Home Alone

My family is planning a very exciting trip starting this weekend - a drive up the coast, a week in beautiful Prince Edward Island with Grandma and Papa, some beach time, some lobsters, some shell collecting and bird watching. Then finally a leisurely drive back home.

There's only one thing holding me back from being excited about it:

I'm not going.

I'm heartbroken to think that Nate and the girls are leaving for nearly two weeks without me. That I have to stay behind and do the responsible thing and work, now that work has finally gotten busy again.

Friends have advised me, "Well you just shouldn't let him." Or scolded, "I can't believe you're allowing it." But then I think of all the working dads who stay behind while their wives tote the kids to the grandparents for a week. That's just what you do when you're the family's primary earner and it's the right thing to do.

The only thing is, I'm not a dad. I'm a mom.

Every day, I will wonder whether they're warm and have enough books and are taking baths often enough. I'll wonder whether Thalia is finally getting some sleep. I'll wonder whether Grandma is sneaking Thalia cookies when Daddy isn't looking, or what Sage's expression is the first time she touches a crab. I'll wonder whether they'll ask for me when they're being tucked into bed.

Home alone, I'll find a favorite toy or blanket left behind and grapple with whether I should mail it up there. I'll order in sushi in front of the TV and try to imagine just what they're doing at that exact moment. Whether they miss me. Whether they're thinking about me. How they'll react to me when they get home. Will Sage need to warm up to me? Will she cling to Daddy? Will she squeal and run right past me to the dog?

Every night I'll go to sleep trying to convince myself that it's nice to have the bed to myself or to stay on the computer until midnight or to sleep in past 6. But really, it will be a tough sell to myself.

I'm trying to make the best of it, reminding myself that it's NYC for God's sake. I can see movies and enjoy drinks with friends and have that time to clean my closet that I've been threatening to do if only the kids weren't demanding my attention every time I open the damn door. I can spend a wonderful pre-birthday dinner with my dad and visit my single mom friend who could probably use the girlie time.

But the apartment will be so very quiet and Thalia's scent will be slowly fading from the pillowcases on the bed.


The audacity of this Obama supporter's hope

We talk about change in this country. We talk about wanting it for our sons and daughters, for our future, for the planet.

Me, I want Nate to believe again

In 2004 he discovered politics, energized by the possibility of a Wesley Clark candidacy, urged on by my bleeding heart family, and excited by the prospect of affecting change. The results of the election (don't get me started on Ohio voter fraud) destroyed not only his enthusiasm, but his confidence in the entire system.

Like a preacher who discovers that there is no God, his faith is gone. He's angry. Steam-out-of-the-ears furious. But it comes out as cynicism. And our daughters are going to hear that.

Nate doesn't believe that the system can be changed. He believes all politicians are inherently corrupt and that it's all just a big meaningless horse race. He's sure whoever wins it means jack for the country, jack for the world.

But that's not how I roll.

The Democratic National Convention flickered on the TV in front of me, the volume turned way down. At this moment, Michelle Obama was taking to the stage following an emotional introduction from her mother. We should all be so proud of our daughters, I thought. Whoever it is they grow to become. I was teary.

That's when Nate decided to enter the room. He turned towards the TV, then turned towards me. And then Nate. Oh, Nate Nate Nate. He rolled his eyes, snorted and harumphed back towards ESPN where I guess the "horse races" are somehow more meaningful?

I won't apologize for being moved by this candidacy or by the Obamas' story. I won't live my life convinced that there is no hope for the future, that there is no candidate so compelling and visionary and hard-working and committed that he can't change the world. He doesn't have to be perfect; he just has to be right.

I have to believe. I need to believe.

It's my greatest hope that I'll be able to turn to Nate in a few years when things are better, the country I love is commanding respect again, and the good guys are back to doing good things and say--not for the first time by the way--Told ya'

Something tells me he'd be okay with that.


The Rocker: The backstory rocks

You always hear these stories about these kids who move out to LA to pursue some cockamamie dream of becoming famous screenwriters.

Famous screenwriter! Hahahahahahaa!

Or maybe just working screenwriters.

Screenwriters? Working? Hahahahhaaaa!

They sleep on couches and they eat ramen noodles for dinner and they try to write, and they deal with the fact that no woman in town wants to date them after they let onto the fact that they're sleeping on couches and eating ramen noodles for dinner.

They support themselves working 80-hour weeks answering phones for jerks (see also: Swimming with Sharks), they get coffee and make dry cleaning runs, they get paid to read scripts that they know they could have written better. And they they try to maintain as much non asshole-ness as possible in an industry full of assholes.

The whole time, these kids keep writing. They write some bad scripts. They write some good scripts. They finish one script just as the exact same story is being produced. They finish another script and people they love crap all over it. Jealousy is a beast and in LA, people are even jealous of those who haven't yet succeeded. Just the possibility of success, it seems, is a very threatening thing.

Years later, one of those screenplays hits.

Some call it being in the right place at the right time. Some call it dumb luck. Some of us know that it was ten years of never giving up and always believing in yourself.

That's the story of my cousin. His name is Ryan Jaffe. He got a call one day saying, "Hi, you know that movie you sold us? The Rocker? We start shooting next week in Toronto."

It's out in theaters now.

It's not Rocky, it's not Dr. Zhivago. It's two fun hours at the movies, and hey, Salon liked it and Ebert and Roeper gave it two thumbs up and I'm so very proud of him.

The way I see it, if you can't shamelessly pimp your own family's accomplishments on your blog, then you're no damn good.

Yay Ryan! May this be the first of many.


The Truth About Two

One day it sneaks up on you.

You're watching your kids play (or fight), you're straightening the bookshelf, you're scraping yogurt off the sofa cushions--and you find yourself gazing at the baby.

She smiles at you.

She smiles and throws her head back and laughs then does that silly little dance, the one that starts with her pumping her left shoulder then moves through her arms and into her whole little body, before she squeals and waddles off atop plump little legs to torment the dog or poke at the VCR buttons.

And you realize you have fallen in love with her.

You have fallen in love with her just the same as you did with the first one. Just like everyone said. Just like everyone promised. Just like you wanted to so hard to believe during those nine miserable months, those sleepless postpartum days, those hazy, mixed-up early weeks when deep in your heart (you'd never say it out loud but) you didn't think it was actually possible.

You thought for way too long that you were the one exception to the rule.

You thought you were the one mother would spend her life faking it, spend her life "remembering" to love them both.

You forgot that it takes time to know a person before you can truly love her with all your being.

Then one day you find yourself spontaneously snatching her off the ground mid-play to kiss her head, so filled are you with emotion. She swats you away and wriggles back down to the ground, and it hurts your heart just a teeny bit. Hurts in a sweet way. In a not altogether terrible way.

It sneaks up on you, that day that she's no longer some eating-crying-excreting machine, some boring baby lump who just lies there expecting you to love her for nothing.

Now you love her for everything.

And she is loving you back.

The Original Perfect Post Awards 08.08


Attention Marketers: Mom-101 will endorse your brands!

This weekend, Nate and I had a lovely dinner out with another couple, which makes this like our second date night in 87 years of marriage. An incredible feat considering Nate and I have only been together about six years. And we're not actually married.

While the boys discussed predictably discussed football, GMM and I chatted about the Matt Harding video, previously referred to by MetroDad as "the greatest video ever posted on the internet" and I'd have to agree. If you're too tired to click and watch, (which, really - your loss) this is the video in which this regular guy who happens to be traveling all over the world does this silly little jig in every country he visits--42 in total. It's edited together beautifully with just the right music and it's captured the hearts of anyone who's seen it.

Also, it's captured the hearts of Cadbury Schweppes who I just learned paid him a ton of money to go out there on another world tour and do it again.

In other words, he's getting paid to do what he was already doing for free anyway.

That's when I realized it was time for me to recraft my resume.

Goal: For a cool company to pay me to do that which I already do.

I of course have a few thoughts on the matter.

-My house is a disaster. I do not clean it. I think that Nintendo should pay me to continue not cleaning my house. Would that be like the best ad campaign for Wii Guitar Hero ever, or what?

-I have used plenty of choice words to describe George Bush, often in mixed company. Orbit Gum could pay me to continue doing this, as part of their "Dirty mouth? Clean it up!" campaign. I can get really really dirty too. Try me out, Orbit! You won't be disappointed.

-I wear shoes - Prada makes shoes. Perfect.

-I have been known to draw attention to myself while singing bad 70s and 80s lyrics under my breath, in public spaces. I would be happy to continue to do so while wearing a Coca Cola tee shirt for a reasonable six-figure monthly fee.

-I often think about doing the sex with George Clooney. I would be happy to continue to do so for money. (To be clear: Not to have sex for money, but to think about having sex and getting paid for that.) This could be a good one for KY Jelly. Or maybe some prescription drug for women experiencing delusions? Really, I'm open.

-Like Matt Harding, I love to travel, but we could do it a whole lot more if we had a sponsor. I'm angling for American Express. I will just continue to travel with my family, charging everything on our (free) Platinum Card, and American Express will be more than welcome to put our exploits up on You Tube. I know that hearing Sage screaming in the car for two straight hours or watching Thalia refuse to eat anything besides goldfish and bagels will be huge. HUGE. 10 million viewers or more, guaranteed.

Of course these are just a few thoughts off the top of my head. Nothing firm. I'm open to any marketers with other ideas. Other things I already do anyway: Talk with food in my mouth, choose shaving cream based on the color of the can, pick the cranberries out of the salad, discuss Rock of Love II as if any of it mattered, read blogs.

How about you? What would you like to be paid to do that you already do?


On (Psychic) Death and Dying: The 5 stages of grief vis a vis Barney

Denial - Oh my God, I am NOT even watching the third Barney in a row right now with my kids. This can't be happening.

Anger Which of you [expletive deleted] grandparents got my kids hooked on this show? Don't you even know that the main character sounds like some nightmare out of a Stephen King movie and that the children tuck their plaid shirts into their khakis and hike them up to their chests, pretty much guaranteeing they will be beat up every single day of their lives? Have you no taste? Have you no sense?

Bargaining I promise I will stop feeding my children cereal for dinner. Just let the TV be struck by lightning right now.

Depression What is the point in fighting it? My life is officially over. I'm going to start wearing scrunchies in my hair.

Acceptance Okay so Barney does have a point about sharing being good and imagination being important. My kids seem to be happy while he's on TV and they're not pummeling each other either. And you know? Under the right circumstances? I'd probably have sex with him.


I am the It Mom, goo goo g'joob

The emails and very kind comments are starting to trickle in, so I suppose it's a good time to mention that Parents Magazine, my favorite doctor's office read, has named me their "It Mom" of June.

Which became July. Then August. And now September. I am just that important.


Anyhow, welcome to new readers. And to old readers, thanks in advance for not thinking I'm all famous and douchey now. I'm the same Mom101 who documented the bathroom hours I logged at work while pregnant, compared my oldest aughter to Jeri Blank, and cops to having Andy Gibb on my iTunes. In pretty good rotation. Only now I have professional photos of me with my kids too.

Thanks so much Parents, and especially editrix extraordinaire Judy Goldberg - for without you, my photo wouldn't be in the hands of thousands of women across the country lying naked from the waist down with their feet up in stirrups.


50-100 calories an hour. Or about 4 calories in 3 minutes.

"Mommy, what were you doing with daddy?"

"We were cuddling, sweetie."

"Yes, but why was daddy on top of you? And then you were on top of daddy?"

"Well, we were hugging. Just hugging and cuddling. Um...how long were you standing there anyway?"

"You were exercising mommy! Were you exercising with daddy?"

"That's right Thalia, we were exercising. That's exactly right."



True Tales from Mobile Home 8

I know I've been a bit of a tease lately with a few vague references to the recent family vacation in North Carolina.

Indeed it would be easy to compose a snarky post about certain aspects of the trip. The truth is, it would be disingenuous of me because I had a great time. And it would be completely rude of me to dwell on the few negatives of a very thoughtful week put together by my inlaws, whom I fell in love with all over again.

Also, I already did the snarky post two years ago.

Instead, I'd like to offer up the aspects of the weekend that I never thought I would have enjoyed but I did.

1. TGI Friday's Microwavable Spinach, Cheese and Artichoke Dip. Can 800 million grams of fat be wrong?

2. A stranger squeezing Sage's legs and cooing, "Oh, what a fat little baby you are! What a fat little baby!" Would this ever happen in New York City? And be intended as a compliment?

3. Bonding with my sister-in-law Lexi on the way too long car ride to Papa John's pizza and back, necessary because it was somehow against company policy to deliver a pizza to an address simply known as "Mobile Home #8."

4. Sitting on a deck in no makeup drinking bottles of Bud as the sun goes down. This is a much underrated summertime activity, although I could have done without the red ants.

5. An endless stream of forward rolls, with no fear of anyone hitting her legs on the bedroom wall.

6.Eating the finest McDonald's biscuit in the history of McDonald's biscuits. Carolina Beach McD's? Bless you, for I have never in my life experienced such a perfect combination of bleached white flour and liquid margarine.

7. Stupid photo-ops

8. Chasing after the sanctigranny in the supermarket who yelled at Nate for flinging Thalia up in the air, just so I could say, "Excuse me? Did you have something to say to me?" Boy, she didn't expect that. It was also fun to murmur under my breath, "I'll accept parenting advice from you the day you get teeth." You can take the Etiquette Bitch out of New York...

9. Taking a deep breath and accepting the fact that my daughters were going to be fed about 600 cookies a day by their cousins and their aunts and that it wouldn't kill them. Or me.

10. Seeing Thalia fall in love with another grandpa, just as she did two years ago.

11. And another set of cousins.

12. Letting Sage poop out in nature, as it should be. Sort of.


Why? Why?

What is it exactly about my bed that makes it more comfortable to sleep on horizontally, Thalia? Because I'd really like to know. Is there some magic spot on the right side that better suits your head? Is there some special happy dream you can have only when your feet are hanging off the left side? Is there something the rest of us are missing here, the rest of us regular vertical bed-sleeping people? Because if we've all got it wrong all these years, sleeping the long way on the bed, I think you have the obligation to let us know.

And that whole part where you twist yourself around in the middle of the night until your feet are on my head - what's with that? It's hard enough that you will only sleep in my bed for the last six months or so, let alone making up your own rules and flipping around 180 degrees over the course of the night. That is, when you're not crawling sleepily on top of me so you can fall back asleep face down, spread eagle on my chest.

So...anytime you feel like filling me in, just come find me. I'll be the one with the circles under my eyes.


Random Bits of Randomy Randomness

I give up! I give up! There are too many things I need to mention so I'm doing them all at once and clearing my inbox in the process.

Cool Mom Picks Back to School Guide

*The Cool Mom Picks 2008 Back to Shopping Guide is here! I use the explanation point because now, I can finally get more than like 4 hours of sleep a night and stop debating about whether to recommend the backpack with the flowers or the one with the stripes. That deserves a !, right? So click over, shop, enjoy. Also? You could win a $735 prize pack just by posting the button on your blog. Details on the back to school guide.

*With everyone feeling the pinch these days, you can actually help a mama out by pledging to click through to full posts from your feed reader this month which increases a blogger's page views - and ad revenue. If you write about it, like I am (see, I'm not stupid) you could win a ton o' cool stuff - click on the cute piggie for more info, or just send the post to Kristen at motherhooduncensored@yahoo.com.

*I am now officially a contributing editor to BlogHer beauty hacks. Which means that I can buy $300 worth of sparkly purple makeup at YSL and write it off. (I think.) Check out my first post and find out how Hollywood divas manage to keep their clothes on. Well, some of them. Oh and that guy? The best make up artist ev-ah. You can find him at Bendel's, and he might even make you look great in sparkly purple makeup too. Also he will tell you you look 27 which, really, is all that matters.

*Lisa of Midwestern Mommy does not have cancer. Which is in all likelihood the very best news of the week.

*Michelle Lamar, aka White Trash Mom, who is totally nice and funny and sent me a really cool shirt with a trailer on it that I didn't get to actually wear when I was in a trailer, has come out with a fantastic new book called The White Trash Mom Handbook. Also, oddly, there is a photo of me on her Amazon page which I am just now noticing. But that is not why you should buy the book. You should because every time a blogger sells a book, an angel gets his wings. You don't want any dead, wingless angels to have to step over in the driveway when you come home at the end of the day, now, do you.

*Don't believe I was in a trailer? A few highlights from Mobile Home #8:
Trailer Children - they're just like regular children!

Lexi and I nabbed an internet signal from the one place that had one: The hallway to the rec center locker room. Mmm...smells like feet.

The family that took the mobile home next to ours: The Partridge Family. 8 kids if you believe the sticker on the rear window. And CHRISTIAN if you believe the tag on the license plate that's printedin big, bold letters, so that it's easier for God to read it all the way up in heaven.

*I have to mention again that the Back to School Guide is live on Cool Mom Picks. Because we all know that you will only remember the last thing I write about here. It's the Lime Popsicle Theory(tm).


Goodness and Light and Rainbows and Warm Fuzzies and Happy Faces and Hearts Over the i in Liz

You, blogosphere (or whatever the cool kids call it these days - blog world? Blogdom? Computer people?), you are amazing.

I needed you and you were there

People I know and love, and then people I've never known but wish I did so that I could buy you each some pie.

And especially you, Laura. We're in this PMDD thing together, although hopefully not for long.

For the first time perhaps in the history of Mom-101, I was nervous to post. I wasn't as nervous when I admitted my dog wasn't my child, or that I let my children cry it out, or that I stopped breastfeeding at six months. But this week, admitting to a possible unwanted pregnancy, boy, I was nervous.

Thank you to those of you who said supportinve things, all of which I read and re-read and read out loud while hugging myself and humming Melissa Etheridge in my head and sweating estrogen out my pores. Thanks also to those of you who wanted to say not such supportive things but stayed out of it because my need to be supported trumped your need to express a different opinion. That is true emotional maturity and you will probably be like Ghandi or something in your next life. Ghandi with an unlimited supply of pie.

(Yes, I have pie on the brain. That is the other thing about menstruation - you don't have a baby, and you want to eat pie.)

Last week while I was away on vacation, from the little I could garner from my limited internet service, I saw the worst of blogging: A site started for the sole purpose of making mean anonymous comments about BlogHer attendees; a bizarre series of emails and posts and attacks from a blogger "jealous" (her words) about "famous" (her words) bloggers who "get on a plane every three days" (As Rita put it -"!"); friends fending off trolls of all manners. Not such good timing for confessing my deepest inner thoughts here.

But you? You reminded me it was okay to be true to myself.

I'll shut up now. I'm getting sappy.

Now any tips on convincing a reluctant guy to get his man parts taken care of? For a friend, I mean. Right. A friend.


Not Pregnant.

For the last two weeks I was pregnant.

And now I'm not.

Because I never was pregnant.

The situation was so incredibly improbable considering the circumstances, that had I been pregnant, I should have been sainted and my silhouette spotted on barn walls and pieces of toast in South America for years to come. And yet every fiber of my body, every cell I had, every neuron and mitochondrion and DNA strand said pregnant.

The boobs were enormous. I was crampy. I was devouring every carb in site, including some sort of wrapped Little Debbie brownie thing that tasted like sugar and ass. I started having those wacky, vivid dreams--first that I won Top Chef, next that Schmutzie was running a really nice little bake shop in the West Village and invited me in for scones. I was bloated. I was exhausted. But above all, I was terrified. Because if this wasn't the return of the PMS from hell, something I hadn't experienced since before Thalia was born, then it was something very very not good at all.

For the last two weeks, every waking moment and most that should have been devoted to sleeping, were directed towards the question of What To Do. (And so apologies to all people I have encountered recently who may have found me to be distracted or manic or detached or all of the above.) I tried to weigh the pros and cons of having a third child, twisting them and contorting them every way, trying to make the columns line up.

The columns weren't lining up.

It's not to say that people don't live wonderful fulfilling lives with three or more kids every day. But I know that I just can't handle another pregnancy. I just can't. I did not make a particularly good baby transport system, as my sister-in-law Lexi (a third child herself) put it, between the bedrest and the depression and the feelings of being fat and slow and stupid and ugly and irrelevant. As I teeter at the brink of forty, I fear I would be even worse off. To say nothing of the existing struggles in our relationship, the challenges in our lives, the financial burdens we have right now - a pregnancy would surely push us over the edge.

I drank a whole lot of wine this week.

"You know your limits," said the one friend I confided in, who may have just talked me off an actual ledge with her words. I know my limits. I know our limits.

So I started to consider the options. And none of them were pretty.

We mostly think of unwanted pregnancies as the bane of the young and single. But to be a parent pushing forty, relatively responsible and in a committed relationship--I will simply say that is its own fresh hell. I can't elaborate right now without this turning political. And I don't want it to be political. It's personal. I debated whether to share it at all, except that it's been so consuming, I fear if I don't get it out, it will eat me alive.

It's over now. I am feeling emotionally battered.

I am going to have to deal with the fact that my nearly debilitating PMDD has returned after a four-year respite. I may end up on Wellbutrin again and eating my weight in donuts before it's all over.

But for now, I'm going to hug my kids so tightly and thank the universe for them, then take them to Rye Playland. Where I can push through the cramps, get myself some cotton candy, and go on every single ride in the park.