Saturday, September 24, 2011


This June will mark the 12th  year of blissful union for me and Husband.  This not only means that those who took the ‘under’ on us making it 10 years had to pay up, but also tells me that we’re doing something right.  Or at least enough right that we are able to tolerate each other’s company on a relatively consistent basis.

When we got married, I remember being told “never go to bed angry.”  Um, ok, not to burst any bubbles, but that’s crap.  First, I like sleep.  A lot.  Also, I’m not especially one for big heartfelt conversations.  I don’t need a good cry every so often and I don’t complain with the girls about how silly those men are with their football and other sports-related things. 

So, yeah, talking it out isn’t something that really works for us.  I can get my message across just as well by huffily pulling ALL the covers over to my side of the bed and crocodile-rolling myself into a puffy cocoon of downy anger.  And then we wake up fine and life goes on.

However, there are times when even my black heart takes a bit of time for sentimentality.  Like last night, for example.  I was home sick all day convalescing and finally taking in the magic that is “Mad Men.”  (Seriously – I would have been lost as a woman in the 1960s.  “Call me “sweetheart” one more time.  Go ahead.  I’ll cut you with your stupid skinny tie.”)  Once Husband got back from another running-related event, I filled him in on the bulk of Season 1 as we finished out the first DVD set.  (“Yes, he’s the boss.  No, not him.  HIM.  Yes, the boss.  Of the AD AGENCY.  No, he’s not sleeping with her.  He’s sleeping with HER.  Come on now, people, pay attention.”)

Now because he still has more than his fair share of a sixth grade boy’s maturity level, Husband became quite entranced by the wool-blend dresses worn by the secretaries on the series.  He decided that the word of the evening would therefore be “bum.”  Yes, Husband spent a good 2 hours saying “bum” every 2 minutes and giggling to himself. 

I’m all for a good fanny joke, but I just wanted to sit and watch the fine character development on the show.  And I had invested about 12 hours in Season 1 at this point, so there was no going back.  I tried the patented Teacher Look.  Since Husband is a teacher himself, he was immune. 

Then I started getting kicky.  Nothing.  (“Bum.  Hee hee hee.”  KICK  “Ow!.......Bum.  Hee hee hee.)

Finally, mercifully, it was time to go to sleep.  (Wait, what?  Why didn’t I just turn off the show earlier if he was bothering me?  Um, hello?  Have we met?  Talked about the OCD-ish need I have to finish stuff like that?  OK, then.)

My head hit the pillow and just as I closed my eyes, I heard it.

“Bum.”  (giggle giggle giggle)

Crocodile roll, activate.


I was all prepared to go to sleep when I remembered.  No, not that I shouldn’t go to bed angry.  Something much more basic.

“Crap, you have an invitational tomorrow, don’t you?”


“OK, well just in case the bus crashes and you die, the last words I say to you can’t be calling you an idiot.  I love you.”

“Love you too, Al.”

And that’s our secret – infantile comments with more than a splash of gallows humor. 

Oh, and a pledge when we got married that we’re only in it for 50 years.  Then we can both trade in for younger models.  Only 38 ½ years left!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Running on empty

Yesterday the Kiddos and I put on our school colors, gathered up signs and trekked over to cheer the cross country team Husband coaches on in a big meet.  The girls did great and the Kiddos were excellent little cheerleaders.  Their favorite chant was to encourage passing runners to “Work it!  Work it!  Work it!”  as The Boy added a jaunty little hip toss to the cheer.  It was classic. 

(I’d make a Pretty Woman reference, but as Toddlers & Tiaras  has that market cornered, I’ll hold back.  OK seriously, though – a woman dresses her toddler as Julia Roberts’ character for the ‘outfit of choice’ portion of the competition.  You know the one, the blue/white dress from the first scene of the movie?  Complete with the thigh-high patent leather boots.  And the woman’s response to the [wholly appropriate and warranted] uproar?  That the dress covered her daughter more than most of the bathing suits in the competition.  Um…..OK, but that’s not as much the issue as the fact that you dressed your toddler up like a hooker.  But thanks for playing.  Have fun making the beehive wig for the next competition when you tart your kid up like Amy Winehouse.  You’re right, completely appropriate, because she was a great singer and all.)

Overall, the Kiddos did great yesterday for what amounted to 90 minutes of hanging around with sporadic bursts of cheering.   The same cannot be said, however, for the last time we went to support Husband in this whole running thing.

Husband belongs to that special group of insane individuals who think it’s perfectly reasonable and acceptable to run 26.2 miles at a spurt.  Insanity aside, he’s actually quite good at it.  He ran the NY Marathon as his first and, just two marathons later, qualified for Boston.

Because I’m nothing if not supportive (Husband: snort), the Kiddos and I made the trip up to Beantown to cheer Husband on.  At the time, Girl #1 was 9, Girl #2 was 6 and The Boy was 4.  Yeah, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking either.

The day started off great.  Husband left us heartwarming sappy notes about how we’d all be with him on every mile, blah blah blah, and we watched the start of the race on TV.  Husband projected his finish to be at a bit over 3 hours (insane!), so the time came for us to head a few blocks over to the race route and stake out a viewing spot.  The four of us headed out, psyched to see Husband in action.

Now, the Boston Marathon is run on Patriot’s Day every year.  (Great when you live in Boston, because many places give the day off.)  Patriot’s Day falls in mid-April.  Which, for those of you that may not have lived in that great city, just grazes the tail end of winter. 

I remembered this, but my layering skills were not what they were when we actually lived in Mass.  One pair of gloves just wasn’t enough.  Windbreakers and sweatshirts were rendered useless in about 20 minutes.  We had a good 90 minutes to wait and already the Kiddos were complaining about the cold.

We had a nice spot about 2 blocks from the finish and right up against the railing.  But the Kiddos failed to appreciate the prime location.  Nor did they really care when the elite male and female runners came by. 

Girl #2 gave up and started full-on meltdown mode after about 45 minutes.  Her coping strategy became crouching on the sidewalk and gripping the bars of the cattle-chute barrier, staring forlornly across the street and whimpering for her father.  She eventually started inching her way into her jacket, to conserve her warmth.

Girl #1 tried for some height.  She stood on a lamppost pedestal and refused to come down.  Ducky.  But at this point, I was in survival mode.  I could reach her and she wasn’t screaming, so I let the kid check out the world from a different perspective for a while. 

The Boy lasted the longest but also melted down in spectacular fashion.  You see, Husband didn’t come by in the 3 hours he anticipated.  He didn’t come by in 3:15.  Nope, the Boston course kicked Husband’s butt so bad that it added an extra 30 minutes to his usual time.  And, in so doing, an extra 30 minutes to my own personal Hell.

Those last 60 minutes were sheer torture.  Girl #1 up on a lamppost, thinking every guy that runs by in a white jersey is Husband.  (“There he is!!!  Wait, no…..THERE HE IS!!!!  Wait, no.  THERE!!!  Wait, no.”  For an entire hour.)  Girl #2 is huddled on the concrete with her head turtled into her coat, looking like an oddly little homeless woman. 

The Boy decided to make up in volume what he lacked in stature.  He spent the final hour crumpled on the ground, shrieking for his father.  I still owe apologies to the good people around us who endured “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDYYYYYYYYYYYY…. I WAANTTTTT DAAAAAAADDDDYYYYYY!!!!” for an hour straight. 

The good people around us did what they could.  They asked what Husband was wearing and started scanning the passing runners for the white jersey with our alma mater, Lehigh, on the front.  Honestly, I think they just wanted to get rid of us.

Husband had quite the welcoming committee.  When he passed, not only did the clouds lift and the trumpets sound, but a good 20 people started yelling “LEHIGH!! LEHIGH!!! THERE! THERE! LEHIIIIGH!!!” 

The Kiddos calmed, we waved…..and he was gone.  A good 2 hours of meltdowns for 5 seconds of a blur of white jersey.

In the end, I think my 2 hours in Dante’s seventh layer of Hell washes with his 26.2 miles. 

Either way, Husband got to drive home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Whistling in the dark

I can’t remember how we handled the 3-hour life cycle of newborns. I remember getting down on our knees and practically weeping the first time the Kiddos slept more than four hours at a stretch, but I blank on the particulars of those first few months. I think the human brain blocks out the blinding and utterly incapacitating exhaustion that comes with being a new parent so the human race can continue.

Last night, however, gave me a little reminder of those first few months – namely how the brain will play amazing tricks on you at 2 a.m. when you wake up from a dead sleep to tend to a child.

Mommy intuition is an amazing thing. I can out-sense any baby monitor. Even years later, the slightest noise jolts me out of bed. I’m halfway to the Kiddos’ rooms before I realize I’m up. (Husband sleeps. Not a twitch, not a movement. An immobile slumbering rock. The Force is not strong with this one.)

My Spidey sense has come in very handy – I’ve prevented puke-covered sheets and headed off colds at the pass. However, it does have some drawbacks. Namely, The Boy tends to talk in his sleep. And laugh in his sleep. And SHOUT in his sleep. Just for kicks, I once started talking back when The Boy was yelling about everyone else getting a watch but him. We had a full-blown argument. Yeah, some of that will probably stick in his subconscious but the fun of arguing was a sleeping 5 year old about nonsense outweighed my concerns about permanent psychological damage. (Bells going off – maybe THIS is why he’s so obsessed with the time?)

Anyway, last night I awoke to a shriek at 2 a.m. The Boy, shouting for Girl #2 in what my keen senses characterized as a scared tone. Nightmare. OK, I can handle this. Let the rocking and back rubbing commence, I’ll be back to bed in 5.

I stumbled into The Boy’s room ready to soothe and comfort. (Yes, despite my general state of irritation, I’m surprisingly maternal. I can heal boo-boos with a kiss like nobody’s business.) Went over to The Boy’s bed and….nothing. Empty.

No problem, I thought. The Boy often has sleepovers, he’s probably in Girl #2’s room. I lurched across the hall into Girl #2’s room. Another empty bed.

At this point, my brain made the executive decision to stop working. Instead of piecing together the fact that it just heard The Boy yell with the fact that there hadn’t been any other noises in the house, the ol’ gray matter made the (at the time) wholly rational leap to the conclusion that The Boy may have been kidnapped.

I rushed back into our room, panicking. Kidnapped – KIDnapped! I must stress again that I had completely convinced myself that this had happened. Again, 2 a.m. is not the best time for rational thinking (as anyone who has left a bar after last call will tell you – ZING!).

Husband, who had been peacefully sleeping through my whole ratcheting up to crazy process, found himself being shaken awake as I babbled about kidnappers.

Husband: Um, Al, he’s fine. He’s here.

Me: NO HE’S NOT! Not in his bed, not in Girl #2’s room – maybe what I heard was him crying out for us to help him –

Husband: Al. Chill. He and Girl #2 decided to have a sleepover in her closet.

Me: Oh. Yeah. Um….’night, Husband.

Husband: (sighs)

Is it really any wonder that we feel zero burning desire to have more kids?

Friday, September 16, 2011

I'm aware enough, thanks

It’s Thank Your Mom week on Trials!!!!!!! Post this as your on blog update if you have a mom, ever had a mom, or might have a mom in the future!!!! (emoticon emoticon emoticon)

OK, um, no. It’s not Thank Your Mom week. (But really, you should thank your maternal figures anyway. Because moms are generally awesome. And, as I have discovered as I have grown older and, dare I say, wiser, moms are also generally right. For example, I have realized that, contrary to the belief I held fast in my twee eight year old mind, parents should NOT give their child everything that child’s little heart may desire. Mom, you were right. Thank you for teaching me moderation.)

Don’t get fooled now. Just because I thanked my (incredible, amazing, splendiferous) mom, it’s STILL not Thank Your Mom week anywhere in the known world. Maybe somewhere in the undiscovered wilds of the Amazon, they’re jumping around in loincloths thanking the mothers of the tribe. I don’t know. But not here.

Oh, and by the way, it’s also not Shake a Stranger’s Hand, Love Thy Neighbor, Bless the Beasts, Hug a Tiger, Kiss a Penguin, Alphabet Awareness or any other entitled Week that keeps popping up insistently on Facebook. Now, if you’re the kind of person who loves to copy and paste messages into the ol’ status bar, then God love you for it. Go in peace. Spread your light. Or status. Whatever.

I’m not that kind of person.

Not only am I not that kind of person, my black heart means that I do on more than is a healthy amount of occasions actually yell “NO, IT’S NOT!” at those statuses (statii?) accompanied with a weighty sigh and hefty eye roll. Look, I never said I was nice. Or particularly tolerant of kitsch. Despite living in the country, our home is blissfully free of framed needlework. And, oh I don’t know, antique butter pat patterns.

So again, thank your maternal figure. Every day if the spirit moves you (or, as some insist on saying, everyday). Just don’t make up a fake week to try to go viral on Facebook. In the end, by doing so, all of the weeks, causes, what have you just become background noise. (End of rant. Long week, people, long week.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

O beautiful for patriot dream

What I will always remember about that day is the sky. A pure crystalline blue, unblemished by clouds. We were in the Boston area at the time and the sky was as clear there as it was in New York. Even in the morning you could tell it was going to be one of those Indian summer days that made you want to kick out of work early and enjoy the season’s last gasp of balmy sunshine.

I had just begun my second year of law school and Tuesday morning found me in a Juvenile Justice class from 9-11 a.m. During the previous classes we had taken a break at around 10, but for some reason we went straight through on that particular morning.

This particular professor did not permit computers in the classroom – he had already caught on to the fact that most people used them to surf the internet or play Free Cell instead of to take notes. Iphones weren’t around yet - the most exciting thing my cell phone did at the time was ring and permit the user to play Snake.

At about 9:30, my phone started vibrating. I pulled the old “phone under the thigh” trick and looked at the screen – Husband. No message. I thought nothing of it and returned to taking notes.

2 minutes later, Husband calls again. And again. Over and over my phone lit up, with no message.

A knot of unease began to grow in my stomach. I thought that something had happened to a family member. As we didn’t break (and getting up in the middle of a lecture wasn’t the sort of thing you did to a law school professor), I had to wait until the end of class to finally call Husband back.

I found out at 11:00 a.m. on September 11, 2001 what had happened to our country.

The rest of the day I remember in a stream of senses and disjointed pictures.

- Staring up at the sky as I waited for the T to take the train home and wondering how something so horrible could happen on such a gloriously beautiful day.

- Leaving the T blocks from the train station because I didn’t want to be underground anymore, only to be redirected back by a Boston police officer.

- The 12:30 train home being packed and smelly and the conductor telling everyone that there was no fare for this ride.

- An overwhelming feeling of complete uncertainty and helplessness.

- Feeling like we needed to do something – going to the blood donation center (closed) to try to help if we could.

- Wondering why. Needing to know why.

- People hanging from buildings, waving white towels.

- Hate. Pure and utter hate.

- Dust. Plumes of smoke flooding the streets of New York.

- Wondering what was coming next. Being sure there was something coming next.

- Paper floating through the air.

- Members of Congress singing “God Bless America” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

- Sleeping with the TV on all night for the next few nights, then immediately turning on the TV in the morning to check the news for weeks.

- Singing “America the Beautiful” and (still) breaking down at the line “Thine alabaster cities gleam. Undimmed by human tears!”

- The firefighters. The police. The emergency workers.

What is uncanny is that seeing a picture or news broadcast from that day brings back all of those thoughts and emotions in a split second.

This doesn’t have a big punchy ending, doesn’t have a joke. Just what sticks out for me about a day that still hurts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Baby's Daddy

As Husband’s head has ballooned to immense proportions over the last 24 hours following my whole “he’s a saint because he buried my frozen cat” story, I feel the need to take it (him) down a notch.  Yes, Husband is generally wonderful, caring and understanding of all that is my daily insanity. 
The morning of April 29, 2003 began very early for me.  I was 9 months and one day pregnant and had spent the preceding evening walking the mall with Husband in an effort to get. The. Baby.  Out.  (Let me tell you, nothing gets you faster service than when someone asks when you’re due and you reply “oh, today.”  Or a better deal on a car.  Negotiating while  extremely pregnant has been our go-to car buying technique.  Yeah, I just did the whole “we’re pregnant” thing.  Works great.  Especially when “we” need to go to get McDonalds now because “our” pregnancy has caused insatiable cravings for their sweet sweet fries.)
I woke up at about 3 a.m. with something going on.  I had been constantly swinging between thinking I was going into labor and being terrified that I’d sound the alarms and launch the ships only to be told that I wasn’t actually in labor (with the understanding that I was obviously going to then be a horrible mother if I couldn’t even tell what my yet-to-be-born baby needed!) for the preceding three weeks.  But as I rocked on the living room glider and took in some fine fine 3 a.m. programming, things didn’t wind down.
Could it be?  Nah, no way.  I had already decided that this baby was never coming out, so this couldn’t possibly be labor. 
Oh well, I told myself, this is just another false alarm.  Let’s just watch some of Balkie’s antics on Perfect Strangers and calm the hell down.
For kicks, I started keeping track of any belly action in this little notebook we had been using. Because every extremely pregnant lady knows that the first question out of every person’s mouth from the time you call the hospital to the time you actually finally (blessedly) get a room is “how far apart are they?”  (My response was always “I want drugs, please.”)
Perfect Strangers changed seamlessly into Full House.  I lost track of time and flashed back to the good old middle school days of the TGIF line-up.  Suddenly, a doozie of a contraction tore me away from the hijinx of Uncles Joey and Jesse.  Whoa.  I looked at my watch, then my notebook.  I realized that I was at a good 6 minute pace that had been consistent for the last hour.  Showtime!
Time to get to the hospital, which meant that since “we” were pregnant, “we” needed to now get our butts out of bed and drive “our” pregnant selves to the ER. 
Yes, Husband had slept peacefully thus far.  But it was all good – nothing was really doing that required us both to be up.  Really, did he need to sit and watch me quietly contract?  But now it was necessary to inform Husband of his immediately impending fatherhood.

“Um, Husband?”  Gentle nudging as I prepared to experience that magical moment when I informed my one and only love that it was time to become a daddy.
“Babe?  HusBAND????”  More urgent nudging.  Practically shaking.  “Wake up, babe, it’s time.”  I smiled, anticipating his joy and finally welcoming his first child into the world.
Groggy head pops up.  “Whaaaa?”
“It’s time, sweetie, I’m in labor.”
Again, still groggy.  “Huhhh?”
“LA-bor, honey, I’m in LABOR.”  Starting to freak, but gamely keeping my pregnant hormones in check.
And then Husband turned to me, blinked a couple of times and uttered six tender words to express his deeply-held feelings to his laboring wife.
“Do I have to get up?”
No, no.  We’re good.  You go back to sleep. 
And.  He.  Did.
Hands off ladies, he’s all mine.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ol' Blue Eyes

I have mentioned several times how Husband is an absolute saint for putting up with my special brand of crazy for going on 12 years.  When I start a sentence mid-thought, Husband is on it and usually gives a completely relevant answer.  (Me:  So, what did they do before?  Husband:  I don’t know, I think people just wrote everything out and mailed letters.  Me:  Oh.)  When I lapse into Smurf-Ali talk, Husband picks up the ball and runs.  (Me:  Did you remember to put the thing on the thing?  Husband:  Yup, took garbage out last night.  Me:  Nice!) 

However, I didn’t come alone.  Husband also earns bonus points for blending in seamlessly with my fam.  One particular event made me realize just how much he had become one of us.

At the time, Girl #2 was about three months old.  I had just taken the bar exam and was waiting to start at my first firm, while Husband was a full-time stay-at-home dad (again, a saint – and don’t think the mommies at storytime didn’t try to work it.  Pffft - I’d claw their eyes out before they knew what hit them.)  We were in the middle of what we had termed Christening Tour ’03.  We had a month and took Girl #2 on the road to visit pretty much everyone.

One leg of CT ’03 had us stopping at my parents’ house before heading out to Long Island.  My fam was already up in Long Island and had a pet sitter coming by daily to check up on Frank, our cat.

Frank was the best cat.  He was a cream Himalayan with blue eyes, hence the name.  I got Frank when I was in high school and he stayed with my parents when I moved on.

Instead of the general “oh, you again?” dismissal you get with cats, Frank would come running when you came home and immediately start twining around your legs.  The guy thought he was a dog.  He would come when you called him and even let my little sister walk him on a leash.  He’d cuddle with you when he knew you weren’t feeling well.  Frankie ruined me for all other cats.

Naturally, when we got to my parents’ house, I ran around trying to find Frankie.  I looked upstairs, I looked downstairs – no Frank.  I figured he was hiding under my parents’ bed or something because he didn’t recognize the baby smell and turned my attention to taking care of Girl #2. 

Once we got settled, we called my parents to let them know we had gotten in OK.  I talked with Mom about the drive and Girl #2, then a little about how their visit with the Long Island branch of the fam was going. 

I finally got around to saying that I couldn’t find Frank.  Mom evasively asked to talk with Husband.  No problem, my goldfish brain said as I handed the phone over and went back to play with the baby.

Husband listened for a while, said “OK” a couple of times, then came into the family room.

Husband:  Ali, I need you to go upstairs for a while with Girl #2.

Me:  Why?

Husband:  I just need you to do this, I have to do something.

Me:  (connecting dots)  Husband, where’s Frank?

Husband:  Al, just go.

Me: (more dots connecting)  Frank’s dead, isn’t he???

Husband:  (sighs)  Al, please.

Me:  (dots flying as I realized my cat was not only dead, but still in the house) Ohmigod.  Frank’s in the freezer, isn’t he???!??!?!?!

Husband:  (blink)


Yes, Frankie was no more.  Apparently the middle-school-aged girl my parents had hired to come check up on him had the rare pleasure of finding him dead as a doornail.  Every pet sitter’s dream.  No cause of death, no sickness, nothing.  He just decided he had had enough.  Thankfully, the girl’s dad was with her and called Mom to find out what they should do. 

And that’s how Frankie came to be wrapped up in a garbage bag in my parents’ garage freezer.

When Husband got on the phone, the conversation went sort of like this:

Mom:  Husband, I need you to do me a favor.  A big one.

Husband:  OK.

Mom:  (deep breath)  Frank’s dead and he’s in the freezer.

Husband:  OK.

Mom:  I need you to get Alison out of the room and bury Frank in the woods.

Husband: ……………………..OK.

Mom:  Thanks, Husband, I owe you.

Owe him, indeed.  When you marry a girl, I don’t exactly think it’s with visions of burying her dead (frozen) cat in the woods someday.  Even if you are a saint on Husband’s level. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Girl #2 goes to the pediatrician (or, why my purse now weighs a good 15 pounds)

Big news, all.  I got my first google hit!  Well, hits.  The person searched the same terms over and over – about 12 times over the course of 5 minutes.  And, for whatever reason, this individual kept coming back to my little blog. 

Not that I’m not flattered, but I’m not quite sure that my blog specifically suited this person’s particular needs.  Especially given that their needs entailed “satin boxing robe, -pajamas, -lingerie.”  I’m guessing my karaoke post left this person somewhat … wanting.

Moving on.  It’s Labor Day!  A day when we Americans get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors during the rest of the year with a well-earned day off.  I have so far spent my morning nursing the same cup of coffee that at this point has been nuked within an inch of its life.  Bliss.

Husband, who is much more ert than yours truly (yes, I know that ‘ert’ is not the opposite of ‘inert’ – but I love it and I’m sticking with it.  Imaginated words are our friendings) insisted on mowing our front lawn despite the intense rain last night.  As a result, our driveway now sports a layer of green fur.  Peachy.

But, as this is Labor Day and two of my college besties are due to have their first babies in a matter of days (woo!), it’s time for a baby story.   No, not a labor story you big silly, just a harmless baby story.

A bit of background – Girl #1 came into our lives after she passed the baby stage.  As a result, Girl #2 got to be our first baby – our starter kid, if you will.  Looking back, we were absolutely clueless. 

Day 4 of Girl #2’s time on this Earth showed us just how drastically we needed to change our thinking. 

First, a disclaimer – as most new parents are, we were running on no sleep at this point.  Like, hallucinating-real-fish-in-Girl #2’s-little-aquarium-crib-toy-no-sleep.  I blame the she-devil nurse at the hospital who broke the number one baby rule and had us wake up Girl #2 to feed her in the middle of her first night.  Extremely long story short, it took us an hour to fully wake Girl #2 up and five.  Goddamn.  Days. to get her to do more than catnap.

Day 4 brought our first pediatrician visit.  As we hadn’t left the house (or, very possibly, showered) for the preceding 48 hours since coming home from the hospital, we were ecstatic about a field trip.  We dressed Girl #2 in a snappy little outfit (watch her neck!!!), grabbed the log of feedings and diaper changes (nothing is more humbling than recording whether your child peed or poo’d at 4 a.m….. except potty training when you’re cleaning up child urine from the carpet for the fifth time in a 4 hour period) and traipsed gleefully out to the car.

We checked in and were shown to a cute little room covered in happily marching pastel animals.

Given that they are dealing with the least patient (Husband:  HA!  Get it?  Patient?  GET IT???) segment of the population, one might think that pediatricians would try to run their offices with a certain sense of urgency.  In this case, one would be wrong.  We waited at least ½ an hour each time we went to this guy.  Not so bad when you’re dealing with a baby.  Thankfully, we moved before we had to entertain a 1 year old in an 8x8 box for an indeterminate amount of time.

Suddenly, our noses started to twitch.  As cute as they are, babies can produce a remarkable amount of foul-smelling pure concentrated evil.  And they have the uncanny ability to do so at the worst possible time.  Such as at the pediatrician’s office.  When you’re new parents.  And, accordingly, forgot the diaper bag at home.  Yup, Husband and I waltzed out the door without giving a single thought to the fact that we needed to be prepared for every possible contingency.

Husband and I looked at each other.  We had nothing.  I mean, they didn’t tell us to bring a diaper bag, right?  They just said to bring the baby!

Our lack of sleep made our brain process as slow as if we had just summitted Everest.  We looked at Girl #2.  She looked back.  We rechecked her diaper.  The stank had not magically disappeared.  We looked again at each other, as little wavy stink lines started coming out of the diaper.

Now, I’m not saying that our ultimate solution was correct.  It did, however, solve the problem.  What we learned was that when you become a parent, you will do whatever is necessary to fill your child’s needs.  Even if that means searching every square inch of an examining room and stealing a diaper, then, um, digging through the trash to hide a dirty diaper at the bottom of the pail.

Now?  We are nothing if not prepared.  My purse could win any day on Let’s Make a Deal – snacks, crayons, safety pins, even spare sets of earrings.  No diapers – because, really, if our 6, 8, or 11 year old suddenly has an urgent unfulfilled need for a diaper, we’ve got bigger problems on our hands.

Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The day the brownies died

Today, after Girl #2’s first game as an official little cheerleader (yay for a parent-watching opportunity!) we will be heading over for a Labor Day cookout at my aunt and uncle’s house. We are in charge of appetizers.

We tend to take our food responsibilities very seriously. Lots of planning and precisely choreographed cooking precedes these events. Really, I’m surprised every time Husband and I come out the other side with all of our fingers. (When I get stressed in the kitchen, my go to threat tends to be that I’ll cut a bitch. Which means Husband. Said with love, of course. Again, a saint this man is.)

I will freely admit that I wasn’t always this way. Bake-y, I mean. In college, my dish of choice was macaroni and cheese of the Kraft variety. Kindof every night. And, um, afternoon. OK, OK, even mornings. (Now that we watch Top Chef, every food offering has become a dish. Because we’re classy like that.)

Husband has always been very adept at the stir-fry method of cooking. By that, I mean that in college he pretty much threw what was around into a skillet, added rice and tomato sauce and simmered/sautéed. It was….interesting. And, um, edible. Yup, interesting and edible kindof sums it up.

To rescue us both from years of random mixtures, I tried to cook when we first got married. Note that I said tried. Generally, Husband would come home to some sort of baked meat (usually very well-done) and side vegetable. No need for seasonings, the general charring that ensued added an interesting smoky flavor!

Thankfully, Husband rescued us both and took over the bulk of the dinner duties. He left the skillet-concoctions behind and (thank GOD!) became a superb griller.

When I reclaimed my soul after my career switch, I decided to give baking a try. Mom is an AMAZING chef and I figured some of those genes may have carried over. (They had not made the slightest hint of an appearance over the preceding thirty years.)

Carry over, indeed. I know that humility is a desirable quality and all, but I can rock me some pastry. I think Mom teared up a little when she was finally able to buy me a stand mixer for Christmas.

This past Easter, I was on desserts. I decided to do a cruise-buffet-inspired variety of little individual offerings. Despite having spent five hours painstakingly making a dobosh torte from scratch (seriously, look this sucker up. I am a pastry goddess!), this Easter buffet almost broke me. No, it wasn’t the mini-lemon meringue pies. Or the ganache-topped mini-cupcakes. Or even the chick-shaped cake balls. (Husband: Cake balls. Heh.) No, what almost drove me to the cooking sherry was frieking brownies.

Looking back, I can see where I went wrong. Since I didn’t see any Pam, I coated the mini-muffin tray with Crisco. Round 1, deep-fried brownies. I pulled them out of the oven and almost sloshed a good ½ inch of liquid lard all over myself. Because I was not going to let a batch of brownies beat me, I tried again. I used less Crisco and popped Round 2 into the oven. I could do this, right? Heck, brownies are the first thing every little girl makes from scratch, right?

I couldn’t do this. Deep-fried brownies 2, Alison 0.

Now I got angry. You know how they say to put happy thoughts and love into your cooking? Not these brownies. Batch 3 were filled with anger, bitterness and a stream of muttered curse words. However, this time I at least had the good sense to finally dig through our cabinets and find some cooking spray.

End result? Deep-fried brownies, 2, Alison 1. I WIN!!!

The anger-brownies were not the hit of the buffet. I blame the brownies. Little bastards.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Put on the red light

There have been several times over the course of my life when I fancied myself an entrepreneur.  When I was nine, I spent the summer selling cookies and lemonade at the end of our driveway.  (Many thanks to Mom who spent that particular summer baking cookies for my inventory.)  Every morning I would drag a little table and chair to the end of the driveway, slap a gallon of lemonade and Tupperware container of cookies on that bad boy and open for business. 

I was a shrewd businesswoman – my marketing campaign consisted of conning my little sister into holding a posterboard sign 20 feet or so past our driveway that said “Turn back!  You just missed lemonade!” (COMPLETELY readable at 45 mph) and both of us shouting “Stop and BUY!” at passing cars (windows closed).  

My motivation?  My own cockatiel.  (Think parrot, but smaller and gray with a white/yellow head and an orange pumpkin patch on the cheek.  Well, where the cheek would be if birds have cheeks.  Do birds have cheeks?  Google was no help on this one.)

The summer was long, but I emerged victorious.  One quarter at a time, I worked my way to owning my own bird, Tiely (pronounced TEEl-ie).  Problem was, Tiely was a brat.  Instead of riding around of my shoulder like I pictured, Tiely bit me every time my twee fingers got near her sharp and hurt-y beak. 

Since I was a…persistent child, I kept trying to fulfill my vision of having a bird BFF.  Basically, I kept trying to pet my bird to try to get her to like me.  She, on the other hand, kept right on biting the annoying kid that would NOT stop poking her.  Ours was a tumultuous relationship – I think Tiely eventually died of consumption.  Or maybe an early strain of bird flu.  Or maybe (probably) I just didn’t clean her cage enough.  RIP, my angry little almost-bird-BFF.

Anywho, that summer pimping cookies and lemonade taught me the importance of a catchy slogan.  Well, and kid guilt – our street was extremely quiet, so I suspect many people stopped just because they felt bad for the little girl that looked heat stroked slumped at a table amid pitchers of warm lemonade.  Whatever, I still got my quarter.  But I digress – the key to a good business advertisement is the hook.  You want people to get interested in the product enough to actually, you know, buy it. 

Before you start on a slogan, you have to figure out your target audience.  Don’t limit yourself to one very specific and small target group.  Especially if that particular group may not exist in a relatively rural and conservative community.  For example, take the following advertisement posted in our local grocery store:

Call me crazy, but I really don’t think limiting yourself to the ‘working lady’ demo is the way to go here.  And what exactly would make this particular room ideal for said ladies?  Velvet covered walls?  A big lady they just call “Momma” working the door?  Nothing but red lightbulbs, as far as the eye can see?  Lots of readily available feather boas?  (Yes, my mental picture of a working brothel is obviously highly romanticized.  As is my mental picture of a hooker.  I blame Pretty Woman and Moulin Rouge.)

I don't know who is going to be more confused in this situation - the entrepreneurial hookers who see a new brothel opportunity or the poor people just trying to rent a room to earn some extra cash who can't figure out why they keep getting messages from Sugars, Candys, Bambis and Stars.