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

Thursday, February 25, 2010


What do the words "Leadie", "Pollie" and "Brownie" have in common?

These are just a few of the names my children have given to gazillions of everyday objects that sit around my house gathering dust and taking up space.

Leadie is a pencil - a broken pencil.  Pollie is a long metal pole we keep in the twins room to open their skylight.  And Brownie is a box.  A cardboard box.

My children anthropomorphize every object around the house, imbuing it with a personality, and then bonding with it like it's family.

I feel like I live in the "Brave Little Toaster" movie.  You know the movie - the old one from the 80's where the Toaster befriends a vacuum just as easily as the neighbor's cat and sets off on a journey - I don't know what for - perhaps to be rewired, or to find someone who'll dislodge the chunk of bagel that lays at the bottom of one of his baskets.  I can't remember.   But the point is, the movie stars a 'toaster' (I won't even dignify this ridiculousness by capitalizing the "t").  I remember watching the movie years ago and thinking, "this is really stupid.  No one is going to bond with a toaster or a vacuum.  Is Disney going to release plush toys with this?"

But apparently you can bond with a vacuum.  And a ball, and a stick...and an old pencil. 

Apparently, the key to giving "LIFE" to something stupid is to add a "y" to the end of the object's name.  It's like magic.   Alakazam!  You're alive!  You were a broom - but now you're "Broomy!"  "I GIVE YOU LIIIIIIFE!!!!"

This is not the same as the problem we had last summer when we were in Woodstock and we found a mouse living under our refrigerator.  As I was about to call in pest control, my son named it "Speedy" and suddenly it went from pest to "pet."  No, this is about wanting to clear away some clutter, the junk, the CRAP - and being unable to do so because one of my kids has named it! 

And once they name it, well, the kids "bond" with it.  It's "special."  Getting rid of it would be a personal afront.   I can't just toss the piece of pasta my daughter keeps on her bureau because it's mildly unique shape endeared it to one of my kids and it's now named "Curly."  Suddenly I have show a piece of fussilli the same respect I reserve for close friends and family.  I'm going over the edge.

And this is slowing down my cleaning process.

Isn't it enough that I keep almost all of their art projects, cards, scribbles, notes, paper snowflakes, and noodle necklaces just because they are convinced it's their most significant work "to date"?

Do I need old erasers, dried pasta pieces and rocks?

I try to put the skylight pole away in a closet and my daughter screams "Moooommmm!  That's Pollie!  I like him there.  I'll miss him.

Seriously?  It's a pole.

And now this crap is all over my house.  And I can't throw it away - because then I have to deal with their heartache and separation anxiety.  The pain that comes with being emotionally attached to something and losing it.  Where's Marble-y??  Where's Rocky?  Where's Forkey?

I need to draw a line.  And I would...but I'm afraid they'd name it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shannon Noel in Expressing Motherhood

One of my fellow mommies who performed with me at "Expressing Motherhood."  Check out her video and SCREAM with laughter!!!!  It's f*cking HILARIOUS!

Expressing Motherhood featuring Shannon Noel from Expressing Motherhood on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

ABC News Called Again

I got a call from ABC News Now to be a guest again on "Moms Get Real with Ju Ju Chang."

I tried to sound blase about the invitation, but I fear I tipped my hand when I said "REALLY? ME?!  When do you want me?  Where should I go?   What do you need from me?  Can I give you some money?"

The topic? "Are We Raising Dangerphobe children?"

"Oh no. Not me!"  I said on national television.   "I'm not afraid to let my kids do anything."

Ju Ju called me out.  "'re kids have never had sucking candy."

Now, it's not that I won't let them eat sucking's just that I haven't let them eat sucking candy...yet.   I'm terrified of choking. To this day, my kids have never had a sour ball, a jaw breaker, or a peppermint candy.   My oldest, I remind you, is 10.

Okay, I'm a little phobic too.

The show aired this afternoon at 2:30pm EST and of course, I totally missed it.  I'm waiting for the link to post and I'll share it.

Ju Ju and K.S., if you're reading this?  Don't I look good in that chair? (And, I'm serious about the money...)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Call of Doom...

I got a call today. I didn't pick up the phone because I was napping, but the answering machine is right next to my I heard the message.

"Hi's (Blank). Can you call me back as soon as you get a moment? Thanks."

Sounds innocuous the untrained mother's ear. But I know that tone. It was a carefully calculated balance of "no one is dead...but you should really call me." I knew what it meant.


It was the call all mothers hate to make, and all mothers hate to receive even more. Had the reason for her call been anything else, she would have spelled it out in the message. Something like:

"Um...Sarah? You know how (Blank) and (Blank) were playing so nicely yesterday? Well (blank) has a really high fever today. You might want to keep an eye on her."


"Sarah? Hey, it's (Blank). I just wanted to warn you I found a few red marks on (Blank's) stomach this morning. It might be Chicken Pox, but I'm checking it out. I'll keep you posted."


"Sarah? Hi, it's (Blank). I forgot to tell you, I backed over your child yesterday pulling out of the driveway. Sorry. Hope she's okay!"

But "Lice" isn't something you leave on someone's message. The potential passage of lice is something that can only be verbalized directly. Something no one wants evidence - like a message on your machine - around to prove they're connected to it.

Some moms don't even call at all. Overly worried about social ostracism, they prefer to take the "One Playdate Stand" as I like to call it. Sure your kids had a play date together. Both kids enjoyed it. But now it's over. Anything they take away from that "date" is yours to discover. Nice.

But, if your kids' friends' moms are decent, normal people, you get the call. Like the one I got. I knew I was right about her message so I procrastinated calling back for an hour or 2. Then I had no choice.

So I called (Blank) back. "Hey! It's Sarah. What's up?"

Sure enough...Lice.


I get itchy just thinking about it. In fact, I'm scratching my head right now.

So, we're off to Hair Fairies right after school. We'll ALL get checked out because I'm an anal retentive freak who hates Lice. But God knows, I'm grateful for the mom/friend who had the decency to alert me.

Damn. If only she'd ran my kid over instead.

(UPDATE: We're all clear! Phew!)

(SEO tags: lice removal, lice detection, finding lice, playdates, catching lice from other kids, parenting humor, bad mom)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day

As my kids get older, Valentine's Day gets better.

Of course there have been all those years where they came home with the obligatory gem and glue covered picture frame or jewelry box - something they were forced to make in class and presented to me under the guise they thought of it themselves.   I'm convinced that's what we pay for with private preschool.  Lots and lots of glue.

But now they're old enough to write me cards on their own.  I don't know any mom who doesn't melt from a hand-made, heartfelt sentiment no matter how poorly spelled it may be.   A special note that reflects their individual personalities and love for you.

This year, my kids made me cards and left them outside my bedroom door so I would see them when I woke up.

Livi's card (One big run-on sentence jam-packed with love):  "I love you so much you are my favret mommy ever I love you so much you are loveing and caring you are so speshle you are a gret mommy. Love, Love, Love! Livi

Ben's card (a transformer card left over from his class valentine's day exchange):

To: Mommy
From: Ben

(That's it...)

Izzy's card:

Dear Mommy, 
I hope you have the BEST Valentines day EVER!  I also hope we get to do something fun today.....just sayin'.  Happy V-Day!  Love, Izzy."

Yup.  Their individual personalities are jumping off the page.  I'm melting.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Naked Lunch

I ate lunch naked and it was awesome.

Of course I had a robe on, they wouldn't serve me in the spa restaurant if I didn't, but under my robe, I was "footloose and fancy free." 

I can't help but feel a little naughty.  And very well aerated.

If you haven't tried this before, I highly recommend it.  Nothing to take you out of your "Mommy" mindset faster than being naked in public.

But I should warn you, don't get caught in a cross-breeze unless you've recently had a bikini wax.  I'm just guessing...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

If you go, she will get sick...

My daughter is sick, don't tell anyone.

I honestly would have never sent her to school if I knew she had a fever...which is probably why I didn't take her temperature.

She woke up crabby today - crabbier than usual - which is pretty, darn crabby...

I just had no patience for it. I had 3 kids packed up and get out the door to school so I could leave on my long-anticipated "ME" vacation in Ojai. Yoga, hikes, massages...heaven. My plan was to take the kids through the drop-off lane, and just keep going - making a bee-line for Ojai and three days of solitude and bliss.

But as always, "the best laid plans..."

"Feel my head. " She asked. This was not part of the plan.

"You're fine." I said.

"My head feels hot."

"Your head isn't hot. You're...just warm from sleeping."

In my defense, Livi is a drama queen who complains she's sick a lot. I call her "The Girl Who Cried Flu". She always needs an icepack for this or that. Something aches, something itches, something causes her tremendous discomfort. It could be a cold could be the seam of her pants.

I wasn't in the mood to figure it out this morning. I just wanted to get on the road.

But she was clingy. So when I got to school, I actually came to a complete stop and parked so I could walk them in. Ben and Izzy gave me extra kisses and hugs and took off their class lines. Livi clung more.

"Honey, I have to go. I'll be back in 2 days!"

She broke into tears. "I'M GOING TO MISS YOU!!!!!"

I got onto my knees. "Honey, I'm only gone for 2 short days. Scott's with you, Daddy's with you, Cecelia (our beloved nanny to whom she refers as "Nutella") will be with you. I'll be back before you know it. Why are you so sad? I always come back - you know that." I resorted to the "Mommy Comes Back" song:

"Mommy comes back...
Mommy always comes back....
Mommy always comes back to staaaaaaaaay!"

She was not swayed.

More tears. More clinging.

Didn't she know how much I needed this trip?

"Honey, I love you but I really have to go. You'll be fine. You're going to have so much fun while I'm gone and I'll bring you a special present if you're real good." Yes...I bribed her.

She relented at the thought of free stuff and I handed her over to her teacher, swapping out my leg for hers.

She doesn't usually go on like this for so long. Maybe she really wasn't feeling well. Crap.

I told myself if she was really sick she would have told know, again. Or the school would call. She'd be fine.

So I just got a call from our nanny. She's sick. 101.1 temperature. Figures.

Okay. I'm a bad mom. I admit it.

But even bad moms need a massages once in a while.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Making Memories...

I was scrolling through movies on my old computer the other day (you know...procrastinating on writing) and I found this - my favorite "family" video (have no fear, it's only 17 seconds long...).

Last winter, my kids and I went to Lake Arrowhead. I wanted to create (and document) some great family memories, so I took them "tubing." I've been known to go to great lengths to make family videos ( may recall my post "Home Videos"). But mostly, it's so I can prove to my kids later on that they had a good childhood.

My plan was to document Livi's first tubing experience by riding down the hill backwards on my tube, while simultaneously holding onto Livi's tube and videotaping her.

Now, for those of you who don't know, tubing is akin to "human bowling" in that tightly grouped people mill about at the bottom of a steep slope while an object (albeit human) is hurling towards them at uncontrollable speed. Usually the person on the tube is kind enough to try to slow down before running them over.

That's not my way.

"Hey, I know, Livi. I'll go backwards and videotape you going down the hill."

This appealed to Livi. "Yeah!"

"Um, Mom?" Izzy poked me and pointed out the people at the bottom of the hill. "You shouldn't go down backwards. I don't think it's allowed."

"It's fine. I don't see any signs that say we can't do it."

"I don't think you can." She persisted - thwarting me from making a great family video.

"Nah! It's fine."

"What if you run into those people down there? It's not safe. They'll throw us out."

"Those people should move. There's a sign that says to watch out for tubers...and that's me." (Yes...I said this to my then 8 year old). I pointed to a tiny sign at the bottom of the run that did indeed warn people of the potential hazards of assholes like me on inner tubes. Then I hooked up my tube to Livi climbing on backwards, and we launched down the hill.

Here's what I learned. Tubing backwards is a bad idea.

I took out 5 people at the bottom of the slope before being thrown from my tube and landing on my back (you'll know the moment by the "Geunkk!" sound I make at the end.)

Obviously, I didn't see the actual carnage. There are impact sounds on the video marking each blow as I plowed into and through people. All I saw was the aftermath - a swath of bystanders lying on their backs - and the small child I took out crying for his mother. (if you ask me...the mother was horrible for letting him stand there).

My kids did think it was hilarious...And we didn't get thrown out.

In retrospect, it wasn't a great "parenting" moment.

But, aaaahhhhhh...the memories.

Lightening Strikes Twice...

My boy stabbed himself...again.

I knew this was going to happen.  The second he came to me with a new pencil and said "Mommy, can you sharpen this?" I had Deja Vu. 

I sharpened the pencil.  Not super spikey, but to a useful sharpness.   Then I handed it to my son who took off for the kitchen with it up in the air like it was a paper airplane.  "Pisssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"  
It occurred to me that I had just done something really stupid. Call it psychic ability, call it experience, but my boy + a sharp pencil = stabbing...of someone (...anyone really).

I know this because he's stabbed himself before.  But, he wouldn't do it again.  I mean...he learned his lesson, right?  And at some point (no pun intended) you have to let go.  You have to say "Yes, I know you've stabbed yourself before.  But you're older now.  Wiser.  You won't do it again.  You couldn't possiby..."  Unless you're Ben.

I consider this and yell out "Be careful!" after him, like adding this disclaimer will absolve me of the responsibility and guilt I'll deservedly feel if he comes back impaled and crying.

Sure enough, not two minutes later, "OOWWW! (beat) Moooommmmmyyyy?????  I stuck the point of a pencil under my nail when I was doing homework!"

I don't need to ask.  The "How?" and "Why?" are obvious. 

He's fine, but from now on we're doing homework with a ballpoint pen.

(SEO tags: bad mommy, bad parenting, stabbed with pencil, pencil sharpening, motor skills, poor motor skills, parenting humor, funny moms, funny kids)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

So You Think You Can't Dance?

Let's get something straight...I can't Salsa.

And now there are witnesses to prove it.

The other night I was getting ready to go out with Scott and meet some friends.  Our destination?  El Floridita in Hollywood.  A Cuban restaurant with Salsa dancing.

My kids could tell I was going out because I had clean hair and I broke out the leather jacket I only wear when there is no chance it will be assaulted by sticky fingers.

"Where ya goin'?" Izzy asked.

"I'm going to a Salsa lesson." I answered.

"You're going to make salsa?"

"No.  I'm going to learn to dance Salsa.  Salsa is also a word for a kind of a dance.  And I'm going to learn how to do it."


"Because I can."

And that was the end of it.  I thought, "There's a good lesson for the kids.  Do something new because you can.  Yeah!"  Then I took off.

We got to the restaurant and prepped for our lesson with a large pitcher of Mojitos.

I was determined to be the best in the group.

When we started, all was going well - until I pissed off some chick with big hair.  We were supposed to switch partners - which I did - but didn't see me do it so she told the teacher "I guess she doesn't want to move."  I glared at her.  That'll show her.

Then the women were passed around the circle of men to practice our basic step.  I had it.  1, 2, 3, - 5, 6, 7...The teacher was dancing with my friend and said "This woman here has a perfect grip.  See this?" I nodded, but I was imagining what he'd say when it was my turn to dance with him "Now THIS woman's REALLY got it!" He'd be touched and amazed by the hot combination of my grace and aptitude.

I took my turn with the instructor.  "Put your shoulders down.  Relax."

"Really?" I thought.  "Can't you see how good I am at this?"

"Loosen your wrists.  Like this." Then he bent them for me.


I did some steps with him.  This'll show him how good I am.  I bet I'm the fastest learner he's ever had!

"Don't put your weight on the back leg.  Do it like this..."  And you know what?  Another instructor came over in her fancy salsa shoes and they did it for me - like I needed another example.  The young girl who twisted and stepped her moves with the grace and aptitude I thought I had smiled at me like I was an old lady.

I drank another mojito.

Giving up on being the best in the class, my next partner and I came up with our own combination of Salsa and "The Hustle."  We called it "The Sustle."

The partner after that and I stumbled through a few moves and laughed that we felt like we were Cuban speed dating.  We agreed, I wouldn't make the cut.

Then I was back in Scott's semi-capable hands.

1, 2, 3, - 5, 6, 7...1, 2, 3, - 5, 6, 7...

We muddled through together and laughed at our complete ineptitude.  We had some moves...they weren't good, but we had great time.

I've heard it said you should "dance like no one is watching."

Well, tonight, that's exactly what I did. 

It wasn't pretty, but by the end of the night, I didn't care if it was pretty.

I simply danced because I could.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Bully

I picked on a kid today.

And it wasn't even mine.

I volunteer in the school library every Thursday morning.  First for my daughter's class, then for her twin brother's class which comes in right after. 

Every week, as soon as my son sees me, that little man of mine, all that is sweetness and sunshine, runs up to me behind the big desk and gives me a hug and a kiss.  When his class lines up to leave, he runs back, leans in for a kiss, hugs me again, and says "Bye, Mommy...I love you" in this loving, little sweetpea voice.

Today, a boy from his class overheard our private goodbye and he mimicked him.  "Byyyye, Mommmmyyy...I wuv youuuu."  Ben was shocked and embarrassed.  I could see it on his face.

Poor Ben, half torn between humiliation that this boy saw him acting unmanly, and half heartbroken that this occurrence might mark the end of our public sweet goodbyes, he was a vulnerable cub...and I was the pissed off mother lion.  He looked at me with big, sad round eyes.  He had no idea what to do.

So I said to this kid, "Excuse me?"

The kid smirked, "He said 'Goodbye' to you funny."

"So what?"

"Well he sounded like a baby."

"I thought he sounded nice."

"He sounded...silly."  He got a little uncomfortable.  Like no one ever called him on his shit.

I looked at Ben and could see him using every muscle in his face, and all of his willpower to hold back tears.

Who was this kid? How DARE he mock my boy!  My heart tore and I decided to put an end to this kid's judgmental attitude. 

"Are you jealous because your mom isn't here?"

His eyes widened and he looked horrified.  "What?"

"You're making fun of Ben because you're a little sad that your own mother isn't here.  Right?"

He was speechless.  He slunk away.

Yes...volunteer work is very rewarding.  Of course, if it turns out this kid doesn't have a mom, I realize I'll burn in H-ll.  But it was worth it.

No one messes with my 'pride'...or my goodbye kisses.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

To Market, to market...

I have just been to the market for the 3rd time in 4 days.

No matter what I do, make lists, write "Need Milk!" on my hand, place post-its on the bathroom door, I ALWAYS seem to need one thing more!  More toilet paper, more chips...more SALT.  Yes, "SALT" for God's sake!  I totally ran out of salt without realizing it.  Going without salt in our house is like going without air.  "I need salt!"  "This needs salt!" "Put more salt on it!"  It's a wonder no one's had a stroke. 

So I went to the market...again. 

I just got home and discovered we're out of juice.  F@#$@!#$K!!!!!

Someone said to me once, "You've never really finished doing laundry till you've done it naked." 

Could it also be said then that "You've never finished food shopping til you're ready to let the kids starve?"

Just something to ponder...

Monday, February 1, 2010

At the Ballet

Yesterday I took my youngest daughter to the Ballet.

The Joffrey Ballet was performing "Cinderella" at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (for the non-LA folks - that's where they hold The Academy Awards).  If there was a cultural event made for Livi, this was it -  ballerinas, fairy god mothers, pastel colored tutus, glitter falling from the rafters.  PURE girl!

We'd been planning this "special" outing for months.  Livi is without question the ONLY child in which I have hopes of instilling any culture.  Izzy has no patience and Ben wouldn't be caught dead at anything that reeked of "girl" (I can't even get him to pee in a women's bathroom!).

Yes, "culture" would be something special we both could share. 

I decided to make it a formal occasion.  The way it was with my mother.  I showered (which is huge...), we put on fancy dresses (I wore a red and black cashmere Carolina Herrera  dress with a matching jacket - a la "Mad Men" I found at a consignment shop and I wore it with a classic pair of Manolo slingbacks I bought before I knew divorce was in my future).  Livi wore a short-sleeved black wool dress with little wool bows around the hem.  She put on white tights and red velvet chinese-style mary janes.

We brushed our hair (again...huge).

I even lent Livi my Grandmother's black silk purse, the one I used for years as my "good bag" for friends' weddings (which might explain the  old condom I found in the tiny matching change purse inside the bag as I was cleaning it out for her.  I guess the last time I used it I thought I might get lucky...when WAS the last time I used that bag?...)

We made it downtown in the nick of time and found our seats at center/balcony.

I pointed out the various sections in the orchestra pit, "Look, Livi, there are the cellos!  Like the one mommy has - you know in the TV room."

"Is that what that is?"  I guess I should crack it out more often...

The lights dimmed and BAM! she was transfixed.  I could see her eyes glued on the stage, following every pirouette Cinderella made - studying it, practicing it in her mind, committing it to memory so she could recreate the exact same move in her bedroom.  I just knew she was thinking "I have GOT to get me some toe shoes!

Her fascination lasted a solid hour!

Intermission was a little hairy since we were both starving and in desperate need of snacks.   They didn't have anything "healthy" so we snacked on yogurt pretzels and jelly beans.  We snuck them into the theatre to eat during the second half.  The woman in front of us glared when I tried to extract a watermelon Jelly Belly and the bag crinkled.  I offered her one.  She declined.

I shifted in my seat a few times during the third act, but focused on being a good role model, minding that my body language always said "This is FASCINATING!"  I plied her with Jelly Beans.

The performance ended and we both clapped like crazy.  She gave them a standing ovation.

In the car home we talked about it.  I figured this was my chance to really drive the whole "culture" thing home with her. 

"I REALLY loved that Ballet, Livi, didn't you?  It was SO BEAUTIFUL!" "What was your favorite part?" "I loved the the fairy godmother best." "Wasn't the music beautiful?"

"I liked it." she said.  (YES!  She likes culture!)  "But it was a little boring." (...AND...maybe not).

Now, I have really tried to pass along the cultural foundation my mother and father forced on me.  To drag my children to ballets and theatre and musical concerts - all the things I dreaded as a kid.

But I forgot.  I was bored too...sometimes. 

I wondered, if I don't take my kids to every ballet and symphony in town, am I a bad mommy?  Will my children still have a shot at getting into Penn and Yale?  Can they still be interesting at cocktail parties?  Can they ever be truly  happy??  More importantly, do I have to sit through all of these things again?   There's a reason the cello sits in the corner gathering dust...

Maybe I can find a happy medium.

I hear the American Ballet will be doing Sleeping Beauty next .  It's not Rigoletto's "this or that" or any major opera of which my mother would approve, but that's okay.   Apparently, Livi and I aren't that deep.  Keep it simple, keep it sparkly and keep it short...

Of course, we'll have to sneak Jelly beans and yogurt pretzels into the theatre.

And if you see me there, freshly showered and dressed to the nines in my consigned couture and old manolos, please say "how do you do"...unless of course, I'm sleeping.

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