Be Bold

Dear Kohler Product Development,
You’re welcome!
It is high time you moved beyond just looking bold, I want you to be bold. It is with much exhaustion, some exacerbation and a dash of excitement that I present to you the following new bathtub design. A product for parents. The same group of dumbasses who allow their children to go in bouncy castles and on trampolines. We all know that they’re not safe, but our kids love them. They love them right up until they hate them after some other kid thinks he’s Flying Toddler, Hidden Poopy and head butts another kid in mid-air. We still let them in because for a little while, they occupy themselves. And that, my friends, is worth its weight in gold.
Speaking of gold, these idiots will buy anything, which leads me to the bathtub. Isn’t it great to watch all your kids play in the bath together, good, clean sibling fun until the appropriate age (before it gets creepy)? They’re happy, carefree and getting clean until one of them gets the face. There is no mistaking that expression: face reddening, eyes tearing, and perhaps a little grunting. You know what’s coming and it’s not a Baby Ruth bar this time. It is the real deal. Junior has contaminated the water-filled fun. That’s where the Kohler Super Duper Pooper comes in (name is negotiable). This beaut senses the turd burglar and immediately flushes the water from the tub with great efficiency and speed all while showering the kiddies with clean, warm water to rinse off the fecal contamination. They don’t get cold while the jets spray them gently from above and below (think bidet for bebe). When the sensors have detected there is no longer any trace of feces remaining, warm water again fills the tub and the kids are decontaminated and joyful once more.
Indeed, we have had bonding time in the family shower after the Chinese fire drills that involve me stripping as fast as I can while getting the big girl out of the poop water and in the shower and then throwing myself and the baby in to join her. It’s not as much fun as it sounds, but we’ve laughed it off and made the best of it. Thanks to all the nakedness we now think I’m part zebra (my big girl thinks my scars look like stripes and tried to say I was a tiger, but I’m trying to project a softer image these days, less roaring). I’m making an effort to improve my image, Kohler, and you should too. So why not start with the Super Duper Pooper, the bathtub for parents? It’s a bold move, but then again, so is dropping a deuce in the tub. If a toddler can be bold, you can too!!
Thanks for your consideration,
The Zealous Zebra

Good Parenting

It’s rare that I am genuinely touched by a Facebook status that is shared and reposted with a remarkably high frequency. You know the kind. That picture of the kids that hold a sign which says if they get one million “likes” their dad will get them a puppy. Hey kids, try feeding yourself and one sibling breakfast every day and flushing the toilet after they go to the bathroom four times a day for a month and then ask your dad again. He will probably say yes and appreciate your hard work instead of the peer pressure. Unlike that nonsense, I read a popular post today about Dick and Rick Hoyt, a father and son team that competes in marathons, triathlons and ironmans. Why is this extraordinary? The son is handicapped and during these grueling races, the dad is pushing him in a wheelchair the entire way, pulling him in a dinghy as he swims or biking with him on his handlebars.
Rick was handicapped from birth and couldn’t communicate or use his limbs, but thanks to his parents and some Tufts engineers (Go Jumbos!), they devised a way for him to communicate electronically rather than verbally. When a race was planned to benefit a high schooler who was paralyzed in a car accident Rick told his dad he wanted to run in the race. So Dick ran the 5 mile race while pushing Rick in his wheelchair the whole way. With a huge smile, Rick told his dad it was the first time he actually felt like he wasn’t handicapped. And so, their great history began. Dick competes in these races with his son to fulfill his son’s greatest wish and to see his joy and elation. What an amazing dad! What an awesome example of great parenting!
Isn’t that what great parenting is really about? We try to do everything we can to help our kids achieve their goals, experience joy, and live full lives. Lately I’ve been caught up in the trials and tribulations of parenting a feisty three year old. (Whoever said it was the “terrible twos” was some kind of bastard probably waiting around to watch the exacerbated faces of parents with three year olds muttering to themselves like crazy people, “but I thought we had gotten through the terrible twos so easily?!?”). I keep worrying about the things she does to test the boundaries, the attitude she’s giving me, the silliness she’s instigating in ballet class. It all stresses me out and infuriates me. In large part because I don’t know how to effectively nip it in the bud and/or keep my cool and not let it get to me. I’m feeling less confident in my parenting every time we have an issue.
My husband tells me often to “see the forest through the trees”. How wise and annoying he is. He’s right, of course (just in this instance. Don’t let that go to your head, babe). She’s three and it’s normal for these issues to drive us both crazy, but I refuse to give in to this behavior. I think I’m the better parent for it. It’s my responsibility to keep her and her sister healthy, happy and engaged so when they figure out their loftiest goals and fantastical dreams, they will be able to achieve them.
So the little things will all add up (I tell myself like a mantra for sanity’s sake). I will brush their teeth though they will fight me tooth and nail (literally) so they will be healthy kids and adults. I will take them to school, ballet, music and whatever other activities they seem interested in so they grow to be intelligent and well rounded individuals. I will painfully give them the boundaries they need to teach them to be kind and respectful of all people (starting with me, for crying out loud!). I will instill in them the values and morals that their father and I think are important so they will be good citizens of their community and always treat people (and animals) with kindness. In whatever way I can, I will help them achieve their goals just as my parents did for me and as Dick Hoyt has so heroically done for his son, Rick. They are truly an inspiring duo!

Judo Chop!

Lately this space has been more about the babes than the boobs.  Motherhood meets mastectomy was what I set out to detail and fortunately, at three and a half months post-op, the boobs are almost a non-issue.  After my last fill of the tissue expanders, I’m in a holding pattern.  I have to wait eight weeks to get the implants and during that time, I’m enjoying a nice break from appointments and injections.
This seems as good a time as any to give a little status update. I hope it serves as a light at the end of the first tunnel for those who are just starting the journey or for those who are contemplating their path.
I feel great!  It’s been a long time since I’ve had any pain (of course that’s partially because I haven’t regained any feeling in my boobs). I certainly haven’t limited any activities; I even did push ups in a dance fitness class last week.  They were totally pathetic, but I did 20 modified push ups (golf claps, please!).  I am loving the fact that my boobs don’t go anywhere when I dance, my girls can snuggle into me, sleep on me and run and hug me as hard as they want to.  I even wore a bathing suit for the first time last weekend to do family swim with my husband and the little ladies.  We had so much fun tossing them high in the air and splashing back down. I loved not having to tuck my old saggies into my suit to hide the cleavage that once seemed almost inappropriate, but totally unavoidable.
Yes, I have some pretty big scars that need covering, but even in just this short amount of time, I’ve accepted them.  I know they’ll fade, but right now they’re still pink and every now and then they peek out of the side boob area if my bathing suit or tank top doesn’t cover them.  I’m cool with it, in fact, I’m pretty proud of them.  My girls are totally used to them in their full glory now.  The big girl finally saw them totally uncovered when I was in the shower nearly a month ago and stared at them for a second and then went on her merry way. She came back and said, “Mommy, those are your boo-boos?”  I said, “Yup, but they feel so much better now.”  And she just said, “Yup.” and again went about her business (which I think was taking advantage of her momentary freedom in my bedroom and trying on all of my jewelry).  For my husband, it also seems to be a non-issue (though I think he’s looking forward to a more natural look and feel with the implants, as am I).
This leads me to my biggest, and maybe only, pet peeve… (get your mind out of the gutter, this is not about sex.  It’s about my long lost lover…) sleep.  Laying down on the tissue expanders is not that awesome because I’m a stomach sleeper (which was most annoying for the first two weeks post-op when I wasn’t allowed to sleep on my stomach).  When I finally get to sleep at night, the hard tissue expanders feel like a couple of grapefruits under my body.  Fortunately for me (I think?) my girls don’t like to sleep, so I don’t have to remain uncomfortable for long as I’m getting up with one or the other every few hours anyway. That frigid sensation of a cold beverage running down the esophagus is still there. And the tenderness of the breast bone without any of its previous padding isn’t ideal when trying to insulate the blow of impressive toddler karate kicks to the chest (apparently I’ve created two mini girl versions of Jean Claude VanDam who also push themselves up from cuddling and nail me right in the same spot with their surprisingly pointy elbows. what happened to all that baby fat?  is it really just all in their chubby cheeks?). All in all, if these are my only complaints at a mere three months out, it’s not too shabby!  I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

Your Baby Can

I don’t understand these law suits against companies like Baby Einstein or Your Baby Can Read. People laughed at us when we sat at the pool in Aruba with our (at the time) 9 month old doing flash cards. Sure, it was a ridiculous sight. We looked like obnoxious over achievers (which I assure you, we are not). However, it was the big girl’s favorite activity and she would do it for such a long time. And anyone with a baby that age knows, if you find something that makes them sit still for more than 10 minutes, you keep that shit on you at all times, like underwear or your iPhone.
I swear it worked. I don’t necessarily think the comprehension was there, but she could recognize words and letters earlier than lots of kids her age. Maybe that was just her academic strength inherently, but we thought, “hey, it couldn’t hurt”.
So these lawsuits are mind boggling to me. What do you think they did to your kid? Were there subliminal messages telling them to take candy from strangers? Were there shady figures that came out of the tv and offered them crack? Wait, what’s that, they offered your child exposure to language and classical music? The friggin’ nerve!!! Tinkerbell taught my daughter how to say, “No, excuuuuse me!” with an attitude. Should Disney be sued? Good luck with that.
I always see these programs as a way to introduce educational lessons to my children. It’s my responsibility to follow up and reinforce. It is my choice to let them watch or not.
In this overly litigious society, is that really what we should be focusing our energies on? To extrapolate further, this Manti Te’O business… really? Why is this such a big issue? Shouldn’t we focus on being proactive in other areas that are so pressing? Can the news stop shining a spotlight on a college football star and start being accountable for their own poor fact checking? Teach our kids responsible reporting and accountability. There is a lesson to be learned here about telling the truth, but it isn’t just this athlete who needs to admit his transgressions. The media does too.
I digress, but I believe that suing these companies is a similar waste of time and energy. It seems they are merely to malign two programs aimed to help children. Both of my girls love the Your Baby Can videos. We’ve even moved on to the ones geared for older kids. My older daughter turned to me last night and said, “I like the hexagon in the bee hive”. Ummm what? I thought those were octagons my whole life! Tell me she’s not learning something!

Rest in Peace

Today we attended the funeral of a classmate from high school. He was a teammate of my husband’s for many years as they played lacrosse from middle school to high school and he was a friendly acquaintance of mine. Although we were not close, seeing him always brought a smile to my face (even just on Facebook for the last several years). I’m pretty sure he had that affect on everyone he encountered. His brother’s eulogy put it perfectly, “he ignited a room”.
This was our first funeral for a peer, but I couldn’t help but feel most deeply for his mother. I am so sorry for his friends and all who loved him, but seeing his mother now as a mother myself was the hardest. To mourn the loss of your child must be the hardest thing imaginable, no matter the circumstance. As parents, we are constantly concerned about keeping our children safe, healthy and happy. It’s hard to project to a time when my own children will be older and how much of their safety, health and happiness will be so far from my control. It scares me to think about that. You often think (or hope) that your own passing will be before your child’s, no matter their age. Sometimes I find solace in knowing that my girls have each other. They will rely on each other in good times and bad and when my husband and I are not around.
It was this kind of bond that was so clear when our friend’s brother eulogized him today. Not only did he show how beautiful their brotherly friendship was, but he also made a room full of hundreds of mourners feel at ease. He told us some hilarious anecdotes involving their boyish humor which started at a young age and continued until just a few weeks ago (think prank calls and bathroom jokes). And then he said he was almost relieved that his brother will not have to suffer anymore and that he is in a better place.
I’ve thought a good deal about mortality in the past year and isn’t that the silver lining when there seems to be none? When our loved ones pass their physical and emotional pain can end. I wish that they are in a place where they feel only peace and happiness. I hope that they can look down on the people they cared for and see just how much they were loved. And wow, if he was watching today, he saw just how many lives he touched and how his “perfect smile” radiated joy through all of us. That smile will be missed.


I’m just a minivan short of the loony bin.  And I’m blaming it on Pinterest.  As I left Michael’s craft store today with a shopping cart full of loot, I thought, “Well, here we are.  I should just go put my down payment on the Honda Odyssey right now.”  This so-called social networking site is going to be my undoing.  I’m so addicted that in the past week, the only socializing I’ve done is with my Pinterest alter egos (my own “boards”, if you know what I mean. If you don’t, good for you, you’ve managed to avoid the new time suck that is Pinterest).
My multiple personalities have really had a field day with this.  There’s Me, the Interior Designer (“hi there”).  Me, the A-type Organizer (“guten tag!”, she speaks German).  Me, the Chef (“bon appetit!”).  Me, the Fashionista (“hey hey!”). Me, the Super Mom (“hey, how are ya? want some sparkly glitter glue?”). I am none of these people, but I want to be all of them.
The upside to this madness is that I am really motivated to be creative.  I am planning to add upholstered benches to my living room for maximum seating and storage potential.  I am going to have shelves put into my garage so it doesn’t always look like the post-Sandy disaster area it has been since… well, since pre-Sandy.  I made cod cakes for my girls the other night (and even put a candle in one and sang to try to get the big girl to eat “fish cake”, that was a failure, it’s ok, plenty more to try from my “Recipes” board).  I tried on several revamped outfits in my closet to try to claw my way out of this mom-style fashion rut (now that I have new boobs, I think I can pull off anything.  Don’t tell my big, old butt. Today I even bought a new denim shirt with an anchor print on it from Old Navy… I agree, that sound hideous, but it’s on my “Lovin these looks” board, so you know it’s awesome).  And, finally, my trip to Michael’s.
This last foray into my Wannabe Super Mom personality led to our afternoon activity.  Finger painting on canvases with a Valentine’s theme.  In about two minutes, the big girl decided the paint looked better on her legs than the canvases and the little one had already stuck purple in her mouth, red in her ear and some pink was smudged across her nose.  I spent the next hour hosing them off and then scraping tiny bits of the paint that my little Jackson Pollock’s had left on our living room floor with my thumb nail.  It’s a good thing I haven’t had time to get a manicure in the past few months.  Well played, Pinterest, well played.

I’m a Bitch

I’m a bitch.  Well, at least that’s the general consensus around here tonight.  My mom sent me an article from the New York Times about writing memoirs.  It basically instructed the author to humiliate themselves; be both the antagonist and the protagonist in your own life story.  Or at least when trying to hook your audience.  Well, audience, here’s my most humiliating confession today.
I’m a bitch.  Those who can talk in this household told me so and those who couldn’t illustrated it with their obvious preference for Daddy.  The little one is sick again, so I asked my husband to try to make it home from work in time for bedtime (which only happens on Fridays, if we’re lucky).  So yes, it’s a novelty that the girls get to see Daddy before bed and who could really fault them for being so excited after they’ve put up with this bitch all day. While normally, I’d be thrilled to hand over the reigns and turn on some Real Housewives, their obvious preference for him to do all bedtime activities (bath, jammies, reading, zonk out – both Daddy and babies) had me a little miffed.  Then, there it was and I felt both numb and like the wind was knocked out of me.  Like I had been branded with a sparkly glitter-glued pink “B”.
I hear it from most moms I know.  At some point in time, their kid has said it, “I like Daddy more.”  Hold yourself back, ladies.  Don’t scream what immediately comes to mind (the profanities will only scare your child and perpetuate their previous confession).  I just thank my lucky stars that I have daughters, because one day I know they will understand the simple truth and I won’t even have to say what I would like to say to their future selves: I’m the one who forced you to have medicine even though you were kicking and screaming, because it made you feel better.  I’m the one that made you dinner and then told you every three minutes to take another bite, because it made you stronger and well nourished (and ps. I hardly even made you eat the veggies).  I’m the one that wiped your ass all day, so you didn’t have to walk around…. well, you know where this is going.  I’m the one that made you brush your teeth so that you didn’t have to go to the dentist every five minutes (but I was still the one who gave you that jellybean you enjoyed so much after lunch, you’re welcome). Although Daddy does his fair share, it’s this bitch who makes your world go ’round, little one. I sincerely hope you have the great fortune of being the bitch in your household one day.  I’ll wait to hear your appreciation then and I won’t hold it against you now.  It’s your father who gets punished tonight.
PS. Mom, I love you and I appreciate EVERYTHING you do, have done, will do.  I get it.

Just Dance

A 31 year old ballerina taking her first dance class after a sixteen year hiatus is not a pretty sight to behold.  So today as I laced up my new jazz sneakers to take a ballet sculpt class, I avoided looking in the mirror in order to protect both my eyes and my ego.  The only things that didn’t wobble all over the dance floor were my new boobs.  I didn’t realize that the teacher would be a former School of American Ballet student and New York City Ballet dancer from the Balanchine era.  In her late fifties, she schooled me (both literally and figuratively) all over that studio.  Her encouragement and compliments helped me get through the hour, but as we did our reverence to end the class, my legs were shaking so much I could barely arabesque.
When I returned home to my little ballerina, I mounted the stairs with Jello legs and felt a little guilty.  How would she feel about me doing ballet again?  Is that now her “thing”?  Last week, she and I went to my brother’s house to hang out with my nieces and play Just Dance on their new Xbox Kinect.  It was awesome!  My sister-in-law cracked up looking at my “serious dance face”, but my daughter wasn’t laughing.  She was sulking because she did not like me doing dances that she couldn’t follow yet.  At home, she likes me to show her many different ballet positions, but when there’s an audience, the stage is hers.  So when I told her today that I took a ballet class, I saw a little confusion in her expression.
This is a crossroads that I wasn’t prepared to meet at her young age.  “Mom, you can’t wear that, you’re too old.”  I definitely expect that.  “Mom, are you really listening to that song? Stop singing and turn it down before you pull up at my school.”  I know she’ll say that.  “Mom, can I wear your pink high heels?”  She already says that. “Mom, can I wear your ballet slippers, I forgot mine?” I don’t know how either of us will feel about that one.
Clearly, she got her love of dance and performance from me; it’s one of the many things I hoped I would pass on to her.  But at what point do these things cross over from being mine to being hers or her sister’s?  When should I give them up so that they can have their moments to shine?  Even if it brings me joy (and keeps this saggy Mom butt in gear), is it really fair for me to do it now too?  Oh motherhood, will you never stop asking unanswerable questions?

Happy New Year

As the New Year begins, I always wonder what all of the hype is about.  Why does everyone get so amped up about New Year’s Eve? I suppose I can see the appeal of the New Year, but I don’t buy it.  I’m sure some see it as a fresh start.  There is something strangely enticing about peeling off the plastic wrap of a brand new calendar.  An exhilaration that comes with running your hands over the empty boxes, just waiting for the fun activities to be penciled in their vacant spaces.  Some may also see it as a time to improve themselves, making resolutions that are often never met.  Lose ten pounds?  Nope, not today, I had three vodka tonics last night and now I need a bacon, egg and cheese to soak them up before they come back out.  Save more money?  But I just planned an awesome vacation in my head.  Keep a cleaner, more organized house? Sure, right after my kids finish throwing all of their new Christmas gifts around the playroom for the next month.  In many cases, people are really just looking for a way to move on, to turn over a new leaf as you turn a new page on that great calendar of life.  And this year, I can identify with that.
Amidst the holiday hoopla, I took a break from blogging.  Not for lack of topics to write on. A day didn’t pass that I couldn’t picture myself writing about some subject or another.  The hours in the day just seemed to diminish the further into December we got. I took time to reflect; there were a lot of highs and lows in 2012.  As I make my peace with each one of them, I see the yin and the yang, the good and the evil coexisting everywhere. Wonderful times like watching my big girl perform holiday songs with her fellow preschoolers warmed my heart.  Hearing of the unimaginable tragedy in Newtown shook me to my core and left me questioning what very little faith I had had to begin with.  I wanted to write about this, but felt nothing I could say did justice in the face of something so unjust.  It’s not that I want to turn away and pretend like it didn’t happen, but I do see the novelty of the New Year somehow silently allowing us to move on.  It is something we can, and will, revisit and respect, and like so many other painful memories, we will never forget.  We can, however, try to pick ourselves up and keep going right into the New Year.  We can tackle the things that come up along the way, those that we can plan for and those that we cannot.  We can accept the challenges and rejoice in the victories. 
I see the year laid out before me. I know its cyclical nature.  I was trying to explain it to the big girl tonight.  I found it easiest to tell her about the holidays and birthdays we will celebrate again in the same order.  She’s already excited about telling everyone she loves that she loves him or her on February 14th.  It’s confusing and a bit disappointing that Christmas is over, but she’s happy to move on now that she knows about the Valentine’s Day cards and cookies we will make.  I am excited to see these days through her eyes.  My girls help me to be less cynical and more optimistic about the promise of the future.  And now I understand why the revelers in Times Square are so wide-eyed.  It’s probably not the copious amounts of uppers they’ve just taken; it’s the high you get when your future looks as bright as that famous ball.  It’s shiny and new and ready to turn 2013 into something magical.  Happy New Year!