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.