work. I don't recall her flipping out trying to rush us both out the door early in the morning, screaming "hurry up! We're going to be late!" When I distracted her with a million questions, like I was known to do, she never showed she was loosing patience. When I grew bored of one activity, she had an infinite supply of ideas to entertain me and they all sounded, well, fun. My mother made me feel like she wanted me in the shop with her. Like we were best friends.

I treasure the memories we made in her flower shop. They absolutely hold a dear place in my heart. More importantly, maybe the memories have taught me something about how to be a better, happier mother. Maybe the next time I'm finding myself frazzled with Alice and her antics and I'm about to go to that place I'm not particularly proud of, I should think of my mom. Think of how she handled it. With patience and a smile. With the right attitude, even the simplest most mundane tasks can be thrilling to a child. I should embrace this knowledge, because one day, many years from now, Alice will reflectively look back on her memories of me. What will she see? A stressed out, impatient mother? Or one who embraces fun at every opportunity? I will strive to make sure her memories are all of the loop n loom and water tube filling caliber.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Maybe She Won't Be Wetting The Bed In College After All

OMG! I have the most amazing, thrilling news ever!!

No, I didn't win a two week, all expenses paid vacation to Bora Bora. Guess again! Nope, my husband didn't surprise me by hiring a biweekly cleaning service. Okay, are you ready for this? Brace yourself.

Alice hasn't peed in her pull up for two consecutive nights now! Yay! Yay! Yay! DID YOU HEAR ME? I said two nights in a row!!

*chirp chirp chirp*

Tough crowd. I thought you would be as excited about this as we are.

See, that's the thing when you have kids, especially young ones. The most minute life stage is a big deal for everyone involved. Those not involved, could truly care less. I get it. I have some childless friends that I know better than to bother with such mundane mommy details. In the past, when I have volunteered such information I hear crickets in return. You don't see me yawning when I'm forced to listen to their latest drunken escapade. How she arrived home at the end of the night with only one shoe isn't really that captivating to me. But I feign interest. I'm a good friend. I nod my head and laugh in the appropriate places. All I can hope is my good friends will do the same.

So, where was I...oh, right, no pee. Alice has been potty trained since before she was two. I don't mean we were working on it. She went to her two year well check up in big girl undies. She was potty trained. Night time has been an entirely different story. For two years...two years now, we've tried everything. Limiting her water intake in the evening, getting her up before I went to bed to pee one last time, buying pretty princess undies, sticker charts...we even took her to Target to pick out a special "no pee in the pull-up" prize. She chose a baby doll she named Pajie. Poor Pajie sat in her box, up on that shelf for so long the magical milk in her bottle actually dried up. With no luck, we gave up. Resigned ourselves to buying more cases of pull-ups. Hopeful that she would eventually develop bladder control.

Then, many months later, the day we had been talking about came, we had no more pull-ups left in the last box we were ever going to buy. She knew what that meant. Time to suck it up and put on your big girl panties. Literally. For a week, Alice worked hard on night time potty training. And for a week, I worked hard keeping up with all the washing and changing of sheets, blankets, and pajamas. We made it 6 days before I placed an order on Amazon for another case.

Which brings me to now. I'm not sure what's different this time around. I haven't bought into any new gimmicks. I'm not trying a new tactic. Maybe, by golly, she's finally ready.


Or maybe I'm celebrating a tad bit too early. After all, it's only been two nights. We'll see, but the hubbub in the house is delightful. Alice has had chocolate ice cream for breakfast two days in a row!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Napping House Where Nobody Is Sleeping

Alice still "naps." And by "naps" I mean around 1 o'clock we read books, I tuck her in bed, and as soon as she hears me descend the first stair step she gets out of bed, turns on the light and resumes playing whatever magical game I so rudely interrupted. Whether or not she naps is up to her, but she's shut in her room for nearly two hours. It's been like this for at least a year.

"Does she still nap?" is a question I'm asked a lot. I'm not sure why people are so enthralled with my child's napping habits, but clearly they are. It's a guarantee, when I tell them that even though I think she needs to nap, she probably only sleeps 2 out of 7 naps, the people have their opinions.

"She has too many distractions in her room. Here's what you need to do. Remove all of her toys and books. Then she'll have no choice but to sleep."

Really, Einstein? It's that simple. Why, oh why did I never think of that? Now tell me, when she starts using the clothes in her dresser as her own fashion show, what then? Am I supposed to remove her dresser as well? And when she resorts to counting and playing with her toes? Cut 'em off? I have tried this "bare bones solution." It doesn't work.

"Well, maybe this is her way of telling you she's growing up and doesn't need to nap anymore. Maybe mommy just needs to accept that nap time is over."

Brilliant. That has to be it! Just a sec though, when she's melting down around 4 o'clock every day because her brain just can't function anymore and she's tripping over her own feet because her body can't keep going, please do tell, what's your address so I can drive her to your house and you can entertain her delightfulness? My child still needs to nap. Without a doubt.

"You aren't tiring her out. From the moment she wakes up, you need to be providing her with physical stimulation so when nap time rolls around she's exhausted."

Let me get this straight, if I take her for a dog walk, a bike ride to the playground, and a trip to the bouncy house all before lunch time, that ought to do it, right? I've done that, and she didn't nap. The amount of energy she exerts is not related to the amount she sleep.

This is Alice. Some days she allows her body to sleep and some days she doesn't. A few days ago, I went in Alice's room during nap time to ever so kindly yell remind her to lay down and go to sleep. She wasn't in her bed or her chair, but her closet door was shut. She has a small cubby in her closet and it's the only hiding place in her room. I, assuming she was hiding, decided not to feed into her game and quietly left her room. At 5 o'clock, I returned to fetch her. Nap time never lasts past 5 unless I'm reading a life stopping trilogy. I walked into her room and still no Alice. I opened her closet and there she was huddled in the corner, asleep. When I roused her I asked the obvious, "why were you sleeping in your closet? Were you reading and you fell asleep."

"No Mama. There was a bug. In my room. I was hiding from it. You know, bugs can't get you in your closet."

So, the next time some well meaning old lady suggests my daughter has too much stimulation in her room. I'll likely retort, "Or not enough bugs. A faulty ant farm might fix my napping problem.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Over the past few days recovering from my wretched wisdom teeth surgery, I've learned a few things.

First, my body doesn't like narcotics very much. You never have to worry about me scouring the market for recreational prescription drugs. What I was prescribed, however weak and lame my husband insisted they were, left me nauseous, vomiting, and unable to eat.

Second, I can not tolerate eating bland, boring soft foods. By the fourth day I was licking the cool ranch off the Doritos. I've been forced to watch Hatta eat two subs since my surgery. The first a juicy cheeseburger sub on a crunchy roll, with sourdough pretzels on the side. The second a chicken cheesesteak. And even though they screwed up his order and added mayo, I would have maimed to have eaten that sub. Like a death row inmate, I'm already creating my "last meal" list, though I suppose in this situation it should be called my "first meals."

Third, in my absence, my daughter will exist on cheese and crackers. I'm not sure why, but she ate cheese and crackers at nearly every meal.

And finally, I learned the exact number of days of my husbands stay at home dad/caretaker threshold. Two. Just two. The first two days of my recovery, Hatta was stellar. He was doting on me and there for my every need, while he was executing the upmost patience with Alice. On the third day, everything changed. He still offered to help me out and he still took care of Alice's needs, though now everything was met with a sigh and an exasperated tone. He was exhausted and out of patience. I listened to him deteriorate as the days went by. I felt for him. He was out of his element. He was in my world now, and I can honestly say, he's not cut out for it. But I do commend him for putting forth a valiant effort. He really was spot on those first two days.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In Case I Die

Alice loves fruit...sort of. If you give her a bowl of blueberries and strawberries, she won't eat them. But if you take that same bowl of fruit, add other fruits, tofu, and yogurt, throw it all in the food processor, she'll eat it. I make smoothies and popsicles daily. I'm a good mom. It occurred to me over the weekend that my husband has never made Alice a smoothie. Because I was short on time and had other things to do in the kitchen, I had to verbally walk my husband through the process. And I said to him, "now if I die, at least you know how to make a smoothie."

Tomorrow morning, I will be having my wisdom teeth removed. I've read that things that can go wrong. I could have permanent nerve damage, never being able to move my tongue again, or worse, death. Even though I have been reassured that the odds are in my my favor I will not die of anesthesia and many people endure this rite of passage and come out unscathed, I find it better to err on the side of pessimism caution.

I present to you my list of things someone needs to know in case I, um, well...just in case.

  • The sewing kit is on the second shelf in the hutch.
  • Water my plants. If my ficus tree or the orchid in the bathroom dies, I'll haunt you.
  • Library books are due Friday. Late fees suck.
  • Ramen noodles rock. I expect someone to teach Alice the fine art of making an oodles of noodles sandwich.
  • White vinegar and baking soda will clean just about anything.
  • When making aforementioned smoothies, don't add raspberries or blackberries. She hates the seeds.
  • A little MSG will not kill you. Moderation is the spice of life.
  • I have hand-me-downs organized in the basement up to size 6. After that, you're on your own.
  • Pine shats are the best type of mulch.
  • I wish to be cremated. Do not spend money on a fancy urn to hold my ashes. A cardboard box is a sufficient container to transport me. Please spread my ashes in my grandmothers cottage garden and in the ocean.
  • Speaking of ashes, the remains of my childhood dog is in my basement. Please spread him in the garden with me and also in the pond behind my mother's old house.
  • Wear sunscreen. Alice, like myself, is fair skinned. Don't let her burn.
  • When life is shitty, there's nothing wrong with getting ice cream or cake to try and cheer yourself up.
  • On Valentine's day, send Alice balloons to school...every year.
  • You can never spoil a child by buying too many books.
  • I'll save you the time looking. I do not have a 9x13 baking pan.
  • The upholstery attachment for the vacuum is under the kitchen sink.
  • Don't wash the black cloth napkins with anything else. No matter how much I wash them, they still bleed.
  • Continue to remind my daughter that she is brilliant and beautiful and unique.
I suppose that will do for now. Besides, I'm sure I'll be just fine tomorrow. Nothing to worry about. Piece of cake.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Quite a few years ago, Hatta and I lived with his grandmother. Her husband had recently died and she had developed lameness of some sort. The cause, knee surgery...broken hip, escapes me at the moment. Regardless, it wasn't safe for her to be living alone, so we moved in temporarily. Before moving in, we attemped to convert the upstairs into "our space." We cleaned. We painted. We tried to make it feel like home. But, it didn't change things. We never settled in at her house. We left the vast majority of our belongings boxed up, only unpacking necessities. We never felt at home there.

Meanwhile, life kept turning during the brief time we lived there. I changed careers and even though it was what I wanted to do, it was emotionally hard. My mother's illness became much more prominent. I vividly remember having a phone conversation trying to convince her of the severity of her illness. Previously, we had been living in the city and loved it. Moving in with Hatta's grandmother meant us moving to the county, and not an area of the county we usually frequented. We became homesick, in a sense. I developed county allergies. Literally. I guess my system wasn't used to the trees, grass, and pollen because that spring I had asthmatic allergies like I've never had since.

Those few months were hard, but we made it thought them. When his grandmother was well again, Hatta and I moved back to the city, into the same house we had lived in before, only this time the larger first floor apartment was vacant. So, really, it all did work out for the best.

I shared this story with you to help explain where I'm at right speaking. I used to write elsewhere. And even though I know A Tea Tray in the Sky is not temporary, it doesn't feel like my home. I'm having a hard time getting settled in. My belongings are still boxed up. I haven't even picked out paint colors. I'm terribly homesick. Meanwhile, the trials and tribulations of life are still spinning around, making this whole settling in process even harder. But, like before, I will make it through and come out for the better on the other side. Please bear with me as I try to get adjusted here. Possibly my feng shui is off. Maybe my colors aren't projecting the right energy or I should just add a mirror.