Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Letter to Monkey, My Beautiful Boy

Dear Monkey:

In about 4 months, if all goes well and according to our plans and hopes, you will be born into this world and into our family. I am a very very excited mama. I just can’t wait to meet you and hold you in my arms.

You seem to have quite a bit of energy! You move your little body around inside me all the time, and make your presence known (especially when I am sitting on the couch at night). From the sonograms I have seen so far, you really like rolling around, and waving your hands in the air, and kicking your feet a whole lot. I think you are really going to keep dada and me on our toes!

Your sister, Emmy, doesn’t quite seem to understand that you will be joining our family. I try to tell her that you are hiding in my belly, or sleeping inside me, but I know it is hard for her to really realize you are in there when she can’t see you. Sometimes she does try to share her pacifier with you, through my belly button. From the way she treats her favorite bears and other animals with so much love, I am sure she is going to be an incredible sister. I think she will want to hold you and kiss you all the time, and I am certain she will enjoy singing songs to you, like Twinkle Twinkle and the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Every night, before you go to bed, I plan to sing you one of MY favorite songs, called Beautiful Boy by John Lennon. Probably, if I sing it to you enough times, you will know the words by heart. My hope is that if I sing it to you enough times, you will also know the words IN your heart, and will always know how very much you are loved.

I love you, even now, with all my heart.

Beautiful Boy - by John Lennon

Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monster's gone
He's on the run and your daddy's (mama’s) here 

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy 

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It's getting better and better 


Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we'll both just have to be patient
'Cause it's a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes it's a long way to go
But in the meantime 

Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans 


Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It's getting better and better 

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Darling, darling, darling

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On Amusement Parks and I-Phone Obsessed Parents

So I was a brave mama and took Em to Six Flags Great Escape this past Saturday. Despite the fact that we got a later start than I had hoped (thanks to a big old nail that made its way through our car tire), we had a really great time.
Sure, there were some stressful moments. Lunch, for instance, was a bit chaotic. Trying to balance our tray of food, the stroller, my bags, and Emmy as we searched for a vacant table was quite challenging, to say the least. Then, as soon as we sat down at a table, Em grabbed and squeezed a packet of honey mustard sauce, so that it exploded all over her legs (which she then rubbed into her skin like it was sun lotion). Also, most of the apple juice from Em’s juice box somehow ended up in my lap, which of course was lots of fun. And did I mention the grilled chicken on the sandwich I had ordered was room temperature? Pretty much salmonella on a bun – so I decided NOT to eat it (I’d kind of like to make it through the pregnancy without a bout of food poisoning).  To top it all off, the meal cost us the equivalent of a mortgage payment. You gotta love amusement park vendor pricing.
But aside from our less than stellar lunch experience, the afternoon at the park went really smoothly and was, dare I say, actually kind of relaxing? Em and I went on several tot-appropriate rides, including a boat ride on a swan, a train ride through the woods (both moved at a snail’s pace, but Em didn’t seem to mind or get bored), a journey in a miniature-sized antique car, and a few spins around a big ferris wheel (gotta admit, I got a little scared on this one, since there was absolutely no harness or belt-like apparatus keeping us in our ferris wheel pod, and me and my squirmy 21 month old were swooped WAYYY high up in the air).
Em had the most fun in the amusement park’s little water park areas, where water spurted up from the ground at random intervals, and sprayed out of other apparatus in sudden bursts. She ran around, getting soaking wet, clapping her hands and dancing. I love seeing my daughter totally overwhelmed with happiness. There is just nothing like it.
It was a great time, really.
But I have to get something off my chest. Something that really bugged me.
On multiple occasions, throughout the park, I saw parents of children choosing to immerse themselves in their i-phones or blackberrys, rather than concentrating on having fun with their kids.
 In one instance, we were standing in a line, waiting to ride in one of the little miniature-sized antique cars. In front of us was a five year old(?) kid and his mother. The kid was SO excited about the ride they were about to go on. He was talking and jumping up and down and wiggling with anticipation.  He was talking about which color car he hoped he was going to drive. He was telling his mom that he was going to be brave and ride in a mini-car all by himself. And his mom pretty much IGNORED him the entire time. She was, instead, totally engrossed in some i-phone app, or maybe posting to her twitter account or something.
 I thought for sure she would at least put the phone away once they got on the ride, but nope! She had her eyes glued to her phone throughout the length of the ride. In my humble opinion, it was ridiculous.
I wish I could say I only saw this kind of parental behavior once during our visit, but I saw it multiple times.
I think back to when I was a kid, when we would (on very rare occasion) go to an amusement park as a family. A huge part of the fun of visiting an amusement park was being able to share the excitement, the thrills, and yes, even the post-ride feelings of nausea, with my parents. I just can’t imagine it would be any fun for a kid to visit a park and have a parent who is not just unenthusiastic, but COMPLETELY disengaged from the amusement park experience while there. It really just makes me sad to think about.
The irony is that the mommies and daddies who are on their i-phones and blackberries at the amusement park are probably tweeting: So much fun @GreatEscape with my kid! #amusementpark. But if they actually just got OFF their phones and participated in the excitement with their kids, they might ACTUALLY have some fun.

Monday, July 23, 2012


I didn’t sleep very well on Friday night. To be honest, I was up until 1 am, in bed, watching news coverage of the tragedy in Aurora (probably not the smartest thing for me to do).
These kinds of senseless killings definitely shake me to the core. It’s really hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that a young man can go SO COMPLETELY off his rocker that he is compelled to go on a killing spree, ending the lives of innocent people.
It freaks me out. A lot.
I know that the media is going to try and explain James Holmes’ to me, and will come up with a thousand different theories about his possible motives. But despite all of the professional explanations and shared “expertise,” in my heart it still won’t make any sense, or give me comfort in a “oh. Now I get it,” kind of a way. Because it is all terribly complicated, and there are some things that are just soulfully inexplicable.
While I was watching the news, Emmy was in bed with me, totally submerged in a deep slumber. Her face was perfectly peaceful, so blissfully unaware of the craziness in this world. I kept looking away from the t.v. set to watch Em sleep, and then turning from her sleeping face back to the horrors on the television.
My daughter is blessed with the innocence of a twenty-one month old. Her world is made up of stuffed animals that talk in funny voices, rides on dada’s shoulders, and happy music that encourages her to clap her hands and dance in circles. She has no reason to worry, because mama and dada are here for her, and will kiss her boo-boos, guide her away from danger, and hug her whenever she feels scared.
But how long do we have before the innocence fades? How many years before Em comes home from school, or from one of her friends’ houses, with a story about a mean person who did bad things? How long before she starts asking questions about things she hears adults talking about, or news stories she overhears?
I wish I could keep my daughter in a little bubble of innocence. I wish I could make it so that she would never have to experience adult-sized fear or sadness or anxiety.  I really wish I could somehow give her a life in a world that has no such thing as senseless killings.
But of course I can’t. All I can do, as a mama, is be there for Em when she realizes that the world is not all rainbows and Elmo. All I can do is hold Em’s hand as her scope starts widening, and she starts taking in the totality of the world around her. All I can do is listen to her, and talk to her, and try to explain things to her, but also let her know that sometimes things happen in the world that are simply inexplicable.
P.S. One of my high school friends, Ben Coccio, directed what I think is a stellar film, Zero Day, about two high school students planning an attack on their school (directed in the wake of the atrocity in Columbine). The film does a phenomenal job showing the multidimensionality and complexity of the situation, and is totally disturbing in a very sensitive, very amazing way. I would highly recommend it to everyone.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Can I Trade Dreams With You?

So last night I had another one of my crazy pants pregnancy dream nights, where I basically felt submerged in a David Lynchian world for the eight hours I was in bed. Now normally, I wouldn’t mind being stuck in a wonderworld of red velvet curtains and ambient noise-music, but the dreams I was having were just NO GOOD.
The dream I remember the most (you know, the kind of dream that just sticks to you like glue, even after you wake, and you go around the whole next day in a foggy, “did-that-really-happen” headspace) was about my husband leaving me, and taking Em with him, and it was SO freaking sad that I woke myself up crying. I remember during part of the dream I was at my grandparents’ former house in Long Island (only it wasn’t QUITE my grandparents’ home, because the staircase was a lot more twisty/scary), and I kept trying to call C (who had already left me heartbroken) on these various cell phones I was finding all around the house. None of the cell phones would work correctly! Each button I pressed came out a different number or a letter, which made it totally impossible for me to ever reach C. Then I heard my grandmother talking on the phone in a different room in a quiet tone.  When I found her (after an unnecessarily long search), I asked who she was speaking to and she said she was talking to Emmy. I basically lunged at the phone, grabbing it out of my grandmother’s hands, but when I put it to my ear, I could only hear a dial tone. At that moment I was overwhelmed with this complete feeling of dread, like I had lost my husband and daughter forever. That’s when I woke myself up in a fit of tears.
Yuck! I mean, seriously, brain. Can’t you be a little more kind to me? I’ve only got, like, four hours per night of good sleep these days, between Emmy’s waking, and my constantly needing to get up to pee, and adjusting my blankets to accommodate my ever-changing body temperature. It would be nice if you would just throw me a bone and let me have dreams about pastel ponies and balloon rides and enormous bowls of cereal.
So, folks, did you have a particularly good dream last night that you might be willing to trade with me? I’m hoping you might be able to give my brain some less disturbing thoughts to work with tonight, during my four good hours of sleep. J

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Increasing My Odds

Prior to her breast cancer diagnosis, my mother had been quite vigilant about doing breast self exams, and getting routine mammograms. It didn’t help.
My mom died about a year and a half ago, after an 18 year battle with breast cancer that slowly but surely metasticized to her brain, liver, and other organs. Though my mother tried her best to make the most of her 18 years of survival, much of her post-diagnosis time and energy were spent getting used to one medication or another, visiting doctors, undergoing surgeries, recuperating from surgeries, applying for medical trials, and anxiously anticipating various test results.
I watched my mother morph from a super high-energy (often TOO high energy) woman who rode a motorcycle, danced wildly at concerts, cooked up a storm, and was constantly involved in multiple craft projects, into a woman who had no appetite, could barely walk across a room, and who didn’t even have the energy or focus to read a book.
Listen. I REALLY don’t want that to happen to me.
In the fall of 2011, about six months after my mother passed away, I decided to get genetically tested to find out if I am BRCA mutation positive (a mutation that puts people at higher risk for breast and other cancers). To be honest, I have lived most of my adult life absolutely convinced that I AM BRCA positive, and that I was destined to face the same uphill battle my mother faced since her diagnosis at age 44.
Deciding to go through with the test was not difficult. Worst case scenario? I would get affirmation of what I already expected was true. Best case scenario? I’d be floored to find out I did NOT have the genetic mutation, and would experience a sense of extreme relief.
So when my genetic counselor gave me the news, and told me that I was indeed BRCA 1 positive, I was actually pretty emotionally prepared. I don’t remember if I even cried when I heard the results (though I am pretty sure I had one or two emotional breakdowns shortly afterward). I really had expected the results.
Both the genetic counselor and my OB/GYN tried to spin the information in as positive a light as possible. They told me it was NOT a death sentence and, in a way, was actually a very POSITIVE thing to get these results. Knowing that I am BRCA positive, I can now better inform myself about the choices that are available to me,  and ways I can try to avoid getting cancer, despite my genetic predisposition. The doctor and counselor provided me with lots of helpful information, and I asked as many questions as I could about my risks, and about the preventative measures I could take to decrease my risks.
So now, at the age of 36, I am planning to get a preventative mastectomy. As a mom and a wife, my priority is to be there for my kids and my husband for as many years as I can be, and I am going to do whatever it takes to make sure those years can be spent cancer free.  
My thoughts and feelings about my impending surgery (which I am now planning for the summer/fall of 2013) definitely run hot and cold.
Sometimes I think of the mastectomy as a blessing in disguise  - after all, having nursed Emmy for 18 months, and now planning to nurse my baby-to-be for at least 3 – 6 months, I know my “girls” will have seen better days. I am sure there are plenty of nursing mamas out there who wouldn’t mind a little “lift” in the boobage area.
But let’s face it. This is no small “lift” we’re talking about. This surgery is total removal and replacement. This is “bye bye, girls! Hello, squishy pouches!” and two to three weeks of post-surgery recovery. And then ANOTHER surgery a few weeks later. With two small kids in the house. It’s probably NOT going to be a very fun time, is it? No matter HOW perky my boobs end up being.
But the bottom line? I need to do this. I need to make sure that I can live long enough to see my daughter - and hopefully my son - mature into an adulthood, and to be there for them along the way. If it means adding a few more scars to my body, so be it. If it means saying “Ta! Ta!” to my ta-tas, so be it. I just  need to do what I can to increase my odds.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just Singin' in the Rain

One of the best parts of being a mommy is being able to relive my favorite childhood moments AGAIN, only in the company of my daughter and husband.
Yesterday, after seemingly eons of hot days that have scorched our lawn grass into a bed of straw, the skies became super thick with clouds, and we were blessed with multiple rain showers.
Em and I slept through a good amount of the rain (I took a two hour nap on both Saturday and Sunday! Who am I? And where did my former non-napping-self disappear to?) But shortly after we woke up, the showers started again.
At first, Em and C sat by our living room window, listening to the sound of the rain and taking in that unbelievable fresh-rain-on-pavement-and-grass scent through the window screen. I almost sat down with them, but decided instead to open the front door, wanting to feel the rain drops on my hand (and knowing that Em would love sticking her hand into the stream of water that was coming off of our roof).
Em was definitely excited about touching the rain. She squealed a little and did her happy jig (which seriously made my soul melt). And she looked like she REALLY wanted to run out of the house, straight into the puddles fast forming at the end of our driveway.
So WE DID. Despite the fact that Em was in a cute little outfit, and I had chicken waiting to be roasted for dinner, and C was getting kinda hungry, we all ran out into the warm rain, where we splashed in puddles and let our bodies get soaking wet.
It was awesome. It was JUST as awesome as I remember it being, back when I was a kid. Seeing the ear-to-ear grin on Emmy’s face, and watching her do a little toddler rain dance in our front yard, getting her legs full of wet grass and dirt, and hearing her say “this FUNNNN!!”(using FUN in proper context for maybe the first time ever) was absolutely priceless.
Eventually we DID go back inside the house, and I toweled Em off and got her into a dry outfit. When the next downpour arrived, about 30 minutes later, Em REALLY wanted to go back outside again, but I heard C saying “no more outside. You are in dry clothing. We can look at the rain through the window.”
And as much as I respected his dada decision, and would never dream of stepping on his parental toes,  I really kinda wanted to go back outside for another rain dance myself.

P.S. The other great thing about yesterday? Em made C wear a dolly dress on his head for the majority of the day. I must say (though of course I am terribly biased on these matters) that I think C looked uniquely handsome in the dolly-dress-hat, and that the pink satin and lace trim was quite complimentary to his complexion. :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

No, I Am Not an Oompa Loompa. I’m Just 5’ Tall and Pregnant.

There are those who look absolutely beautiful and stunning when pregnant. And then there are those who, like me, look just like an Oompa Loompa.
I try not to be a hater. I really do. I try not to wish evil on the lovely ladies who somehow make it through nine months of gestation with just a tiny little watermelon of a belly sticking out of their bodies, and manage to keep their arms, legs, and behinds unaffected by pregnancy.
It’s just that sometimes I DO kind of hate them for showing up at the park and at the supermarket at the same exact time I do, flaunting their cute little preggo bods, while I waddle to and fro, feeling like I should be singing a song about Willy Wonka’s chocolate bars. Not fair at ALL.
It’s not for lack of trying on my behalf. I really AM making efforts to have a healthy pregnancy. I eat sensibly and healthfully, staying away from sweets, trying to balance my proteins and my carbs, taking my vitamins and drinking lots of water. I’ve been walking a few miles three or four days a week, and taking a once-a-week fitness class geared towards Senior Citizens (it’s totally pregnancy friendly, and the people who attend the class are warm and welcoming, even though I kind of stick out like a sore thumb among the crowd). And yet, the pregnancy pounds creep up, turning my body into a bowling ball with hands and feet.
I’ve tried to do other things to make me feel better about the way I look. I’ve bought some really lovely maternity clothing – lots of comfy, pretty tops that I think I might even wear post-pregnancy. It helps. Kind of.  But most of the time I just feel like an Oompa Loompa dressed in a cute top and stretchy pants.
I DO try to not let it get to me. I try not to listen to the kind individuals who choose to remind me EVERY DAY that I look super duper pregnant and that my belly is SOOOO round (thanks, guys. I really appreciate that). I try not to pay too much attention when Em points at my midsection and says “Mama… BIIIIGGGG belly,” and laughs.
I try instead to focus on the kind words of one of the elderly ladies who attended my “Silver Sneakers” exercise class last week. She had asked me if I had already had the baby, because I looked much SMALLER than I had a few weeks before. When I told her I had a loooong ways to go before the birth, she told me I looked fantastic!  I nearly kissed her on the mouth, I was so grateful. But of course, I also realized she was a good 90-something years old, and that her eyesight was… um… let’s say LESS than perfect.
Mostly, I try to focus on the fact that hopefully, in a little over four months from now, a little (or maybe big, the way things are going) baby boy will emerge from this Oompa Loompa body of mine, and that will make it all very much worthwhile.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Yes, My Child. Your Bed IS a Hamburger. Not-So-Bright Ideas for Kids Rooms, Part Deux

I promise I will stop after this. But, seriously??? I can't imagine that any of the designers of the rooms below ACTUALLY HAVE children. If they HAD children, they would KNOW how absolutely ridiculous these ideas are.

Ok, I don't know about you. But bedtime at our house is complicated enough. Emmy is hesitant to get into her crib, and cries when I or my husband leave her in her room by herself. I can only IMAGINE what her reaction would be if I tried replacing her crib with this creative installation.
"Em, go ahead... crawl inside the angry dinosaur's mouth... watch out for those sharp teeth, now. You may get killed... Phew, you made it! Ok, it's time for night-night... I'm going to turn off the light and leave you all by yourself with the angry dinosaur"

 In seeing this Claes Oldenburg inspired hamburger bed, I give cudos for creativity... but the REALITY of this bed is that every night, your child would be smothered to near-death underneath a huge hamburger bun, a giant slice of american cheese, and layers of tomatoes and lettuce.
And think about the long term effects... every time you took your child to a barbecue or a burger joint, they would lie down, put one half of their burger underneath them, the other half on top of them, and they would fall asleep. SO not cool.

 Call me crazy, but I just get creeped out to no end by the ropes dangling from these jungle-like trees. They kind of look like nooses, don't they? And if the whole point is to simulate a rainforest, what is your child going to do? Swing from the ropes right smack into their bedroom walls? E-gads. Let's move on.

Yes, this is TOTALLY amazing, and whoever actually managed to build a BOAT in the top corner of their child's room should get a serious reward. But after they are given a reward, they should be carted off to the looney bin for encouraging their child to sleep so frikkin' high up off the ground.
Plus besides, the child living in this bedroom might develop the notion that they are indeed a pirate, and may start talking like a pirate, using words like "matey" and "booty" all the time. I don't know if I could handle that. 

I love Maurice Sendak. I love the book Where the Wild Things Are. And I hope that some day, Emmy will love that book as much as I do. But I still think this room is super crazy pants. Because if I were to replicate this room, it would take me approximately 9 years to paint the walls of the Where the Wild Things Are room in such beautiful, fine detail. And the minute I would be done painting, and would finally be enjoying the fruits of my labor, Emmy would tell me she changed her mind and now she wants all of her walls painted with life-sized portraits of Justin Bieber (or whomever becomes "the next Justin Bieber").

Now, if you have creative but at least somewhat practical tips on decorating a bedroom for two kids, please share! I am definitely open to any ideas that do not include hamburger buns, giant dinosaur mouths, or nooses.

Who Me? Really? Me? You Really Really Mean It?

When I started blogging late last year, my main motivation was to record and capture in words my experience as a mother, my relationship with my daughter, and my observations about the person
Emmy is, even as a tiny tot. I never intended for blogging to be a venue through which I would make new friends, even though that is sort of par for the course when it comes to using social media.
But I have truly been floored by the wonderful people I have met through blogging. Whether through online blogger forums, such as Blogher, or through miscellaneous blogging happenstance, I've been able to make fast friends with many amazing individuals. It's been incredibly rewarding.
And now, one of my bloggy buddies, Isabel Anders has been so kind as to bestow a blog award upon me. So cool! And in the kind and generous spirit in which it was given, I will gladly share the award with other bloggers whom I adore.

As a recipient of this award, I agree to:
1. Thank the blogger who gave it to me and share the link back to her awarding blog.  [See above.]
2. Name five fabulous moments in my life.
3. Name five things that I love.
4. Name five things that I hate.
5. Pass the award on to five deserving bloggers.

My five fabulous moments (in no particular order):
Going apple picking with my husband on our first unofficial date, and feeling myself falling madly in love during the course of one afternoon. Totally remember it like it was yesterday.
Winning an award as a graduating student in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Giving birth to my daughter (and really every amazing mommy moment ever since)
My wedding day (hello, obvious!)
Finding out I was preggers with baby number two! And then finding out it is a boy!

Five things I love:
My family (near, far, immediate, and extended)
Ketchup (don't judge)
Inspiring artwork (see my pinterest page for details)
Kisses (especially from the hubby)
Walks in the woods... or on the beach... or up a mountain... or around the neighborhood at twilight...

Five things I hate:
People checking their phones CONSTANTLY while socializing with other people (unless they are ACTUALLY brain surgeons, or the president or something else super duper important... )
Driving in bad weather (I'm not good at driving in good weather, so you can only imagine...)
Really really long winters
Student loans
Illnesses of all sorts

Five deserving bloggers to whom I pass on this award:
My dear friend at
The totally inspiring mama at
The always honest, very brilliant woman behind
My cousin, an unbelievable blogger, at
Sarah Knight, one of the super writers at

There are lots of others, but that's at least a start!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Bed Killed Mickey Mouse! And Other Not-So-Bright Decorating Ideas for Kids

So I guess the nesting urge has started to kick in. C was a DOLL and removed the queen sized mattress from Em's room this past weekend, to make room for crib #2. I may be jumping the gun a little, since I am only just shy of 20 weeks pregnant, but I've also heard from many sources that if I have enough energy to deal with redecorating and organizing the kids' nursery NOW, I should just DO IT. Because who knows? In a few weeks time I may be feeling like utter crap again, and I don't know if I can (or want to) fully rely on C and Emmy for moving furniture, painting walls, and boxing up old toys and clothes.

In looking for inspiration on how to revamp Em's room to accommodate both her AND her future little brother, I have happened upon some highly ridiculous nursery design concepts, which I would like to share with you, for your amusement:

Um, no thank you. I mean, I LOVE wooden furniture. I just don't love wooden PUMPKIN furniture. Especially wooden pumpkin furniture with windows that hover a good few feet above hardwood flooring. Because THAT, my friends, is an injury waiting to happen. 

I don't watch Sponge Bob Squarepants, but even if I did, I would have to think that my love of Sponge Bob and his zany little friends would not drive me to insanity, which is obviously what happened to this little tike's mom and/or dad. I can imagine the child saying "mommy, I think I have ENOUGH Sponge Bob stuff in my room now," and the mom responding "Oh no, my child. There is NEVER enough Sponge Bob stuff."

Simply because I would not want my child to get a concussion each and every day, upon rising from their bed. See how much I love my children?

This room is like the total OPPOSITE of Sponge Bob room. When I look at THIS room, I imagine the child saying "dada, can't I have just ONE toy in my room? Just one?? I promise I won't actually PLAY with it!" And as if the starkness isn't enough, the forboding existential question mark painted on the wall above the bed is a surefire way to create deep-seeded, lifelong anxiety for junior. I imagine Woody Allen's childhood room may have looked a little something like this.

Emmy loves Mickey Mouse. But nope. Not even if we actually LIVED in Disney World, or were EMPLOYED by Disney World. Not even if our children's room was FULLY SPONSORED by Disney World. Not even if I woke up one morning to realize that two gigantic mouse ears had sprouted from my head.
I think the bed is especially creepy, cause it kind of looks like the bed landed right on top of Mickey Mouse and killed him. Just sayin'.

Stay tuned. I will probably find lots more hellaciousness to share.

Yup. That Was Me. Dancing at a Care Bear Concert.

We had a fantastic family day this past Sunday.
In the morning, we got hopped up on muffins, played outside, and got covered in mud. Em LOVES our garden hose, and enthusiastically helps water our outdoor plants (and our miserable failure of an attempt at a raised bed garden). Somehow, watering the plants always transitions into an impressive muddy extravaganza, resulting in Em looking like a Woodstock Music Festival attendee.
Em then took a bath, and she and I had a nice little walk around the neighborhood. I was then able to coerce Em into taking an earlier nap than usual (both C and I joined her in a little family snooze fest), so that we could all go spend some quality time at the GE-sponsored Kids Day, which was taking place at the Empire Plaza in Albany.   
It was a glorious day out – sunny but not too hot (which seems to be a small miracle this summer), with a bit of a breeze blowing. Many families were taking advantage of the good weather and all the free activities available at the festival, but it didn’t feel overcrowded or claustrophobic (we DID arrive rather late, so it may have been much more crowded earlier on in the day). There was a HUGE line for the balloon sculpting clown - god bless the clown for having the patience to make balloon animals for hours upon hours upon hours -  but luckily Em is too young to really notice or care for balloon animals, and we were able to avoid the craziness. Most other activities had little to no lines.
Among the revelations of the day: apparently our daughter absolutely ADORES human-sized doggies, chickens, and bunnies (and by that I mean the brave/idiotic souls who dress up in heavy costumes on warm summer days and allow kids to hug them, squeeze them, and take endless photos with them). Whenever Em saw a 6 foot tall animal character walking around the plaza, she squealed with delight and said “Emmy wanna touch _______ (fill in the blank with whatever animal she had her eyes on)”. I was a little skeptical of how she would actually behave when we approached the character, but Em was super friendly and sociable, giving “high fives,” and hugs, and even talking to the costumed creatures. It was pretty friggin’ cute.
The headline act of the entire day was a live performance by the ever popular Care Bears (and when I say “ever popular,” I mean EVER popular. Because I am pretty sure Care Bears were trendy back when I was a kid, so many many moons ago). Watching the reaction of all the two, three, and four-year-olds in the audience, I could only describe it as a mini version of Bieber Fever. Children danced, swooned, and cried out as the pastel trio serenaded the crowd with classics, such as “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. If the Care Bears asked the kids to jump, the kids jumped. If the Care Bears asked the kids to spin, the kids spinned.  Let me tell you, it was a good thing the Care Bears did NOT ask the kids to smack their neighbors or throw their parents’ money on to the stage. We could have had a MAJOR catastrophe on our hands.
If you and I had been having a conversation three years ago, pre-Emmy, and you had asked me if I could ever picture myself doing an enthusiastic hokey pokey dance at a Care Bear concert, I most certainly would have laughed out loud in your face. But what can I say? Becoming a mom has turned me into a hokey pokey enthusiast, and a woman who actually kind of enjoys watching pudgy bears dancing on a stage. After all, it makes my daughter happy.  And that’s really my main focus right now.
After we left the Kids Day event, C and I took Em to Hoffman’s Playland, which, if you are unfamiliar, is basically a semi-decrepit teeny amusement park located in back of a car wash business. It’s a local landmark of sorts, and is totally geared towards the 36” – 42” tall crowd. It’s kind of perfect (in a low-culture, just-for-the-fun-of-it way), in that you don’t have to deal with the long lines of a REAL amusement park, and you pay by the ride, so you can go on as few or as many (of the few) rides available without feeling like you have to make your financial investment worthwhile.
So, Emmy LOVES the choo choo train at Hoffman’s. LOVES. The train goes at a speed of about 2.5 miles per hour (I swear I saw ants crawling at a speedier pace), and makes two loops through the park. At a certain point during the loop, the train goes through a teeny tunnel, which the kids are fond of (especially if you make spooky noises to accompany the tunnel’s darkness), but that’s as about as exciting as it gets, folks.
We rode the oh-so-thrilling train ride three times. Three. Long. Times. And I am pretty sure Em would have liked to go on the train another 24 times, had we not bribed her away from the park with the promise of ice cream.
Riding a very very slow mini train six times around a dilapidated amusement park is another one of those things I probably never would have imagined myself doing in my pre-Emmy days. But every time that train blew its whistle, Em jumped up and down in her seat, and looked as happy as a clam. And for that reason alone, I will be returning to Hoffman’s, and that snail-paced choo choo,  at least five or six more times this summer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sometimes Choosing a Baby Name is Actually Easy…

I mean, I have heard about the terror parents have gone through in choosing baby names. It sounds very difficult and quite horrible.
Mama wants a cute, hip name that simultaneously honors her favorite childhood rock band AND her beloved grandmother. Dada wants a short, basic name that other kids won’t make fun of (i.e., doesn’t rhyme with “poopy”) and is easy for him to remember. Or maybe vice versa. Either way, the process turns into an argument, which then turns into a battle, which then, after weeks and months of verbal arm wrestling, results in mama getting her way because, after all, she’s the one CARRYING the baby for nine months while dada uses her as a perpetual designated driver. And if mama doesn’t LIKE the baby name, she might just keep the baby inside her FOREVER.
I’m glad to say C and I have NOT had any problem choosing our children’s names.  I give myself a little credit, for having self-edited my list of favorite baby names BEFORE approaching the subject matter with my husband. When I was pregnant with our first baby, I KNEW C wouldn’t approve of “Liberty Moon” or “Everly Song” or “Madly Fawn” or other such beautiful yet slightly crazy names.  But one day, when I was a few months pregnant, I felt good about presenting  C with the idea of “Ember,” as our daughter’s first name, and was pleasantly surprised when C said he actually really LIKED the name.  And that was it. Done deal.
Now rest assured, if my husband had asked that we instead name our child “Pilot Inspektor Riesgaf Lee” (Jason Lee, what were you thinking???), or “Diva Thin Muffin” (Frank Zappa’s poor child… what the heck IS a diva thin muffin anyway? A delicious yet low calorie, totally decked out breakfast treat?), I would have had issues.  We would have had to do some serious compromising. I probably would have promised to do all of the dishes and laundry for 15 years in exchange for NOT naming them some whacky pants name.
(Hmmm… this MAY actually be a good idea for those of you who will be having children in future years. Come up with some totally off-the-wall, nut job name for your kid-to-be, pretend you are ABSOLUTELY attached to the name, and then use that as leverage to get your partner to agree to many years of servitude in exchange for never uttering your suggested name in the household ever ever again for as long as you both shall live).
With our second child, we had our girl name AND our boy name picked out within the first eight weeks of my pregnancy, and no arguments were involved. I swear! We had our boy’s first name “on reserve” from  when I was pregnant with Emmy – it’s a name that C and I both love and agree is strong yet ethereal, and simple but not TOO easy. Our girl name alternative was “Delilah,” mostly based on the fact that the song “Hey There Delilah” was one of the first songs we ever danced to together.  I was kind of looking forward to having a daughter named Delilah, but am totally happy with the name of our son-to-be.
(I can’t share the first name, because even though many of my family members and friends already know the name, there are some family members who are sort of superstitious about this kind of stuff, and prefer to only learn the name upon the baby’s birth. But you can bet your sweet bippy I will be posting our baby’s birth announcement online as soon as my little fingers have access to a keyboard, post-baby birth).
We decided to modify our son’s middle name just a few weeks ago. The boy middle name we had planned for baby #1 was “Ash,” but after having 18 months to ponder that middle name, I began to have doubts. I told C I thought the name was a little on the morose side.  And plus besides, Ash seems like it would be a good name for a contestant on The Bachelorette, but not for our baby.
When my mom-in-law and I were at my 13 week ultrasound together, and discovered we would be having a son/grandson, I told her the name we had picked out for the baby, but that we weren’t too thrilled with the middle name. Mom immediately suggested that we use Henry as the middle name, since it is a family name that has been passed down like a tradition through C’s father ‘s side of the family. I loved the idea, and when I called C after the appointment to ask him if the change of name met his approval, C was equally enthusiastic.
So now we have our son’s name fully picked out, and neither C nor I have any war wounds or scars to show for it. Yay, us!
Now if only we could agree on who’s turn it is to do laundry… J