Category Archives: Fun

Move Over Thomas Edison!

Admission: I love the show Shark Tank. In case you’ve never heard of it, it’s a show on ABC in which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of investors hoping to land venture capital. Here’s a link to the website http://abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank/index. I wish I could come up with a great idea and get a chance to go on that show and kill it. I’ve been thinking that I should invent a series of fixes to address universal parenting problems, because when parents have problems, they’ll buy anything to try to solve them. Here are a few ideas that I think would bring the Shark Tank judges to their knees:

The Umbrella Mullet

Every time it rains, I get screwed. I take the kids out in the stroller with its perfectly fitted rain cover to keep them dry and warm and by the end of our walk an unsuspecting bystander would think that I got dressed before I showered. I tried buying an umbrella that attaches to the stroller handle, which was promising, but the umbrella is so tall, it ends up looking like someone picked me up by the top of my head with a toilet plunger and dipped the rest of me in the toilet. Holding an umbrella in one hand and pushing the stroller with the other works a little better, keeping more of my head covered and most of my front, but inevitably my entire back gets drenched. Luckily, I have dreamed up the perfect solution to this problem: The Umbrella Mullet. It is an umbrella hat that straps to your head like a bike helmet and is shaped like the Darth Vader’s head gear, except it is much wider and the back hangs down to your ankles. Very stylish, frees up your hands to push the stroller, keeps you dry. This thing is going to be the next Post It Note for sure.

The Couch Coffin

Ever wish there was a place in your home where you could steal a moment of solitude without completely leaving your kids unsupervised and free to trash the place? I give you the Couch Coffin. It looks and feels like a regular couch but opens up to reveal a (temporary) resting place as comfortable as the beds at the Four Seasons. When your kids aren’t looking, hop in and rest your weary body while spying on them through the one-way-mirror eye slot. For a small premium, you can upgrade to the Couch Coffin 2. The Couch Coffin 2 comes with a microphone and speaker that enables you to rest while simultaneously telling your kids, in the voice of Mr. T, to stop putting stickers all over the coffee table.

Hand Cones

We all know that clearing the boogs out of one’s nose is a regular necessity. At some point between the ages of two and twenty, someone teaches us how to do it in a sanitary and private manner. Unfortunately, until we are able to impress this important life lesson upon our children, they engage in an awful lot of public nostril digging. Just yesterday, I was proudly handed no less than seven green, gluey boogars. Wouldn’t it be great if, whenever the kids have colds, we could put little cones on their wrists that prevent their hands from touching their noses? They would look and function like a miniature version of the cones that people put on their dogs’ necks when they are recovering from an injury. While these hand cones would spare us the repeated vision of little Joey pulling a foot-long jump rope out of his nose and then rubbing it all over his chair, we still have to tackle the issue of the boogs streaming down his face into his mouth. (Are you gagging yet?) That is why each pair of hand cones would come with a free pair of nose plugs. Just slap on the cones, stick in the plugs and tell those boogies to beat it!

So what do you think? Would you invest? What? I shouldn’t quit my day job? Shooooooot, I already did.

My Plundered Privacy

One of the things I have had to get used to in my transition from peaceful, care-free adult to harried mom is the complete and utter loss of personal privacy.  It started when I became pregnant and has steadily gone downhill from there.  Once I started showing, both familiar and unfamiliar hands constantly fondled my stomach.  Taxi drivers regularly guessed that I was having a dinosaur based on the unsettling ratio of belly : rest of body (5:1 in my case).  When the babies arrived, random people approached me on the street, stuck their faces in my stroller and asked totally reasonable questions like “Did you have sex with your husband to conceive these twins or did you have to do IVF?”

But these jarring invasions of my privacy were nothing compared to what is going on currently, and the perpetrators are not strangers, they are my kids.  Ever since they figured out how to turn a door handle, I have not been able to go to the bathroom in peace.  While the initial interruptions were not terribly annoying, their more recent shenanigans have been increasingly disturbing, in more than one sense of the word.

Zack takes an in-your-face approach where he slams open the door with no warning and starts interrogating me.  “Hi Mommy, what are you doing? Are you making a pee pee?  Are you making a poopy?  Can I see? Is your pee pee yellow? Why is pee pee yellow?  Can you buy me a phone like yours?   Can I see your phone?   What are you doing with your phone?  Are you calling Daddy?  Why does it smell like poopy in here?”  He doesn’t ask all of these questions from the doorway, he asks them while hanging on me with his elbows digging like spikes into my knees.  He leaves me so little personal space, it would be hard for an outsider to tell which one of us was actually the one taking the…well you know.

Addy has a completely different strategy.  Over the past week, she has been quietly slipping into the bathroom and setting up a panel of judges on the tub ledge.  The first few days brought this:

These prissy little b-tches have surely never peed or pooped in their entire lives and from the look on their faces, they did not approve of what they witnessed.  I think that after a few days they outright refused to be subjected to such unladylike behavior because Addy stopped bringing them into the bathroom and instead brought these things:

These freakish, fat-headed Squinkies have been staring at me while I do my business since last weekend.  Their presence shortens my bathroom stay substantially because I’m afraid if I sit too long, they will start marching, single-file, into my nostrils to eat my brain.  I’m pretty sure that next week, Addy’s going to bring in a hologram of Dora singing “You did it!  You did it! You did it!  Hiciste una caca!”

I don’t totally know what to make of all of this.  What I do know is that my bathroom will no longer be a sacred refuge where I can steal a few minutes of tranquility, at least not for another ten years.  So if you see me with a box of Depends in the dark alley down the street, leave me alone, I just may have found the answer to my problem.

The Scanted Plant

Behold the unfortunate-looking symbol of one modern woman’s struggle to reconcile her inner feminist with her outer stay-at-home-momishness.  This plant somehow managed to sit on our kitchen windowsill looking like a bomb casualty for almost a year.  When I was working, I delegated “plant care” to Max in an attempt to chip away at the mountain of household responsibilities that sat on my shoulders.  While he did consistently water the plants each week (good job sweetie!), this orchid’s journey from “thing of beauty” to, well, “thing,” began under his tutelage.   However, that is no excuse for my behavior.  I let this poor, busted bloom become a victim of my identity crisis.

When I left my job, Max pointed out, and I agreed, that I should become fully responsible for the household duties that we used to share, including plant care.  It was a totally fair request since he would continue to slave away at work to fund my shopping, personal trainer, botox and bon bons.*  However there was something about being completely in charge of a long list of mundane tasks at home that made me cringe.  I feared that if I completed the list each week, and completed it well, I would morph into a soulless 1950’s zombie housewife.  My only aspiration would be making sure the ladies of my bridge club would be able to see their beehives reflecting off of my perfectly polished silver, and I’d have a nervous breakdown if they couldn’t.  So I waged a slow and quiet rebellion against the Feminine Mystique that threatened to invade my identity: I refused to fix the orchid situation, GASP!

For a while, I continued to water it but stopped short of actually separating out the orgy of plant species that so wrongly cohabitated in one pot.  My lame effort to stink at plant care led to the realization that if I wanted to be the real deal I needed to smash that potted mess to pieces all over the kitchen floor.  I’d show the world that I am a member of the free-thinking, graduate-degree-holding, badass womyn’s club. Ugh, but if I did that then I’d have to bend over with a dust pan to clean it all up and that would suck.  So I said screw it and just decided to ignore the plant altogether.  No pruning, no watering, no love. By neglecting this one plant, I was failing to completely fulfill my housewifely duties and could therefore hold on to my identity as a strong, successful, educated woman.  And so, this now brown, ugly plant stood on the windowsill for visitors and passersby to see as a testament to my feminist chutzpa.

Until, one day, I realized two things.  First, taking on all the household duties was not an affront to my feminist predecessors.  Creating a fulfilling life, which for me will include a period of exclusive family focus (and the household duties that come with it) bookended by years of career focus is, in my opinion, living out the life of choice for which these feminists fought so hard.  The second and clearly more profound realization was that I was a moron and all this dead plant did was make me look like a dirty slob.  So I threw it in the trash and bought a shiny new fittonia plant at Home Depot.  Isn’t it pretty?

*No, I am not serious.

Momamasochists

My dear friend Kate and I have something in common besides being moms of three-year-old twins.  We’re insane.  For our kids’ birthday parties, we both decided to completely pass off the work to one of the 18,000 kiddie gyms on the Upper West Side.  They plan and run the party, they provide the space, they order the pizza and juice boxes, they make the goody bags, they clean up and all we have to do is sign the credit card receipt.  Piece of cake, right?  Not if you are a momamasochist like us.

Kate and I both could not leave well enough alone, and we decided that even though the gyms provide the birthday cakes, we would make them ourselves.  I figured it would be fun and it would probably save some money, so off I went to two supermarkets and Michael’s to get all the supplies.  Yup, three different stores where I spent over $100.  Since the cost saving objective was out the window, I said screw it and decided to make one cake for each kid.  At 8:00 PM on the night before the party, I started to decorate the cakes – a skull pirate and a princess.  The pirate actually wasn’t too difficult and came out pretty decent, but the princess…the damn princess.

As I decorated the princess cake, things seemed to be going well except for a few minor details along the way.  Here were the small issues I encountered:

  1. The sleeveless, v-neck dress I drew on her looked like it was from Loehmann’s.
  2. Her hair was poofed a la Peggy Bundy.
  3. The black icing I used for her eyes and eyelashes was a little too thick and runny.
  4. I messed up her lips and attempted to fix it by adding layers of pink until they were, shall we say voluptuous.
  5. Speaking of voluptuous, this princess needed a breast reduction.

I was so razor focused on getting all of the tiny details on this cake right that I didn’t step back and actually look at the whole thing until about an hour into decorating.  Based on my list of issues above, can you guess what I saw when I finally did take a moment to admire my creation?  You are correct, instead of a princess, I had made a cougar.  Not the four-legged, furry, lethal kind.  The two-legged, furry, 48-year-old, lethal kind.  I needed to fix this, and fast before Addy’s third birthday party was ruined by my old, slutty cake.  I did the best that I could do at midnight with my eyes crossing and my hands shaking, and shaved a few years off of the poor hag before heading to bed much later than I had planned.  It’s amazing I didn’t have nightmares that night because this is what slept in my fridge:

In the end, the kids loved the cakes and I felt I had done my part to make their third birthday, which they are sure to never remember, unforgettable.

Last weekend, we went to Kate’s kids’ birthday party and saw this homemade treasure chest cake that she slaved over as well:

Reflecting on our creations, she asked this question: is it extreme love or plain insanity that possessed us to make these cakes?  The answer is a little of both.

Negotiation Abomination

I am told that one of the many developments in the third year of life is the ability to negotiate.  When your kids turn three, suddenly your house turns into a Middle Eastern bazaar.

Kid: “Can I have a cookie?”

Parent: “Not until you clean up your toys.”

Kid: “How about I clean up one toy and then you give me the cookie?”

Parent: “No, clean up all of your toys and then I’ll give you the cookie.”

Kid: “How about I clean up two toys and then you give me the cookie?”

Parent: “No, clean up all of your toys and then I’ll give you the cookie.”

Kid: “How about I clean up no toys, scream at the top of my lungs for a half hour and then pee on the carpet, eh?”

Parent: “Fine, have the cookie.”

As this phenomenon has unfolded in my house, one thing has become abundantly clear.  My kids suck at negotiating.  I will never, ever hire them to represent me in any business deal or trial.  They will sell me down the river all day long.  If you don’t believe me, here are a few examples of what they regularly do to themselves.

1.  The Carrot Conundrum

We were sitting at the dinner table the other night at the end of the meal and Addy wanted ice cream for dessert.  I told her she could have ice cream if she ate two more baby carrots.  She replied, “No FOUR more baby carrots.” Not wanting her to feel like I was an easy kill, I replied “No, FIVE more carrots.”  “OK” she said, and that was that.  She ate the five carrots.  Such a sucker.

2.  The Peanut Potato Chips

While eating lunch at the café at school on Monday, one of Addy and Zack’s classmates came over to say “hi.”  She was enjoying a bag of potato chips and my kids instantly wanted in on the snacktion.  “Mommy, can we buy those potato chips too?” they asked.  “Not until you finish your lunch, but if you eat nicely we can get them.” I replied.  “No,” Zack said “we can’t get them because last time you said that they have nuts and I’m allergic to peanuts.”  Bam, discussion over.  Potato chips were off the table.  And what’s really nuts is that Zack doesn’t have a peanut allergy!  Just kidding, he does…but I never said that those chips have nuts in them.  He made that up for the sole purpose of sabotaging himself!

3.  The Bedtime Battle

Zack was being a “baby jerk”© at bedtime a few weeks ago, refusing to get in bed, whining, screaming and convulsing on the floor.  We tried multiple approaches to get him to calm down and go to sleep, but he refused so we entered threat stage.  “Get in bed or we’re going to take away Bla Bla.*” we said.  “No, take away Bla Bla AND my camera!” he yelled.  “If you don’t get in bed in five seconds, we’re going to take away all of your toys!” we threatened.  “No, take away all my toys and throw them in the garbage!” he spat back.  We decided to end it there for fear that his next move would be an offer to have us cut off his pinky finger.  I guess, technically this is an example of him using an out of the box tactic to win the negotiation but it was risky, very risky.

So if you see a commercial on at 3 AM advertising the law firm of Addy & Zack, Esq. do not, I repeat, do not hire them to represent you in the Verizon Wireless class action law suit settlement you just got an email about.  Knowing them, you’ll end up owing $5 million rather than collecting the $0.32 that Verizon overcharged you back in 1998.

© Z, 2011 (My friend Andrew coined this brilliant phrase and I use it at least three times a week.)

*Bla Bla is Zack’s favorite stuffed animal

Waiting for the Bomb to Drop…

There are two reasons why I am counting the seconds until one of my three-year-olds shouts out the word “F—K!”  The first is that no matter how many times I look into their adorable, innocent faces and the reality and sanctity of motherhood blows my mind to pieces, I keep accidentally cursing in front of them.  I wasn’t always a potty mouth.  I think it really started in my first job after college, where I worked 80 hours a week at an investment bank surrounded by a bunch of potty mouthed men.  I think if my office was censored and a beep went off every time someone cursed, it would have sounded more like an intensive care unit than a bank.  In fact, at my going away dinner when I left that job to head to business school, my group printed me a T-shirt that said, simply, “FYYFF”.  That stands for “F— you, you f—ing f—.”  It was their way of saying we love you and good luck at school.  I swear.

The second reason why I think I will hear a tiny-voiced f-bomb any minute is that my kids are obsessed with music.  For better or for worse, they’re not obsessed with Raffi or Barney.  They’re obsessed with Billboard’s Top 40.  Normally, this wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but what makes it dangerous is they know how to operate Spotify on my iphone better than I do.  Just the other day, I walked into the kitchen to find Addy and Zack having a dance party while Adam Levine and B.O.B. serenaded them with the explicit version of Payphone (one of their favorite songs in its clean form).  They were jumping up and down and giggling and having a blast, seemingly oblivious to the monsoon of foul language streaming into their ears.  If I were deaf, I would have sworn they were bouncing around to the theme song to Sesame Street.  It was then that I realized that Spotify’s gotta go.

While my potty mouth has certainly toned down over the years and I’ve since deleted Spotify from my phone, eliminating my kids’ unfettered access to a wonderland of bad words, I know the day is coming.  All I have to say is please don’t let the bomb drop at school or in front of other parents.  If that happens, I will be so f—ing embarrassed.

Eat Your Clucking Broccoli

When I became a mom three years ago, I quickly realized that this job requires proficiency at a large and varied number of skills.  Changing diapers without getting drenched, holding my breath for five minutes while I empty the diaper garbage, patting my head while rubbing my belly in a circular motion, you get the drift.  But it wasn’t until recently that I realized the most valuable skill I could ever have as a mom is the ability to act like a sleeping zoo animal.

No joke, I am required by my children to use this skill multiple times a day, every day without fail.  The two primary locations in which it is demanded are the kitchen and the bathroom.  In the kitchen, here is what goes down:  I put a well-balanced and delicious meal in front of Addy and Zack containing a fruit, a vegetable, a protein and pasta.  They transform into vacuum cleaners, point the hose directly at the pasta, press on, the pasta disappears off of their plates (no chewing, no hands, no swallowing), and then they transform back into humans.  For the next half hour, they initiate 847 different topics of conversation ranging from where Daddy is to how I cured Zack’s hiccups last night (a.k.a. seven weeks ago) by saying “Boo!”  They get up and sit down no less than 25 times, Addy falls off of her chair at least once, and they completely ignore me anytime I say “please eat your [fruit/vegetable/protein].”

One day I was so beaten down from my failed efforts to get them to eat anything nutritious that I put my head down on the table and closed my eyes.  Zack and Addy promptly started screaming at me “Wake up Mommy!!!! Wake uuuuuuuuuuuuuup!!” and then the idea hit me.  I told them that the only way to wake me up would be to eat a piece of chicken and then I fell back to sleep on the table.  Shockingly, they did it and I woke up with a little jump that made them giggle.  Then they begged me to do it again and again and I proceeded to con those suckers into eating their whole dinner.

Over time, my wake ups required more and more pizzazz.  I am now at the point where I pretend to be a sleeping animal instead of a sleeping mom.  When Addy and Ben take a bite of their food, I wake up, jump out of my seat and make any one of about 27 different animal noises.  My favorite is the giraffe because it requires the least amount of effort – munch, munch.  My least favorite is the elephant, which I make by pressing my lips together and blowing really hard to create a horrible noise that makes me feel like I am going to pass out right into their plates.

I’ll spare you the details of how this skill applies in the bathroom.  Just know that my kids can be even more chatty and unfocused on the pooper than they are at dinner and, trust me, the sleeping chimpanzee works better than a tab of ex-lax with a prune juice chaser.

Things I’d Kill Max for Doing…That I Just Did

Since my kids are three, I have a treasure trove of mishaps and fun times to talk about in this blog that I’ve collected over the last 36 months.  But screw all of that.  Let’s start with what happened yesterday afternoon at the park.

Among my numerous neuroses related to the kids, a close second to them getting sick/injured is my fear that they are not active and adventurous enough.  When they refuse to get up from my lap at a gymnastics birthday party, it takes an intensely imagined straight jacket and gag to keep me from shoving them onto the trampoline after berating them with a Bobby Knight-style “pep talk.”  When they ride their scooters two blocks to the playground without complaining, the voice in my head sounds like Aly Raisman’s parents at the 2012 London Olympic Floor Exercise Finals with a touch of Mega Millions winner.

So when Addy and Zack expressed an interest in jumping off a 1.5-foot bench onto the sidewalk, I briefly saw two plaques awarded to brother/sister athletes of the year, [insert NYC Suburb] High School, Class of 2028, then figured, “what’s the worst that could happen?” because I’d surely hold their hands while they jumped.  I said OK and told them they would get one jump each because we needed to go home to cook dinner.

Zack went first and took a soaring leap about three inches up and four inches out while grasping both of my hands like we were seared together with superglue.  Then Addy approached launch position and it all went to hell.  “Get away Mommy, I want to go by myself!” she commanded and before I could respond she jumped and landed, two feet on the floor.  Sure enough, after a two second beat, Zack began scrining (scream-whining), “I wanna do it by myself!  Addy got to do it by herself! I wanna do it by myself! Addy got to do it by herself! I wanna do it by myself!” 

Although Zack is less sure-footed than Addy, I threw caution to the wind and did what I needed to do to turn the volume down – I said OK.  After what seemed like an hour-and-a-half waiting for him to decide where on the bench he wanted to climb up, he shimmied to the edge and considered jumping.  His face and body language couldn’t have been any clearer – he was not sure he really wanted to do this by himself.  He bent his knees and threw his arms back but stopped short of jumping and told me that I needed to say “one, two, three, jump!”  I heeded his request and he jumped, but my instincts screamed “catch him!” and I did.   Fury filled his wide, innocent eyes and he screamed at me “I wanna do it by myself!  Don’t catch me!” then ran back to the bench for a third try.  He again tentatively made his way to the edge of the bench and struggled through a few false starts and a few unanswered “one, two, three, jumps.”  Then he did it.  Right there in the middle of the crowded NYC park, he presented me with the Moron-Mother of the Year award.  He curled himself into a watermelon, slowly tipped his body off the bench and landed square on the sidewalk, head-first.  The sound that his skull made as it met the ground was a cross between what it sounds like when you drop an egg and a 10-pound free weight on cement. 

I basically stood there watching, dumbfounded until the blood-curdling screaming of both Zack and Addy woke me from my daze of horror.  When I picked him up, I thought for sure blood would be spurting out of this forehead and shooting me in the face like that scene with the bicyclist from Monty Python.  Then I thought his eye would be dilated and he’d puke all over me (this is what my pediatrician told me to look out for the last 73 times I emailed her asking what to do when one of the kids bumped their heads).  Before I could even assess the situation, I decided the best course of action would be to call 911, give Addy to the homeless guy eating tuna fish on the bench across the way, throw the tricycle we had with us in the garbage can to my left and hire an attorney on behalf of Max to write up divorce papers that I would be served in the ER waiting room.  But then I looked up at Zack and he was totally fine.  No blood, no egg head, normal pupils, no projectile vomit.  Just some tears and an imprint of the sidewalk on his nugget. 

Addy and Zack were still crying as we walked home and I couldn’t calm them down until I did what any loving parent would do in this situation.  I started making fun of him, and it slayed! “Hey Zack, next time you jump off a bench, try landing on your feet instead of your head!” The crying transitioned to craughing, I was onto something.  Then I went all out and started calling him Humpty Dumpty and it was over, they were toast.

We called Max when we got home to tell him what happened and his reaction was akin to me telling him that I was making boiled chicken and beans for dinner or I had gotten 50 cents off a box of tampons as CVS today.  Clearly, had this happened on his watch, my reaction would have been similarly unruffled.  Psyche.  I would have yelled at him for 20 minutes, given him the cold shoulder the rest of the night, then I would have reminded him of the “mishap” seven times a day until Zack was 25 years old.  But I’m the mom so I’m allowed to react like that, right?  I mean, I’m the one who carried those two babies for 34.5 weeks, suffered through two months of bed rest , then had my abdomen cut open and my guts laid on a table to get them out.  I think I earned the right to overreact a little, no?

Thankfully, Max still loves me (I think) even though he knows I would have castrated him if he let Zack smash his head on a sidewalk.  Here is a list of other things that I’d kill Max for doing that I have actually done:

1.       Leaving the two-year-old kids in bath seats in the tub for “two seconds” while I threw their diapers in the Dekkor.  (They were in bath seats!)

2.       Giving them candy after they shit in their underwear. (Addy and Zack, not Max)

3.       Letting Addy and Zack chase pigeons down 72nd Street while I talk on the phone to my mom.  (What? I don’t need my mouth and ears to see them!)

4.       Telling Addy and Zack that there will be no TV on school mornings under any circumstances, then promptly turning on Dora when they run into our room at 6:30 AM.  (Me sleepy)

5.       Letting the kids stand up in the stroller, unbuckled, while I pushed them uphill with bags hanging on the handlebar, only to have the stroller give from the weight and fall backwards, rendering the kids completely upside down (still in the stroller) and hysterical.  (Oh, stop! They were fine!)