Mother’s Day Uncensored (or Stepping In It with Style)

FB_IMG_1494796346870Mother’s Day is bouquets of fresh flowers, the pitter-patter of little feet running through the house while Mama half-dozes, giggling outside the bedroom door, handmade cards, a mocha coffee delivered bedside, and a bagel brunch on the back deck with thoughtful gifts and sweet words. It’s lovely and divine.

But this year, I discovered the night before could also dish up its own spot-on, hilarious tribute to motherhood:

We were sitting around the table picking at the last bits of Chinese takeout, when my husband and I heard a small but persistent voice from the bathroom.

“I’m duh-uhn!”

“Just a sec, honey…” I said, as we continued chatting about our plans for the week ahead.

“A little help here?” the voice called out again.

And then, “Mama?

Finally, taking the hint, I joined my 4-year old throne-side.

“Um, I had a little accident, Mama… sorry.”

I looked down and saw his Super Mario briefs lying on the floor—looking remarkably accident-free.

“No problem, Sweetie,” I said, scrunching a handful of toilet paper into my palm so I could help him.

“You know what, Mama? I saved Lego bag number 3 so you could help me tonight since Papa already got to help me… and tomorrow, you can give me a bath because it’s gonna be Mother’s Day and usually Papa does that…  so tomorrow will be special.”

I smiled at his concept of Mother’s Day. As I wiped him, he continued to chirp away, using a tone most women reserve for the nail salon. “And I’m working on a secret art project but I can’t tell you about it,” he said, “because it’s a surprise and…”

I thought back to earlier in the day and my older son’s sad eyes when he heard that Mama wouldn’t be at his baseball game. My husband explained that I was going to take the afternoon off and go shopping, as an early Mother’s Day present. But one look at that face and I changed my plans.

“I’ll join you at the park,” I’d told him.

As it turned out, I never had to leave. En route to the park, his tummy started hurting. With vomit an imminent possibility, my husband quickly drove him home to be under the watchful eye of Mama.

20170514_123542“Mateo!” my husband called from the kitchen, rousing me from my reverie. “Don’t tell Mama everything.”

“I’m not, Papa,” he shouted back.

“I have a special, surprise Lego project,” he flashed his little imp smile. “That’s what I mean,” and continued his beauty shop banter.

“Ok, that’s it,” I said. “Time to flush and wash your hands, mon cheri,” and I stepped away to wash my own.

But as my foot came down, it suddenly slid in the opposite direction.

A delicate stripe of brown “mud” streaked across the floor.

Except. It. Wasn’t. Mud.

I managed to keep it together while reaching for the Lysol wipes.

“Sorry, Mama.”

“It’s OK honey, I’ll just clean that up.”

As I wiped the floor and cleaned out the grooves in the treads of my slipper, I heard the water running in the background.

“Here, Mama! I’ll help you, ” he said, holding a sopping wet hand towel—my favorite—in his little hands.

I couldn’t help laughing as I looked around. And that night as I snuggled on the couch with my boys and we watched the opening scenes of E.T. together, a favorite movie from my own childhood, I thought how lucky I am to have them.

When Mateo climbed out of bed long after he should have already been asleep because he was scared and wanted a hug, I thought how wonderful it is to be needed and loved and entertained by these little boys every day of the year.

This is motherhood. And though it can be exhausting and frustrating, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 

Life’s Best Medicine: funny stuff courtesy of the kiddos

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Brush your teeth or else…

Sometimes we forget to laugh.

The world has become such a serious place that humor can seem frivolous, a luxury for a happier time. But life without laughter is empty.

Thankfully, two of my favorite live-in comedians, age 8 and 4, are killin’ it daily. We just have to pay attention.

(And be ok with the living room’s new decor of swirling, floating, tiny feathers because, well, the 4-year old took a bite out of an over-stuffed cushion during a no-holds-barred pillow fight…)

On Being Healthy (courtesy of M, age 4):

– Are you ready for some exercise? Because we’re about to do some exorcism!

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On technology’s limits (courtesy of N, age 8):

Alexa, play “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay

Here’s “Little Bit of Whore” by Johnny Thunders…

On the perfect pet (courtesy of M, age 4):

I’d like a penguin.

Reasonable parent: Cute idea but how about something a little more practical?

– Ok, I guess I’d take a small dinosaur.

On the art of debate (as demonstrated from the backseat):

-Yes, he can!

-No, he can’t.

[Voices rising… tension’s building in the car. Clearly, this is important!]

 I saw it. Batman can fly.

No, he can’t. You don’t know anything.

Yes, I do.

Oh, yeah. If you’re so smart, what’s 15 + 15? [Victory fist-pump for the 2nd grader…]

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Even at an early age, this masked man knew his stuff…

On describing a teacher [courtesy of M, age 4]:

Well, she’s got brown hair and looks kind of like God.

One more for the road… Overheard at Sports Clip (as stylist makes small talk with young child in chair next to us):

– That’s a cool action figure you brought with you!  What’s his name again– Captain Morgan?

[Awkward moment follows as child’s mother sweetly suggests stylist mistook superhero for Rum spokes-pirate because she works long hours in a salon where sports shows and liquor ads must play all day. But stylist corrects her…]

-Nope, just too many late nights partying!

7 signs you’re living with a child under age 7

There’s no denying it. You have all the symptoms. You’re living with one or more kids under age 7… aren’t you?

 

 

1. Your Netflix cue and cereal selection are both chock full of animated characters.20160324_075524

 

 

2. You occasionally rock out to a children’s CD even after the kiddos have gotten out of the car.20160324_111450

 

 

3. Your colleagues have caught you slurping up a Gogo Squeez apple sauce pouch during lunch.07d3bb85d2183ba8a8a5982fa57f2d80

 

 

4. Your vacuum suffers from lego-indigestion.20160324_081825

 

5. You’ve exceeded the surgeon general’s RDA for listening to knock-knock jokes.20160324_144841

 

6. You automatically cut up your meals into bite-sized morsels or wacky food art.8575e94a53391d4e827290e4b3c75bc2

7. Your highly developed sense of smell can pin-point the child responsible for producing offending odors in a nano-second.disgusted-mom-holds-nose

 

 

 

7 Wild Things That BACK TO THE FUTURE 2 Never Could Have Predicted

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We all know that technology has come a long way since BACK TO THE FUTURE 2 imagined what October 21, 2015 would look like. Sure we can make video calls, drive electric cars, and even watch the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs but what about these 7 surprising things that no one ever saw coming?

1.) Kale and brussels sprouts are popular veggie options — even for kids.

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2.) Vinyl records are making a come back.

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3.) People actually spend their time watching shows about “Real” Housewives.

MIAMI SOCIAL CLUB -- Season:1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Alexia Echevarria, Marysol Patton, Larsa Pippen, Cristy Rice, Lea Black, Adriana Sidi -- Photo by: Adam Olszweski/Bravo

Photo by: Adam Olszweski/Bravo

4.) The 1976 Olympic Men’s Decathalon champ looks ravishing today as a woman.2A92852200000578-3152418-Courage_award_Caitlyn_Jenner_accepted_the_Arthur_Ashe_Courage_Aw-a-70_1437038353203

5.) People will soon be reading Playboy for the articles.

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6. The Clinton and Bush families are still duking it out for the White House.

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7.) And The Donald is leading the list of Republican presidential hopefuls… (seriously?)

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I am a Jedi like my MOTHER before me


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Cue the theme music… here comes “Good Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, with the blue light saver (sic),” also known as my three-year old son. Lately, we can’t go anywhere without that light saber.

This little guy has an incredible passion for all that is Star Wars. From books and cartoons to Legos and mini action figures, he simply cannot get enough. Well, with the exception of the actual movies… which, after several trial viewings, he has deemed too scary.

Even without the Lucas films to reference, he’s memorized most of the plot line and convoluted family tree. Plus, he’s got an unquenchable desire to make-believe. In one favorite game, he pretends the guest bed is the Millennium Falcon and we have to scoop in to save Padmé or others in distress. Other times, he instructs one of us to play Darth Vader to his Luke. It goes something like this:

Me: [with labored breathing sounds] Luke, trust your feelings and you will know it to be true. I – AM – YOUR – FATHER.

Mateo: [gasps] What?! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Then we redo the scene. Again and again. Sometimes it’s hard to share his enthusiasm.

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Even his older brother, age 6½, our Star Wars Lego building expert, is getting fed up. He loves the movies and can’t wait to get his hands on all the latest Star Wars toys but his little brother’s total fixation has become rather annoying.

This got me thinking about another set of siblings in a not so distant galaxy where little sister (that would be me, age 3 in 1977, the year the first Star Wars movie came out) became similarly obsessed with the Star Wars merchandising machine. I coveted the impressive collection of toys my big brother, age 7, had acquired. He seemed to have it all — Death Star, Millennium Falcon, Tie Fighter… and when his Star Wars figures would get a little worn out, guess who would get them?

Yes!

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I loved Star Wars and started to amass quite a collection of my own. Prized possessions included several dozen action figures, an x-wing fighter, a ton-ton which Luke or his comrades could actually ride and the planet Hoth with a built in at-at.

Oh, Lord. Is it obvious that I’m not quite over it all yet?

Eric, Liz, Leslie Rothaus, 1976

Me with my older bro and younger sis, circa 1976.

I’m not sure if my obsession riled my brother’s nerves though it probably did, especially when I cut off the tips of Obi Wan and Luke’s light sabers to make them more realistic and tried to slide Vader and Leah’s cloaks on other, bulkier characters. (He seemed to have a sixth sense that these toys, or at least their non-mutilated twins, would have value someday.)

My parents surely worried that the only times I’d play with my 3-story doll house was to reenact an elaborate scenario in which the resident family hid beneath the removable kitchen floor to escape the ruthless Storm Troopers who came looking for them.

Behavior like this (not to mention my questionable taste in naming my baby doll, “Carwash”) must have led to some serious eyebrow raising but they never let on that I was an unusual child. They let me be me, quirks (especially quirks!) and all. I’m glad for that now.

All of this has left me wondering a few things:

  • Is this all a coincidence or is age 3 a moment when most children fixate on a particular passion?
  • How important is the influence of older siblings or do all children go though a similar phase?
  • Finally, should I worry that my son is obsessed with Anakin and his struggle between the light and dark sides of The Force or is it actually the perfect metaphor for the impulses he’s experiencing now?

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No doubt, my Star Wars youth prepared me well for having two boys. Each time I was pregnant, I wondered what on earth I would do if nature bestowed a girly-girl upon me. How would I handle it? I guess I would have done the only possible thing, dug down deep, marched into the American Girl doll store to buy a brunette doll who could fit a custom-made Princess Leia costume.

Grocery Shopping – Ze French Way!

When I’m in France, I love to go shopping. Yes, clothes and home furnishings are swell but my true love is food. Give me an outdoor, open market any day and I’m one happy camper. But I’ve discovered another guilty pleasure — exploring the super-sized hypermarchés that have popped up on the outskirts of most cities around the country.

You think you know how to shop at a grocery store? Guess again. Successfully navigating a French hypermarché means mastering a new set of rules. Hop in your Peugeot and on y GO!

1. Dress for Success

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When French women head to the grocery store, they don’t show up in yoga pants and a t-shirt. Think more like dress, heels, and full make up. That’s the expected attire. Believe me I’ve tried the casual route and my sneakers were a dead giveaway of my American upbringing. It wasn’t until I slipped on a new black & grey number that I looked and felt like I really belonged.

2.  Put Another Nickel In, In the Nickelodeon

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Ok, so a nickel won’t actually cut it. (But a quarter might if you can’t find a euro! It worked for me…) In France, you’ll generally find shopping carts neatly arranged in their metal stables outside the store. People actually return them because they had to invest a euro to borrow them in the first place. If they want their money back, they’ll remember not to leave them flailing in the middle of the parking lot later.

So, two things: don’t forget the cart on your way in since it can be a LONG walk back to find one and make sure you come with some change. Most caddies take 1 euro or 50 centimes pieces.

3.  It’s a Whole New World!

shopping at auchan

Did I mention that this place is humongous? For the unitiated, it can be quite an eye opener to find a supermarket in the same complex as a shopping mall. So remember this common sense rule: try on those snappy little shoes and check out those handbags before you check off the fish, ice cream and stinky cheese on your shopping list.

4. I Dairy You

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Did you really think the dairy section was sufficient at your local Trader Joe’s? Believe me, you ain’t seen nothing like the overflowing aisles of refrigerated cheese, yogurt, creams, desserts and other milk-made treasures. Oddly enough, you’ll find the actual milk (ultra-pasteurized) stacked on regular shelves next to warmish bottles of spring water like Evian and Volvic.

5. The Price is Right

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A couple important things to know about pricing in France. First, as you consider your shopping budget, know that the price you see is what you’ll pay at check out. Taxes are already included. Second, many grocery items are priced by the kilogram (that’s 2.2 pounds of fun). You can usually buy less than a kilo — 500 grams is about 1 lb. — but keep those quantities in mind as you’re planning recipes and your budget.

6. Weight a Minute!

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Hey? Where are you going? Don’t leave the produce department before you bag, weigh, and label all your fruit and veggies. Otherwise, you will be banished upon arrival at the cashier.

7. Registers, Registers All Around But None of Them are Fast

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Oh, Lord. Even if you are a quick shopper — no small feat in stores that take 10 minutes to traverse from one end to the other — you’ll need to plan for extra time at the cash register. Make that a LOT more time. Lines tend to move at a snail’s pace. Cashiers are in no particular hurry. For some mysterious reason, usually 4 of the 30 available registers are open at any given time.

Beware of the “priority lines” that give preference to pregnant ladies and those with disabilities. It’s a lovely concept but I personally witnessed two brawls about to break out on my last trip to France — one of them involving my mother, gesticulating with a cane after a recent surgery. Also, don’t try to bring that big caddy into the Express check out lane — you’ll get seriously reprimanded.

8. I Like Big Bags and That Ain’t No Lie

sacsFrench grocery stores are big on the do it yourself motto — be ready to bag your own groceries with your own bags. For environmental reasons, free plastic and paper bags are no longer provided at grocery stores. So bring your own or be prepared to buy ’em. (Note: the produce section does provide small bags for fruit & vegetables only — see #6 above.)

9. Returns? Think Again.

“Fine! I’ll keep ze hat!”

Are you sure you really don’t want that thingamajig? Remember how long it took to buy it in the first place? Consider carefully since successfully returning an item is a major bureaucratic victory in France. You may be used to American stores where returns are welcomed with a smile and often without a receipt. That’s definitely not the norm here. Expect the process to involve several vendors, each of whom will inspect the merchandise and receipt with an eagle’s eye and direct you to wait in no fewer than 3 different lines before you walk out with your 8€50. The old phrase “buyer beware” seems pertinent to remember.

10. Baby, You Can Drive My Car.

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If all of this sounds like too much work or too much choice or too much trouble, maybe you’d prefer opting for the latest rage in France. Drive through shopping! Order online, then pick it up. Total time at grocery store: 5 minutes.  No extra charge.

But what would you do with all that free time — shop???

Parenting: It’s a Dirty Job… so why do we do it?

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“Sounds like you have been knee deep in actual puke lately!!” was the way my friend delicately summed up my last few weeks in a text message. And it’s hardly an exaggeration. This winter, we’ve been bombarded with more than our seasonal share of colds, allergies and stomach bugs.

It got me thinking, as I sprayed down my son’s sheets yet another time in a pre-wash ritual that’s become a little too familiar: How do we do it? How do we parents and caregivers deal with all the puke, all the poop, all the pee-pee?

Before I had kids, these were the things that I dreaded most when I imagined parenthood. How could anyone, I wondered, deal with all of that… YUCK?

Let’s start with the basics. Picture it: six years ago this month, our new baby arrives and the nurse helps us put on a diaper…once. After that, it’s up to us. I’m so desperately afraid I’ll break the baby, that he’ll squirm right off the changing table, that I don’t even know where to begin.

I look back now and wonder when did it start to become natural?

How did I go from freaking out about soiled baby clothes – choosing rapid disposal over the repulsive prospect of washing them – to the mama who can play it cool in even the most challenging of situations? Like the time I sprinted from the breakfast buffet to a casino bathroom with a child whose four-day potty strike had abruptly ended, only to discover a baseball sized wad of caca had already emerged at the bottom of his pant leg.

Nothing prepares you for that!

This is simply life with kids, my friends, and probably why that catch phrase “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” sounds a lot different to me now.

There must be something that transforms us, allowing us to rise to the occasion and face the utterly disgusting. Could it be instinct?

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No different from the cat that meticulously licks her kittens clean or the bird that teaches her young to aim carefully for the large grey Mazda below, we find ourselves trying to sweet talk a 2-year-old into peeing in a cup at the doctor’s office when he still hasn’t made up his mind about this whole potty training business. It’s a tall order but we do our best to make it happen, as doubtful as the outcome may be.

Attempting the impossible: that’s part of the job description whether or not we knew it when we signed up for this parenting gig.

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But then I think about the other moments – those that are much cleaner – and easier to delight in:

– that huge smile from my preschooler when he leaps into my arms for a hug

– the touch of those soft, little palms when one of my boys holds my hand

– the way my kindergartener runs into school with his backpack bopping up and down

– how they stretch on their tip toes to see themselves in the bathroom mirror while brushing their teeth

– their efforts to one-up each other with absurd knock-knock jokes

– their total lack of self-consciousness, one wearing a Spiderman costume to go shopping and the other coming home from school with his shoes on the wrong feet

– their ingenuity when they “skateboard” into the room on a toy cutting board

– the pride I feel when they share willingly or say thank you without a prompt

These things may seem insignificant to others but they are exactly the kind of everyday moments that remind me why I can now handle all the other stuff.* Is it love? Is it maturity? Is it because if we don’t, who will?

I think the truth is that day by day, we grow into our roles as parents. For my kids, I can be brave. I can try to find a solution and I can deal with the poop.

*Insert scatological word of your choice. [Ok,I admit it. I was dying to use the word “scatological” somewhere…]