4 Jun
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Come have a laugh with me as I calculate that it was less than two weeks between posting about letting kids live dangerously that one of my kids ended up in the emergency room to have his head glued back together. Ha ha ha ha HA.

No, really, it’s okay to laugh. It wasn’t that bad (the equivalent of two stitches), and by the rules that govern the Bizarroworld that is having two small children, it wasn’t the crazy, fearless child who almost brained himself but the other one. The one who said afterward, “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to your safety rules, Mom.” The one who was deemed the Calmest Kid Ever by the ER doctor (a male doctor! they do exist!*), who gave Wombat a sticker and a worksheet and a pair of surgical gloves and a set of professional tweezers and a gratuitous ride in a wheelchair (plus a bunch of superglue on his gouge) and yet still kept looking for something “more special” because a kid who can just lay/lie there with a head injury like it’s no big thing should be rewarded with something “more special.”

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*Wombat still thinks only women are allowed to be doctors. Was one so wrong ever so sweet?

While Fox was in the care of my in-laws, who were at the house at the time of the accident (irresponsible twirling on the backyard tire swing too close to the very pointy corners of the patio furniture), Simon and I took Wombat out for a post-trauma cheeseburger instead. (“Now, don’t think bashing your brains out is a good way to score a cheeseburger, mister.”) This is what it looks like when you eat a cheeseburger after having had your blood-soaked hair clipped back in your mom’s barrettes for a few hours.

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For the past two weeks he’s been wearing magical band-aids that seem to have taken away both the pain of a self-inflicted flesh cravasse as well as the sting of missing two weeks of swimming lessons. If he ends up with a gnarly scar, it’ll just make Harry Potter all the more exciting. (We’re thinking age 7 would be a good time to start? Yes?)

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I’m pleased to report that I was as cool as a frog’s belly during the entire affair, but now, of course, I can’t help but look at everything in my children’s vicinities as potential hazards to their health/pretty, pretty faces. Can someone tell me: Why is the world so sharp? The good news is that I’m still firmly of the mind that it would be ridiculous to attempt to pad every surface my kids might come in contact with, and thus it is that I’ve resolved to simply pad the children. You heard it here first: Summer 2014′s fashion breakthrough is triple-ply quilted bodysuits with matching helmets. Order yours today!

28 May
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Eleven Things

Sometimes you discover someone online and think they’re the bee’s knees, and then sometimes you get to meet them in person and they’re even better and your only improvement on the relationship would be that they didn’t live two hundred miles away. Janet is one of those people. I want to be like her when I grow up.

She tagged me in her Eleven Things meme, and it’s just what I need right now despite the fact that because I have a list three pages long of important things I should be doing instead. It’s amazing how I can always find the time to procrastinate.

You know how people are always getting all wistful for the old days of blogging? If you go back farther than personal blogs of people sharing their Important Stories outside the auspices of corporate sponsorship, this is pretty much what you got: memes and quizzes, memes and quizzes, memes and maybe a shared video (scroll down for that). I’m glad we’re bigger than that now, yet I have nothing but fond memories of being online in the early aughts, before smartphones and Twitter and before weblogs were full of “content” instead of just random stuff we wanted to share with random people. Adjust the drawstring on your velour trackpants and read on.

1. What is your favorite type of cheese?
Manchego is always a delight, but my eyes tend to roll back in my head for pretty much any kind of goat cheese because mmmmmmm, creamy. Tangy. Goaty. (Not to be confused with “goatse,” of course, which I’ve still never seen. *heroic pose*) (DON’T GOOGLE THAT.) (Right now we have a goat cheese log (ugh, LOG) rolled in blueberries and it’s to die for on a boring old salad.

2. What are you excited about?
Everyone has heard of stage moms, and I’m a little worried I’m turning into a kindergarten mom. I’m SO EXCITED for Wombat and I probably need to tone it down. I just loved school so damn much, and I know how ready he is to be finally done with preschool. He’s also going to camp for the first time (and my first time too), and it’s almost too much excitement (for me). Riding the bus! Swimming lessons! Library visits! Theme dress-up days! I need to go lie (lay?) down.

3. How did you celebrate your last birthday?
My birthday was earlier this month and Simon asked me last night if I’d had a good one and I honestly couldn’t remember what we’d done. S brought home two little pieces of cake and there were candles and singing, and then we probably watched a movie or something because it was my birthday but it was still a regular Thursday night with two kids. I’m one of those people who says, “It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday!” all week but actually means it when she also says, “I don’t really want to do anything special.”

4. What is on your bedside table?
Pictures of the boys, books I’m not reading (those go in the bathroom, since I pretty much only read while I’m drying my hair), lotion, glasses, stuff I’ve taken away from Fox (things that are fragile, swallowable, sharp, etc.). And so much dust.

5. What do you order from the movie theater concession stand?
I was always a popcorn and Diet Coke person growing up, but now that I’m an adult and realize theater popcorn is NOT the healthy choice, I’m all about the frozen Junior Mints. Not that those are the healthy option, but at least I’m not fooling myself. Besides, we only go to the theater about once a year, and no one should feel guilty about one box of Junior Mints every 365 days.

6. Do you have a garden? What’s growing?
We finally got the last bed planted over the holiday weekend, so we’re basking in the fresh glow of potential, which should carry us through a few weeks or so before we lose things to some combination of overwatering, underwatering, over-/under-fertilizing, crazy temperatures, an overenthusiastic toddler, general neglect, and @%$!ing squirrels and jays and possums and raccoons. Right now we have rosemary, oregano, collard, five kinds of tomatoes, rhubarb, patty pan squash, lemon cucumber, arugula, Cinderella pumpkin, corn, green beans, fava beans, snap peas, asparagus, strawberries, blackberries, and ornamental artichokes. Plus the fruit trees (Meyer lemon, lime, orange, and four kinds of apples). If only we had some idea of what we were doing with all of it.

7. Any summer plans?
Wombat’s going to camp (CAMP!), but he’ll have a few weeks of stay-at-home-with-mom time in between sessions, and I’m really looking forward to it. There are things I enjoy about newborns and babies and toddlers and preschoolers, but I’ve finally found my groove, and it’s with a kid who can read and do math and play games and work on more complicated projects. I have a million activities planned and it’s going to be awesome. Whole-family-wise, we have some parties in the works, and we’ll take a handful of weekend trips (camping!), but overall it’s going to be fairly low-key and that’s just what the doctor ordered.

8. Which TV couple(s) are you rooting for?
Well, I’m rooting against Sarah and Hank and Amber and…What’s His Name because although they’re all lovely people in their own ways, they’re WRONG WRONG WRONG for each other. As ever, we’re a season behind on Mad Men, but I kind of need Megan and Don to chill out because they’re dysfunctional in exactly the right ways for each other. I mean, if Don could just keep his *ahem* business at home for once.

9. What’s the last thing you bought?

Yesterday I received an exciting Amazon delivery of Avon Skin-So-Soft bug repellant, vitamin B1 (supposedly also a bug repellant; I’m being eaten away right before your eyes), and a three-pack of Tide Stain Sticks. This feels like the online equivalent of going into Victoria’s Secret and coming out with giant tummy-support beige underpants. Such a (panty)waste.

10. What’s one thing you are passionate about?
My job. I’ve had two books reviewed in big-deal papers recently (SF Chronicle! NEW YORK TIMES!) and I’ve received some really flattering feedback from both new and long-time clients, but it’s the day-to-day stuff that really gets me going. I love untangling sentences and making people sound more graceful with language than they did before. You get runner’s high? I get editor’s high.

11. What are you grateful for this week?
I’m grateful we have a guest room so we can host family for the weekend. I’m grateful the two-alarm house fire across the street on Monday didn’t hurt anybody. I’m grateful that even though money’s tight we can afford things like food and new clothes and Tide Stain Sticks and summer camp. I’m grateful we have health insurance because it only cost us $75 to have our kid’s head glued back together in the emergency room on Saturday. (GUESS WHICH KID?)

I tag eleven (plus one) more: Alison, Amanda, Amanda, Jessica, Jessica, Kristin, Christine, Jennifer, Megan (gosh, do you think we are children of the 70s/80s?), Margosita, ElizabethT (brand new baby what?), velocibadgerGRL, and anyone else who wants to play along. (Let me know if you do!)

And now for something completely unrelated, I thought this was awesome:

23 May
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
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Oh, the Places You’ll Never Go!

I realize now I dished out a lot of potentially bad advice to new and expectant parents for several years–not on purpose and with sadistic, BTDT glee but because Wombat was a ridiculously easy baby/toddler/preschooler and we simply had no idea. I mean, we had an idea that he was easier than other kids in a lot of the traditional OMG-having-a-baby-is-SO-HARD ways, but we had no idea what it was like to actually parent those other kids, and now that we do, I imagine there have passed under the breaths of a handful of misguided-by-me friends some choice, grade-A words as they attempt to, for instance, enjoy a nice, calm, quiet family meal in public, only to realize much to late that yeah, nope, not gonna happen.

If it makes anyone feel better, as penitence I curse my own name when we let foolish optimism override experience and good sense and find ourselves thinking we can enjoy a nice, calm, quiet family meal in public. When we went out to eat on Mother’s Day, Wombat managed to spend most of the time sitting on things that were neither his butt nor his chair, and Fox had to be removed from the scene no less than five times, for offenses ranging from violence with and toward his crayons, illegal booster-seat acrobatics, and violating the local noise ordinance. Happy Mother’s Day to me! Count your blessings on one hand and your failings on the other!

Now, I’ll still go on record saying that it’s important for us to go out to restaurants so we can teach our kids how to behave in restaurants, rather than just avoid the challenge and the lesson by staying home, even though sometimes, sigh, we probably should just stay home. (It helped that the place on Mother’s Day was practically empty, although I count myself in the number of offended patrons, which perhaps skews the data.) I guess my point is that just because some smug friend with an easy first baby tells you you can do things with kids like travel, eat out, and attend music festivals and sporting events doesn’t mean you should, or that you will want to, or that you will have a good time doing it.

My revised stance is this: You can take your kids to restaurants, but you might not enjoy the experience, and you might not even be able to eat. Definitely order something you can manage with one hand, a lapful of wriggling babyfat, and peas in your hair. Maybe eat before you go. And do a shot.

I was thinking about this because our big summer plans were to attend a family reunion in Michigan for eight or nine days, and although the chances of that happening dropped like a myotonic goat when we added up the cost of flights and car rental and hotel rooms (no, this family of four is not sleeping on the couch in your cousin’s basement), the real kicker was adding up the hours and hours (and HOURS and HOURS, on into star-streaked eternity) of travel it would take to get us to the appropriate intersection of threads on the Michigan mitten. Twenty-four hours of travel is a lot for anyone, and I can only think of two people for whom it would be worse than for a five-year-old and a two-year-old: their parents.

But we took a bath last Sunday!

So, in the interests of not orchestrating our own rapid mental deterioration via “vacation,” we’re not going. And it’s sad and I’m bummed, although *ding* not as sad and bummed as I would be if we did go, only to realize too late it was the Worst Decision Ever and we didn’t have the clout to make the pilot turn the plane around. I mean, YOUR toddler would probably never take advantage of thirty seconds of parental inattention to strip down to his nubies and streak the aisle of the aircraft while his brother presses for detailed answers to personal questions posed of strangers in surrounding seats, but past experience tells me mine might. Seriously, life with [these] two kids often feels like marathon avoidance of what the online community would call, with a cutesy little nose-wrinkle, “bloggable moments.” As for myself, I feel–contra the prevailing trend to chase these disasters and then use them to forge connections through shared humiliations–much better when I end the day with zero mortifying-in-the-moment-but-hilarious-in-retrospect stories to report.

What use is surviving to tell the tale if the tale itself is oppressively boring? I don’t have an answer for that, but it’s been forty-six hours since my kid yodeled into the echo chamber of the indoor swimming facility, “MOM, I SAW YOUR FART BUBBLES!” and the way you all just took a step back makes me think I didn’t earn any camaraderie points just now.

In closing, here is my new, improved, updated-with-the-wisdom-of-experience, incontrovertible advice to new and expectant parents: Enjoy the blissful two years of blaming your own farts on the baby because once they can talk, you can NEVER FART AGAIN.