Sunday, December 28, 2008

Should have been obvious

Note to any and all NYC parents of toddlers: there are no highchairs in Chinatown.

Hubby and I had the genius idea of taking the boys for their first dim sum experience this morning. It was unseasonably, ridiculously warm - so much so, that when one twin pulled off his shoes and socks and flung them over the side of the stroller, I merely bent over to pick them up and let his bare toes dance in the breeze.

So we thought - why not a walk? And who doesn't love dim sum? During the holiday week. In Chinatown. Where the hoards of tourists are more motivated than ever to find a Canal Street bargain, and there wasn't even a hint of sleet or slush to keep them at bay.

Really, really, really bad idea.

Pushing a double-stroller through the crowded streets might have been worth it if there had been the reward of at least one measly dumpling at the end. But no such luck. Every waiter looked at us, then wagged their fingers and heads while they gestured to the door. Clearly, we were not welcome. And, frankly, I kind of see their point.

We should have known better.

Of course - all did not end in disaster. Hubby and I haven't filed for divorce (although there were some decidedly snippy exchanges en route.) We found a diner. The boys gobbled fries (who doesn't love fries?) Now, if only we didn't fully destroy any chance of a nap with our complete disregard for the schedule... (At this moment, shoeless boy wonder is screaming his head off in his crib. I'm writing this as a stalling technique so I don't intervene too quickly. At least his brother is sleeping blissfully through the din.)

As I said, we should have known better.

Epilogue: Nap destroyed. And no dim sum for at least another year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas #2

We helped the boys open their gifts this morning as they mastered the word 'present.' (Present? Present. Present!)

It's the last year we were able to take our time, sip our coffee, and clean the kitchen without facing accusations of torture. (Mom, Dad, C'mon!). The last time the boys didn't stay up too late the night before, tingling with an excitement they can feel down to their toes. The last year the ritual is not seasoned by their anticipation.

It's funny - I don't know when I lost it myself, although I remember it vividly. Trying to stay awake to listen for Santa's clatter on the roof. Lying in bed, restlessly moving my legs under the covers as I fight for sleep. Waking up too early and watching the hands of the clock move tortuously slowly towards 7 a.m.

But now Christmas is a day off. The culmination of too little time for shopping, and wrapping, and cleaning, and cooking, and family negotiations.

I'm not sure when it changed. Clearly it was something gradual, like the loosening of my mother's skin or the graying of my father's hair. The practical has superseded the magical. But seeing the boys' eyes widen at the sight of a box tied in red ribbons, their eagerness to tear off the paper, throws the difference in to stark relief.

I've heard it said so many times I have to believe its now an official cliche: you re-experience childhood through your children.

And now I can't wait for next year. I've regained anticipation.

Happy Holidays.

PS Hubby just gave me crap for this over my shoulder. Apparantly it's too cheesy. Bah Humbug.
PPS Thanks be for nap and grandparents - the only way I would have a chance to set the table, AND have a moment to sit on the couch to gather my thoughts.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tetris Dreams (aka Christmas wish)

It all started in high school - prep school, to be perfectly clear. (Perhaps if I'd been living with full parental supervision things might not have been quite so out of control.)

It started out slowly - a few minutes here, a few there. But then I got good at it. Not the best in my dorm mind you, that was Claudia, but not bad either. I could go for more than 60 minutes at a stretch. Do the math: it's a lot of levels.

And of course there were the dreams. Little falling blocks, cascading indefinitely, twisting and turning until they fit and 'click,' everything falls in to place.

I'm talking about Tetris - that silly, silly game that sucked hours from my life as a sixteen year old. I like to think I've evolved. But, then again, I'm not so sure. They have different names now: Bookworm, Scramble, Bejeweled, Bamboozled. And we have different platforms: Blackberry, Facebook, iPhone. (yep - still awash in device-envy for hubby's iPhone. Sigh.) But some things haven't changed: I still find myself drawn in to those mindless, no-skills-required games that (hypothetically) never end.

Only now there's a new twist when I play: a litte, niggling part of my brain keeps questioning whether it's the best way to be spending my time. As a 16 year-old, that question never really surfaced. The only real consequences from an all-night Testris-bender was the challenge of staying awake during class.

Now it's a different story. Am I on the subway? I should be reading the newspaper. Or email. Catching up with the world and/or my own life. Am I in bed at night? I should be reading. Even crappy mysteries would be more defensible. Or (hubby would chime in here) sleeping. I don't do enough of that.

To my credit, I don't really play these games any other time. I've never been one to need that kind of distraction during the work day. (and I'm pretty sure my company blocks access to any game sites regardless.) Yet still, as I sat on the Q train yesterday, suspended over the river as the groaning MTA chugged slowly through an ice storm, I noticed I'd managed to log playing time of more than 60 minutes on my latest round of Bookworm. And a score of >100,000 points.

Sure, it's good to turn off your brain. I can't spend every moment managing, creating, running, doing, caring. But still... there must be more productive ways to unwind.

Got it. Eureka. The answer: I clearly need an iTouch. That way, when the train stalls, and my brian can't pull together yet another list, I can watch The Wire. I haven't seen it, and from all reports, it's gotta be better than Tetris. Just one more little pop for Steve Jobs' P&L. Just one more thing I can do to help the economy.

On second thought... Santa?!?

Sunday, December 14, 2008


We just had a perfect weekend.

Saturday, we braved the Brooklyn mommy hoards to get 'official' haircuts for the boys (e.g., not by someone wielding too-dull shears, wrestling with a squirmy toddler, and realizing at that most inopportune moment that boy hair is hard.) I swallowed a gulp when I realized the buzz of that clipper was the bell tolling for babyhood. (Not to be overly dramatic or anything. Luckily the hands-flailing, legs-jerking, ear-piercing temper tantrums later in the day made me remember they truly are only one and a half. )

Then an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum - complete with grandparents for extra hands, and the chance for hubby and I to actually see the Morandi show. Many, many, many bottles. Many, many bottles. Many many Bottles.

We made our way home (no traffic) and, for the capper, made it on time to a babysitter-enabled cocktail party with real wine and real adults. Discussions about issues. Politics. The economy. New York real estate. Recent supreme court hearings (ok, so it was a bunch of lawyers.)

But the real coup d'grace was Sunday morning: no adult intervention required until 7:51 a.m. I cracked an eye, rubbed out the blur as I tried to read my bedside clock, and couldn't believe it.

Day two of the perfect weekend: the Bronx zoo, good naps and an impromptu play date (complete with hallway hide-and-seek, three-in-a-tub, and apple crumble.)

Of course I'm exhausted. But I'm not sick anymore. Neither are any of my boys - including hubby. I've finished (almost all of) my holiday shopping. The fridge is stocked. And our cleaning lady comes on Mondays.

Truly the planets have aligned.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


So work has exploded. Gone from 0 to 60. Meals have been skipped, bills not paid, the personal inbox filling up. Its thrilling. Its hard. Its challenging. Its consuming. Very, very consuming.
So here it is - a stop-fighting-and-just-admit-its-true moment: I am not sending holiday cards this year.

I know, I know. I have two adorable children. It's an absolute crime to omit their picture from collage of smiling faces on the refrigerators of our friends. And, what with all those just-a-click-a-way tools out there, how much time would it take, really? I mean.... really?

Too much.

There's the taking the picture. The choosing the picture. The formatting the card. The inevitable negotiations with hubby re: format, color scheme, message. Then there's the damn addresses. Sure, I know, it can all be managed for me... electronic submission, one-click ordering. They print. They send. But I still need to have all those damn addresses. With zip codes.

So - apologies in advance. For giving up before I even try. There will be no family card this year.

On second thought... maybe I'll send an e-card.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Addendum: OCD

Hubby rightly pointed out that he deserves a shout-out for beating doctor to the punch. "I've been saying you needed to go see a doctor for weeks," he said while he poured my tea. So, yeah. He has been. He was right. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

OCD - optimistic compulsive disorder

I've had a crappy few weeks - at least from a health perspective. Here's the run down:
  • 4 weeks ago: 2 days of stomach flu. The violent, toilet-bowl hugging kind.
  • Went straight to congestion without even passing Go or collecting $200.
  • Congestion moved to my ears. Got so bad that I've literally fallen down from vertigo on 3 separate occasions after blowing my nose. No joke.
  • The phlegm kept traveling south. It's now firmly settled in my chest, where I'm coughing so badly and frequently I've damaged a rib.
  • And now - for the (hopefully final) cherry on top - both boys have pink eye. And so do I.

I finally got myself to a doctor today. I waited in a throng of other hacking, coughing, snotty patients only to be told I was the worst he's seen this season and handed a prescription for the WMD of antibiotics.
Needless to say, there was a lot of head shaking and finger wagging. "You take better care of your boys than you do of yourself." He said. "I can't believe it took you a month to see me," He said. "You just can't treat yourself this way."

OK, so fine. I have toxic, germ-magnet toddlers. I can't remember what my real voice sounds like. And I'm currently lying in bed, listening to my boys giggle in the living room because the medicine has made me too nauseous to get up and play. But despite how this reads, I'm not actually trying to complain here. Nor am I gunning for martyr of the year. I swear.

OK, so maybe I am worse off than most at this moment - but I know I'm not alone. The majority of new parents spend the first years going through tissues at such a clip I have to believe we collectively represent a significant chunk of the Kleenex market.

What struck me today, as I teetered on my too-tall heels to the pharmacy counter at Target, is that fact that I've barely written about all of this. It simply hasn't felt 'blog-worthy.' Instead I'm talking about balloons. And the one time I did write about it, I focused on the joy I found in my unexpected moment for contemplation.

It struck me today that I am addicted to optimism.

I think that might be one of the ways I 'do what I do.' After all, If I don't wax on about the crappy parts, they diminish in importance. Hacking up gobs of phlegm? Who cares. A giant, inflatable Smurf coupled with the kindness of strangers? That's worth sharing.

Still like all addictions, it can have some pretty scary side-effects. Not acknowledging the crappy crap to the rest of the world? Not necessarily important. Not acknowledging it to myself? That's a problem. And one I've encountered on more than one occasion. Like when I didn't go to a doctor for a month. Or when I couldn't admit I was in a dead-end relationship (not this one, thank goodness). Or when I couldn't acknowledge that I was no longer in love with my job. (Again, not this one, thank goodness.)

So tonight, as I follow doctor's orders to swill my cocktail of codeine and antibiotics and let hubby deal with the night-terrors, vomit, coughing or what-ever the God of small twins throws our way, I'll think about those side-effects. And I'll think about how to temper my optimism with a little more common sense.

But not too much.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


There's a scene in a Woody Allen movie - Zelig maybe? Definitely black and white - at  any rate it's a chase scene, staged amongst  inflated, monolithic balloons as they wait for the Macy's Parade. 

I (clearly) don't quite remember the details, or how this particular moment fit into the undoubtedly neurosis-filled plot, but I do have a vivid memory of men racing around these giant, alien, globs, casting bizarre shadows as they hid behind one bulge and scurried to another.

History has not stayed true to Woody Allen's vision. At all.

In a move similar to hitting Time's Square on New Year's Eve, hubby and I decided to take the boys to see the balloons being inflated for the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Actually - it was worse than Times Square. We never would have attempted to push a double-stroller down 42nd street at midnight.

Thousands - what felt like hundreds of thousands - had the same idea.  

We made it to 79th street, and even across Columbus avenue (which itself took about 30 minutes.) But as we turned the corner, caught in the swell of the inexorably moving crowd, the boys seeing nothing but a sea of denim-clad knees, we opted to cut and run. The chaos. The crowd. The cold. The schlep. It just wasn't worth it. We turned a sharp left, pushing our way past the barricade to the relative calm of the crosswalk.

That's when she stopped me.  40s(50s?).  Nice coat (fur?). Nice hair.  ($400 cut and color).  
"You have kids, right?" I must have looked at her blankly. "Your kids? These yours?" She gestured to the stroller. I nodded.

"You look miserable. You should come with me. Otherwise this is a waste."  She waved a piece of paper -  cream, card stock, embossed, red ink.   Then she turned to a cop on the far side of the street.  "They're with me. Let them through."

With a magic worthy of Ali Baba, the 'private viewing,' 'residents only' barricade opened, and we were shuttled through as our savior disappeared down the block (to her apartment? a party?)

It was a different world on the other side of the street. 

Instead of throngs, there were neighbors. Instead of kids perched on teetering shoulders, straining to see something, anything, there were a few leaning against a fence while others dashed up and down the sidewalk shouting "I see Dora! I see the Energizer Bunny!"

We let the boys out of their stroller and they, too, raced up and down - pointing at the balloons, eyes widening as they saw a giant Smurf rise up from the blacktop.

It was New York magic, of the oh-my-god-I-can't- believe-how-lucky-we-were, variety.  The kind of thing that lets karma circulate, from the taxi driver who drops off a lost wallet, to the no-fee apartment real estate tip that truly pans out. 

Of course, we're not going to press our luck. We know better now, and karma is a fleeting friend. We will never, ever, try to go to that place on that night, ever, ever again. 

(Unless, of course, we move to 79th street.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Too Big

It's official. Or perhaps the better word is 'inevitable.' I am overcommitted. And it's my own damn fault.

Here's a run down of all the things I've said 'yes' to in the last six months or so:

- A new job (the focus of which is reimagining a business model that's been around for more than 100 years)
- Helping my mother-in-law get the recognition she deserves for her lifes' work (she's a painter:
- Helping to start a non-profit, progressive school in my neighborhood (
- Writing the book proposal for a would-be-best seller with my cohorts LillyParrot and BrooklynChickens
- Hosting Christmas

It's ridiculous. And it's not just the length of the list, it's the SCALE of it.

Someone told me once 'you're attracted to big things.' He is right. I am. I get excited by ideas - and the bigger, the broader, the more far-reaching the idea the better.

But I need to live my life at a human scale. The scale that lets me remember to take vitamins, to not feel guilty if I want to 'waste' a precious hour watching a TV show. The scale that helps ensure I'm not falling down with exhaustion when I'm playing with the boys.

I lose sight of that in the midst of the daily decisions, in the wake of the barrage of my own ideas and the asks of others. I lose sight of the fact that if I say 'yes' to everything - and help everything balloon to the size of its maximum potential - I will not do anything.

('Balloon balloon balloon!' says one twin. 'Boon' agrees his brother)

So, what to do? I know, I know... "Delegate." "Learn to say no." "Prioritize." "Keep things in perspective."

But, on top of that, I might just need to let some things stay small.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Runny noses

It's ridiculous, really. After a pretty much solid week of stomach bug, we've careened right into cold season without stopping for breath.  And I even got a flu shot this year.

Both boys' constantly running rivulets of snot are only outmatched by my own. And hubby - still recovering from the last of the belly-bug - knows he's next on the list.

So I went home  early today.

Now, I'm sitting in bed at 4:30 in the afternoon, laptop perched on my knees, and feeling that luxurious, rare moment of home-at-the-same-time-as-the-nanny.

Of course, I do feel like ass... not to wallow or anything, but the cough, fever and clogged ears do not make for a truly enjoyable moment.  

And yet it is these unexpected moments for soliloquy that ensure my life does not dissolve into unchecked anarchy.  These are the times to check the lists (bills, christmas shopping, cancel time warner cable), organize the closets, or mull over the latest impossibles I'm trying to make possible at work. And, when my brain / immune system doesn't allow for much else, these are the times for ... this.

And now they are back, tumbling through the door fresh from the playroom, and we're all going to wipe our noses together.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Honeymoon Continues

Why I love my job:

- I’m having fun getting dressed in the morning for the first time in a decade (although sometimes I’m a little worried I’m crossing the line and dressing like I am still in my twenties. That exec / fashion-forward / milf trifecta is a tricky balance to strike. Hubby sent me back to the closet the other day for a shoe change. Apparently super-trendy platform high heels plus super-short skirt was a little too Ally McBeal meets S&M for the office.)

- I can share perks with my friends (free samples!)

- The commute doesn’t suck (and rarely involves an airport)

- I can’t foresee a time when I’ll stop learning something new daily

- It’s challenging (I've never had to get so many people to agree to something so different. A whole new level of politics. Makes Congress look easy.)

- I get to do things no one has ever done before (See above.)

- I have time to think (and they want me to)

- I get to use both sides of my brain: the creative part that likes writing blogs and dreamily envisioning all the world’s nifty possibilities, and the type-A, efficiency-rocks part that wants to make sure the numbers add up

- It matters. (Or will, if I do it right.)

- I can make the boys breakfast and kiss them goodnight

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Help. I have a lot of it. A ridiculous amount of childcare.

At least I openly acknowledge it: I'm not hypocritically striking an every mom, Wal-Mart wardobe pose while dropping $150K at Saks.

In fact, if I didn't have so much help, I have no idea how my crazy chaotic life would work. Which, of course, makes me drown in a vat of wasp-induced guilt on behalf of all the working moms who do not have access to my level of support.

Frankly, its a pretty big vat - big enough to hold almost every other working mother in the world. I live in a friggin' bubble.

Here's what I have:

- Full-time nanny (who is extraordinary. I am the envy of the playground regulars)
- Au Pair (newly arrived from Brazil)
- Cleaning lady - 2Xs / week
- In Laws in the West Village, who are actually disappointed if they don't get an overnight once a week with the twins. At their house. So they can have 'quality alone time' with the boys. No joke.
- A husband with a (moderately) flexible schedule

Of course I work quite hard, and I have twin 18-month boys who are the personification of chaos, and the reason I have so much help is that two pairs of hands is the best way to keep them from certain death these days, and I constantly race from one thing to the next in hopes of optimizing any and all available time with my children...

But take today. I'm sick. Stomach flu. In fact, it's been an ugly few days: One boy puked all night Sunday. I got sick Monday night. Other boy puked all night last night. I had a relapse this morning. Needless to say, there was quite a foul odor hanging over our household. (Better now, thanks to ventilation and a whole lot of laundry).

So yes, miserable. But the au pair woke up with me at 6 a.m. this morning, and took care of one sick boy while I was sick. The nanny came later and cleaned up all the mess. I was able to stay in bed with no true consequences - no loss of pay or threat of losing my job.

The true super moms are the ones who keep it all together, keep smiling, keep their children safe and fed and happy, without the benefit of a full staff behind them. Who wash the vomit out of their hair, beg a neighbor to watch their sick kid who can't go to day care, and make it to work on time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

10 things my nanny thinks I should be doing more often:

  1. washing their hands
  2. wiping their noses
  3. washing their toys
  4. sleeping
  5. sewing the holes in their clothes
  6. yelling at my husband
  7. yelling at my mother-in-law
  8. vacuuming the stroller
  9. remembering the rain cover
  10. applying sun block

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday morning: single-momming it day 2

Woke up to giggles and sunshine after 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Epiphany: It's not about the balance within a day, it's about the balance across them

Friday, November 7, 2008

In Defense of Cereal

My husband is a foodie. Actually, that terms sounds a little too glib for his level of commitment. He's a farmer's-market-shopping, wine-list-critiquing, slow food, art-of-eating reading, full-on gourmand. And, to my taste buds' relief, he's the one who cooks around here.

He's also the one who feels entitled to make the food rules around here. And one of those rules is that cereal is not, can never be, and will never be, dinner.

He's wrong.

Of course, I do recognize that my vantage point may be a little bit suspect. I did come from a household where frozen vegetables were a daily staple no matter what the season. I didn't know lettuce came in any flavor besides 'iceberg' until after college. Suffice it to say, consumer packaged goods companies have quite a customer in my mother.

But I do think cereal can, on occasion, be a perfectly reasonable dinner choice. Make that, a vital, life-saving option.

After all, as a friend of mine said, it's fortified. They are actively trying to ensure you get the nutrients you need, even if it cereal is the only thing you eat. (And by 'they,' I mean those good folks at Kellogg's and General Mills).

Sometimes, when I get home from work, after I've raced in the door to get my 45 mins before bedtime, (note: one bone of contention from hubby is that I never stop to get the mail. He's right. I don't.) after I've put the boys to sleep, if there's nothing cooking, and reheating is too much bother, and ordering is too much of a wait ... then it's all about cereal.

Of course, I'm drowning in hypocrisy. Would I let my children have cheerios for dinner? Hell no. I won't even let the au pair.

But I will, in fact, keep doing it, hypocrisy and all. Every once in a while, no matter how much the hubby scoffs, I'll pour myself a bowl of honey nut. And I'll enjoy it.

You know what I can't figure out? Is this a classic sign of not taking care of myself, or a sign of that fact that maybe I am?

TODAY's TALLY (single-momming it edition):
- 5:45 a.m. wake up
- 1 busted lamp
- the au pair's bus (she missed it to help me settle a screaming, refusing to nap boy)
- ever-growing arm muscles after carrying one velcro-boy twin 20 blocks in the rain. (take that Madonna)
- rain
- poop in the bathtub (floaters!)

Been a tough one tooday.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Swell ground

I would never consider myself politically apathetic. And, in fact, I have felt more passionate about this presidential race than any in memory. I have in fact, felt active.

And yet... what did I do, exactly?
Did I give money? check. Multiple times. Small increments. Every time I saw Palin open her mouth.
Did I campaign for Obama? Well... does donating my Facebook status count?
Did I phone bank, or knock on any doors? Traipse through the wilds of Pennsylvania proudly sheathed in sandwich board? Well... I did forward a cute photo to my address book...
Did I do anything that lifted my ass out of my desk chair? well... no. I didn't. Except vote.

So why, when I got an email at 11:30 p.m. November 4th from Barack himself thanking me for all of my hard work, did I feel I did, in fact, deserve such kudos?

I did. And still do.

Maybe it's not rational - and it's probably not fair. After all, if everyone connected to the campaign exercised only their virtual voice, there's no way history would have been made.
But I do feel as though I should get some of that credit - that I did, in fact, help make it happen. That yes, yes we did. Emphasis on "we."

Social networking is clearly a boon for the would-be-politically-active but can't-possibly-squeeze-in-one-more-thing working mom. I could join the crowd without shlepping to a rally. I could give money without licking a stamp. I could buy paraphenalia with the click of a mouse. I could hassle my friends without picking up the phone. And I did all of those things.

Could I have done more? Maybe. Assuredly. But could I have done a whole lot more, and still kept my carefully, precariously balanced, chaos of a life in functioning order?

Honestly? Probably not.

And, thankfully for the future of my children, what I did, when coupled with the efforts of everyone else ...? That was enough.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Addendum to pilot

Ok so it was diaper rash, not teething. And ok, so his brother woke up screaming at 4 a.m., which means I got a grand total of four hours of sleep last night. And both diapers exploded. (Note to self: 7th gen doesn't save the environment if it means you do an extra load of laundry every day.) But no worries. Still cheery. Obama is ahead in the polls. Stock price is up. And I just need a bit more coffee.

Season 1, Episode 1 - Pilot

I've been feeling like a stereotype lately (although I think I'd prefer the term 'archetype.') No matter what the prefix, I am, in fact, a type. The type that has a full-time high-pressure bread-winner job, toddler twin boys and a scary-high mortgage. The type that tries not to lose herself in the daily deluge of diapers and doggies and parents and power point.

I aspire to perfect mommy milf-dom, complete with a rocketing career and a fabulous sex life. I aspire to be so much more than getting through the days and waiting for the weekend.
But, all that said, I'm friggin' exhausted.

And now in classic type-A style, I've decided that adding yet another project to my ever expanding list, is, in fact, the one thing thats been missing from my 'to do' list. So here goes. A blog.

To be honest, I've decided to start writing this all down so I can, in fact, understand how I do it. Because, despite being so tired I can feel the weight of my eyelids (and the fact that the last paragraph was interrupted by a screaming, teething little boy who flailed his arms but didn't open his eyes) I am, actually, for the most part, quite happy.

And, as far as I can tell, that means I'm an anamoly among other would-be super moms. (Or at least, among those who aren't running for public office.)

Of course - such happiness can be fleeting I know. I'm in the honeymoon of a new job (it's so interesting! the people are so terrific!). I just returned from a romantic, kid-free weekend for my 5th-year anniversary, and both boys are (once again) sleeping soundly. If course all it takes is another round of molars or a terrifying election result (Palin as VP).
That said, I'm pretty certain my average is in the plus column.

The stats:
- 34, married, live in Brooklyn
- two kids, 18 month-old twin boys
- full-time job (executive type at a big public company)