Wednesday, January 30, 2008

'Tis better to have watched Lost than never to have watched at all

I have this wee little addiction.

It is called “Lost.”

It is the smart, convoluted, finely detailed and intricately told tale of a group of plane crash survivors on a remote and mysterious island. It is also perhaps the craziest show on TV.

I was hooked within the first 15 minutes of the pilot, and have watched (and rewatched) every episode since.

If you have been living under a rock this week, then you might not know that Lost returns to television with the first of eight new episodes tomorrow night. (Only eight – wah! Damn writers’ strike! Dumb, stubborn television studios!)

To say I am excited is putting it (waaaay) mildly. I am obsessed. I am, right now, the proverbial child on Christmas eve. I am not sure I will be able to sleep tonight.

If you have not watched Lost, well, you my friend have missed out. It has been a roller coaster of “whaaaat’s?” and “OH! MY! GOD’S!” and has launched a thousand wacky theories. And I feel, truly, that with the announced end to the show after 48 more episodes, it is about to get a lot better.

Now that the producers know exactly the timeframe in which they have to finish their story, I think it will move along much more smoothly and with a lot more answers.

But if you have not watched, it’s not too late to catch up. This very clever eight-and-a-half minute video is a start:

Even better, watch the rerun of the Season 3 finale tonight at 8 p.m. (on ABC) followed by a recap of the whole series at 8 p.m. on Thursday. (And then of course, the new episode at 9 p.m.)

Come one, come all! Join me in my obsession!

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Confidence builder

I slept in (a bit) this morning, rolling out of bed around 7:30 a.m.

The girls and Mark were already up and at ‘em. I wandered down the hall toward the sound of voices, listening to my children chatter to each other in that happy, loving way they do in the morning.

Walking into the living room, I spied them in the corner. They were already wearing their princess dresses and tucking a couple of dolls into a miniature stroller.

“Good morning, sweeties,” I said.

“MOMMY!” came their happy reply. I bent down and hugged them – first Peanut and then Loaf.

Peanut turned to resume playing, but Loaf stepped back pointing her tiny finger toward the center of my chest.

“You my friend!” she said enthusiastically.

“Aww, of course I am,” I answered. “I love you.”

“Yeah,” she said, leaning in to rest her head against the spot to which she’d just pointed. “Love you too, friend.”

I sat back on the floor and cradled her body against mine, feeling her warmth, smelling the sweet smell of shampoo lingering in her hair, and listening to her breaths rise and fall in her chest.

“This is the best ‘good morning’ I could hope for,” I told her. “This makes Mommy so happy.”

“Loaf happy too.”

We sat like that, she and I, for only a few seconds before the spell was broken by the promise of breakfast (“Mommy make waffles please?”), but it is one of those moments that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

There are times when parenting is maddening beyond belief – when the tantrums come on long and strong, when all manners are forgotten, when I find myself yelling out of control and wondering if anything I’m doing or saying is getting through to my children. Those are the times I question my ability to raise calm, successful adults and fear I am failing at my most important job.

Thank God for the random, quiet moments like this morning, for it is in them that I feel most like a mother – when nothing else matters and I can sit for a moment and realize that someone small may be listening after all.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Play along: What do you think he did?!?

Today in Loehmann’s, I happened to look up and right in front of me is a young woman with an obviously bored-out-of-his-ever-fucking-mind man standing off to one side. Draped over his arm is a massive quantity of women’s clothing.

She is furiously rifling through the sales rack in front of her, occasionally plucking something out and hanging it over her own arm. Suddenly, she stops, turns to him and snaps, “Here! This is getting heavy again. You hold it,” as she transfers her pile of clothing to his.

He actually winces in a display of physical pain when this happens. I’m not sure if that’s due to her gruff manner, the gargantuan weight of the clothing, or impending credit card bill he knows he is about to receive from this little expedition.

Clearly, he was not there by choice, because really, what man who is not under serious womanly peril would chose to spend his afternoon like that? So my theories as to why he was playing the role of her shopping caddy are:

A. He spent all day yesterday screaming at the NFL playoffs and ignored her,
B. He was out with friends at a bar screaming at the NFL playoff games all night and did not arrive home until the wee hours of the morning, or
C. He was found looking at porn on his computer.

Any guesses? Come on – we can all play along.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Keep-a-busy, Cinderelly!

Make the fire! Fix the breakfast! Wash the dishes! Do the moppin!
And the sweepin', and the dustin'
They always keep her hoppin'.
She go around in circles 'till she very, very dizzy
Still they holler... Keep-a busy, Cinderelly!

Scene: Yesterday afternoon. Me on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor.

Loaf: What you do, Mommy?

Me: Scrubbing the floor, honey. I’m just like Cinderella right now – doing my chores.

Loaf: Oooooh.
::Leaves room and comes back moments later holding her Cinderella costume::
Here you go, Mommy. Just like her. Scrub, scrub.
::Gives me a huge and leaves again::

Great! Now where's that Fairy Godmother? I have a few requests to make . . .

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Internal conflict

I have two gorgeous children.

I do not want a third.

I am sure of this.

I do not want to go back to square one: diaper blow outs, nursing, bottles, pacifiers, hourly feedings, crying for no known reason (though there are moments when I find myself still dealing with this), weaning, sleep training, having to do everything with one hand, etc., etc., etc.

I have given away all of my baby goods—from the bassinet to the infant car seat to onesies and infant toys—as Loaf outgrows them.

I do not wish to subject myself to another pregnancy—the nausea, the weight gain, the bloating, the insomnia, the back pain, the sciatica, the cramps, the dry skin, the itchiness, the sore boobs, the heartburn, the acid reflux, the bleeding gums and the cankles. I do not wish to spend nine months in a constant state of anxiety worrying about about something – everything – going wrong. Not to mention I have no desire to relive labor, birth and post-birth recovery.

I am nearly 39 years old.

I do not even particularly enjoy the needy infant stage that much.

I am 100 percent sure that I do not want a third baby.

So why – WHY— is it that lately every time I see a newborn baby, my heart clinches up and my uterus actually aches with a pain that can only be described as emptiness?

Why do I find myself eagerly drinking in every word of the slew of newly pregnant bloggers who, even as they write about the inconveniences and annoyances of pregnancy, make me secretly wish I could join them?

Why do I find myself feeling what can only be described as jealousy when friends tell me they are pregnant? Why does it suddenly seem like 50 percent of the women at my gym are hugely pregnant (and glowing and fit to boot)? Why could I not take my eyes off the sweet gurgling three-month-old at the new playgroup I joined last week? And why did I tear up the other night while wistfully thinking back on soft baby skin, fuzzy heads, a tiny warm body sleeping on my chest, sweet, grunty baby noises and early toothless smiles?

Can anyone please answer this for me? Because this sappy maternal craving shit is really starting to piss me off.

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Monday, January 14, 2008


A few months ago, I received a notice for jury duty.

I’m not one who goes into jury duty plotting and scheming to get out of it as quickly as possible. As much of a pain in the ass as it is, I think jury duty is an important component of what makes the American judicial system (generally) effective.

That said, last night when I called the court’s service number to see if I would have to report, I was extremely relieved to hear that my juror number had been excused.

Important job or not, I’m stoked to have gotten credit for performing my civic duty without actually having to do anything. Now that’s really the American way.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Safety PSA of the day

My friend Maureen posted the saddest video about a three-year-old boy who was killed when his seatbelt failed. He was in a booster seat vs. a car seat with a five-point harness.

Here is a similar tragedy. Look at this little girl. I could just cry rivers thinking about it.

And this one - similar.


My girls are still in their Britax car seats, which are designed to hold them until they're 65 pounds.

I had no intention of moving them to a booster seat anytime soon, but after seeing these videos? They'll be buckled into them until the last possible moment.


The crying game

Today, Peanut woke up at 4:30.


A. M. !!!!

She was in a pretty good mood for, oh, about two hours. Then, it was a whole lotta whining and crying and complaining for the next 10. Around 4 p.m., she finally fell asleep, which was a mixed blessing, because at that point she wanted to keep right on sleeping until tomorrow morning.

Waking her up was a Herculean effort involving more crying, whining and complaining (and that was mostly from us).

But what was the alternative? Let her sleep so that tomorrow she can get up at 3 a.m.? (Or worse??)

After getting her sitting in a somewhat upright at the table and coercing her into choking down some eggs and toast (perhaps serving her breakfast might fool her system into thinking it was now time to be awake?), we brushed her teeth (she cried because she didn’t want Mark to do it) and then put on her PJs (more crying, because a certain pair were in the laundry).

And Loaf was no picnic either by this point. She too was quite tired and trying her best to take top place in the Gav family’s “most annoying child of the day” contest.

I decided at this point to let them watch a movie. I figured, best case, it would keep them awake for an additional 90 minutes, which might, maybe put them back on a normal sleep schedule. And worst case? They fall asleep on the couch in 10 minutes, but at least I don’t have deal with them anymore.

So into the DVD player went Ratatouille. Only Loaf, didn’t want to watch Ratatouille. So of course, she started crying.


And Peanut wanted milk, but instead of asking, she launched right into tears.


Mark and I stood in front of the TV, arms crossed, like two pissed off prison guards.

“No movie until you stop crying,” Mark warned. “Do you want to watch the movie or do you want to sit there and cry?”

“I want cry,” Loaf stated, boldly looking back at him. And Peanut agreed nonverbally, sitting on the couch wailing, tears streaming down her red face.


I had to leave the room to hide the fact that I was shaking with laughter. I’m not quite sure that’s the response he was expecting. I guess you have to at least respect the fact that even at their young ages, they know what they want in life.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Dangers real and imagined

I was alone this weekend again.

Mark attended his grandfather’s funeral in Ohio. We decided it was too long in the car (7-hours each way) and too much of a whirlwind (two days) for the girls, so he and his brother road-tripped together.

On Saturday, I met my sister-in-law, who also has two young girls, at a big indoor play area for kids. The girls spent nearly four hours playing in the mock, child-sized grocery store, fluttering around the baby doll nursery and digging in a huge sand pit.

At one point, I had to change Loaf. The facility had women’s and men’s bathrooms, plus a co-ed baby changing room with a toilet and sink. I headed there. The door had a latch lock, but I guess I didn’t push it through all the way because as I was setting up the changing table, a man walked in. But instead of saying, “oh excuse me,” and leaving, as any NORMAL fucking person would do, he just came right in and proceeded to wash his hands. Really. Really. Slowly.

By this time, I had Loaf on the changing table, but there was no way—NO WAY—I was going to take her diaper off her while this guy was there—it was too fishy. And creepy. He was standing at the sink with his back to us, but there was a large mirror over the sink that would give a clear view to my baby girl’s naked lower half. And I just had the feeling he was lingering. It was more than a little disturbing.

My mind was racing. Why did he come in at all?

Part of me wanted to just turn to him and say, “Excuse me dude, but WHAT THE FUCK? We’re in here. Go use the men’s room. Or just go back outside and wait your turn.”

But I didn’t. The polite, timid side of me, the side that doesn’t like to make a scene, the side that doesn’t want to draw attention to myself or look like a bitch, overruled. So I stood there, quietly stewing and waiting for this guy to leave on his own. When he finally did (it seemed like forever), I raced over and pushed the latch lock firmly through to the other side.

When I left the changing room, I looked for him. He was sitting with this family in the doll nursery. He was a very normal looking guy in a navy-blue v-neck sweater with a white t-shirt under it. He had two little girls and his wife—a cute redhead with long curly hair—was pregnant. They looked like picture perfect all-American family. And maybe they were, but I still say his behavior was odd. He is either completely oblivious to social mores, or is a pervert. I’m voting door #2. Sicko.

And yes, I'm completely pissed at myself for not speaking up and saying something. That is exactly the attitude that gets women into trouble. Everything you read tells you that if your instincts tell you something is weird, you should speak up, be direct, yell. But I had no voice in that bathroom and I am completely disappointed in myself because of it.

At home that night, we made grilled cheese and soup for dinner. I was still turning the episode over in my head a bit.

Now you must understand that when I’m alone in the house, I’m a huge wimp with an overactive imagination. I live on a rural, dark street where the homes are quite spread out. On the nights when Mark is out, my imagination has, at times, gotten the best of me.

There was the night, during a windstorm, that a huge tree limb fell on the roof and I called the police because I swore – SWORE – the loud thump on the roof could only be made by a serial killer preparing to drop down the chimney and kill me. Oy.

So there we were, sitting round the kitchen table eating our dinner, when Peanut says, with nothing but sunshine and light in her voice, “Mommy, I see eyes looking in the window.”

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and every muscle in my body froze. My mind flashed first to the scene in The Amityville Horror when the bright red demonic eyes appear in the little girl’s bedroom and then quickly to the even more famous I see dead people. Or worse, was it the creepy guy from the bathroom? Did he somehow follow us home?

As Peanut sat there smiling, I slowly turned my head toward the window. Of course, there was nothing there but the inky, pitch-black night. I got up and flipped on the outside light. Nothing. The yard was empty. The gate closed.

“Spot still sees eyes, Mommy! Bright pink eyes!”

Spot is Blanket’s pet. An imaginary friend for both Peanut and Blanket who likes to hop along the side of our car when we drive and also apparently gets a rush out of scaring Mommy half to death.


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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Resolved: 2008 edition

Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about my 2008 resolutions, but before I go there, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on 2007.

Last year, I had six resolutions. They were:

1. Continue working out regularly and with more intensity with the goal of dropping 5 to 7 more pounds.
How’d I do?
THHHWACK! That is the sound of me hitting this bad boy out of the park. I tripled my goal and lost 16 (!) pounds, 16.5 inches and two sizes. I must admit, I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

2. Read more regularly.
How’d I do?
I sucked on this in the first half of the year, but redeemed myself from July forward. The seventh book in the Harry Potter series got me started and I’ve been on a roll ever since. Now to just keep going.

3. Spend more time playing with/enjoying my kids.
How’d I do?
Fairly well. I let a lot of things go on a lot of days, foregoing the laundry or the sweeping to play Cinderella or to sit down and color with the girls. But I still could be better, it’s just really freakin’ hard when there’s always such a long list of things to do.

4. Go on regular date nights with my husband.
How’d I do?
Not too bad on this one. My goal was a monthly night out, and I think we did about half that, but this is still a great improvement from the previous year.

5. Stay in better contact with friends.
How’d I do?
OK, this is where things start to fall apart. I love my friends and I love when I see them, but after the kids, my job, Mark, the cat and taking care of the house, it seems there’s little time for other things. It’s frustrating for sure.

6. Find a church and get my kids baptized.
How’d I do?
::hanging head in shame::
Nothing here. Nada. Zip. My kids are still heathens and it’s all my fault.

So what’s next?

1. Maintain my weight and fitness level.
I worked too hard last year to slip back into bad habits, so eating right and going to the gym regularly remain high on my list of goals for this year.

2. Make myself a higher priority.
This goes hand-in-hand with the goal above. I eat right and go to the gym, but there’s more that must be done here. I have a prescription from my doctor for a baseline mammogram from 2006 – yet to be filled. I have not been to the dentist since I was pregnant with Loaf in 2005. I haven’t had a physical in over a year. I didn’t even get a damn flu shot this year! I’m not getting any younger here, so taking preventive steps toward maintaining my own health has to be high on the list for 2008.

3. Play with and enjoy the girls every day.
I can’t ignore the fact that I have other things in my life to address (like work and the house and myself), but there are things that can (and should) wait so that I can spend good, quality time with my kids, whether that involves a trip to the park or sitting at the kitchen table playing with Play-Doh. I do this stuff now, but not enough of it, and before I know it they’ll be off and running with their friends and won’t want anything to do with me. So recognizing that my time with them is precious and fleeting, I vow to make the most it. Besides, I’m pretty sure I’ll never look back on my life and think, “gee I wish I’d kept a cleaner house.”

4. Baptism. Yeah. Again.
OK. This is the year. One way or another, I have to do this. The first step is going to a couple of different churches and trying them out and now is the time before Mark resumes Sunday morning soccer in the spring.

5. Figure out once and for all where we want to live.
This is a joint goal that involves Mark, but he’s aware of it (and is actually sort of driving it). There are many things we like about our house and where we live, and many things we don’t. In any event, we certainly don’t feel “settled” or “anchored” here if that makes sense. We’d like be a little closer to our families, but still within reasonable access to New York City. We’re considering northern NJ, as well as a number of Hudson Valley towns. We’ll see. There’s also a decent chance we’ll just buckle down here, but I’d like to make that decision this year so we can put this issue behind us once and for all.

So that's it for me. You can play along or read what others are trying to accomplish over at Crazy Hip Blog Mamas

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

In memoriam

Jack Y. was Mark’s grandfather.

He was born in August 1904 and yesterday, around 4 p.m., he passed away. He was 103 (and a half). He had a full head of snow-white hair and an infectious, gregarious laugh that never failed to draw you in. He was an amazing storyteller and loved his family immensely.

In 1904, the average life expectancy in the United States was 47. Who would have guessed he’d double that, and then add nearly 10 more years to it.

Only 14% of homes in the U.S. had a bathtub, and only 8% had a phone. There were only 144 miles of paved roads in this country, which was fine, because there were only 8,000 cars on the road.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower and the average U.S. worker made between $200-$400 a year. Since Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska had not yet been admitted to the Union, the American flag had only 45 stars. The population of Las Vegas was 30.

The year he was born was also the very first year of the New Year’s celebration in Times Square. There was no ball, but there were fireworks.

When I think of his age, I am amazed. 103 (and a half) is an incredibly, long life. When you examine what the world was like in 1904, the feat of living more than a century crystallizes into something nearly miraculous. The things he has seen – the joys, the sorrows, the wondrous inventions (from computers to squeezable ketchup bottles) — it is simply remarkable.

When he turned 100, we traveled to Indiana for a large family gathering. He sat talking to Mark while Peanut, just 10 months old, looked intently at him. While she doesn’t remember this trip, I’m so glad we took photographs of the two of them together so that someday we can pass his stories on to her and show her the incredible man whose blood runs in her veins.

Great Grampa Y at his 100th birthday celebration

Peanut w/ her daddy and great grampa

Tonight, 103 years (and 2 days) after 200,000 people first gathered in Times Square to ring in the New Year, I plan to raise a glass and toast Jack Y., one of the nicest men I’ve ever known. We will miss you.

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