Monday, March 31, 2008

The real me

Ms. Dishpan Hands, 2008, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I'm getting quite a kick out of the "real me" thing happening in the bloggesphere. You know, well-read mistresses of the internets posting what they deem to be less-than-flattering pictures of themselves, presumably to stop the madness of inferiority complexes we women seem to acquire as we try to attain unattainable beauty.

Well, I'm not sure if the drive to put our "real selves" out there is going to make it any easier for any of us to finish that last morsel on our plates or continue shopping at Goodwill or even worry less about wearing no makeup, as we all tend to do anyway.

We're still going to want smaller noses, waistlines and feet no matter what anyone tells us.

I mean, I've seen the Dove commercials. I know most women don't look like Kate Moss. Even in the darkest recesses of my imagination I intuitively know Kate Moss doesn't really look like Kate Moss.

But, to be quite honest, control over my own self image is the only thing I have. Well ... to a degree. Why should I show you what I think I really look like? I don't need a half dozen "you are too cute" comments. I know you are all nice people.

What you see is never going to be what I see.

What does "almost 40" look like anyway?
Does she wear a tiara?
A blue colored sling?
Will she be wearing a cheap, pink Timex watch?
And be bathed in the light of compact florescent bulbs?
She probably should shower a little more, but who'd watch the kids?
Mornings are tough with a preschooler.
Nights are tougher with an infant.

So here I am. ... the person I always wanted to be ...

Ms. Dishpan Hands, 2008

And I promise to work for world domination peace.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Table manners

We talk with our mouths full
We feed the dog under the table
We tell inappropriate stories
We laugh
We yell
We watch TV
We sit on our heels
Or not at all
And best of all
We play with our food.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sometimes it's what you don't see

look, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

When you're looking.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Yup, she's my daughter

today i love her crazy hair, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Crazy hair and all.

Three a.m. wake-up calls, telling me she vomited in the toilet.

Can she watch T.V. now?

She can't go back to sleep.

Doesn't want to go to the sitter's

"What day is it today, Mommy? What do we do on this day?"

"What we do everyday, baby: Try and take over the world."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Looking Up

up , originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Most of the time I have no idea what I'm doing.

The kids. The house. Life in general.

There are times I feel a little lost.

A little overwhelmed.

You can see it on my face.

It's a look all mothers, anyway, should be familar with.

Some people call it the "vacant" or "absentminded" stare. I think it's more a combination of too little sleep and too much information.

But kids can see it ...

HER: Mom. Can I help my friend, E, fill Easter eggs?
ME: Huh?
HER: Can I help E fill Easter eggs?
ME: Uh. ... Where's my coffee?
HER: MA!!!
HER: Easter EGGS!
ME: Coffee!!
E: Oh, your mom is like that in the morning, too, huh?

Friday, March 21, 2008

She's got a 'thing' for costume dramas

waitiing for guests to arrive, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Ittybit: Mama, will you make me a costume like Wonder Woman's?

Mama: Hmmmm. Can you describe it?

Ittybit: Oh. Okay. Well I'm not sure what the boots looked like ... but it was blue and red. And the bottom had dots on it and the top had stripes. And she wore gold bracelets with stars and she had a crown with stars. And, oh yeah, I remember the boots now: They had dots on them, too. ...

... And she had a thing like you wear only you know how yours is long? Hers was not.

It was like two circles and a string.

Mama: Hmmmm.

Ittybit: You know ... to cover her BREASTS!

Mama: **giggles ... giggles**

Ittybit: I hope you're not laughing at me.

Mama: I'm not laughing at you. I'm ... I'm ...

... just trying to decide what we'll use for material that won't be as invisible as Wonder Woman's plane.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I'm done being sick


My favorite question, in the moral compass category, no less:

"During the fight, would you feel morally comfortable picking up a child and using him/her as a weapon to throw at other children?"

A. No
B. Depends on if he/she attacked me first
C. Yes, I'll do whatever it takes to win

I must say this does ease my mind a great deal. Just last night as I was trying to get the boy to sleep just a little bit more than two hours at a clip, I was wondering if I could really handle this parenting gig. ... the big one hardly sleeps and the little one may never be able to sleep on his own the way things are going.

Now that I know I can take 11 of the little rug rats ... I'm feeling much better.

Let's just say I need to go back to work.

... go ahead. Click on the picture. You know you want to see how many five-year-olds you can take in a fight. You won't sleep until you do. go on ...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

@$#!! FLU!

sleeps sideways, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I don't think I've had the flu since childhood.

But I sure have got it now. Holy Hell.



Choking mucus.

The inability to get out of bed.

This is the closest I've come to a computer all week, and really? I'd rather be in bed.

Fmking Flu!

I just hope the kids don't get it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

What's on tap this weekend?

babes everywhere, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

My not-so-imaginary friends - Jane and Jenny, above ...

and Diana below ...

you know what this means ... right?

are coming out for a mini-meet up at our soon to be less humble abode. You read right, friends: Jed has hired someone to work on the house, and a small portion of the reconstruction is taking place, coincidentally, in time for their arrival Saturday.

Sooooo. There will be replacement windows replaced; trim, trimmed; there will be endcaps where there were no endcaps previously; there will be clean sheets and fresh paint. In other words, there will be an oh-so-infantessimal sense of finish.

And in addition, there will be imbibing. Oh yes, there will be adult beverages consumed. (Except for Diana, who is currently growing a human)! She will be drinking mocktails and taking pictures of us acting silly.

Oh yes, there will be pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.

Stay tuned. ...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The real reason

New York is in a state of turmoil right now. ...

Guess who removed the tag?, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Waiting for her to ask ... "Hey, do I look like Mike TV?"

blast off, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

That's what I was thinking as the technician brought Annabel into the closet-sized x-ray room and suited her up for her close-up.

This time, it was going pretty well. Even she was confident things were going to be better on this, her third official visit to the dentist: "Hey mom! I didn't even throw up in the car," she said as we pulled into a parking space in the dental office parking lot. "Well, that is an improvement," I admit.

The first two x-rays went well, but the third one that was to show the back teeth was tricky. She had to bite on a stick, and the card flaps of the film dug into her gums. It was "ouchie."

I could feel the discomfort in my own mouth, just recalling the procedure.

Still, though, she was willing to try. She even let the technician attempt five or six insertion variations before we all threw in the towel. She's got a tiny mouth like her mom.

Of course I became worried when the dentist came in with the films ... trumping the usual procedure: FIRST the hygienist cleans and THEN the dentist examines.

Turns out the dentist wanted to know if she ever had a traumatic fall, perhaps when she was a toddler, because the roots of her top front baby teeth were fractured clean through.

I was stunned. How is it possible to have damage to the root and not to the teeth? She kept talking and I kept trying to remember a fall that would cause such an injury?

Was it the time in Maine when she fell off the chair and onto the dog's water bowl? No. That injury was really along her chin line.

Was it at Terry's house? That time she "took a header?"

"... NO! That wasn't it, mama. I hurt my hand and chest that time."

"I vaguely recall her hitting her face on something recently and there being blood in her mouth ... I thought she'd bit her tongue or her cheek though ..."

I just couldn't believe I could feel WORSE than I had about the initial cavity. My little girl had a "traumatic" injury that I didn't know about.

"This isn't uncommon," said the dentist, noticing my alarm. "We just have to watch it to make sure it doesn't get infected and damage the permanent teeth."

Another thing the injury changes is the course of action for her two cavities that are smack dab in the middle of her front teeth. She's not going to have to get them filled now.

"But I want to get the cavity fixed today," said Annabel in distress, no doubt wanting her "perfect princess teeth" to indeed BE perfect.

"They will be fine," I tell her later. "These are your baby teeth. Eventually they will fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth. The dentist just wants to make sure THOSE adult teeth are healthy and when they come in you don't have any more cavities."

"When I am five or eight."

"When you are five or eight?"

"Yeah. That's when my teeth will fall out. That's when I am five or eight."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I suppose it could have been yesterday

lessons, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

... her dental appointment, that is.

I could have been trying to keep Annabel from harassing the reporters and making the city editor play fetch on the day we all sat dumbfounded in front of the television; watching slack jawed as the talking heads spun eight different webs of potential deceit around the governor himself.

Today was relatively easy ... All I had to do was explain the words governor, prostitution and resignation to a four-year-old.

She's remarkably adept at getting the general idea:

HER: "Does that mean he's going be fired and he won't be able to go home?"

ME: "Not exactly. But it may mean he has to quit and all he'll be able to do is go home."

HER: "No. He's fired"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Take the T

i'd like to tickle his tummy, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

For a good time ...

Go to Alewife,

take the red line to the green line,

take the green line one stop to the blue line,

take the blue line two stops to the other Wonderland.

You'll want to tickle the sea lion's tummy, too.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The morning rush

ittybit, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

It's been almost two years since this picture was taken. Two. Years.

Can you see the baby still? I can.

I can also see the big girl - the girl she is right now.

As a parent I think I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about things within my control as well as beyond it. We all worry about things that even if they could be channeled and driven, maybe should be left well enough alone.

Most of the time I think I am the opposite of competitive. I didn't rush any of the big girl things. I let them happen. When others worried that she wasn't crawling or talking, I told them to hush. She was perfect even if she wasn't perfect.

That's not to say that I didn't worry - that I still worry - about making mistakes:

Should she be enrolled in preschool, dance, gymnastics, yoga, kindermusic, foreign language immersion AND swim classes? Should I have made a more concerted effort to get her to learn how to use the computer or eat with chopsticks or recite the alphabet?

Each time a stunning milestone passes from the lips of another parent, do I not compare and wonder if I've failed her?

Is she missing out on something?

I push those thoughts to the corner of my head as I race around to prepare for another day. I tell myself there just aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done. There's not enough money in the world nor enough motivation. I know, deep down in my soul that growth happens whether I'm watching or not. I tell myself that going about ensuring only the barest of necessisties are met doesn't mean I'm neglectful.

Is it not true sometimes that the prettiest flower is also a weed?

That's what it felt like today, anyway, as I rushed around getting ready for work, late as usual.

There is always so many banal tasks that need to get done before we leave the house: Getting showered, getting dressed, getting breakfast, getting the dishwasher emptied, getting the laundry folded and put away ... all while packing bags for the day and trying to remember the stuff we always forget.

Today there was also the happy business of wrapping a birthday present for her friend Jacob, the babysitter's son.

"We need a card," she yelled to me as I stuck the last inch of tape on the slap-dash wrap job.

"Here," I say as I thrust a piece of green construction paper and a blue marker into her hand. "You do it."

"But I don't know how!" she protests.

I grab the pen back and write: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JACOB. LOVE, ANNABEL on the back of a wrapping paper remnant.

"Here. Copy this."

She was silent as I dashed about depositing piles of laundry into empty drawers and filling bags with the things we would need for the day.

I had practically forgotten what I had tasked her with when she interrupted my interpretive dance - "Chicken with Head Cut Off" - to ask me to evaluate her progress.

"How's this look?" she asked, showing me a perfectly legible HAPPY BIRT ...

"Oh, honey ... that is perfect. Really, really perfect."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The trouble bubble

Mom ... this isn't so hard, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

The babysitter was sick today. YAHOOOO! Poor thing.

I'm not glad she feels punky or anything, but when she's out of commission it means Silas is my copilot. And that IS kinda fun. Granted, this was not the easiest of all days to have to switch gears, what with stress piling up over all these magazines and weekend advance work deadlining concurrently and all.

On the way to the office I worried that it was going to be mightily unproductive to have a baby crawling around underfoot. He was sleeping in the car so that could only mean he would not sleep in the newsroom. Not a wink.

Who could sleep where all the action is? *chuckles.*

There's the clicking of keyboards.
The ringing of phones.
The whirring of printers.
The squawking of scanners.
Not to mention the passing by of people jonesing for a cute baby fix. ... or those who just want to hang out in the "Zoo."

The thing I am most pleased to report ... besides the fact that I was able to get most of my work done in a reasonable manner ... is that the boy is IN LOVE with the recycling box. Now if we could only harness this interest at home where we can't seem to manage taking our own recycling out to the curb before the pile reaches the ceiling. Ah ... someday.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

There was a time when I liked Saturday Night Live

mickey mouse clubhouse, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

It was way back when they aired "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey.

This one always stuck in my mind.

So it was with a little bit of serendipity that I stumbled upon this scene and made this image last summer at The Pocketbook Factory in Hudson.

Having children really hasn't changed me. Oh, how I love thinking of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as a burnt-out warehouse.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I am completely and totally disillusioned with myself. I am constantly struggling between shameless self promotion and trying to be a pure and legitimate historian for the people I think of as my ittybits.

Deep thoughts, mine anyway, never seem quite deep enough or funny enough. Yet, still, I plunder onward seeking any form of recognition. I doesn't matter how slight. When it doesn't materialize I just keep telling myself that most of what I do has no real value to the world atlarge.

I make pictures. Family pictures. Pictures that in my sleepy stupor I sometimes convince myself others might actually want to buy. People have been known. ...

Lord knows, I'm not above selling them. Or even giving them away from time to time.

As it tends to do, my ego creeps back and sits like a tiny red devil on my shoulder, allowing me to rationalize the following senario:

Being guilty of spending WAY too many of my sleepless hours and countless dollars on etsy shops, why not throw EVEN MORE time in to see if etsy would toss some back. Even if it's a lost cause, at least it gives me something to do besides spending money.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Toothsome and then some

tongue is out, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Oh wee! Doesn't it fly, time?

One day mashes into another, and before you know it your kids have gone from saying "goo and ga," to full sentences and, eventually, dissertations.

The big one regales us with her finely honed knowledge of where it was we last put down our car keys while explaining to everyone else how "only one of her books has an epilogue."

Luckily, I was able to convince her not to throw out the library in her closet by shrewed techniques of psychological deception. ...

"WHAT A RELIEF," I said, mopping my brow. "I'm so glad that ONLY one of your books is of any value because it has an epilogue. Now that we only have to read that ONE book bedtime will be much more time efficient!"

Not to be outdone, the baby grows up overnight, too. The last time we blinked he went from being unable to coordinate his left and right knees - alternating patterns forward - to being unable to stop his forward momentum. He's become a whirling dervish. Whether performing a seated circle to turn himself around in all directions or steamrolling his way forward - head down and determined - there is no stopping him.

He's decided that the pureed foods I've been making are for babies and demands only things he can eat with his fingers. He giggles at me when I tickle his hammy legs and riblety middle. He sticks his tongue out in constant concentration.

I got him to smile and giggle when I checked for teeth today. Teeth that, at eight months, I still can't see but are nonetheless cutting through the gums. Just one more milestone that will pass in this wait, wait-hurry, hurry way.

Soon his toothless grin will be gone.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I'm not worthy


Lo and behold. ... A Child is Born has awarded me a Perfect Post award (February, 2008) for writing about boobs.

I have to admit, it feels pretty good. Like I'm a bit of a Superhero or something.

It's nice to have super powers from time to time.

If you already read the post, which (I feel compelled to add) has a "nuanced" twin here, get thee to Suburban Turmoil or Petroville and read the other mamas also awarded for their work last month. There are a lot of smart cookies out there.