Finding the funny in parenthood before somebody loses an eye...

Monday, November 30, 2009

NPR calling! (a/k/a "the best phone call I ever received before 8:00AM)

My phone rang at around 7:45 this morning and I glared at it like "What the f*ck!"

I hate when people call me early in the morning.  I don't know why.  Early morning phone calls seem to sound an alarm for doom and gloom or at least carry requests for favors.   And they feel all the more burdensome because they come at my busiest time of the day and carry the expectation that I'll put aside my priorities to deal with the caller's issue immediately.   It just totally bugs me.  I know this isn't normal. 

I could tell from the caller ID number that it wasn't my mom, sister or ex - the usual suspects.  I saw a (202) area code and tried to figure out - who do I know in Washington D.C.?  (Okay...I won't lie, at first I thought it was Connecticut).

I answered the phone with a tentative and fairly unfriendly "hello?" in preparation for hearing about "lowered Mortgage rates"and "ways to consolidate my bills".

"Uh, hello?  Is this Sarah?"

"Yes.  Who is this?"

"It's me, Rob."

It was an old family friend.

"Oooohhhh....Hi, Rob!"

"Uh...did I call at a bad time?  I know it's early"

"It's fine.  I'm sorry.  I hate mornings.  What's up?"  He told me he was calling to ask if I'd be a guest on NPR's show "Tell Me More" an hour!  Woo-Hoo!  I don't think anything has jump-started me so quickly since I discovered Dunkin' Donuts Dark Roast at my local Vons.  I was so excited!  I was so glad he didn't hang up on me when I snapped his ear off.

So an hour later I showed up in sweats (after all, it is radio...) and we had a lively discussion about the rise in availability of ethnic dolls (and no, I don't mean the Kardashians) and whether or not as moms of varying "ethnicity" this trend affected our buying choices when it came to what we purchased for our daughters.

Okay, I know what you're thinking...Jewish isn't technically "ethnic"...and my family has been in America for five generations...and I'm not particularly religious ...but my hair is brown and curly (at least under the Brazilian straightening treatment) so I can say I truly understand on a deeper level (at least to my scalp) the burden ethnicity brings - especially when it's humid.

But the point is...I am going to be on NPR.

Or, maybe the point is that not every early morning phone call is necessarily bad and that I shouldn't be quite so snappy.

Either way, I hope you'll tune in tomorrow to "Tell Me More" on NPR.  You have to go to to find out when it will air in your timezone.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"I'm thankful for Asia"

I suppose a comment like this would surprise a parent, but not me.

Last night at my sister's house we all went around the table and said what we were thankful for.

My twins, as always, responded to this with the expected amount of propriety.

"I'm thankful for my mommy, daddy, Wii, and food" said Ben.  Okay.  I was pleased.

Always one to one-up her brother given the opportunity, Livi said "I'm thankful for my Mommy, daddy, my house, candy and Scott - including my boyfriend in the mix to gain extra points.  I was on to her, but what the heck.

My 10 year old nephew says "I'm thankful for my dogs, my mom and dad, video games, food and movies."  My sister nodded approval.

Her teenage daughter said "I'm thankful for life."  Brevity is the hallmark of teenagers.

Then we came to Isabel.  "I'm thankful for Asia."

"Excuse me?" Only a child of mine would say something like this.

"I'm thankful for Asia.  If there weren't any Asia there's be a big hole in the ocean - Asia is HUGE.  And we wouldn't have Chinese Food."

Maybe the girl makes a point.  We all recognize the gift of obvious things; food, life, videogames, health.  But isn't it nice sometimes to give thanks for things we would never consider?  Maybe I'm thankful for Asia too.  After all, I do love  dumplings.

My Clip!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's the most wonderful meal of the year

Every year I look forward to Thanksgiving.  It's my FAVORITE meal of the year!

I love crispy, buttered turkey skin, sweet potatoes whipped with more butter and topped with melting marshmallows, pies, cakes, cookies (all made with butter) and an over-indulgence of cheeses and charcuterie to nibble on as we wait for cider to mull.  Yum!

My kids hate it.

Every year I try to ply them with sweet potatoes with a high marshmallow to potato ratio and they pick at it like I've given them collard greens.  They don't like pumpkin pie, they won't touch stuffing, and when I point out how moist the turkey is I get asked, "Can I have ketchup?"

Apparently, if it's not smothered in ketchup, laden with sodium, sprinkled with colored sugar or artistically crafted into the shape of a dinosaur, it's "gross".

They didn't start out this way.  I did everything "right" to make them good eaters.  I gave them vegetables before they ever had  fruit.  I pushed roasted chicken, lasagna and made smiling yummy faces as they sucked down creamed spinach.  I thought it was working.

But somewhere along the way, they decided there to boycott my efforts.   I blame myself.  As they slowly limited their intake of "healthy" food, I  made "accommodations."  They didn't want steak, so I made hamburgers, they didn't like lasagna, so I gave them plain pasta, they didn't want grilled fish, so I gave them fried fish sticks.  They rewarded me by cleaning their plates and even asking for seconds.  Success!  Or, so I thought.

When I was little, my mother cooked things like chicken croquettes, tuna casserole and liver.  We ate what we were given and we didn't complain.  Okay, we complained, but we got spanked for it.  Totally not worth it.

This is doubly frustrating because I love to cook - and I'm really good at it.  I've spent hours making homemade meatballs, lamb chops and roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary.  I tell them that my cooking is filled with "love."  "Can you taste the love?"  I've actually said this to them - What an idiot.

My point is that I've noticed parents provide  children with options and every time they sit down to a meal we think is wonderful and delicious, they believe there is a better alternative out there - if only they hold out. 

 Well, tomorrow I head over to my sisters and we'll spend the whole day cooking amazing dishes that fill the air with the promise of the most delicious meal of the year.  (See Pumpkin Trifle above).  I will expose my children once again to the favorites of my childhood.  And they'll resist.  I'll say "It's delicious - try it!" and they'll respond by taking the teeniest, tiniest pinpoint-sized glob on one prong of their fork and they'll extend their tongue toward it like contact will cause electrocution.  If they go back for a second "lick", I'll know they like it.  I'll dangle cookies in front of them to bribe them to taste it all in hopes that at least one dish will bring an enthusiastic response.  And maybe, just maybe, one will.

But just in case, I'll be packing some dinosaur chicken nuggets.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stabbing is "Bad"

My child wants to stab someone and I'm a little concerned.

Out of respect for that child - and fear of losing future playdates - let's call the child "Pat".

The other day my boyfriend, Scott, was in the playroom with the kids and "Pat" said "I feel like stabbing someone."

Scott shot "Pat" a look of horror.

Pat saw the look and said "Uh-oh.  Am I in trouble?"

Scott, that hippie man of mine, didn't want to get "Pat" in trouble for her "feelings" - even if they were about maiming someone - and calmly said "No.  You're not in trouble.  I am curious though...are you angry about something?"

"No.  I just really feel like stabbing someone."

He sat "Pat" down and explained to her why stabbing is bad.  It's not right.  It could really hurt someone.  And saying you want to "stab someone" means you want to cause someone a lot of pain.  "Do you see why stabbing is wrong?  You don't really want to stab someone, do you?"

"I still want to stab someone."

Scott was out of his league  so he brought "Pat" to me.  I was in my room folding laundry and he said  "Pat has something to tell you."  Standing at the foot of my bed covered in folded laundry, I could only see the top of Pat's head and she says "I really want to stab someone."

"Pardon me?" I said.

"I really want to stab someone."

Was my kid some kind of psychopath?   Maybe she was just expressing emotions of anger.  In a world where our children are bombarded daily with easily remedied violence in the media, this was normal, right? 

We're told we shouldn't engage our children if they say "I hate you" or "I wish you were dead" or "I want to kill you." Did Pat's  laissez-faire attitude toward "stabbing someone" fall under that category?  Do I punish her for her feelings?  Squelch her freedom of speech?  I mean, wasn't she entitled to "feel" like she "wanted" to stab someone just as long as she knew she wasn't supposed to actually stab someone?  Hey, I'm divorced, I have an ex, I've been there. 

So I said to her "Why do you want to stab someone?"

"See Scott????  I told you if we told her she'd want to know "why"?"  Pat was pissed.

I looked at Scott.  Yes.  Pat was a psychopath.

Scott said "Sarah...Pat didn't want to tell you she wanted to stab someone because she knew you'd ask her "why" and she has no idea "why".

"Oh.  Well, Pat, do you know what "stabbing" means?"

Pat made an "I told you so" face to Scott and was silently tilting and jabbing the head in my direction.  Like I was the problem.

Scott explained to me that in their previous discussion in the playroom, "Pat" and he discussed what "stabbing" meant, why it was wrong, and that she didn't know "why" she felt this way.  She only knew  she wanted to stab someone.  I could see she was frustrated.

Not really knowing what to do, and trying really hard not to freak out, you know, because she hadn't actually stabbed anybody - and because letting your children express their emotions is supposed to be a "good" thing, or so they say - I said the only reasonable thing I could think of.

I asked "Are you going to stab someone?"


"You know you shouldn't."

"Yes.  I know.  But I still want to."

"Do you want to talk about anything?

She was totally exasperated with me. "No!"

"Alright.  But you're not going someone?"


"Okay then." I shrugged.  "You can go."  As she walked out of the room I added "You can talk to me if you figure out why you want to stab someone!"

"Yeah.  I know!"  She shouted from down the hall.

I'm not sure if I handled the situation the right way or if I should take her in for psychiatric evaluation, but I think I did alright.  After one's bleeding.

Maybe I'll only give her plastic knives just in case.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Love Stinks

So I'm tucking in my daughter - giving her all of the love I had missed giving her these past few days while I was in NY.  I'm snuggling, cuddling, nuzzling - feeling a perfect mommy/daughter bedtime moment.

And she says "Mommy, your breath is so bad I can smell it with my ears."

Was it Bon Jovi who said "Love Stinks"?

Yo, Yo, Yo...

My daughter channeled a rapper tonight.  She tried to convince us we should play this game she made up called "Yo, Yo, Yo...Risks and Consequences."

I don't know why Hasbro doesn't pick it up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream...and No One Gives A Crap...

When I grew up in the 70’s, we got spanked.  This wasn’t shocking.  Everyone got spanked.  In fact, if you didn’t get spanked, it was understood that you were the product of liberal hippies and chances are your mother didn’t wear a bra and your lunch contained natural peanut butter. 

Believe me, I didn’t like it.  In fact, I hated my parents for it.  I was embarrassed, humiliated and emotionally scarred by the experience.  So much so that I vowed, like the millions of other parents who grew up in my generation, that I would never strike my own children.  And I don’t.  Not ever.  For any reason.

But BOY, can I yell - and I don’t just mean in bed.  I yell at my kids all of the time.  I’m not sure if it’s any better than my parent’s more “hands-on” approach, but it’s certainly effective.

I don’t want to yell.  In fact, I start each day with the notion that I’m not going to yell…ever again.  I’m going to be “easy-going” and “keep my cool” and impress upon my children that their mother is peaceful, serene and just.

But inevitably, after being with my three children through 20 minutes of wrangling, dressing, brushing, serving, feeding, making lunch, bagging snacks, finding library books and locating their backpacks, my patience begins to wear thin.  “I am asking you again, could you please pick up your plate and brush your teeth?!” “Why didn’t you tell me I had to fill this out last night! “, “You need a diorama of the polar ice cap TODAY?!”

I know what you’re thinking.  “This is your fault.  If you prepared your children the night before and left a little extra time in the morning for “breathing room,” you and your children wouldn’t feel so stressed out and you wouldn’t need to yell.”

Let me tell you.  I’ve tried this.  I’ve spent the half hour before bed laying out clothes, making lunches “to order”, placing homework inside of backpacks by the front door – and it does makes things easier.  But it does not solve the problem.  “The problem” being the three children who decide they want something for lunch other than what I packed the night before, or that they’re hot and need to wear a different shirt, or that they want their hair in braids, or a different lunch box, another muffin, the “good” syrup, more milk, less milk, no milk, or maybe even a pony – all before they go to school.

I smile for as long as I can, forcing the edges of my mouth upwards through the tensing muscles that want to make all things on my face furrow and frown.  I use breathing techniques I learned in birthing class and I say things like “It doesn’t look like we have time for braids today.  I’ll braid your hair tomorrow.” And “We don’t have anymore of that syrup.  Why don’t you try the Mrs. Buttersworth.” and “I’d love a pony too, but it’s just not going to happen today.  Come on, we really have to go.”

And they’ll ignore me.  The clock will be ticking and they just keep right on arguing with me about braids, shirts, and ponies.  “You guys?  Could you please put your lunches in your backpacks and put on your sneakers?  Seriously.  We’re going to be late for school if we don’t leave right now!”

And they continue to ignore me.  And the clock is still ticking.  And then I’ll catch one of them watching me out of the corner of their eye to see just how close Vesuvius is to eruption, and they’ll smirk - and that’s when it happens.

“YOU GUYS AREN’T LISTENING TO ME!!!!  I’M LEAVING WITHOUT YOU RIGHT NOW!!!!!!”  Of course I wouldn’t, but a mom can dream.

And THAT’S when they line up.  They grumble and moan and say things like “Mom’s in a bad mood…again.”  Nice.

So many magazines and books espouse the idea that talking to your children quietly, reasoning with them, addressing whatever issues they have in a calm tone, will help you raise happy, well-adjusted children.  I think if you stick to those rules, your children will happily live in your home until you stop making their lunch to order…or you die.  Whichever comes first.

So, it looks like my kids are going to grow up thinking their mother is a banchee.  But I think I can live with that.  

Just as long as I’m not still making them lunch.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New York, New York...

I can't stop smiling.

I'm in New York and I feel awesome. *

I am pretty sure that my mood has ALMOST everything to do with the fact that my memories of my life in New York are wonderful, so many of my close friends are here, and...I have no kids with me.

Even the pretzel guy on the corner outside Bergdorf Goodman said to me "I like your face.  You look happy."

And I said "I am happy.  Thank you.  My kids are 2000 miles away."

Is that so wrong?

 (* I woke up today at 11am.  Walked to H&H bagels to get a fresh, hot, moist doughy rondele of cinnamony goodness schmeared in walnut raisin cream cheese. YUM!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Don't call me, I'll call you...when the kids are in college...

If you call my house, chances are you won't get to talk to me.  At least not for very long.

Today I was sitting in my room filing papers.  I had been up for hours, gone to the market, and made fresh french toast for the kids who are home for Veterans Day.

Then the phone rang.

The second I picked up, the call was interrupted by my son who asked for a cream cheese sandwich despite the fact he had JUST eaten breakfast.

Annoyed, I got off the phone, made him a sandwich and went back to work.

The phone rang again.

I answered it and managed to get "hello" out when my son interrupts again.  He needs pants.  Right away.  Pajamas just won't do.  Even though he's been wearing them for hours.  I end my call and find my kid pants.

"Ben, do you need anything else?"


"Are you sure?  Because every time I pick up the phone it seems like you have a problem.  I'd like to be able to talk on the phone.  Can you let me talk on the phone if someone calls?"




"Okay.  You have a sandwich, you have water, you have got everything?"



I went back to filing.  The phone rang.


"Hey, it's me."  My sister.

Sure enough..."Moooooooooooooooommmmm!"

Are you f*cking kidding me????  "WHAT, BENNNNN????!!!!!  WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?!

He came in holding a phone receiver.  "You have a phone call."

Obviously...that's the problem.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Ben and the Weather" CD Collection Infomercial

This was a long week.  I was sick, the kids were sick.  Everyone was stuck inside....

So yesterday, my eyeballs were throbbing and I had a DESPERATE  need to do "something," ANYTHING to stop the endless rounds of "Mooooom....I'm bored"!  And then my son announces that he's going to hold a little concert.  He's written some songs and wants to sing them to us.

Alright...that's "something."  I'll bite.

So, he holds a concert in my living room.  He sings his songs.   Interestingly enough, all of the songs revolve around the theme of "weather."  Who knew he was so inspired by weather.  We don't even have weather.  We live in L.A. 

Anyway, he's singing songs about lightening,  rain, floods...(come to think of it...his songs are more about natural disaster than weather) and I think...I have GOT to get this on video.  So I grabbed my new Kodak Zi8 (Kodak's Flip camera) and decided to take it for a test drive.  (I must say - if you can get your hands on one of these - they are AWESOME!  I shot the whole thing in HD and plugged it in to upload it on my computer - Mac and PC compatible.  SO small and SO easy!  Wish I'd had this when my 9 year old was little!  Okay...enough with sounding like a plug - I just loved this thing.) 

So then, later I'm watching the videos (as only a mother would do) and it hits me, we could do something with this footage.  Something that would involve the whole family.  Something that would ...dare I say it...occupy the kids. 

So Scott and I wrote a little script (with the help of Izzy, Liv and Ben), the kids dragged out a few of their favorite costumes, and we decided to chronicle the career of a fictional (well...maybe "future") music icon. could happen.

Click HERE to watch "Ben & The Weather" The Collection

They like me! They really like me!!...

I am so excited to thank April at Pickles & Lollipops and F.T.M. at  Adventures of a First Time Mommy for giving me an award!  I'd like to thank her ever further for taking the time to explain how to get the damn thing onto my site!

Thanks so much April and Mom O' Bug!

In the spirit of the award, I need to pass this along to 15 other blogs I love - the hard part will be picking only 15.  There is some great stuff out there.

1. Laura @ My Life is a Piece of Cake
2. Life in the carpool lane
3. The Urban Baker
4. Zen and Motherhood
5.  If Evolution Works
6.  Confessions Of a Stay-at-Home Mom
7.  Confessions of an Imperfect Parent
8.  A Starbucks a day Keeps Life at Bay
9.  Baby on Bored
10.  Womb at the Innsane
11.  Crazy Suburban Mom
12.  Sweatpants Mom
13. Mommy Wants Vodka
14. The Bloggess
15. Lola B's One Girl Talks

I hope you'll check out some of these amazing blogs.  These women rock!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Star is Born...Literally...

Have you heard about the woman who's going to give birth live on the internet?  That's right, Lynsee (that's two "E's"), a 23 year-old teacher from Minneapolis, is going to bring forth her 1st child live on camera for the whole world to see.

Am I shocked?  Not really.   Grossed out a bit, but not shocked.  She's going to famous.  Really, really famous...for like half a day...maybe longer if she goes for the Petocin.  Now who doesn't want that?

According to CNN in this era of YouTube, Facebook and Reality TV bonanzas, "it seems like everyone wants to be a star and is willing to perform outrageous acts on camera and revel in the attention of strangers."  So why not Lynsee?  I mean, what's a little placenta between strangers? 

So now, perhaps you're wondering, "hmm...I'd like to be famous for half a day - maybe 2 halves - but how do I let America know that my family is fascinating enough to be worthy of intense scrutiny and media frenzy?"

Well to help you, I have compiled a list of 10 Reality TV show ideas and/or potential "staged" scenarios * that are guaranteed to capture the media's interest and ensure that your family becomes America's next Sweethearts:

1) Have five rounds of in-vitro all at once.  Keep the babies.

2) Build a small sound stage around your vagina and allow The Learning Channel to film your progressing effacement.

3) "Kidz Kutz" Open a hair salon where Toddlers compete to become a real hair dresser.  Each week a child is told "You don't make the cut" and they must immediately pack up their scissors and run home.

4) Babies compete to become "America's Next Top Baby Model."  Prizes include a 7-page spread in Parents Magazine and a $100,000 contract with Johnson & Johnson.

5)  Sell the rights to your child's life to a network at birth.  They have the right to make choices for your child and film how it turns out.

6)  Make a rocket and pretend your child accidentally launched it and was headed for the moon.  Week 13, find kid inside watching Nickelodeon.

7) Adopt a tiger.  Let it sleep with you.

8) Make a series of "Babies Gone Wild" videos.

9) "Iron Baby" - Chefs from all over the word compete to make a meal one particularly picky baby will eat.

10) Pregnancy Fear Factor - Pregnant women compete for money by doing shots, smoking cigarettes and eating goat cheese.

* - These suggestions are intended for humor purposes only.  I do not endorse the exploitation of fertility treatments, half-dressed babies,  or the adoption of tigers.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Goddess of Soup

Barbarella, the Goddess of Soup has visited my home.

I shouldn't say "visited" so much as drove by, dropped hot, fresh soup on my doorstep, and ran for her life.  I don't blame her.

As I ate my soup in my bed, I felt so nurtured, cared for...loved.  A little nauseous too, but that's not her fault.

Every woman should have a Goddess in their life.  I have mine.  Thanks, babe!

The Last Man Standing...

I'm sick.

I'm really, really, really sick.

Swine flu.  My two daughters are home with me each on opposite tail ends of this crap.

My boyfriend is wearing a jock strap on his face (medical mask) and I think the police have cordoned off my block.

Cecelia, my "wife" as I call her (she's technically my nanny, but that word just doesn't seem to encompass the deep love and commitment I feel for and from this woman.), keeps plying me with soup.  I should have been such a good wife. 

The only one unaffected?  My son.  Which is ironic because when he was a baby I jokingly referred to him as "the weak link."  I know that sounds mean.  Especially from the boy's mother, but it was true.  He ALWAYS got sick.  If someone in Poughkeepsie sneezed, he was down for the count.

But now he seems to be holding up in the midst of this plague.  His Y chromosome thumbing it's nose at us.

We'll see how long it lasts.  Fingers crossed people.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Toilet is Booby Trapped!

My toilet seat is booby trapped.

There have been clues all along, but I just put 2 and 2 together. 

Every time I sit down on the toilet my kids are alerted and suddenly I am bombarded with "Mommy, I need you." "Mooooooom?  Where are you?" and "MOM! Do you know what Ben did?"

They could have been in their rooms quiet and content for hours.  They could be out in the playroom deeply enmeshed in a game of Mario Kart.  Hell, they could be down the block at a neighbor's house.  But the second my butt hits that toilet seat they come running.

I'm not sure if the alarm is depressed by my sitting, or if there is a motion sensor, so I decided to check this out.  I examined my toilet.  I lifted the seat, I waved my hand over the bowl, I even looked under rim.  Nothing.

I pressed my kids for answers.  "What have you done to my toilet?" I asked.  They stared at me with blank faces.  Livi giggled.  I'm on to them.

I'm not sure if they wear wireless receivers that buzz them the moment my ass hits the seat or if some high-pitched sound, one that can only be heard by dogs and children under 10, is emitted the second my buns are exposed above the bowl.

But either way, it is an effective system that alerts them to my whereabouts - letting them know I am not busy on the computer, not cooking dinner, and hence completely available to them for conversation.  A captive audience so to speak.

I would love to find the bug and deactivate the alarm.  To make it so that when I enter the bathroom it is the bastion of peace and solitude it used to be - before they installed the system.

If I could only find the little bugger!

Last night we went to a friend's house for dinner.  Afterwards, nature called and my friend offered me use of her private facilities upstairs in her room.  So I could have a little peace and quiet.

The kids were all engaged in games, movies or playing with the dogs outside.  So I took her up on her offer.

I sat down and thought "Ahhhh...peace and quiet."

Sure enough "Stomp, stomp, stomp..." I hear my son coming up the stairs and he's calling for me.  "Mom????  When's dessert?"

I couldn't believe it.

I guess their toilet's bugged too.

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