Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Betty Draper Moment

Yesterday I threw a cookie-making/cookie-decorating party for six kids aged five and under (plus a baby) and their moms and a dad.

It was equal parts chaos and joy, but worth all the mess to hear the house filled with little-kid squeals and giggles (well, except when the squeals turned more scream-ish and there were too many monkeys jumping on the beds). It was a sticky, sugary, dough-y mess, and everyone got their hands dirty. By five-and-under standards, a rockin' good time. Plus of course all my kids' toys are like new to their playmates, and everyone knows, as one mom remarked, that other kids' toys are the best toys.

The house was a something of a mess of course when it was all over, but parents pitched in a bit before leaving, and for once I really didn't mind picking up after everyone -- perhaps because, as a working mom, I don't do this sort of thing every day. Mrs. Don Draper of MAD MEN I am soooo not.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let's Hear It For Coexistence!

I'm tired of reading about the latest skirmishes in the alleged "War On Christmas," the obsession of people who don't get that church and state are, have always been, and according to our Founding Fathers, always should be, separate. Whenever I hear about some blowhard complaining that he was shopping in a big national chain store and was wished "Happy Holidays," instead of "Merry Christmas," and he thinks this is some kind of crime, I just get depressed by the blowhard's ignorance, and the spreading of intolerance he and his argument represent. "Happy Holidays" could mean "Happy Christmas and New Year's," since New Year's comes right after Christmas. This is a holiday season; it includes Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's. And including these other holidays and wishing joy to those who may celebrate them only takes something away from Christmas in the mind of the blowhard. Yes it's the time when the Birth of Christ is officially observed. But there are a lot of other observances, and occasions for celebrating or gift giving, right around the same time. And gee, a lot of the people who celebrate these OTHER days happen to be, um, Americans, when last I checked.

But on a happier, cheerier note...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Not Just Another Disney Princess

Took the kids to see Disney's newest animated feature, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG.

Spent the first ten minutes just sitting there marveling at a Disney Princess who doesn't look like any previous Disney Princess. Granted, she's not technically a princess. But she DOES win the heart of a genuine prince, so close enough.

Now I suppose JASMINE and MULAN were big steps forward in terms of minority inclusion in the Disney Princess pantheon, Jasmine being some sort of ""1001 Nights" Middle Easterner (though ALADDIN's location was changed from Baghdad to the presumably more palatable, fictional Agrabah), and Mulan being Chinese. But somehow their ethnicity didn't stir an emotional chord with me the way the new gal, TIANA's, does.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kid Overload: When, Exactly, Do They Go Back To School?

Don't get me wrong. I'm lucky to have two kids, two healthy, reasonably well-adjusted kids.

And there was much fun had over the long Thanksgiving break: in-car punchy goofiness on the long rides to and from the Bay Area, watching them interact with aunt, uncle, and cousin -- my niece, who gets props for being chief hairdresser for the girl and clothes dresser for both girl and boy, as well as bath giver, book reader and breakfast server.

But by Saturday night, the holiday had grown a bit old and stale.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Over The River And Through The Woods ...

Actually, Grandma came to OUR house this year. And so did Grandpa. And they did it BEFORE Thanksgiving, so we'll be spending the time before, during and after eating turkey with the Northern California part of the family.

But looking back at the past week, there's much to be thankful for. Kids and grandparents thoroughly enjoyed each other's company, save when kids were whiny, but they were mostly pretty good. The boy got his hair cut as Grandpa looked on; the girl was sick a couple of days, but this only gave Grandma more time to shop the neighborhood. The grandparents got to watch soccer (Thing 1) and ballet (Thing 2), shabbat at school (I've never seen such challah-grabbing as I did among a few preschool and kindergarteners huddled around one loaf of bread), and were game for trips to the art museum and car museum, as well as more than a few meals out where they endured the table manner-challenged but again, still pretty decent, behavior of the next generation.

Best for me was a slow work week so I could be fully present for all the goings' on, including Grandpa reading a Disney/Pixar CARS book to the kids over breakfast, and Grandma reading the antics of Max & Ruby to them in bed with a flashlight.

Though we don't live in the same city, perhaps that makes these visits all the sweeter between kids and grandparents. The bond grows, and the time flies, try to savor it though we all do.

Because the visit coincided with the anniversary of my mom's passing (17 years prior) and what would have been my dad's 80th, I was especially appreciative of having my husband's parents around.

So while we didn't go over the river and through the woods to Grandma's (and Grandpa's) house, I'm grateful they came to ours.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Taking Care Of The Sick Kid

I have seen way too many episodes of SUPER WHY! and DORA THE EXPLORER in one day, but at last, after many Pedialyte popsicles, Thing Two (the girl) is on the mend.

Poor kid woke up saying "I don't feel good," and proved her point a little later by throwing up the previous night's dinner.

Much of the day was spent in lethargy on the sofa in front of children's television -- thank goodness for TiVo, something I am putting on my "things I am thankful for" Thanksgiving list this year.

But between that and napping, there were some sweet moments when I fed her soup and helped her squeeze the last of those push-up popsicles for all their juice, and just lay beside her.

The day was long and staying in the house every waking hour of it was claustrophobic. I was testy by the end, but not with her so much as with her brother, who somehow remained a Tigger-like bouncy bundle of energy far into the evening.

But the whole experience brought to mind a school sick day from my own childhood.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Miss My Cat

He died last Tuesday.

He was my first child.

I got him 13 years ago at the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter, for seventeen dollars. In exchange, I got 13 years of love.

He was my bridge from being single to living with my boyfriend, getting engaged, getting married, having kids.

He came into my life a few years after I'd lost both parents. My closest family member was nearly four hundred miles away from where I lived, and at the time, I wasn't dating anyone. I didn't have a roommate, I was working full-time from home, and I was in regular need of a hug.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Got Into The Halloween Candy Last Night

It was mocking me from across the room, in the bright orange plastic Jack O' Lantern pails.

I was helpless to resist the siren call of the snack-size Three Musketeers bar. Which is, by the way, a candy bar filled with some mysterious mock-chocolate, mock-creamy, foamy substance I have never been able to identify, but is something I suspect will survive a nuclear holocaust intact, much like a Twinkie.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"It was so yummy that I can hardly feel my eye."

You read it right.

That's what Thing 1 said the other day.

I can't remember what he ate that was so yummy, but I don't think I'm soon to forget his creative attempt to articulate what he was feeling in response to aforesaid yumminess.

I am sure I am dating myself now as a very Late Blooming Mom indeed when I say moments like this remind me of an ancient TV show with Art Linkletter, ART LINKLETTER'S HOUSE PARTY, which ran for something like 20 years and was later revived with Linkletter and Bill Cosby as KIDS SAY THE DARNEDEST THINGS. It can't be quite as obscure as I'm making it out to be, because WIKIPEDIA tells me it's been mentioned on FAMILY GUY, SOUTH PARK and THE SIMPSONS. The basic idea was that Linkletter (and later Cosby) would interview kids and, well, they would indeed say the darnedest things.

My kids oblige daily.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's Not The Terrible Twos You Have To Worry About: It's The F^&#ing Fours

Sometime last year, I was at one of the monthly support meetings thrown by my local parents of multiples club, and the club co-president was decrying "The F^%#ing Fours," the phase her twin boys were going through. She said, "Everyone talks about the terrible twos. But no one warns you about the fucking fours!"

At the time, I just laughed, and figured maybe she was exaggerating. Maybe she'd had a particularly hard day with her boys, two kids I'd only glimpsed at club events, where they were invariably well-behaved and adorable.

But now I know about the F^%#ing Fours. And I want them to be Fucking Over.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Still-Pretty-Great-Pumpkin, or HALLOWEEN: The Next Generation

I remember Halloween pretty fondly from my Upper West Side childhood.

My friends and I used to dress up in home-made costumes -- they were ALWAYS home-made in those days, never store-bought. And we'd trick or treat "for Unicef," shaking our bright orange cardboard boxes -- which I loved putting together the day before, tucking in all the tabs -- chanting in singsong, going from apartment to apartment. (The next day, mom would break open my box and help me count the coins we'd donate.) I had Halloween parties in which my art-loving, ever-creative mom used to "web" a room in our apartment, stringing twine through everything to creative an enormous web. Each string finished off attached to a wooden clothes pin, and each kid at the party got to try to wind that string around the clothes pin and untangle the web. We used to eat candy corn until we got stomach aches. A great time was had by all, and it didn't cost a lot.

But these days, Halloween is big business, the kind of massive consumer-goods-heavy enterprise that makes me think of what one of the PEANUTS gang says about Christmas in "A Charlie Brown Christmas," that it's all run by "an eastern syndicate."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Their Fred Astaire Moment

The very first time you're exposed to something wonderful in this life, be it the person you fall in love with, or your very first taste of ice cream as a child, I have a name for it. I call it a "Fred Astaire moment."

Back when I was fourteen or so, living through the hormonal and social hell that is eighth grade, I felt alienated from pretty much everyone I knew. My parents could not relate to me, and my middle school classmates had turned on me. It wasn't that they hated me. It was just that they didn't "get" me ... and I didn't "get" them.

I'd always had friends in kindergarten and elementary school, and coasted along with a comfortable social life through sixth grade or so. But in seventh, the girls I used to like, and who used to like me, became a lot more interested in boys... to the exclusion of all else. And the boys in my class I may have been friendly with once upon a time pretty much ignored my existence and paid attention to the girls who were boy-crazy.

Maybe my pubescent hormones hadn't fully kicked in yet, or maybe I was never one for gossip or speculation about the crushes and the rites of teenage physical exploration about which my classmates had suddenly become obsessed. I know I had no interest in shutting out some people because they weren't "cool." But by eight grade, that is what happened to me.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Avoiding the Kid-Centric Life

Kid-centric parenting has run amuck.

If you don't know what I mean by that, then take a minute and stop and think about the moms (and maybe dads) you know and how much their lives utterly revolve around vehement sideline screaming at Junior's soccer, comparing Ms. Thing's pas-de-chat with that of the other would-be ballerinas at dance class, enrolling the kids in advanced Mandarin lessons and, even when out with adults, talking EXCLUSIVELY about their children.

I'm not against finding the very best school you can for your kids, whether public or private. I don't see anything wrong with a few fun activities after school, or "enrichment" as it's come to be called. Sometimes tutoring is actually called for, when a kid is having a tough time with a subject. And even I have a tough time resisting the impulse to talk shop with other parents when I see them, not to mention write about it on this blog.

BUT there are limits. Or rather, there should be.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"No I Amen't!"

That's what Thing 1, sick with a cold, vehemently said this morning when his sister inquired if he was going to school with her.

I'm not exactly sure how "No I'm not" somehow became "No I amen't!"

But I can respect the passion.

Still, the big feelings these little people get can overwhelm. And I don't just mean them.

I recall a David Sipress cartoon from the New Yorker in which a father and mother faced their young progeny, and the father addressed the kids thusly: "Your mother and I are feeling overwhelmed, so you'll have to bring yourselves up." (See the cartoon here.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Little Boys And Their Violent Toys

Late Blooming Mom is a product of 14 years' (K-4 through 12) Quaker education. At Friends Seminary in Manhattan, if you brought so much as a water pistol to school, you got sent home, and your parents got a talking-to. The Society of Friends (often referred to as Quakers) promote nonviolence and the belief that every person is holy. So playing with toy guns, or light sabers, or pirate sabers, or toy weapons of any kind, is verboten.

Yet little boys like to point plastic weapons -- or even, in my son's case, a rolled up piece of construction paper taped together -- make phaser sounds, and say, "You're dead!"

My little boy did not do this until he saw some other little boy do it at preschool. But now, I have to be the make-believe-play police, and tell him "'Star Wars' is not a good game to play."

At Rosh Hashanah dinner the other night, a good mom friend pointed out, "You have the poster for Star Wars up in your family room!" Yes, we do. But no, we haven't let the kids see it ... not yet.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mommy, I Got Uh Ideah!

"Mommy, I got uh ideah!" he tells me at least six times a day. Sometimes it's actually, "Mommy, I got uh good ideah." These ideas usually involve what treat I should bring at afterschool pickup, what TV show we "haven't watched in a long time," some place "I never been," or "where we should go for out dinner."

When Thing 1 mispronounces words, they're so adorably mangled I don't want to correct them (e.g., Wahoo's, a chain of Baja-style Mexican food joints, is invariably pronounced "Woo-Ha's"). And even when he pronounces a new word correctly, it somehow sounds way cuter than it should.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Visit To "Both New Yorks"

Thanks to a late Labor Day, summer vacation came late this year.

But we didn't mind because apparently that's when the good weather decided to come to New York City. We flew in on a Tuesday evening, and after the longest wait ever for a rental car and car seats, had an exciting moonlight entrance to the town so nice they named it twice. (Though that's not why this post refers to "both New Yorks;" more on that later.)

The kids were wide-eyed with wonder at the vista of Manhattan lit like a fairytale city, and agog at the midtown tunnel's bright lights. But within just a few minutes of their arrival on the island of my birth, Thing 2 gave up her fight to stay awake, and Thing 1 tried valiantly to stay up in hopes of seeing the exterior of the Plaza Hotel, which he knows is home to Eloise, but didn't quite make it to fifty-ninth and fifth before nodding off too. By the time we parked at the hotel on the Upper West Side, our weary kids were well into dreamland, and all we had to do to get them down for the night was transfer them from car seat to stroller to bed, without bothering to put on their PJs.

But the next morning they were rarin' to go. 

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Great "Faery" Hunt

Okay, it was blisteringly hot today, and wild fires were raging.

Nevertheless, it was the summer's last scheduled show in Griffith Park of A FAERY HUNT (before it moves to venues a bit farther afield), so I drove clear across L.A. and up through Koreatown, into Los Feliz, and finally to Fern Dell, to take Thing 1 and Thing 2 to look for fairies.

Thing 2 insisted on going in costume, but that was no problem, thanks to a hand-me-down fairy outfit (thank you, Julia -- a going-into-third-grade, big girl friend who keeps Thing 2 in wonderful outfits). Thing 2 kept telling her brother the faery hunt was for girls, despite my continual attempts to dispel this notion. (Sure enough, there were boys in attendance, though Thing 2 later pointed out, "it was MOSTLY girls").

The "hunt" was really an interactive play with several stops along the way, guided by actors and actresses and even kid actors, in fairy and troll attire, and a couple of fairy "guides." The play had a plot of sorts, just enough for my kids to kinda/sorta follow (they were so busy looking at the costumes and face paint on the actors, they missed a few plot beats). And the actors were sufficiently convincing to the kids that Thing 2 asked me if the fairies lived in the park, though later she asked, "Were they real fairies, or dress-up fairies?"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ain't No Cure For The (Workin' Mom) Summertime Blues ...Till Next Week, Anyway

Here's the deal: Thing 1 and Thing 2 are free all week. Camp is over. School doesn't start for two and a half weeks. And they wanna play.

I don't wanna work. I just wanna ... no, not bang on the drum all day. But play with my kids, for sure.

Mama don't have that much vacation time, though. So here's what I did. I paid the nanny to play with my kids all day.

Somehow this is not what I had in mind ... not when I planned on a career in the movie business. Not when I had kids. But I want both -- and, in fact, need both -- can't afford not to have the career, and sure do love having kiddies. So this is my lot, and I gotta make it work.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Date Night Pizza In The Theater Lobby: A Tale Of Two Desperate Parents

Once a month, the kids' preschool, which is part of a temple, hosts an event called "Parents' Night Out." For a reasonable fee, a bit less than it would cost you for a regular night of babysitting, you drop your wee ones at school in their PJs with their sleeping bags, and they're entertained with arts and crafts, toys, pizza, and a couple of movies. We usually persuade our kids to do this by calling it "Kids' Night Out," an idea I shamefully stole from another preschool mom (thank you, Christine).

So while you're kids are getting settled in for an exciting evening outside the confines of your home, you and your spouse escape into the fresh night air, grab some dinner, and if the movie theater gods align with your schedule, catch a movie. But the movie theater gods really do have to align, because unless your timing is well-nigh perfect, you won't have time to dine and watch -- remember, this isn't an open-ended evening, and you don't have the option of telling the sitter to come early or stay late.

Still, it's a chance to eat something out that isn't kid food, and look at your spouse and perhaps focus on what they're saying rather than getting your kids to eat what you've put in front of them without fighting or getting side-tracked into making up an entire song about dinosaur tushies. (Yes, that really happened, though in the car, rather than at dinner, but you get the idea. I bet you never thought about dinosaurs having tushies).

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Great Big Move To Big Kid Beds

Thing 2 learned to climb out of her crib months before Thing 1.

But still, I managed to resist the move to a big kid bed.

Nearly two years after that first nocturnal escape, and many months after removing one side of each of the kids' cribs, so they could roam free, I finally decided it was time. They could probably have lasted another six months, a year at best. But they'd be pretty cramped by then, and I figured, why not change 'em over during the summer, so they wouldn't face sleep disruption mid-school year?

Then the question became, what kind of beds should we get?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Once Upon A Mattress

You might remember a fairy tale from your childhood about a princess who could detect a pea at the bottom of a stack of mattresses, a feat so impressive it won her the hand of a handsome prince.

I had no idea, when I first decided it was time to get Big Kid Beds for my still-small kids, that I'd be as much of a princess as the princess in that story.

But lo and behold, buying a mattress for your kids, let alone an actual bed, isn't so easy.

Sure, there are a lot of mattress stores -- throw a rock in my L.A. neighborhood and you'll hit one. But thanks to a 2005 law meant to protect consumers, specifically very small consumers, every one of these mattress stores sells essentially the same thing: a mattress treated with toxic materials so it won't catch on fire.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Almost A Vacation

Last year, the Memorial Day weekend "vacation" to Santa Barbara was, well, pretty much a disaster, as documented here.

A friend and father of three's comment was, "Now you know the difference between a vacation and a trip."

Ever since then, I've set the bar for my expectations of vacations with the kids pretty low. So this past 3-day July 4th weekend trip, to Newport Beach, was a pleasant surprise. I wouldn't exactly categorize it as a vacation ... I think that's years away for this family ... but there were moments when it actually felt like one.

Monday, June 29, 2009

We Took 'Em Out To The Ball Game

It kinda felt like a Mastercard commercial -- you know, the ones that always end in "Priceless." Though you could easily substitute "Pricey." Much money was spent bewteen the tickets, the hot dogs, the lemonade, the peanuts (well, they didn't go for the peanuts, which required too much work and then didn't taste sufficiently like peanut butter), the frozen treats. But there we were at Dodger Stadium with our four-year-olds attending their very first major league baseball game, seated between home plate and first base, not exactly in a field box, but close enough for a pretty good view. The kids clutched Webkinz koala bears: the first 15,000 kids were handed the stuffed koalas upon entrance to the stadium, because it just happened to be Kid Appreciation Day. The National Anthem was sung by the crowd, hats on hearts, as an elementary school string ensemble sawed it out on violin (another nod to Kid Appreciation Day), the line-ups were announced, the players took the field, and baseball began. The kids were enthralled.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Vacation Blues: The Kids Have More Time Off Than I Do

I have to work this week.

So the kids are attending mini-camp every day at their preschool, a sort of stop-gap measure the school offers between the end of school and the start of summer camp. But when I dropped them off the first day, I noticed there were maybe ten kids attending mini-camp, and it's been pretty much that size, give or take a few kids, since then.

I'm wondering where everyone else is. Did everyone else take vacation? Or is it that so many moms (or dads) aren't working, or aren't working full-time, and are just hanging with their kids at home? Because me, I'd be scrambling without mini-camp.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Everybody Needs A Recharge

First thing my dearest friend and working mom of two said to me when I called her up Saturday afternoon, long-distance: "I'm so tired I could sleep for a week." Followed by, "Of course that's not gonna happen." But oh, how I can relate.

Forty-something, we're starting to realize we don't quite have the get-up-and-go, 24-7, that we've had for most of our lives up to now. And we're both juggling working, kids, pets, and husbands, who thank goodness, see the need to give us some relief sometimes, and take at least some of these creatures off our hands for a few hours.

Mine is doing me the honor of letting me get away for an entire weekend, about a month from now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

He Likes To Wear The PowerPuff Girl PJs

My son adores playing with all manner of cars, trains, and planes. He makes up sound effects for all of them. When the girls in the preschool class get busy painting, drawing, creating books, he's with the guys playing with the toy vehicles instead.

But he likes to wear his sister's PowerPuff Girls PJs.

The other day, coming out of the bath, he asked me why daddy shaves (his face, that is) but I don't. After I put his hand on my smooth cheeks to show I didn't need to, he asked if he would get to shave when he's older. I said yes. He did a little enthusiastic jump and said, "I'm so excited!"

But he likes to wear his sister's zebra and froggie and sometimes even Dora underwear.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gearing Up For the Solo Parenting Weekend

As I write this, Late Blooming Dad is winging his way to Cape Cod for a reunion with some college buddies and their families.

It was too costly and too much of a production to head east for a three-day weekend with all four of us, so I'm here holding down the fort as Chief Parent, and hoping the Gods of Parental Patience are with me.

I don't know that the kids are asleep yet; but after reading many, many books aloud to them, some in the dark via flashlight, and listening to an entire CD with them, I needed to exit their room and do some household chores. I'm blogging in the hope -- very possibly vain hope -- that when I return to check on them, they'll actually be down for the count.

Then it's time for me to get some seriously deep sleep, because without it, nerves will fray this weekend.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Not So Up About "Up"

Took the kids to see "UP," Pixar's latest, with some of their other preschool pals & parents.

Spent half the movie trying to answer Thing 2's incessant, very puzzled questions, in-between reassuring her about parts that were too intense for her. Spent about a quarter of it watching Thing 1's face: he was amazed, mesmerized, amused, among other things, though a good deal of it clearly was going way over his head. Spent the rest of the time alternately entertained and wishing it wasn't so emotionally grown-up.

In case you haven't seen it, I caution that some spoilers are ahead, but here goes:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ready Or Not, Here Come The Light Sabers

Late Blooming Dad often teases me that I went to a commie-pinko kumbaya touchy feely private school. He's exaggerating, of course, but the Friends school I attended (Friends schools are run by the Society of Friends, otherwise known as Quakers) did emphasize peace, made community service a requirement of graduation, and required everyone from faculty to students sit together in a silent meeting house for twenty minutes every day at the start of the day. They also banned toy guns, decades before the school shootings that plague American society today. If you were caught with so much as a dime store water pistol (remember dime stores? But I digress ...), you were sent home for the day and your parents were taken to task.

Naturally, as a mom, I try to limit my kids' exposure to violence, but there's only so much one can do.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Perfect Storm. Will Someone Wake Me Up When It's Monday?

My kids go to a Jewish preschool and it was off on Friday in observance of a Jewish holiday I don't particularly observe (Shavout, for those interested). Since I work full-time, and so does Late Blooming Dad, we asked our part-time nanny, who we keep employed very much to cover on these occasions, to come for eight hours and watch the kids.

Part-time nanny got the 'flu.

Sometime babysitter has a daytime job and was therefore unavailable.

The nearest family members live close to 400 miles away, so they weren't an option either.

Late Blooming Dad is working freelance and in this economy, does not take days off. Late Blooming Mom floated the idea of taking a personal day, but one of the projects she's assigned to at work magically appeared at 5 p.m. on Thursday, and needed to be started if there'd be any hope of finishing it by Monday, when it's due.

So Late Blooming Dad and Mom did what any other full-time working, overtaxed parents did. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Babies, Babies Everywhere. Do I Want One? No!

There's a mini baby boom, call it a baby boomlet, happening in my vicinity. The folks who live next door had their second child about a month ago -- a total cutie, from the photos (I haven't seen him in person yet), and a tiny thing indeed, since he showed up early, like mine did. The folks a floor below us just had THEIR second kid, while the folks a floor above us have twins turning six months' old. And our good friends at preschool just welcomed THEIR second kid. Another friend is well into the second trimester with HER number two. Meanwhile, back in New York, we have friends who are getting ready to welcome kid number four. Yes, four. We're talkin' a can't-go-anywhere-without-a-mini-van family.

I'm wildly happy for everyone.

But one thing I am not is jealous.

I have no baby envy. Not even an ounce.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mommy, Where Does Dirt Come From?

It's endless question time again here at Chez Twins.

Every book or TV cartoon with a bad guy prompts queries from Thing 2: "Is he bad? Is she bad?" "Why are Cinderella's stepsisters bad?"

Thing 1 just wants to know random things that occur to him to ask in the course of the day, as in the above "where does dirt come from?" question.

The earthquakes we've been having have prompted questions too. But explaining tectonic plates or earth's hot molten core to four-year-olds is beyond me. Believe me, I've tried.

On the one hand, I'm happy for the questions. It means all these excursions we've been taking the kids on lately -- to the Children's Garden at the Huntington Library, Gallery and Botanical Garden, or the Griffith Observatory -- are sparking their inquiring minds.

On the other hand, by the twentieth question of the day -- "Mommy, what color is turquoise?" -- I get a little testy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Home Cookin' For Little Tummies

The kids made Mother's Day cards at school for me, and the teachers glued on typed slips of things the kids said about me. One of the things my daughter mentioned was, "We go to fun restaurants. Thank you for us going to a restaurant." I felt a little guilty when I read this, because the kids do get out to a restaurant about once a week during the school week, and at least twice on the weekend. One of their at-home meals tends to involve frozen pizzas, boxed mac n' cheese, or chicken nuggets, albeit the sans-trans-fats, "healthier" varieties. These make-do meals happen because I can't manage a home-cooked meal every weeknight due to work demands, and on the weekends, when we're out and about, it's often easier to grab lunch out than to pack a lunch in advance. But I felt a lot better when I read something on the card my son made: "Mommy cooks good food for me."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Missing Mom As Mother's Day Approaches

It's easier getting through Mother's Day now that I'm a mom. I look forward to the secret gifts the kids have made me at preschool, which are never very secret: they tell me they've made me something secret, and invariably one of them tells me exactly what it is. I like that when I show up at preschool for the pre-Mother's Day tot shabbat, my kids spot me from afar, and their faces light up, as if it's been years, not hours, since we were last together. I like that they delight in giving me a card and helping daddy present a gift on Mother's Day morning, coming to my warm bed and filling it up with their little arms and legs and still-pudgy faces.

But every year, as the day draws near, I'm always a bit wistful, having endured 12 motherless Mother's Days between the time my mom passed away and the year I became a mom.

A Two-Hump Sopwith Camel

So the other day we're reading what's become a classic around this house, EVERYONE POOPS. If you're not familiar with this popular preschool picture book (yes, there are pictures of poop in it -- lots), it's basically a book that shows drawings of different animals and people pooping. It explains matter-of-factly that some stop to poop, some do it on the run, some do it in the water, and some do it in a special place (the potty), etc. One page shows a one-hump camel making a one-hump poop; another shows a two-hump camel making a two-hump poop.

I know, by now you are pooped with the poop references. So I'll get to the point.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Taking A Hit For the Home Team

It hurts to get up.

It hurts to sit.

It hurts to lie down.

And don't get me starting on walking.

Late Blooming Mom is recovering from hernia surgery, and planning to make the kids feel guilty about it some day.

It's their fault, it really is, no kidding.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Vegas With The Kids: Highlights and Lowlights (Part Two)

All thoughts of Vegas being a family-friendly destination pretty much vanished at 6:25 a.m. on Easter Sunday, when the pounding on the door and the shouts of "Metro Police!" awakened us. Burly officers then hustled into the room, turning on all the lights. To be fair, once they spotted the sleeping kids on the pull-out couch in the suite, they switched the lights off and conducted their search by flashlight. But it was a post-dawn full room search, bathroom and balcony included. I sat up in bed while my husband, who'd let the cops in, dealt with them, and managed to blurt out, "What's going on?"

Monday, April 20, 2009

Vegas, Babies, Vegas? (Part One)

We took a long weekend over spring break -- the Passover/Easter weekend -- and went to Vegas, Baby, Vegas ... with two four-year-olds.

No, it's not exactly the first thing you think of when you think of family-friendly vacation destinations. In my parents' day, it was known jokingly as Lost Wages, but gambling is just item on its present-day menu of vices in which to indulge. Families trudging from one hotel to another on the sidewalks of the famous strip must run the gamut of street hawkers pushing "escort services" -- "Girls, Girls, Girls In Twenty Minutes," read their t-shirts -- handing out cards with phone numbers, past the blinking signage advertising all-you-can-eat buffets, and through the throngs of tourists clutching chilled alcoholic fruity drinks in brightly-colored, far-too-large novelty cups. And that's just what families experience outside. When they walk through a Vegas strip hotel to get to or from a parked car, a restaurant, or the monorail, they experience half a lifetime of second-hand smoke inhalation.

But despite all the negatives, Vegas beckoned anyhow, because two seventy-something-year-olds -- grandparents to Thing 1 and Thing 2 -- make thrice-yearly visits to it, all the way from New York City. Apparently, sometime after Americans turn sixty-five, the slot machine switch turns on in their brains, and Vegas becomes as powerful a draw for AARP members as the early-bird dinner special at the local diner.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Becoming Your Mother

I now see it's inevitable.

At some point into motherhood, at some moments, every woman becomes her mother.

It happened to me this morning when I had to lay down the law to my four-year-old daughter. We had driven to ballet school and were getting changed for Sunday morning ballet class in the changing room there -- a weekly class she elected to attend, mind you, I don't force her and it wasn't my idea -- when she put on her ballet shoes and then firmly declared of one of them, "This one bothers me."

Off it came. Much readjusting of the shoe was attempted, to no avail. It's not that it's too small; it wasn't pinching at the toes. My daughter just didn't like the way it felt around the ball of her foot today. I offered trying it on the other foot. We did. No dice. I suggested taking her socks off. That was met with refusal. I offered to buy her a new pair at the store at some later time, when it would be open (it wasn't this morning and besides, even if it had been, class was starting). All I got was wailing.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

They Are Enough: Looking Back From Twinfertility To Infertility

Now that I'm four years-plus into motherhood, and five past the infertility that bogged me from my late thirties to age 40, I sometimes forget what that desperation to have a kid was like. I think this near-amnesia is the mind's way of protecting the heart, and helping it move on.

Now my problems are of an utterly different sort, and most of the time, I am oblivious to the fact that they are problems I'm lucky to have. These days, the problems are garden-variety kidstuff. I've got a son who can't wind down at night, and keeps wandering out of the bedroom, or tossing and turning in bed if I deign to stay in the room with him; he doesn't get enough sleep, often wakes up cranky, yet can't seem to give up his nap at school, the one thing that might make him tired enough to nod off at a reasonable bedtime. I've got a daughter who must, simply must, have things her way, on her schedule, of her choosing. And I'm nearly unable to buy a pair of pants that fit, even though I weigh about 112 pounds naked, and the problem ain't fat: it's the re-arranging of my belly's shape from a twin pregnancy that no amount of exercise or anything short of surgery will make go away. (Suffice it to say those low-rise pants will never be for me. When someone as thin as I am still gets a muffin top protruding over a pair of pants, those pants are JUST WRONG!).

Five years ago, I was suffering through multiple miscarriages.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Cup Runneth Over ... And Then Some

Don't get me wrong, I love having a family.

But between four-year-old twins and an elderly cat who's not feeling too well, I'm feeling a bit overtaxed ... and that's with a spouse who's a fully participating partner who takes on his share and then some.

Sometimes I talk with single or married-but-kidless friends and hear of their trips -- to Italy, to Hong Kong, to other way cool places, and I miss their freedom.

Yet many of them wish they had what I do.

Sometimes I wish we could all trade places for just a weekend or two, once or twice a year. Maybe we'd get a greater appreciation of what we have. Or just get a break from it!

It's not that the grass is greener. I do want what I have.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Melting Moments

The morning of our eighth wedding anniversary, Late Blooming Dad and I attended our kids' preschool parent-teacher conferences.

On the whole, the conference was a love fest of the kind I don't know if we'll be getting come, say, third grade ... and especially not come seventh. The moments the teacher described when one of our kids is in distress, and the other rushes over to offer comfort, made our hearts melt.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fun On A Budget

Recession got ya down?

Try planning a family outing to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Adult admission: $23.95 Kids three and up: $11.95. Then there's parking. Let's say, for argument's sake, it's six bucks (I can't remember but that sounds about right). So for a family a four, the privilege of looking at fish in tanks for a few hours costs upwards of seventy-five dollars.

Recession got you even more down?

Now you have some idea of why we spent last Saturday somewhere else: the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. Adult admission: five dollars (suggested donation). Kids: a dollar (suggested donation). Parking: we spent three bucks. Total expenditure for the privilege of looking at fish in tanks for a few hours: fifteen dollars.

Suck on that, Aquarium of the Pacific.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Beware The Darkened Toddler Tooth! (And Other Obscure Kid Health Scares)

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed one of Thing 1's two front teeth looked blue.

Or gray. Or tinted in some way, so it didn't look like the others.

Toothpaste didn't alleviate the situation. And he hadn't eaten anything that would leave a blackish/blueish/grayish residue. I couldn't imagine what might be affecting one tooth, as all the others looked normal.

Normally in these situations I reach for Dr. Spock's trusty book, or some other medical book about kids. But Late Blooming Dad got to the web first, and soon we learned the source of the dreaded Darkened Toddler Tooth.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

You Must "Member" This ...

The fractured English continues, and I can't help but enjoy it.

Every time Thing 1 wants me to recall something we've done together, he says, "Mommy, you member when we ..."

He's lobbying heavily for walkie-talkies, so he piped up with this the other day: "You member Attitcus had walkie-talkines? Kin we get walkie-talkies?" (Atticus, btw, is a little boy, not the character in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, though very possibly named for him.)

His other frequently used mangled English expressions: "I never know that" for "I didn't know that," and "we hadn't done that in long time" for something that's been awhile.

Yesterday he informed me he made Hamentashen -- the traditional Jewish pastry that's made to celebrate Purim -- at school and loved it -- so much so that he gave up his chance at playing ball that day to do so. "Kin we make Hamentashen at home?" he asked. The word "can" never crosses his lips, but "kin" prefaces many a request.

Thing 2 chimed in that she did not eat the Hamentashen. "It was too jammy," she said. "And too strawberry." And though it's not fractured English, she overuses this one: "You're not supposed to." As in, whatever her brother is doing that she doesn't want him to do.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"The Kitchen Is Closed!" And Other Tales Of Feeding Four-Year-Olds

They're still too small to get their own cereal, milk, or juice, let alone reheat yesterday's pancakes. So breakfast means "Service, please!" for Late Blooming Mom, and so do the other meals.

Whatever I put in front of them, they invariably ask for something else. Despite my attempt to enforce the "You get what you get, and you don't get upset" rule, there is often much whining around the dining room table. I try not to give in, but sometimes, you just can't get 'em to eat, and if you refuse to put anything in front of them they want, then later, they're going to whine that they're hungry. Then there's another chance to stand fast, but I often wind up crumbling because by then, the whining has worn me down.

So I've taken to informing my kids, after I've gotten them food and perhaps acceded to a few requests WITHIN REASON, that "The Kitchen Is Closed."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Not So Terrible Twos: A Look Back

Because I only started blogging a little late into my later-in-life momhood -- when the kids turned three -- I don't have as much of a grip on what, exactly, happened that second year of parenthood. But I'm jogging my memory today because that blur of a year shouldn't go by thoroughly unrecorded. After all, getting through a year of later-in-life parenthood is something of an accomplishment, especially so when parenting twin toddlers ... or so I rationalize. I have to give myself a pat on the back for getting through it, even though people do it all the time, because one thing I do recall is feeling distinctly like I wasn't going to make it.

It wasn't because the twos were terrible. They were just ... well, wearing. They were also wondrous and delightful, in some ways far more rewarding than the ones, which were all about mom and dad putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how sleep-deprived. Most of all, they were about changes, big and small, and always, always coming, so that just when you thought you kinda had this parenting thing down, something would come to send you right back into learning on the job. To steal an iconic I LOVE LUCY image, I spent much of Year 2 feeling like the candies were coming down the conveyor belt faster than I could box them.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It Should Be Called "Petrie Dish," Not Preschool

I am on cold #3 since December.

They bring them home and despite all my handwashing, I get them.

But somehow, they get over them faster than I do.

This time, I didn't even have a chance to get rid of cold #2, which was kinda sorta on the wane, when cold #3 took up residence in my sinsuses.

By some miracle, Late Blooming Dad has escaped them all. Maybe it's because I tend to be the one wiping their noses with Kleenex. Or maybe he just has a better immune system. All I know is, I am ready for cold season to be done ... and hoping that the rest of Year 2 of preschool is less of a human lab experiment in just how many things a mom can catch from her kids than it has been so far.

Despite the recession, I clearly should have bought stock in the makers of pediatric Robitussin and Benadryl.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Traumatized By Disney

Many friends of mine have worked for the Disney corporation at one time or another ... and the company's reputation for being mean, cheap, and generally awful to its employees seemed well-deserved. But one of those same friends changed her tune about Disney after she became a parent. She was, she confessed, grateful to Disney. Their movies, TV shows, TV channel, theme parks, and toys kept her child entertained time and time again, and a good deal of the product was quality -- maybe not the toys from China, but certainly, say, the music from MARY POPPINS.

The thing about Disney movies,though, is that they're a double-edged sword.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Take Me To The Warm Snow"

Living in Los Angeles is sometimes hard for a couple of transplanted New Yorkers. After many many years as Angelinos, Late Blooming Mom and Dad still miss certain things about the east coast, and snow is one of them.

Mind you, we don't miss it enough to relocate. Grandpa, on the phone or on email, keeps reminding us of how he has to ask a neighbor to shovel his front walk since his back is no longer up to the task. Grandma is notorious for planning her winter around slot tournaments in Vegas so she can escape the brutal weather for a little while, at least. Today I spoke with a friend back east who elected to stay home all day yesterday because it had been too damn windy outside, and where she lives -- Vermont -- a windy day can make an otherwise livable temperature sub-zero.

But there's something about bundling up in hats, scarves and gloves, then crunching through powdery snow on the ground, taking a brisk walk through air so chilly you can see your breath, that's positively joy-inducing.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wish I'd Had A Camera When ...

>Thing 2 sat in a bumper car last Sunday, for the first time, in the kiddie bumper car section at the Santa Monica Pier, and like several of her classmates riding in bumper cars for the first time, had no idea what to do. For the first few minutes, anyway. Her classmates were the same way. For a few moments that seemed suspended in time, in a sort of slow-motion slapstick, they sat behind the wheels of their cars, hemmed in and a bit confused. Then it dawned on them that they could turn the wheel and push the pedal. This level of autonomy in a moving vehicle was clearly intoxicating. Soon one kid had broken free of the pack, then another. But Thing 1 somehow managed to move only one way: in circles. Late Blooming Mom and Dad were in stitches. Thing 1 was simply delighted, and continued her circular ways for some time, not at all bothered. Eventually she broke free of the pattern, after receiving a few bumps. Then she was like a teenage driver unleashed on the freeway for the first time. Okay, not exactly. But she did land her share of bumps. And when it was all over, she was eager to try it again.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Year One: A Look Back

For the first two years of my kids' lives, I didn't blog.

Having twins without having had any kids before was akin to being shot out of a cannon. Four years later, I feel like I'm still flying through the air from that cannon shot.

But at least life got a wee bit more manageable in year three, and I found the time, space, and energy to write about my Late Blooming Mom experiences. Last month, this blog quietly hit its one-year anniversary mark, and I'm happy to have a written chronicle of at least some of my first mom-hood years.

But I find myself a bit sad that I didn't take time to keep much track of the first two. So before those memories get any dimmer, I'm going to try to reconstruct a sort of highlight reel here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Boats, Kitsch, And Old School Fun

When I was a kid growing up in Manhattan, my dad would take us to the New York Boat Show every other year or so. It may seem incongruous going to a convention hall filled with pleasure boats and motor yachts in the middle of New York City. We didn't get on boats very often, save the Staten Island Ferry, or the occasional jaunt on the yacht leased by the radio station where my dad worked. And on the latter, we basically cruised up and down the Hudson and East River. So we weren't exactly big boaters.

But the boat show was a kids' delight.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Late Blooming Mom Delusion

I didn't plan on becoming a mom later in life.

But getting married at 37, and miscarrying a few times, sealed the deal.

Still, I thought sure there'd be all these advantages to my older mom status.

Already established in the working world, I had a career of sorts, with some earning potential, skills, pride in my abilities, and a professional identity. My own mom, who'd popped out both her babies before turning 30, never enjoyed those advantages.

I had more money than when I was in younger, and way more life experience. I counted on both of these things to stand me in good stead for later-in-life motherhood. In short, I expected to be a financially and professionally secure woman who also possessed the patience, maturity and wisdom that living as a grown-up for a good long while provides.

Man -- or in this case, woman -- plans, and God laughs.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Slapstick Gene

My son has it.

Way back when he was two, we'd put on a Baby Einstein video featuring farm animal puppets, and he used to laugh hysterically at this bit where a horse puppet ignored all the food on a table and instead munched the flower in a vase.

He giggled uncontrollably at the pig puppet who pushed another pig puppet down a slide into the mud.

He cracked up in another scene with an elephant puppet trumpeting and blowing the other puppets over.

At three, we began to selectively expose him to classic Warner Bros. cartoons. Not only would he laugh in all the right places, he'd force us to back up the video so he could view the same bit again and again -- and each time, he'd have the same explosive response.

Just this week, I sat down with him to watch an episode of Ian Falconer's OLIVIA, based on the popular picture book series.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's The Simple Stuff That Brings The Most Fun

The kids have been opening the birthday presents on average of one a night -- give or take, here or there: I make them take a night off from presents if they've been especially difficult.

It's kind of like Hanukkah all over again.

But they're getting jaded anyway. Sometimes they open a gift and are initially disappointed, but on another day, they can't wait to play with the thing they rejected the night before.

On a rainy Saturday, we opened the box of "science experiments," and played with test tubes, pipettes, and colored baking soda tablets that dissolved really fast in hot water, slower in cold, and created really cool zones of color when put into milk on a dinner plate.

I've helped them put together puzzles and snap-together cars, squeeze plastic dresses on tiny plastic dolls (and tried to keep track of all the tiny parts, from miniature tools to wee doll shoes that have come into our lives since the birthday party).

We've read books, made necklaces with beads, had tea parties.

But perhaps the most exuberant moment of all came from a spray bottle of sculpting soap for the bath.

We Have Overcome

We kept the kids home to watch the swearing in.

We cried.

They were alternately interested, excited, bored and restless. But they watched as Barack Obama became the 44th President.

At four years of age, they may not remember this moment, though we can tell them they saw it happen. What really strikes me, though, is that Obama will be the first person they consciously know as President of the U.S.

That means the idea that someone can't be President because of the color of their skin will simply never occur to them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What A Swell Party It Was

Okay, I gotta admit, despite all my grousing about the preparations and cost, the kids' party was a rousing success.

They simply loved having a birthday party.

You could see the excitement on their faces when we got to Child's Play, the indoor playspace we'd rented for the party. Once inside, they ran gloriously amuck, initially having the place to themselves, then looking surprised yet happy when familiar faces began to arrive.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Birthday Parties: Outta Control

When they turned three, Thing 1 and Thing 2 were surprised and thrilled and satisfied by mini-cupcakes in their classroom, plastic star-shaped sunglasses and crazy straw party favors for all. The "party," at preschool, lasted maybe 15 minutes. We also took them to dinner with a couple of friends. They got tricycles and helmets, and a day at the park to use them. Done deal.

But a year later, they're Birthday Party Veterans. They have asked about having a party, given opinions on where they want it and what they want at it. So they are getting one.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Almost-Fours

They will be four on Tuesday.

They can't wait -- for ice cream birthday cake (Lightning McQueen for him, Ariel the Little Mermaid for her) and for their party.

I am getting the sense this is going to be a very fun age. Mostly, I like eavesdropping on them when they play without my immediate supervision. Yesterday I overheard this: "Where are my boots? Oh, there they are! I will go take a walk with them." "Where will you go?" "California.