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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tightey Spidies

My son has been pulling at his pants, yanking at his crotch, and just looking really uncomfortable for months.

"Do you need to pee?" I asked.


"Are you okay?"

"Yeah."  But it was obvious he wasn't.

I couldn't figure out what was wrong.  I even told his father "You know, Ben's seems to be grabbing at his crotch a lot.  What should I do?"

He asked him, "Ben, do your private parts feel okay?"


"Do you need to pee?"


He clearly wasn't delving any deeper into the problem than I had.

On a lark, I went into his underwear drawer.  Sure enough, that Spider Man underwear he loves so much is a size 4.  He just turned 7.

DER!  Sometimes the answer to our problems is right under our noses.  And our butts.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Reaper (My article from LA Moms Blog)

I've been reaped.

You heard me.

Someone picked the sole tangerine off my tangerine tree, and I'm not happy.

My mom and sister gave me this tree when I moved into my house almost 2 years ago. I have nurtured this tree, I have watered it, I...well...I watered it. I have no idea what else to do to help a plant grow...but by golly that tree's been watered!

Just last year it sprang forth fruit. A single, small, succulent tangerine. I waited until it was perfectly full and bright orange before I picked it - which was really hard for me because every day I wanted to pick it. It was round, weighty, tempting...but I resisted. I waited. I was good.

Eventually the fruit (singular) was ready for picking and I brought my kids outside and said "Children, we are going to harvest our crop."

They eyeballed the single tangerine and looked at me like I was an idiot.

"Can I pick it?" "Can I?" "No, I want to pick it!" They bickered.

"I will pick the fruit." I pronounced. And I picked it.

We took it inside and I peeled it and handed tiny, equal sections to my kids.

I felt like a farmer, enjoying the rewards of efforts sown. Sharing it with my children. It was a good moment.

This year I watered my tree again. And again. At one point, holding off on more watering because it had rained. Yes...I was getting the hang of this "farming" thing. Maybe I should try to grow something more ambitious. Like chives. Hmmm...

All year I resisted picking the burgeoning fruit as it blossomed and fleshed out before my eyes. Again, alone in it's tree, one sole tangerine waited to be plucked.

The other day my oldest daughter came in the house and said "Look, Ma! Do you think it's still a little green?" She was holding my tangerine. My whole harvest.

"What did you do?!"

"I picked the orange."

"It's not an orange. It's a tangerine and it's not ready!"

"It's still a little green."

"I knoooowwwww...Awwwww, why did you pick it??" I whined. I wasn't really looking for an answer. I knew the answer. It's tempting to pick fruit.

I took a deep breath and collected myself. Alright. That's life. I'm not going to freak out.

But I'm waiting and I'm watering for next years crop.

Izzy's lucky I'm not a religious girl. I can totally see why God kicked Eve's butt.

Friday, April 23, 2010

7 and 7

My twins are 7.

Yesterday was their birthday and we celebrated by going to our ritual birthday restaurant -  Benihana's - where there's something everyone will eat and the onion volcano never ceases to entertain.

Birthdays are normally the time we celebrate being one year older - but my twins get to celebrate something extra special on their birthday - the brief chance be different ages.

Livi is 35 minutes older than Ben.  That is not a typo.  THIRTY-FIVE minutes.

Liv was an easy birth - out in 4 pushes.  BWIP!  Out she came.  At 7:05 pm.

Ben however, was an entirely different story.  Freed from the crushing presence of his 6 lb 4 oz sister, my boy took full advantage of the open space and floated unsquished and liberated around my roomy uterus.  He spread out his arms and legs which had only known one curled position till that moment, and STTRRRREEEEEETCHED while my doctor fished around for his legs to pull him out. 

Yes.  Tried to pull him out!  It was more of a fishing expedition than a human birth.  My doctor was up to his elbow in vagina - my vagina - for over half an hour.   I was a human hand-puppet.  There is a medical name for this - Breech Extraction - and it's not very common.  Apparently, so uncommon that the entire community of medical students at Cedars Sinai congregated in my O-R to watch my doctor fish my son out of my uterus.  Is it any wonder I lack modesty?

Anyway, around 7:30 my doctor started sweating and was getting pissed at "the fish who kept getting away" and it was looking like a C-Section when FINALLY, Ben cooperated and let the doctor grab him by the ankles.  At 7:40pm, my 6 lb boy was born.  He was smiling.  Well, it was more of a cheeky smirk.

And now they have 35 minutes every year where they are different ages.  Livi has 35 minutes to be the "Big Sister" and she wields it over Ben in that obnoxious way that only big sisters know how to do.


"How does it feel Livi?" I ask.


Ben is frowning.

"Hey Ben - Being 7 is GREAT!  You wouldn't know this!  You're not 7!"

But then as 7:39 comes around, we count down to them becoming twins again -

Collectively we count - "58, 57, 56...Ooo Livi, you're almost not older then Ben anymore!"

"ACK!  NO!"

"43, 42, 41..."

"Here it comes, Livi!  You're almost a twin again!"


Ben smiles, he's cheering, "10, 9, 8!!!!..."

"You ready, Livi?  You ready to be a twin again????/!!!!  Ben you ready??/!!!!"

"...3, 2, 1...YAY!!!!!!  YOU'RE TWINS AGAIN!!!!!!"

"Awwww...."  says Livi.

"Yaaaay!..."  says Ben,

And nature is back in balance.

We went home and opened presents, and got into bed.

Another birthday - another year old...and then another year older.  Cool.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's next, Locusts?

I just spent two days in Palm Springs with a girlfriend. 

This is very dangerous for someone like me because my family is cursed.  Whenever someone in my family goes anywhere - for fun or business - disaster strikes. 

We think my mom backed over a gypsy with her car or something  in the 70's because this has been going on for years.  

Don't believe me?:

When I was 5 - my parents went to Greece.  Our house caught fire.

When I was 18, my mom went to Italy.  Their other house caught fire.

When I was 22, my mom went to Switzerland, the pipes broke in her apartment in NYC and the whole place flooded.

When I was 30, my mom was in Austria and the "IN GROUND" pool collapsed (walls of dirt and sand just caved on through) at their beach house (yes, this was the same one that burnt to the ground only 10 years before.

Well, true to the family curse, I wasn't gone 3 hours when I got the call - the water heater corroded completely, leaving a possible gas problem and everyone in my house without hot water for 2 days.

They were the stinkiest group of people with whom I'd ever been reunited.

My boyfriend recently asked me if I wanted to go to Italy for a week at some point.  I'd jump at it, but I don't think renter's insurance covers gypsy curses.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Check Out AGON Review

Just posted my first review to my "Reviews" button.
I'll be posting all kinds of reviews there.  Here's what you'll find, reviews of stuff I LOVE or stuff I HATE!   Here's what you WON'T find...wishy-washy reviews of mediocre things you don't really need in your life.

I promise you, I'll only post if I feel strongly one way or the other.  Okay? 

In the meantime, read a review of my boyfriend's new comic book, AGON, (which I DIDN'T write, but since it was a full-on "LOVE IT!" from, I feel free to post it.  Click my "Reviews" button to find the link.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

If I'm exhausted, it must be Sunday...

My house is a mess, my kids are still up and I would love a Xanax.

That's right.  It's Sunday night.

Why does the weekend take such a toll?  Isn't the weekend for "feeling good" and relaxation?  Aren't I supposed to be rejuvinated?

Why is it weekends are jam packed?  We went to birthday parties, had a 5-pitch game, numerous playdates, wrote for hours, and cleaned out the guinea pigs.  On top of that, I ate like I've never seen food (my favorite being the kobe sliders at a friend's 40th birthday - YUM!).  I've gobbled bagels, eggs, turkey bacon, pancakes, sausage pizza and a big slab of birthday cake at the above-mentioned party - I would have had more, but she's a new friend and I didn't want to scare her.

Now my boyfriend is suggesting I do a "cleanse."  I am assuming he doesn't mean the house.  Let me rephrase that...I'm assuming he means in ADDITION to the house.

Why do I need a vacation after every weekend?   I think Monday morning is the equivalent of a kid's Friday afternoon.  They hear that bell ring on Friday afternoon and think "Freedom!".  We hear the bell on Monday morning, kiss our kids goodbye and think "Freedom" as we walk back out the school gate leaving our kids behind.

Of course I love "family time,", but weekends have just become too exhausting. 

I'm pooped. 

Oh wait...that's the only thing I didn't do this weekend...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Greenberg" - Movie Review

Got two hours to kill?

Maybe you cut off some old lady today and you're feeling a little guilty?  Like you deserve to be punished? go see "Greenberg."

You'll kill some time (and maybe yourself) and repay your debt to society.

I was originally very psyched to see this movie.  I really like Ben Stiller.  But not in this movie.  It's not him.  He's a good actor.  It's just that his character is so GOD awful, awkward, and completely unredeemable that you wish you could just punch him in the eye.

His "love" interest is cute, but mumbles a lot and says "Yeah...okay" to just about everything.  I couldn't figure out why she liked him as they're "relationship" gurgles and sputters like a motorcycle running on pudding.

The dialogue was painful and slow, the characters never evolve and there were almost no moments in the story where you could connect with the for the scenes with the dog they almost kill off several times (...and those were the uplifting ones.)

Don't waste your money, don't waste the babysitting, and don't give away 2 hours of your life to this painful wreckage of a drama.  If you want to throw away some time, I could use someone to lick up some broken glass off my kitchen floor.  Come on over.

Yes indeed, Greenberg, has a lot on his mind.  And I am oh so sorry I had to listen to it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In Memory of Betty Paraskevas

"Junior Kroll, Junior Kroll
Looks like he has a cereal bowl,
upside down - on his head,
and he won't eat his veggies, 
and he won't go to bed...

Junior Kroll made his mother irate
when he couldn't find a brush, 
but he found some paint,
and he painted a monster 6 feet tall
with the tail of the cat
on the living room wall"

- From "Junior Kroll" by Betty Paraskevas,  illustrated by Michael Paraskevas

I read this passage from a children's book almost 20 years ago. 

There might be a few mistakes in my quote.  I memorized it - years ago - that's how much I loved it - and it's always stayed with me.

Betty and her son Mickey Paraskevas were among my first clients at William Morris.  An unbelievably, unparalleled mother and son team that told stories reeking of character, attitude and heart.

They always had a zillion projects and ideas at any given time and working with them was like working inside a high-end, boutique candy factory where a wide variety of new, fabulous, tantalizing, highly stylized (and NEVER too sweet) goodies were being manufactured.

Every year, when I went out to my mom's beach house, I sat around their art gallery in West Hampton late at night while Betty smoked cigarette after cigarette and gave me the latest dirt on the biz.  Mickey and I talked shop and I'd try to convince him to give me artwork for free.

There aren't many people you can say this about, especially as you get older, but Betty and Mickey have been a part of almost every stage of my adult life.  And I've been richer for it.

Betty was a HUGE personality, a Broadway gal with wit sharper than broken glass.  She was a GRAND Dame in every sense of the word.  At least, to me.  

I got an e-mail from Mickey today.  Betty died.

Apparently it was a short illness.  I had no idea she'd even been sick.

Isn't it strange?  People - people you don't even see or talk to all of the time - people who aren't even a part of your intimate daily personal circle - can leave such an imprint on us?  Become such a part of our daily expectations and life's backdrop.  Being her agent defined me.  It set the stage for who I was to become and for what I do now.

I'm going to miss you so much Betty.

And every time my kids refuse their veggies, or God help them, paint on my walls, I'll smile (just a little) before I yell my head off because I know you're around there somewhere.



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Burnt to a Crisp

I am burnt to a crisp.  Inside and out.

I just spent seven days at sea with my kids on a Mexican Cruise for spring break.

Seven days of non-stop interaction with my kids and seven nights of sleeping together in a tiny room while sharing a small bed with a child who expands to three times her natural size.

Seven days of "Are we going swimming right now?" "Can I go to the arcade?" and "Can I have ice cream?"

Seven days without babysitting and one child's daily whine, "I don't want to go to the kid's club!"

Seven days in the hot Mexican Sun slathering sunscreen on each child head to toe and ear to ear, but missing key parts of my own body necessitating the use of an entire bottle of aloe vera.

Twenty one meals PLUS seven snacks shared with my kids who ate with their fingers, talked with their mouths open and kicked each other under the table.

Seven days of "I'm SO SAAAAAD!!!!!  We have to go home in 6 days, 5 days, 4 days, 3 days.." .and so on and so on and so on...

We climbed rock walls, we swam, we ice skated, we played video games, we sang, we ate and I spent seven days washing swim suits in a tiny sink and trying to get the previous night's face painting off their pajamas.

I am done, burnt and fried.

Xanax is Aloe Vera for the brain, right?

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Date Night" Movie Review you and your husband/wife/partner/family pet have a regular "date night"?  If so, go see this movie!!

I loved it!

Sure there are some corny parts and there's some "overacting" on the part of Ray Liotta and his nemesis (which stands out even more next to the down-to-earth and hilarious performances of Tina Fey and Steve Carell), but I really related to the realistic portrayal of a couple just trying to connect when life makes it hard.  (The first restaurant scene where they make up stories about other couples is priceless...) Scott and I both LAUGHED OUT LOUD throughout the whole thing!!

It was really solid - even when things go out of control for the Fosters, you "buy" it.  Carell and Fey ask ALL the questions YOU would ask if something ridiculously impossible happened to you.  I can only imagine we have Carell and Fey to thank for making this work because when every other comedy of this kind goes over-the-top and we find ourselves asking questions like "Why the HELL would they just LEAVE with those people!?" the response makes you say, "Okay...I get it." 

I loved it.  Hope you do to.  A well-written, laugh out loud comedy is hard to come by.

Oh, and make sure you stay for the post credit bloopers!  Very funny.

"Live Life! Kiss a Fish!"

I was kissed by a fish.  A big fish whose breath smelled of anchovies...and it was awesome.  We were on a Mexican Cruise for Spring Break and we went swimming with the dolphins in Cabo.

This has been my oldest daughter’s dream since...well, since always.  Even as a baby she teethed more vigorously on her dolphin tub toy than all the others put together.   It was obvious to my keen mothering eye, an obsession was forming.

When I saw our cruise offered an excursion to swim with the dolphins, I jumped at it.  Yes, it was expensive.   Yes, it was uncomfortable putting on all the gear.  And yes, it was scary getting into the water with a bunch of huge fish (I know, I know….they’re mammals...).  But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give my kids – especially my oldest - this once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I tell my kids every day, “life is not a spectator sport.”  This was a chance to show them exactly what I mean.

So we put on our wetsuits, jumped in the water and swam, danced with, and kissed these gorgeous creatures...

I was so psyched when another grown-up and I got picked to race each other and thought it would be fun to trash talk my competition as we swam to the starting point in the middle of the tank.  While I was busy telling him how I was going to "take him down!" both his dolphin AND MY dolphin swept up under him and carried him victoriously to the finish line. I was left behind...alone...bobbing impotently around the middle of the tank. Yes, it was "in my face" - as was a HUGE wall of fish-flavored water that got splashed in my face as the dolphins took off. My kids - and the whole group of international travelers - were convulsing with laughter.  Apparently my humiliation is funny no matter what language you speak.

The trainer, seeing me bobbing around in the center of the tank like "What the ----?” sent the dolphins back for me and delivered me to my group.

I had lost the race, but I knew that when I landed at the side of the tank and my kids were cracking up at me being “ditched by fish” and having the time of their lives that I had indeed made my point…"Life is not a spectator sport…and you don’t need to come in first place to win.”

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Goodbye to Yoooouuuuuu..."

The vacation’s over.

And now we’re sitting in the “waiting area” of the ship…well, “waiting” to be let off.

Just another long line in a long line of long lines…

We waited in line to visit 3 different Mexican cities, we waited to swim, we waited to snorkle, and we waited to scale artificial rock walls.  We waited to ice skate, to play arcade games, to eat, to sit, to swim with dolphins, and we (okay…”I”) waited in line to perform the worst karaoke rendition of Patti Smith’s “Goodbye to You” ever heard on the high seas.

There were lines to pee, lines for ping-pong, lines for mini-golf, lines for drinks, lines for food, and the omnipresent line for free soft-serve ice cream that wind around the entire circumference of the pool deck from morning till night.
Lines, lines, lines…this boat is the human equivalent of Studio 54 in the 80’s.

And now we're in our last line of the trip. Waiting to go home. We have about an hour.

I wonder if the line for soft-serve has died down...

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green...

Maybe it was the hot Mexican sun...

Maybe it's the rocky waters...

Or maybe it was the margarita I had at noon at that tiny Mexican restaurant off the main strip (I hugged the waiter when he gave it to me...I think I scared him) combined with the sun and rocking...

...But I am GREEEEENNNNNN!  And so is Izzy (but she didn't have the Los Pablonas is off the hook)

We spent the night in our tiny bathroom, puking.

Well, Izzy did most of the puking.  I laid on the cramped floor of our 2x4 bathroom insanely jealous of her.

We spent the day off the boat in Puerto Vallarta.  We didn't make any plans or pay for any ridiculously overpriced excursions.  Just me, "S", and all of our kids.

We took a taxi to the main strip and walked around.  The kids asked 1000 times "Are we going to the beach?" "When are we going to the beach?"  "Mommy, are we going to the beach?"

"LATER!" I answered for the 10,000th time!

We found a GREAT little restaurant called Los Pablonas and had lunch.  It was AWESOME and I'd tell you about it if just thinking about eating didn't make me feel like throwing up right now.   Suffice to say - go there if you're ever in Puerta Vallarta.

FINALLY!!!!, (according to the kids...)we went to the public beach.  It was PACKED with college kids on Spring Break.  I enviously ogled them and their carefree drinkin' ways as I marched across the sand with my enormous (and overstuffed) monogrammed L.L. Bean beach bag, old lady cover-up and large group of kids whining "Can't we just sit heeeeeeeere????!"

"No, we can't sit hhheeeeeeeere" we had to explain as the smell of some REALLY good pot wafted in our direction. 

We kept going.

Finally we planted ourselves and vendor after vendor after vendor after vendor offered is shrimp on a stick, tattoos, hair braiding and cheap clothing.  They were like Toddlers...endlessly asking us to buy stuff and we had to keep saying said "No."  "No."  "No."  "No..."  My headache grew...We headed back to the boat.

And now, the ship is rocking, my head was pounding, and I have fiery red landing strips down the sides of both my thighs.

Heat stroke?  Hangover?  Sea sickness?

Apparently I've been struck by all three and now I'm OUT!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Geography Lesson

Before we took off the for the beach today in Mazatlan, I slathered each kid from head to toe with sunscreen.  I got their legs, thighs, armpits, chins, necks, tops of feet and even behind the neck and ears.  Everywhere the sun might shine. 

I'm super thorough. 

My daughter?  Not so much.

I asked my six year old to put sunscreen on my back for me.  I figured, she's pretty good at art  - why not?  It's just a big white canvas, right?

Huge mistake.

There is now a big red map of Florida on my back.  The gulf of Mexico crosses my shoulder blades mid-way and the Sunshine State extends down the right-hand side of my back.  I'm tempted to have my oldest pinpoint the state capital and draw it on.

I won't be able to wear a tank top for weeks.

Or, if I do, I'll just say I'm a "Dolphins" fan.

I have no one to blame but myself.  I relied on a six year old for thorough coverage.

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