The Ace Bandage

Last week, I had a small procedure done on my right wrist.  When it was over, the doctor wrapped my wrist in an ace bandage and advised me to keep it dry.  In his mind, I’m sure he meant for me to take off the bandage or wrap it in a plastic bag when I showered.

2013-01-28 ace bandage edLittle did he know that I barely shower, so it wouldn’t really be an issue.

What he should have advised me was to keep it away from avocado, chili, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, chocolate ice cream, and boogers.

The Tomato Sauce Incident

Some people say that if you have trouble opening a jar, you should gently tap on the lid.  Have you ever tried it?  I think I had in the past, but I also combined it with running the lid under hot water, using one of those rubber no-slip grip type things, and eventually giving up and waiting for my husband.  Someone, however, apparently taught my one-year old daughter, Bear, exactly how to do it.

After yet another exhausting trip to the grocery store where we went for four things (one we purchased, two they didn’t have, and one we forgot) and ended up with a cartful of randomness, we came home in the pouring rain.  I got the groceries inside, set my son, Monkey, off to play and Bear decided she wanted to help me empty the shopping bags which were sitting on the floor in the living room.

I heard a tapping sound and realized that what Bear was holding sounded fragile.  I peeked my head out of the kitchen and found her banging the lid of one of the jars of tomato sauce on the ground.  It made a cool sound, as evidenced by the giant grin on her face.  I gently tried to redirect by handing her the unbreakable plastic container of mayonnaise.  She was less than pleased.

I stood up with the jar in hand, not realizing that it was upside down.  Kaboooooom!  The lid apparently couldn’t withstand the pressure and flew off the jar, launching tomato sauce everywhere.

Monkey came running and Bear immediately dove in to start finger painting.  Then, in walks my husband.  What a sight to come home to!

sauce 1 ed

Papa stripped Bear down and I sopped up as much sauce as I could from the floor.  I was already wearing half the jar (you should have seen my pants!).  It looked like a crime scene from Law & Order.  *gung, gung*

sauce 2 edI tried to clean myself up once the floor was under control.  No amount of paper towels was going to do the trick.  I plunked myself in the shower, clothes and all.

So, if you ever have trouble opening a jar, just let me know.  I know a one-year old who will be more than happy to do it for you!

**********************

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The sky’s the limit, kid.

The doorbell rang.  Dinner had arrived.

Monkey ran to the door with his new Hess helicopter in one hand and an airplane in the other.  “Mama? Can I show him my new helicopter?!”

The delivery guy looked in and said, “Ooh, nice helicopter and plane!” as Monkey zoomed them around.

“Thanks!” said Monkey, beaming.

12-06-2013 Ikea Hess ed“Do you want to be a pilot some day?” asked the delivery guy, thinking he had asked the appropriate question given what he was observing.

Monkey turned on him.  His eyes glowed red and it was only a matter of time before the lasers began shooting out.

Then, in a “There is no Monkey, only Zuul” type voice, he shouted, “I DO NOT WANT TO BE A

PILOT!  I WANT TO WORK AT IKEA!”

The delivery guy chuckled, but all I could think about was …

Mmm… free Swedish meatballs…

New Year’s Eve: A Love/Hate Relationship

I hate a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Eve.

I love it as a chance to start over. A clean slate. An opportunity to start eating healthier, exercising, and… well, who am I kidding, that lasts about a week. I love reflecting on the past, leaving it behind, and looking to the future.

I hate it, though, because the event itself has, on many occasions, let me down. I have never been to Times Square. I have never had to pick confetti out of my hair. I have never gotten dressed up and gone to a gala or a ball. As I write this, my best friend is wearing a gold dress and dancing the night away at her sister-in-law’s New Year’s Eve wedding extravaganza. I must admit, I am a little jealous.

I am currently sitting on my couch in my pajamas watching SVU on my DVR while both kids sleep and my husband is snoozing on the couch in the other room. As he said to Monkey before bed, “This is the holiday where your mother wakes me up 10 minutes before midnight to watch the ball drop. Then I kiss her and go back to sleep.” Yep. That about sums it up.

My expectations for this night have always been too high. I expect pomp and circumstance and rarely get it. Now, not every year has been miserable. I have been to fun parties with friends and family and I have very fond memories of those nights. But life as a parent of two little ones (who don’t sleep well enough to be left with a babysitter) make the celebration, well, different.

Today was just another day. Nothing special really happened. We played, we ate, we ran some errands. As the evening approached I realized that it was New Year’s Eve and we had no plans. We weren’t getting dressed up. We weren’t going out. We didn’t even have champagne in the house. Something had to change. Something had to make this day unique.

I had nothing for dinner so I decided to order fat cats* from the “Grease Truck” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grease_Trucks) turned restaurant over at Rutgers University. I asked my husband to light a fire in the fireplace. We sat down in front of the fire and ate our fat cats picnic style while Bear tried to blow out the flames.

NYE 1 ed

After dinner, Monkey ran into the kitchen and raided the snack drawer. He came back elated. “We have marshmallows! We have marshmallows!” And so we did. A few sticks later, marshmallows were toasting. Once are bellies were overly full, what better thing to do than have a dance party!

Although we were already having fun, it was time to get even sillier. I ran into the bathroom and grabbed a new bag of cotton balls. I snuck some into Monkey’s hand, whispered into his ear, then ambushed Papa and Bear with “snowballs.” We had a huge snowball fight and lots of giggles.

NYE 2 ed

Not a party without hats or crudité, you say? Well, Monkey ended up taking his pants off and wearing them on his head. I’ve been to parties before where that exact thing happened. So yep, definitely a party! Finally, the kids took a bath and went to sleep. Of course, I am curious as to which one of them will wake up at 11:58 pm.

So, although I’m in flannel pants and a t-shirt and not an evening gown, although everyone around me is sleeping right now and I’m alone with my television and my thoughts, although there is no champagne in my house, and although I just pulled a piece of macaroni out of my hair rather than confetti, I am content. I was content last year when my New Year’s Eve was spent sampling fancy cheeses in my living room with my husband and I am content this year after having had a fat cat picnic with a dance party and snowball fight.

Once again, my expectations were high – different, but high. I wanted this day to be special. I wanted to remember New Years Eve 2012. More importantly, I wanted my kids (Monkey at least) to remember New Years Eve 2012. Without a plan, without pomp, without circumstance, I believe we accomplished that goal. As I kissed Monkey goodnight, he said, “Mama? That was a really fun picnic. And Papa and I got to warm up in front of the fire after my bath. And, can we have another snowball fight tomorrow morning?” Yes, yes we can.

At 11:50 pm, I’ll be waking my husband up to ring in the New Year with me. And perhaps we will even crack open the bottle of Martinelli’s sparkling cider I found in the basement when I went to put the laundry in the dryer a few minutes ago.

From my family to yours, have a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year filled with laughter, love, and silliness.

*A fat cat, for those of you who don’t know, is a disgustingly delicious sandwich that I will not be able to eat starting tomorrow when I start my diet… again. It’s a large roll with 2 cheeseburgers, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mayonnaise, and French fries all on the same bun. You feel so bloated and ill after eating it, but you just. can’t. stop. Check out all of the “Fat” sandwiches here: http://www.grubhub.com/nyc/jimmys-grill-new-brunswick/?showSmallSearchWidget=Y

Reflections on the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

Like so many others, I am baffled, horrified, grief-stricken, and angry at the events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday.

Tragic events like this often cause us to stop and take stock in our own lives.  I did just that and realized that in the grand scheme of things:

Does it really matter that my son spilled a bowl of popcorn on the floor not soon after I finished vacuuming?

Does it really matter that my daughter caused an avalanche of books right after I put them all back on the shelf?

Does it really matter that both of my children knocked over piles of freshly folded laundry causing me to have to start all over again?

No.  It doesn’t.

Yes, those things are annoying.  Yes, they are time consuming.  Yes, I would rather they didn’t happen.

But, I still get to hold my children.  I still get to nurse them and wipe their noses and tend to their booboos.  I still get to comfort them back to sleep and applaud their latest accomplishments.  I still get to wrestle and tickle them and have early morning pillow fights with them.  I still get to tuck them in at night, smother them with hugs and kisses, and tell them I love them.

Many others are not so lucky.

This school shooting hit very close to home for me.  As a former elementary school teacher myself, I remember practicing our lock down drills – cramming 18-20 students into a small bathroom, crouching down in the dark, and trying to remain quiet and still.  They were drills, nothing more.  But they were scary.  Many of the kids thought it was silly and fun and I would have to control their giggles.  Many wondered why we had to go through this and looked concerned.  I never liked these drills.  My heart pounded each time and I would have to be calm and reassuring to the students while inside I was freaking out a bit.  That being said, I’m still glad we did them.  Knowing what to do in a situation like this is what helped save many lives at Sandy Hook Elementary.  The teachers were prepared.  They knew where to go and what to do and they did so calmly and in an orderly manner.  And by doing this, they kept as many students as they could alive.

The hardest thing for me as a parent right now is that I tell my children that it is my job as their mommy to keep them safe.  It is my job to protect them.  It is my job to keep them out of danger.

But then, something like this happens, and that concept is shattered.  If I’m not there, there is nothing I can do.  It is then that we have to put our faith in others.  We trust that those who care for our children will do whatever they can to keep them safe, to protect them, and to keep them out of danger.

Several teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary proved that on Friday.

So yes, hug your children.  Hug them and squeeze them and love them and keep them safe.

Then, go hug a teacher.

 

If My Kid Could Vote for President…

Mama: They’re talking about voting.  Soon, we get to vote to see who is our president for the next four years.

Monkey (3.5 years old): I want to vote too.

Mama: That’s wonderful!  Unfortunately, you have to be 18 to vote, but you can help me when I vote!

Monkey: No!  My own vote!  I want to vote for MY president.

Mama: And rightly so, but you’ll have to do it with me this year.  Who would you like to vote for?

Monkey: The other guy.

Mama: Well, which guy do you mean?  The one who is already president or the one running against him?

Monkey: Hmmm… Who are you voting for?

Mama: Well, I’m voting for the person with whom I agree more and who I think has good ideas.

Monkey: Why? Is the other guy a bad guy?

Mama: [long pause] No, not a bad guy… just has different ideas that go against some of the things I believe in.  Do you want me to show you pictures of the two guys?

Monkey: Okay.

Mama: Okay.  Here’s Mitt Romney.  And here’s Barack Obama – he’s president now and Mitt Romney wants to be president.  They both want the same job, but only one guy can have it.

Monkey: Was Mitt Romney the president before Barack Obama?

Mama: No, a man named George W. Bush was.

Monkey: Was he a bad man?

Mama: Um… here, let me show you a picture of him.  But he can’t be president again so we have to choose between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney this time.

Monkey: Oh, okay.

Mama: So, do you want to ask me any questions about them or do you know who you’re going to vote for?

Monkey: I know who I want to vote for.

Mama: Who?

Monkey: Pizza.

Mama: Pizza?

Monkey: Pizza.

Mama: You want pizza to be our president?

Monkey: Yep.  I think that’s the best choice.

 

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Musical Beds: Adventures in Co-Sleeping

We are a co-sleeping family.  It’s completely wonderful and miserable at the same time.  Long gone are the days of spooning with my husband.  Long gone are the days of rolling over.  Long gone are the days of getting up to pee without waking everyone else in the house.

I’ve seen many an image of moms and babes cuddled up in blissful slumber and oh so sweet photos of dads and toddlers all snuggled up peacefully dreaming together.  In reality, in MY reality at least, it doesn’t usually look like that, especially since I have children who have never, in three and a half years, ever slept through the night.

At home, we have a king-sized bed with an adjacent unused toddler bed.  Our nights usually end up with a few shifts in positions and snuggle partners; however, while visiting my in-laws this week, THIS is what happened.  Warning: Do not try this at home.

The Game:

Musical Beds

The Playing Field:

One queen-sized bed
One twin-sized air mattress on the floor at the foot of the queen-sized bed

The Players:

Mama (Me)
Papa (My hubby)
Monkey (our 3.5 year old son)
Bear (our 1 year old daughter)

Round 1:

Mama and Bear in big bed.

Round 2:

Bear in big bed.  (Mama in the bathroom.)
Papa and Monkey in little bed.

Round 3:

Papa and Bear in big bed.
Mama and Monkey in little bed.

Round 4:

Mama, Papa, and Bear in big bed.
Monkey in little bed.

Round 5:

Papa, Monkey, and Bear in big bed.
Mama in little bed.

Round 6:

Papa and Monkey in big bed.
Mama and Bear in little bed.

Round 7:

Mama and Monkey in big bed.
Papa and Bear in little bed.

Round 8:

Mama, Monkey, and Bear in big bed.
Papa in little bed.

Round 9:

Mama, Monkey, Bear, and Papa all in big bed – sleeping sideways with feet dangling off the end.

Needless to say, we were all exhausted the next day.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

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Favorite My Day, Eleven Years Ago: Remembering 9/11/01

They say “Remember 09/11/01.” I remember… all too well.

I remember not feeling well that Tuesday morning and wondering if I should call in sick. I remember deciding to go to work, thinking I’d probably leave early. I remember what I wore and that I didn’t like the outfit I had chosen. I remember the sheer beauty of the day – the perfect weather, the bluest sky I had ever seen. I remember my commute on a bus through the Holland Tunnel to downtown Manhattan where I switched to the subway. I remember going to the cafeteria to get breakfast, and I remember what I ordered. I remember paying the cashier and watching the second plane fly into the building on the lunch room television. I remember not knowing what was going on and how my life was about to be turned upside down.

Photo borrowed, without permission, from George Takei (hope that’s okay George). Source: http://www.allegiancemusical.com/blog-entry/reflect

 

I also remember going back to my desk and waiting to learn more about the horrible event I just witnessed. My co-worker Jim was the first to receive a phone call from his wife confirming that this was a terrorist attack and not an unfortunate accident. Then, my phone rang. It was my brother-in-law. “Aim? You okay?” It was at that moment that what was happening settled in. It was as that moment that I wondered where I was going to go, how I was going to get there, and if I would make it out of the city alive. “I’m terrified,” was my response… and I meant it.

I tried to call my father who worked downtown near the World Trade Center. I couldn’t get through. I then called my mother who was teaching at an elementary school in New Jersey. I asked the secretary to send a message up to my mom’s classroom that said, “I’m okay.” She had no idea what it meant. She had no idea what had happened.

I finally got through to my father. He was okay too, thank goodness. We tried to formulate a plan to get us both out of the city safely. He needed to stay at work to ensure that his people got out and that his business continuity plan was activated. He was going to be a while. I just wanted to get the hell out of Manhattan.

The tunnels were closed. The subways weren’t running. The ferries were shut down. The bridges were stopped. One of the great things about Manhattan is that everywhere you go, there’s a landmark. But, when the city is under attack, one of the worst things about Manhattan is that everywhere you go, there’s a landmark. Were more attacks coming? What would the targets be? Where could I go?

Smoke billowed, a burning smell permeated the air, and there was an eerie silence in the city that never sleeps. Few of us spoke… what was there to say?

I needed to leave. I just wanted to be out of the city. Co-workers of mine were taking one of the few subways that were running out to Queens. My boyfriend at the time lived there. I tried calling him to see if it was alright if I went to his place, but I couldn’t get through. He was on a subway under the World Trade Center when the attacks first happened, but luckily, the subway left the station before the trains were shut down. I went to his apartment anyway and sat outside for hours, hoping I’d hear from him, praying that he was okay, and wondering what I was going to do if he didn’t return.

I passed the time calling everyone I knew that lived or worked in New York City. The phone lines were unpredictable, but I was eventually able to check in with many of my friends. Everyone I reached was shaken up, but they were safe. Finally, I saw my boyfriend walking down the block. I was so relieved to see him.

We went inside and I continued making phone calls.  Hours went by and I got a call from one of my best friends. She informed me that our good friend, D, whose wedding I attended just six months earlier, hadn’t been able to contact her husband who worked at the Pentagon. My heart sank. D began sending out email updates about the search for her husband and we never gave up hope. Then, we learned the sad news that her husband had been one of the 125 people in the part of the Pentagon that was hit when American Airlines Flight 77 struck the building.

I didn’t want to be in Queens any more. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be with my family. I wanted to hug my parents. I wanted to see my sister and brother-in-law. I wanted life to go back to the way it was at 8:45 am on that day when my biggest issues were my slightly sore throat and a dull outfit.

They say “Never Forget 9/11.” I couldn’t if I tried (and believe me, I’ve tried).

There are things I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to forget the lives of the people who were killed that day. I don’t want to forget the bravery and heroism of ordinary citizens, police officers and firemen, or the search and rescue animals. I don’t want to forget how instead of this attack tearing the country apart, it actually brought us closer together. I don’t want to forget how everyone was kinder, more compassionate, and more empathetic. I don’t want to forget the sense of community and patriotism. I don’t want to forget how much better food tasted, how much prettier the trees looked, how much nicer a hug felt. I don’t want to forget how lucky I was (and am) to be alive.

Every year on this day, I have a very heavy heart. I tear up throughout the day. I reflect, I remember, I mourn. I hate today. Each year, I think it’ll get easier. It doesn’t. Each year I comment on how sad this day makes me and each year my brother-in-law, the one who first called me with such concern, love, and a hint of fear in his voice that fateful morning, reminds me that instead of focusing on the negatives of that day, we should focus our energies on the beauty of the things in the world around us. We should be grateful for our families, appreciate nature, live our lives to the fullest, and love with all our hearts. It’s a hard thing to do when the sheer terror of that day still feels so fresh even 11 years later, but it is something for which I will strive.

Today, I left the crumbs on the floor and the laundry unfolded. Today, we went for bike rides and indulged in full-fat, decadent ice cream. Today, we sat in the sun and watched the clouds float by. Today, I hugged my children even more and sent love notes to my husband.

I didn’t forget, nor will I ever, but today, I remembered to live for today.