Sunday, December 1, 2013

The 24 Month Ages and Stages Questionnaire.

Last week my son turned two which meant I found myself staring down 30 absurd questions in the pediatrician's waiting room while my son screamed, in a friendly manner, at the fish tank.

18 Month Ages & Stages Questionnaire, you were ridiculous.

24 Month ASQ, you're not off the hook, either.

As I did with your sister survey, I'd like to provide more detail than your fill-in-the-blank responses allow and offer amicable suggestions for your questions, where applicable.

Your instructions suggest the parent try the activities when [the] child is cooperative.
You want this done before said child reaches age 3, yes? Then perhaps there should be only one question that asks, "Is your child currently yelling at a saltwater fish tank in a friendly tone?" Otherwise, forego the helpful tip.

You ask Does your child turn the pages of a book by herself?
This is a waste of ink as there is no other option for a 24 month old. Don't believe me? Try telling your toddler that, as we learned on the previous page, Brown Bear espies a red $^%& bird, not a white dog and then try to flip back the pages his quick, but inaccurate fingers, skipped over. Toddler rage leaves a mark, especially when board books are in play.

You ask Does your child use a turning motion with his hand to turn doorknobs?
Oh come on! Is this like the 200 points given for putting a name on the SAT? Either throw this one back in the 18 month survey or stop asking it like every damn door in the house doesn't have one of those round balls on it to keep the resident 24 month-old from escaping time-out or heading to the
park on his own. The snide reminder that we currently run an insane asylum is not appreciated.

You ask Can your child string small items such as beads, macaroni, or pasta "wagon wheels" onto a string or shoelace?
Am I a $%&# camp counselor or a parent? Should we start whittling an Adirondack chair using 10 logs and a Play-doh knife for the three year questionnaire? Next question.

You ask for a second time if my child can turn a bottle upside down and drop out the Cheerio I place in it.
Here's the thing, ASQ. If I couldn't answer this back at 18 months, there is no earthly way I can at 24. Cheerios go immediately in his little Elmo bowl or in his little mouth. You're asking me to take a bottle over the head when you ask me to place the Cheerio there. I'm no lawyer, but Moms Who Have Been Hit With Bottles v. The ASQ is in your future if you don't remove this gem.

You ask Does your child eat with a fork?
This is a great question! However, to get what you need, you might define eat. Does it include pounding the fork on the table, tossing the fork on the floor, and using the fork to deposit food in one's hair? Just sayin'. If you want accurate results your query must be specific and based on the wild popularity of squeezable applesauce, I'd infer your results on this question are not statistically accurate.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Pumpkin And The Goat.

Once upon a time there lived a pumpkin and a goat.

The pumpkin found his way into a certain toddler's life amidst the contents of a birthday party goodie bag. This particular pumpkin's purpose was to bring joy to small children with bubbles but the small child who owned him never figured out that the stalk was a bubble blower or that bubble stuff sloshed within the hollow insides and so his parents, quite gladly, never shared the secret.

The goat had been living in a toy barnyard for some time but was rediscovered by the toddler with the glee usually reserved for old fruit snacks found smushed into the rug.

Neither the pumpkin nor the goat cleared three inches, but their power was mighty.

"Mommy, mommy! See my punkin and goat!" the little boy would scream at odd moments during the day and proudly display one in each hand.

"Punkin and goat, punkin and goat," the little boy would chant while walking in circles and swinging them in his little hands.

When going up the stairs, a feat that required his little hands to be free of any objects, pumpkin and goat included, he would say, "Mommy, hold my punkin and goat pease."

Most of the time, the little boy's mom did not know where the pumpkin and goat resided. Sometimes they'd show up in the play kitchen or under the table, but whenever they couldn't be found all the mom had to say was, "Pumpkin and goat?" and the boy could produce them in front of their eyes, an invisible tether binding them for eternity.

Of course, since the tether was invisible and pumpkins are not known to stick around much past October, a very bad thing happened. The pumpkin disappeared and the goat sat by his lonesome on a kitchen shelf that should have been out of the little boy's view.

For days he questioned their whereabout and for days his mom did a pretty kick-ass job of diverting his attention using a patented combination of lies and fruit snacks. And then one day he spotted the $#^@ goat on the shelf.

"MY GOAT!!!" he shouted, "Mommy, there's my goat!"

Mommy cringed and waited. He did not disappoint.

"Where's my punkin?" she heard laced with the same passion invoked when requesting a cookie.

The good, exhausted, creative mommy did her best but the toddler saw through the lies. He knew pumpkins don't need "me-time," he couldn't believe the goat would decide to achieve his dream of scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro if it meant saying goodbye to the pumpkin, and while he didn't quite understand the concept of hibernation he was fairly confident it didn't apply to pumpkins.

Desperation set in. This Mommy was no dummy. Pumpkin bubble blower inventory is halfway to China by November 1st!

And then she heard it. Sweet joy of joys. The little boy screamed, "MY PUNKIN!!" Hidden away in a compartment of the diaper bag she didn't know existed was the pumpkin. There were also some pretty disgusting peanut butter crackers and an old banana stem, but the little boy was so glad to have the pumpkin back, he didn't try to eat either.

Mommy, the little boy had, the pumpkin, and the goat had a sweet reunion and texted many pictures to Daddy who was on a work trip in Chicago enjoying dinner at (and this is true, couldn't make it up if I wanted to) The Girl and The Goat not quite, and likely not ever, appreciating the irony of his own girl and goat back home.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Most Ridiculous Hospital Tour In The World, EVER.

Let's talk about my hospital tour. Normally, I would have dismissed the hospital tour but everytime I asked a healthcare provider or hospital information kiosk worker, "So where do I go when I'm actually in labor?" I was told, "Oh just take the tour. It's great!" Despite my persistence, no one would give up a wing or a floor, so to the tour I went.

I attended the tour alone and on the drive over I felt like a woman freed from her household bonds. My husband was with our son and neither one of them had any idea how long a hospital tour might take. All day? Possible.

Upon arrival, I noticed I was the only one there without a "partner" and upon introductions that I was the only one in the bunch to have already experienced the thrill of labor and delivery. Within five minutes of the tour's start, I knew what to do when in labor. I should have left. I had what I wanted, but freedom felt good and Kerry, our hippie nurse/yoga instructor at the healm of the ship seemed like she might take offense to someone walking off so early.

In the delivery room, I listened to her talk about check-in and checked things off my "Delivery Room Expectations list." Laminate wood floors? Check! Giant TV? Check! Uncomfortable couch for dad? Check! Massive crotch spotlight hiding in the ceiling? Check! It was all there.

My train of thought was interrupted when I heard Kerry say, "A lot of our moms say aromatherapy really helps getting through those contractions, so consider bringing essential oils or lavendar."

I looked around incredulously the nodding heads of the innocent moms who had never felt a contraction. I wanted to scream, "Lavendar?! You've GOT to be kidding. Don't listen to this because the poor soul who comes near you with lavendar mid-contraction is getting it shoved up his ass. Wildflowers are only good if they are a magical elixir in the epidural."

I stayed quiet.

Next on Kerry's list of ridiculous things you might want was a giant inflatable pool. She told us that we should request it early because it takes some time to inflate and fill it, but then we could hop right in to help ease the contractions. Oh! And tell your partner to bring his swimtrunks because he can get in, too.

Are we in labor or on a toddler play date with an unsanitary pool? I do not want to sit in placenta-water and my husband doesn't either.

Still, I stayed quiet.

It was the third ridiculous fact about this hospital that gave me my voice. "We recommend that the baby stay with you every night you are in the hospital so you really get that special bonding time with your infant." Kerry droned on about this as my eyes filled up. I want to bond with this baby and we have a lifetime to get 'er done, but as far as I'm concerned, those two nights in the hospital are my last two nights of sleep for about three months.

"But if you want the baby to go to the nursery, it can, right?" I asked, my voice shaking.

"Oh sure," Kerry responded. Relief flooded my veins, "But," she continued, "studies show new moms sleep more soundly when in the same room as their babies."

"Oh, really, Kerry?" I wanted to shout but didn't have the balls, "studies show I sleep more soundly when I'm not woken up three times a night!"

Instead of saying this I glared at her.

The fourth and final ridiculous fact about this hospital is that according to Kerry they do not "believe in pacificiers." What is not believable about a pacifier? They exist and they work. Were Kant alive, he could riff off a textbook on the existence of pacifiers. Apparently, this hosptial believes in crying babies so I will be bringing a gross of pacifiers in my overnight bag.

When done with ridiculous facts, one ridiculous question came from tour group. "Does this hospital offer room upgrades?" a woman asked.

Umm, are you J. Lo or Kim Kardashian? You've got laminate wood floors and an (optional) inflatable pool. What more do you want in suburban Texas? You are having a baby, not weekending poolside at The Ritz. Get over yourself.

Thank God the answer was no. I only wished Kerry hadn't said it with so much apology in her voice.

So I'm sure my hospital stay is going to be a riot with herbal remedy experts, nursery naysayers, and the pacifier police at my bed. I think I've either picked the wrong hospital or privileged consumerism is finding its way to healthcare.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Worst Place On Earth During The Holidays.

Has anyone been to Pinterest lately? Yes? Ok, good. Anyone else going to avoid it like it could kill them between now and New Year's? Studies have shown that it is currently the worst place on earth. Need proof? Read on.

I needed a recipe. Really. That was the only reason I ventured over there. What I ran into was enough to make Martha Stewart rethink her entire career.



DIY Reindeer Treats? Why isn't that a picture of Oreos and carrots with a bite mark?

DIY Holiday Sweater Pillow? Do the recipient a real favor and donate the old sweater to goodwill.

The next refresh got more disturbing:

A sandpaper christmas tree as a holiday exchange idea? Let's all hope we are not invited to that exchange.

A DIY Holiday Bucket List? Don't need all those blanks to fill in 1. Survive. 2. Don't Let Any Toddlers Find Out Santa Isn't Real 3. Don't Drink Publicly If You're Pregnant.

The DIY Thank You Cards look lovely, but they also appear to have been created by a master paper craftsman. For the amateurs that will be at any/all holiday exchanges I attend this season, keep in mind you can never go wrong with Kate Spade stationary.

I did one more refresh to see if maybe I'd stumbled into Pinterest during a  Holiday Twilight Zone, but no; no I hadn't. It continued:


A lovely, crafted Christmas card holder. Mine is called "Scotch Tape."

A gratitude game to teach your children gratitude. Bribes that involve Spider-Man fruit snacks are just as effective.

A New Year's Eve craft that lets you craft something out for each hour leading up to 2014. I suppose this is for those who can't get their crafting fix out of Christmas, who I would imagine are not that crafty in the first place.

Ladies, for the love of God, lay off Pinterest with the holiday DIY-ing. Unless, of course, you're DIY-ing it with a box of wine and an Amazon Prime membership. Instagram that and I will follow you for life.

Monday, October 28, 2013

2nd Trimester Superfoods.

The other day, feeling a bit masochistic, I perused the internet for information on the second trimester.

I found a tidbit that I had not come across in my first pregnancy: during the second trimester, women are highly prone to yeast infections.

Wow universe, you are clearly a chauvinistic asshole if the the trauma 'round-the-corner for this general area isn't enough to keep you satisfied.

Anyway, this knowledge struck fear in my heart. I've only experienced the joy of this lovely female plight once before. It was the summer of 2005. I was living in Chicago and spending far too much time in a bathing suit on North Ave Beach and running dozens of miles along the lakefront in the humid mid-Western air. By the time I acted on my condition, dough rose when I walked by and antibiotics were needed for the cure.

Not ever wanting to relive this, my google search took a turn to "preventative measures". Given that real medications and pregnancy oftentimes don't mix, I found a slew of "natural" precautions. My opinion on non-Western medicine has not changed, but I was willing to learn about the roots, ginkoba, and berries that might save me from my plight of that uncomfortable summer so long ago.

Greek yogurt was the first thing that popped up. "Easy," I thought to myself, "I like yogurt, I'll increase my servings." I read on and, to my horror, found the word, "Insert" prefacing the word "yogurt" mid paragraph. My jaw dropped and I laughed so hard my shoulders shook realizing this article does not suggest the yogurt enter through one's mouth.

My Vanilla Oikos is not going up my crotch. I don't want to be the person remembered at the hospital for delivering a yogurt-glazed loaf of bread.

The next preventative measure listed was garlic and I knew, before I read, where the article would like it shoved. With a straight-face, it suggested peeling a clove or two and delicately jamming it up the lady parts. Worried about losing the garlic in your uterus? Don't be! The website said it will eventually fall out.

This would be one way to make a cervix check more uncomfortable.

"Well, you're 2.5 centimeters dilated and these two bulbs of marinated garlic in my hand indicate your child will be perfectly seasoned."

Instead of following this advice, I will take my chances that pregnancy sticks to affecting my shape, weight, hair, nails, teeth, ankles, back, and feet and lets the body part that got us here rest in peace. It doesn't deserve the yogurt.



Saturday, October 5, 2013

The People You Should Lose Touch With.

Somewhere, in the unwritten rulebook of life, it is written that there are some people you should lose touch with as the journey unfolds. If you don't, the nostalgia surrounding a younger era that is permanently instagrammed in your mind's eye is replaced with a reality you'd rather encounter in rush hour traffic or when trying to reach the numbers on the ATM and it becomes embarrassingly obvious that you will either have to roll your window down and hang out it or open your car door and stand next to the machine to reach your $60.

I've discovered, this unwritten rule transfers from real life to fake social media life. I have not sent or received a friend request from with the  little boy who was super cute in 2nd grade and is now a manager at Staples. I'm not friends with my high school boyfriend, although I was for a few months until I bashed Delta  repeatedly, and very humorously I might add, without realizing Delta was his employer. He took it as a cue to bash my employer (not sure how he knew where I worked, that was a bit creepy), who sells incredibly tasty fast food that everyone enjoys as opposed to making business travelers mad, so I unfriended. It was an important lesson about who your real social media friends are.

The other night my phone buzzed with a friend request. "Who is this?" I said to myself. Stumped, I asked my self again, "Who is this person??" Assuming it was someone random whose news feed I'd shown up in and unsure as to why this random person wouldn't use LinkedIn instead, I set my phone down.

And then I remembered.

I gasped. I cringed. I smiled. I cringed again.

He had long curly hair, which was much longer than my boy-short locks that I thought were awesome but now make me question my taste in  general. He was an actor. I think he knew how to surf. He had an accent. He was incredibly cute and I dated him during a semester abroad in Australia.

However, he was my "one-off." In college I told my friends that my future husband was somewhere in the Northeast at a similar college and we'd meet in Boston. NAILED it. I didn't date ACTORS or people with LONG HAIR when I was stateside!

But now, here he is, his locks still flowing friending me from Park City. We were supposed to lose touch so I could keep him as the cute Australian actor I dated and he could keep me as the American with short hair he dated at uni. Every once in awhile he'll pop into my conscious mind from the recesses of my college memories where he is stored next to Brittney Spears and Ruthie from The Real World and I smile.

I don't however, care to know where he is currently backpacking or what he is having for breakfast. He was only real when I was 20. Brittney's comeback was depressing. I think his would be, too.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

No More Handmade Halloween Costumes.

I am certain I have used this vehicle as a platform to proclaim my strong disdain of store-bought Halloween costumes. I am as passionate about this as most are about political beliefs. Those who really know me know where I stand and I know bringing it up in mixed company would be deemed uncouth.

This immutable view took hold in college when my roommates and I needed little more than a glue gun, felt or fabric, pipe cleaners and duck tape to create our Halloween alter egos. We missed the memo that every other girl on campus received stating this holiday was for unleashing our inner punishable Catholic school girl or naughty nurse and, instead, took pride in making magic from common big-box store items.

One year, we were the Three Little Pigs and The Big Bad Wolf. What were we really? Three girls in white shirts with pink felt wraps at the waist, hot glued with felt "Pig 1," "Pig 2," or "Pig 3" letters and a menacing wolf in a brown dress, brown tights, brown clogs, and an oval piece of light brown fur pinned to her stomach. There were also pipe cleaner ears and tails and store-bought snouts in case our felt-on-felt costumes didn't make our ensemble clear.

A few weeks ago, my roommates and I had a chance to get together and spend a solid 15-30 minutes regaling a new boyfriend in the mix with our Halloween stories.

"We could do anything with felt and a glue gun!" one of us shouted, still proud of the truth in that statement.

Last night, my husband and I aligned on our son's Halloween costume. He will trick-or-treat as Bob the Builder because he loses his shit when he espies the inept handyman and Elmo just feels so trite and commercial.

Before the conversation was over, in my mind's eye, I was running down the aisles of Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and Jo-ann Fabrics filling my cart with Bob the Builder raw materials.

My husband's stern voice broke my virtual craft shopping spree.

"I need verbal confirmation that you WILL NOT make this costume."

"What?!" I said, surprised that he had followed me on my journey but sounding like I'd been caught with a pipecleaner hot glued to my back.

"Say it, Ann," he continued leaving the "ie" off my name which meant business. "You will not make this costume."

"Why?" I said buying some time to peruse my brown and yellow felt options and wonder what aisle would hold a hard hat.

"I swear to God, if our son has a felt toolbelt pinned to him, he's not leaving the house."

"But it's fun!" I shouted back.

"Fun for you. 15 years ago. Not fun when your son is the little boy in the felt costume. Buy it."

Defeated and misunderstood, I texted my college roomate with my husband's ultimatum.

"PINNED?" she wrote back, mocking my husband's knowledge of felt costume-crafting, "I think he means HOT GLUED! If the belt's off the table, make the tools!"

And there my friends, is the loophole. Like Sandra Lee, we will have a semi-homemade Halloween.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Let's All Agree To Stop The Absurd First Day Of School Pics.

The first day of school is several years away and I'm confident I won't live up to the expectations.

I am sure my son will be dressed in a clean, cute outfit. Ok, that's a lie. He's a boy. It will be cute but it may have some dirt or maple syrup on it.

I am also sure I will take a picture. Using my phone. The badass camera we bought in preparation for parenthood sees little play time. The vision of us as a camera-toting couple, using magical settings that make childhood look like a wispy cloud-filled fairy tale, hasn't quite come to fruition.

I'm fairly confident he won't be holding a sign with the date and his grade. Now, in theory, this is a good idea, but then again, so is Communism. I don't want to embarrass my son during the wedding slideshow when his first day of kindergarten pic pops up and the date is written in black Sharpie on the back of an open gas bill envelope.

I thought I'd found my out.

In late August my facebook feed filled with photos of children holding pinterested-out handmade signs declaring the first day of school. My initial horror receded into a dull annoyance only when I realized it was my Southern friends crafting Chevron striped, faux French Provinicial chalkboards and hiring talented baristas for the delicate scroll. If this is a Southern thing, I will gladly play my Northern card and pass on the antebellum ritual.

My horror returned today when moms in Upstate NY joined the shenanigans.

Ladies, let's stop the madness. I understand the pride in the first day of school but we are glamourizing an event that will happen 13 times and, quite honestly, looks like a pain in the ass. School supplies, early mornings, clean outfits, nourishing breakfasts, and the four years leading up to it that were filled with flying puzzle pieces and crushed Kix do not deserve a plaque.

Yes, I know your old friend from work quit her job and started a photography business and is now posting somewhat annoying photos 2-5 times a day with her logo on the bottom and making you feel incredibly inadequate with your camera roll, but what no one is telling her is that the sunswept, filtered, professional sign filled photos are dorky. Friends think it when they're posted and in 13 years your child is going to wonder why all her childhood events had props.

So, let's start a new trend. Change is hard, but it oftentimes begins with a small group of passionate people. I think we are it and I think we are needed.

Screw the sign and pin some mimosa recipes. Mix a giant batch. Bring this giant batch to the first day of school and take photos of you and your friends toasting yourselves for reaching the day with minimal puzzle-shaped scars marring your bodies. Shun anyone with a sign. In fact, make a sign that says, "If your child has a sign, you cannot have a drink."

By the time our first day of school is upon us, the mimosa trend will be all the rage and I will know who to thank. In fact, thank you in advance for your social activism. It's people like us who can truly change the world.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Perfect Ending To A Long Day.

Yesterday was rough. My son wasn't particularly cranky, tired, or disagreeable, but rather, acting like a typical twenty-something month-old and testing every limit.

I told him not to hit the wall with his toy golf clubs. He heard me, lightly touched his putter to the wall and gently dragged it down the hall with an innocent look of someone who knows they've discovered the loophole.

Five minutes after naptime began, I heard his little voice screaming for water. The "I'm so dehydrated I'd take my chances with cutting open a cactus" trick is his latest to delay sleep and it's GENIUS because no parent will ignore a cry for water. Begrudgingly I brought it upstairs and was promptly told, "No water. I wanna get out."

He asked to go to the park and wanted to leave three minutes after arriving. I tried to stick it out. He started walking home. We left.

He demanded milk, juice, and ICED TEA at lunch but then decided water would be best. (Sidenote: It was not I who introduced him to iced tea.)

He wanted to go upstairs and then proceeded to throw blocks over the railing and chase them down.

He asked for a wagon ride and decided he'd like to pull the wagon himself and fill it with rocks.

Perhaps this all would have been fine if not for my 15 week-old beer belly which is wreaking havoc on my jacked-up back. I can't pick him up and when he asks and I say no he responds, "Oh. Back hurts." So you see, I have only my brains and no brawn in the fight. I'm losing.

Oddly, I decided cooking dinner would make me feel better. So I did. I made up a recipe for Spinach Stuffed Chicken wrapped in Pancetta, turned on Elmo and went to work. It almost felt like those wonderful days before parenthood when I would come home stressed out after work and cook to calm down. Back then, I was usually in workout gear and a little bit sweaty after an intense workout. Yesterday I was in the same gear and sweaty after a day of thinking about working out but never actually doing it.

My husband was running late so I sat down with the smallest piece of chicken to feed my son. Upon his first bite he said, "I don't like it."

Awesome.

Not believing it wasn't delicious, I took a bite and fell in love with myself. I proposed to myself. It was GOOD.

I watched him push it around his plate for 20 minutes requesting cookies and then gave up. "His loss," I thought, "this is good." I was excited for my husband to sample the day's domestic triumph.

With the boy cleaned up, I went into my room to brush my teeth as I was heading out with some friends as soon as my husband appeared. Mid-stroke, I heard a tiny little voice, "Mommy?" It was high-pitched and uncertain.

"Yah?" I mumbled over my buzzing brush? My response was a more urgent, "Mommy!" I dropped my brush and ran sure the boy had somehow wedged himself between the cupboard and the wall on a quest for a cookie.

What I found was worse.

My 100 pound Golden Retriever was ON THE TABLE and the CHICKEN WAS GONE.

I don't know what happened next because I blacked out. When the dust was settled I saw that I'd somehow hurled the dog off the table and out the door.  I'm pretty sure I told the dog I was definitely going to kill him in the near future.

I saw my son searching for "Mommy" where The Hulk now breathlessly loomed and calmed right down.

"Oh sweetie," I said, "it's ok. He's just a very bad dog (emphasis was on bad). He ate daddy's chicken. Now what will daddy have for dinner?"

Without a second of hesitation his little eyes, full of disbelief that I didn't know the answer, found mine and he answered, "hot dog."

I hugged him and glared at the dog through the door.

When my husband arrived my son retold the story which went like this, "[dog's name here] ate daddy's chicken. Bad Dog! Daddy have hot dog."

It ended up making for a very sweet toddler story and making me aim the day's frustration at the dog, but the dog is now dead to me. My only regret about the whole thing is that the chicken was boneless.

Friday, August 9, 2013

I Almost Beat A Door-To-Door Salesman With A Mop.

Yes, it's true. I almost just attacked a college-age boy trying to sell pest control services. He didn't catch me at my finest moment.

I had decided to clean.

This is rare.

I'm not a model of domesticity, but when I look around and realize the dog could probably survive for 48 hours foraging the scraps and crumbs on the floor, I take action.

Out came the vacuum, the bucket, and the sad excuse for a mop. Needless to say, I believe this was the mop's final mop and it's now on its way to the Swiffer team for the "mop in the garage/attic" casting call. It will NAIL the part.

Now, I don't clean much, but when I do, I give Cinderella a run for her money. Dustballs fly, sticky fingerprints come up, and sometimes I don a 1950s-style housedress to help me stay in the proper fram of mind.

Today, the dog stayed timidly behind me instead of retreating to his position under the stairs. This was lucky, or so I thought as I furiously mopped the area next to the front door and heard a knock on the door.

Looking through the peephole, I saw what I thought was a FedEx man awaiting my signature. Mop in hand, hair flying everywhere, pseudo housedress on, I opened the door and tried to block the innocent package deliverer from my ferocious Golden.

"He's going to run out," I warned the FedEx man, "give me the clipboard fast and I'll sign."

"Uhhhhh," the boy said to the crazy lady in front of him as she saw there was no package in his hand nor truck in the street.

My eyes narrowed, my grip on the dog's collar tightened, and I asked, "Who are you? What do you want?" all the while thinking, "God, please don't let this be a Jehovah! I don't want to waste my cleaning energy on this."

He explained he was with a pest control company.

I explained I was busy and not interested.

He asked if he could come back.

I said no so he kept talking.

I told him I had pest control covered.

He told me my neighbor said the same thing but was willing to give him a chance.

The dog, who usually runs outside with the force of a locomotive, circles the poor delivery man and snarls and lunges like a damn wolf, took this time to wag his tail and ask Mr. Pest Control to continue. "You asked me to eat a bug the other day," the dog said to me with his way-too-friendly eyes.

"I did!" I yelled back, "and then I called Orkin. What are you doing with the friendly tail?!"

As the young boy at my door launched into his company's selling points, I brought the mop uncomfortably close to him and then used it to emphasize the following phrase:

" I. Can't. Do This. Now. The Dog Will Run Out."

Then I shoved the dog back inside the house and shut the door on Mr. Pest Control. As it turns out, the dog, the mop and I are pretty good at keeping pests away.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Morning Sickness Turned Me Into A Charlatan

I love Western medicine.

I am descended from a line of doctors, and while freshman Organic Chemistry slammed shut my misplaced dream of carrying the torch onward, it did not extinguish my love and respect for the modern medical community.

I want to see a doctor; not a nurse and definitely not a PA. Community college and some two year extension school doesn't give one the right to wield a prescription pad or wear a white coat.

I want prescription drugs prescribed and and lab work run.

I want to see the giant diploma in Latin with the initials "M.D" or "O.B" engraved on thick, indulgent cardstock.

I want to know in the event of an emergency, knowledge is being pulled from The New England Journal of Medicine, not the internet or Chinese folklore.

I want to be admitted, I want my vitals taken, and I want my baby birthed in a sterile room with lots of sharp, sterile tools nearby. And for the love of God, I want the epidural.

Now, those who feel just as strongly the other way will understand that one's position is not something that changes. It's not right or wrong; although I don't know how Harvard, Georgetown or Einstein Medical School could ever be wrong, it's just what you believe and part of your DNA.

Recently, however, I've become a ginger-consuming, Vitamin B6 taking charlatan. Last week, in the middle of a meeting, I took out a bag of gingersnaps and had a moveable feast that followed me to every other meeting. Last night, I stowed ginger-ale in my purse lest I not be able to rummage some up at our destination. Today, I started Vitamin B6 to contain this low-level nausea to its lowest point.

The only reason I can do this with any shred of self-respect is because the doctor told me to try these things before we whip out some good old-fashioned prescription drugs.

Ginger snaps, you've got six days left before you get replaced with something less tasty but more effective. Best of luck. I'm pretty sure I know how this ends.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

34 & Pregnant.

During high school, college, my early 20s, my late 20s, and well into the first year of my third decade, I knew getting pregnant was a first class ticket to ruin. "16 & Pregnant" may not yet have been a glimmer in MTV's prescient eye, but I knew young motherhood didn't lead to a house on a hill overlooking the ocean.

Realistically, "ruin" was too strong a term to use for pregnancy after I graduated from college, joined the working world, and wed. I owned a home, a car, a dog, a husband, a graduate degree, and a nice little corporate marketing job and still believed  pregnancy would have the same dire effects as it would were I 18.

When I promptly changed my mind, it took the universe almost a year to get the memo about my change in position. My dusty uterus, shut down by management for 15 or so years, quickly let me know that taking direction was not her strong suit and brought my son into the world on her own timetable.

Fairly certain that with a second child, the old dustbag will give me the same run-around, her timetable is being taken into consideration.

Well, isn't the universe a bitch.

Several weeks ago, I walked into the breakroom at my new office where the product we sell covered every square inch of counter space.

"Oh my God!" I exclaimed loudly to fellow employees I don't know, "it smells awful in here!"

No one agreed.

A few days later, walking through the grocery store I was struck by a hunger I hadn't felt in over two years. My grumbling stomach fell to the floor as I headed to the pregnancy test aisle.

Perhaps it is because she is a bit of a control freak who still has something to prove or perhaps it's her way of apologizing for the past shenanigans; either way, she has proven once again she is in charge.

In less than 10 minutes, not the YEAR I'd planned for, I got pregnant.

The past 11 weeks have been a discomfiting mixture of nausea and shock. Don't get me wrong; I am thrilled there will be no second round against my uterus, but I hear her laughing and wryly reminding me to adjust to her calendar and erase mine.

In the meantime, I am drafting a pitch for the next hit MTV show, "34 & Pregnant." This unique, true-life series will star moms on the brink of "mature" maternal age who don't understand the consequences of unprotected sex.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Half-Assed Book Giveaway

Well where the hell have I been, you ask, sorely missing my somewhat entertaining posts. I have been on a summer travel adventure trying to disconnect from the world. Ok, that's a lie. My hard drive, on the 50lb laptop my new employer gave me completely crashed mid summer travels, so I've only been connected via phone and an ipad that is best suited to play Elmo's World and run the Fisher-Price "shapes" app 20+ times a day.

Speaking of travel adventures, my little guide is up on Amazon and I'm (self) published!

The Cape Doesn't Work; How To Fly With Your Baby, Supermom

I've read and re-read this damn thing so many times that I can't tell anymore if it's any good, but I do think it's quite helpful and entertaining. Soooo, if you've been missing my posts out here, go get a 100 page fill of me here! Were I tech-savvy enough to understand rafflecopter, which I see on blogs about makeup and fashion, I would do a giveaway and give out some copies.

That's a lie, too. I don't read makeup or fashion blogs. The quest for the perfect shade of lipgloss or the best way to rock a fedora is not high on my problems list.

So, what can we do. Got it! If anyone is interested in writing a review of the book on their blog email me and I'll send a complimentary copy to the first 20 people. Please understand the scope of the assignment: you must read it and then write an honest review for your millions of followers.

Got it? Ok, I'm waiting: annie025@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Training Ground for Bullies and Hookers.

Apparently, when you reside in the hottest effing place on earth, the summer isn't as sweet as were you, oh I don't know, in New England.

The Northeasterner in me cries at the thought of spending the summer inside. You see, my people get three months, TOPS, to enjoy jacket-free weather. We jump into an ocean that's 65 degrees and a pool that's 72 and are simply exuberant we're not wearing long johns.

In Texas, this does not appear to be the case.

Forgetting how hot it is, I've come close to killing the dog at least four times by leaving him outside too long. This may have been a Freudian mistake, but he's still alive so my sub-conscience hasn't yet overtaken my conscious thoughts and actions.

I've also made the mistake of agreeing to go outside with my little boy at 2:00 in the afternoon. He screams "hot" as soon as we step into the sun. Quickly, we retreat so our skin didn't burn off our bodies.

Yesterday, we gave in to the disgusting Texas summer and headed to an indoor playground with some friends. The window cling on their front window screamed, "ICY COLD INSIDE!"

"Good," I thought, "we don't die from exposure here."

Sun exposure risk was replaced by the risk of exposure to other nasty elements, namely future bullies and future professional strippers.

Let's start with the bullies.

Our little boys gasped with excitement at the giant blow-up slide. Trepidation was quickly replaced with screams to join the fun. Together, they started the steep ascent up the inflated stairs.

Cue the kids.

I now know how Simba felt.

Behind my son, a pack of what looked like wild boars, charged up the stairs and did not let him get in the way. My friend and I then shot up the stairs to fend off the wild beasts and help our little ones to the top. We then had to go down the damn slide which is steep, scary, and leaves blisters.

On the next go round, a little boy went out of his way to shove my little boy to the ground. I almost punched him in his little face and almost really enjoyed it. He was 4. We left the slide lest I become the bully.

Sitting at a picnic table, feeding our little boys Cheez-Its and Goldfish, we saw the future stripper.

She was clad in a tight white tank-top, light pink Cheekies that I swear came from Victoria's Secret, and a perfectly mussed bed-head ponytail. She was 8.

Her jam came and she went. to. work. Her little booty shook in ways mine never has nor could and her chest popped out at what would have been revealing angles were she not 8.

It was the eyes, though, that completed her transformation to Misty the Stripper Junior. She did her dance in front of a card table where her dad and her dad's friend sat drinking beers and tried to seduce them with come-hither eyes. The dads, playing perfectly the part of stripper watchers, appeared uninterested and continued sipping their beers and talking about sports.

She shook harder, they looked away further.

With this type of disinterested dad training, this girl is going to OWN her first pole.

As we left, all aware that this had been an unsuccessful experiment, my husband said, "I don't think that was our demographic."

I said, "I sure hope not."

So, here's to a disgusting, hot, bug-filled Texas summer.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Boy Moms Don't Rock.

Ladies, we are kind of d-bags.

Actually, not all ladies, just moms.

And even more specifically moms sporting shirts that say, "[Gender of my child here] Moms ROCK!"

You do understand that you have no control over which gender you mother, right? Proclaiming that you rock because you are a boy mom implies that you put in more hours, worked harder, worked smarter, and were rewarded with a little boy while the lazy-ass ladies got girls.

If this were the case, you'd have every right to wear a shirt that says you rock because you have a boy(s). I am ALL ABOUT sharing your awesome achievements, but the gender of your child does not fall within this realm.

You had less than nothing to do with it. Technically, your husband is responsible for gender, but even he couldn't choose, regardless of what he may tells you about his virility.

You are responsible for tying the gender of your child to a self-value that doesn't exist and now walk around the playground inciting the Mommy Wars.

Congratulations on taking all of us to a new competitive low. I'm relatively confident you'd meet my comments with, "I think it's cute!" but you are doing us all a disservice.

 Being a mom is HARD and we all deserve a tour bus and groupies. So take off the shirt and stop using your kiddo's gender as a vehicle to make yourself feel like you're winning at Momdom.

Why not leave the shirt at home and focus on being a mom that rocks instead of a mom who wears a shirt making the mothers of the other gender feel less rockstarish. If not, I'm going to make you one from puffy paint (I don't rock at crafts) that says, "I'm Kind Of A D-Bag." It's much harder to explain, but so much closer to the truth!

Happy Friday!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Questions for the 18 Month Ages & Stages Questionnaire.

18 Month Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), let me ask you this, are you real? In front of me are six pages of judgmental and absurd questions to which I am only given room to respond "Yes, Sometimes, or Not Yet."

Were I a more crazy, 2013, responsible parent, I may have had you all filled out before we arrived at the doctor's office. Hell, I may have even read and/or printed you before then, but I didn't. That's not how I roll.

Instead, I did my best to choose your terse response options all-the-while wanting to add context for you and get needed clarification on the more obtuse and/or asinine questions.

Since there are no forced choice bubbles here, I am going to use this space to add some context and ask some clarifying questions. I filled you out, so please, do me the courtesy and read what I have to say.

When your child wants something, does she tell you by pointing to it?
I responded "Yes" but feel you need to know he doesn't just point. He whines, jabs, screams, and eventually shrieks the object's name like a hyena in heat. For the full experience, ASQ, please meet me in front of the cookie aisle at Target.

Does your child climb an object such as a chair to reach something he wants. For example to get a toy on the counter or to "help" you in the kitchen?
I responded "Yes" but need to confirm, in order to take you seriously at 24 Months, that the help in quotes was ironic. You don't think 18-Month-Olds really help, do you, ASQ?

Does your child make a mark on the paper with the tip of a crayon (or pencil or pen) when trying to draw?
I answered "Yes" but this isn't limited to paper, right? My son rarely writes on paper with the tip of a crayon, but he's got walls, windows, and tables covered.

After a crumb or Cheerio is dropped into a small, clear bottle, does your child turn the bottle over to dump it out?
I left this one blank. What the hell kind of toddler science experiment is this? I didn't know I was supposed to be dropping Cheerios into small, clear bottles and watching the outcome instead of reading books or going to the park.

Also, is this questionnaire backed by General Mills? Seems suspect that Cheerios is the only brand mentioned in this entire survey. Holy $hit, their Brand Team is good.

Does your child get your attention or try to show you something by pulling on your hand or clothes?
I answered "Yes" and want my son to receive bonus points for pulling my pants all the way down if I'm wearing my drawstring pajamas.

Does your child drink from a cup or glass, putting it down again with little spilling?
I answered "Sometimes" which was a bit of a fib. I was afraid a  "Not Yet" would be an express ticket to remedial math but I'm ready to come clean. The answer is No. There is no flipping way my 18 month old ever even gets a chance to drink from a cup and set it down himself. Seriously, do you spend ANY time with toddlers and/or do you enjoy cleaning up spilled lemonade and milk? Get it together, ASQ.

Does your child copy the activities you do, such as wipe up a spill, sweep, shave, or comb hair?
This is simply outlandish. There is no need to comment on my cleaning ability, shaving freqency, or hairstyling status, ASQ. Stop trying to make it about the parents.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Splashpads Are Only Worth The Effort When They're ON.

Yesterday my little boy and I went to the playground/splash park with a friend for an afternoon of fun in the chlorinated sprayers.

Texas, I first found the proliferation of splashpads a bit odd, but I get it. It's HOT and no mom wants to go through the hassle of getting in the pool with her children. We'd much rather sit in the shade, sip lemonade (or something stronger) and watch our little ones spray each other in the face with the water guns.

Upon our arrival to the park, my friend said, "Why isn't the water on?" to which I replied, "Oh, I think there's a switch somewhere," to which she replied, "but there are kids running all over the playground in bathing suits."

She was right.

Our little boys are much too young to understand that the pick-up truck over yonder contained a city worker, using more than will, to start it up so the gaggle of sunburned suburban moms would just GET OFF him.

Our boys screamed and squealed and flailed in their little shorts and mock turtleneck swim outfits (why do we dress little boys like 1930 female sunbathers?) trying to reach the place where water was promised to freely flow.

At one point, a loud hiss came from the splashpad and my little boy, blinded by a frenzy that only shooting water can bring, ran from me to the other end of the playground platform on which he stood, missed the first step down, and rolled down each subsequent step until he reached the wood chips with a thud.

He cried, but kept one hopeful eye on the dry splashpad.

For 90 minutes we played on the scorchingly hot playground equipment and distracted the boys from the disgusting standing water that they would have gladly subbed in for a working splashpad.

Needless to say, the water never appeared and as we retreated I felt a like a defeated Confederate soldier leaving Gettysburg for home. (Being a Yankee I identify more with the Union side but we live in Texas now where "Yankee" is sometimes a derogatory term. I don't understand this since the Northeast is the center of the universe, but hey, when in Rome...)

I wanted a splashpad on a Friday afternoon, not defeat. Ok, in this scenario I actually don't care about defeat as much as the effort I wasted to get my little boy in a swim diaper, a 1930s style swim outfit, a hat, and sunblock; get a towel; bring water and snacks; get out the door without the dog; and then tackle him every three seconds as he ran for the mosquito filled water like he's a duck. He does love to quack; I might be onto something.

I mean really, splashpad, don't do this to us  me again.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I'll Take Witches In The Woods Over Crowns Any Day.

I know all the words to The Crown On Your Head. I've been testing it out, looking only at the pictures while reading it to my son, and after a 10th consecutive perfect reading, I'm calling it.

I don't know what this newfound "skill" is worth, and skill is a stretch, although I do fantasize that someday I'll be trapped by evil people who will only set me free if I can accurately complete a line from the book. It's a pipe dream inspired by Goonies.

After saying the words over and over, I've deduced that this book has been around much longer than the few years the publisher claims because it's the precursor to Marx's Communist Manifesto.

Everyone has a crown and no one's is brighter, no one's is duller, it's only a crown of a different color?

My ass some crowns aren't brighter than others. I tried to explain to my son that crowns aren't really equal and if he wanted his to shine bright he was going to have to work his little behind off to make it so but my husband told me it was a nice thought. Sure, and in theory, communism is a nice system.


Why can't we have more stories like the terrifying version of Hansel & Gretel we endured growing up. Remember that? Let me refresh your memories.

The stepmother leads the kids into the woods and leaves them for dead, not once, but twice. The first time they find their way back because resourceful Hansel, with a crown as bright as a stadium light, left a trail of marbles behind. Not tipped off that his wife is trying to kill his children, the woodsman, whose crown resembles a firefly's light, heeds her suggestion to go back into the woods the next day. This time, the bluejays, with crowns brighter than Hansel's, eat their trail home and they are trapped.

They stop at a fairy tale cottage in the woods (fairy tale is redundant, I know) where they are put to work like house elves and fattened up so the elderly occupant can EAT THEM. Her crown is marginally brighter than the woodsman's because she's getting away with cannibalism.

Eventually, Hansel uses his kick-ass crown to get them out and shove the witch/cannibal woman in the oven. They find their dad, who with some intellectual aid from the bluejay, got suspicious when his wife suggested they go to Sandals St. Lucia to celebrate the children's disappearance and got rid of her. Bad guys lose, good guys win, no equal crowns.

Can't we go back to that?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Why Toddlers Haven't Yet Ended Civilization.

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to the amazing fact that as a species we are not yet extinct. I'm usually most astounded when picking up an entire canister of bread crumbs my little boy turned into an indoor sandbox or watching him bathe like a bird in the water table for the third time in the same day.

It seems toddlers were created to end civilization. If parents decide one morning at 6am when their 18 month old is screaming at the top of his little lungs for the swings at the park with no end insight, that just one child is more than enough, eventually the human race dies out. Something, however, went wrong, and I think I know what it is.

Whoever crafted toddlers to be more devastating to mankind than bubonic plague forgot that humans make irrational choices.

When your toddler has thrown rocks at the door from inside the house, dumped an entire box of Kix on the floor, mushed Jell-O into the dog's hair, pulled every book from his bookshelf, screamed, "More!" so many times that you finally just give him ice cream for lunch, and is now brandishing a toy golf club like he's one of the Three Musketeers you know what you think? I know you do, because I think it, too.

WE think, "wouldn't this be a little easier if he had someone to play with?"

And that, my friends, is why we remain.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Little Too Lazy On Mother's Day.

My little boy, such a sweet little thing, gave me a unique and heartfelt gift for Mother's Day: his 24 hour bug. I spent the day in bed while my husband looked after our, now well, little guy.

In many ways it was perfect. I didn't lift a finger (because I couldn't), my husband had his payback for lying in bed all day Saturday (while he was knocked out by the virus), and every so often my little guy would run in my room for a quick snuggle and then run back out to dad.

Not so perfect was the bug itself. Aside from making me feel like I drank 12 beers too many the previous night and was then run over by a tractor, I couldn't eat all day and I'm pretty sure I dropped a few pounds. This is a BAD, BAD thing for me. You will hate me after I write this, but none of my work clothes fit because I've spent the past year chasing a baby and eating string cheese when I have 10 seconds to spare. You won't hate me when I admit that I don't look Kate Moss hot 'n sexy; I look like I got lost trying to find the treatment center. So, a waffle-filled brunch would have been much better for my health.

But forget about me, what the toddlers who get this thing, throw up eight times and rejoin the party like they're at a damn kegger? Are they made of iron and steel? Only this body composition would explain how they survive the 803 falls they take everyday and how 26 pounds of cracker-filled bones survived the plague that swept our house.

I have a new respect for toddlers. Those crazy bastards make me feel like an old, old lady.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Thanks For The Kennel Cough, Daycare.

I know all you moms who have been at this "working mom" thing for much longer than I are no longer phased by the crust permanently affixed to your little one's upper lip, but for a newbie, this shellac is a shock.

What the eff goes down in daycare? Do they lick the rug? Eat the diapers? Share regurgitated food?

No less than 24 hours after his first day, our little guy had a booger hose switched permanently on, where his nose once was. So now, my left shoulder is always crusty from his hugs and sneezes. It sounds bad, but it's kind of cute.

Today, I wore a black shirt, which you'd think was a bad idea given its uselessness at crusty hiding, but in a surprise twist it ended up being for the best.

On Wednesday night, our little guy threw up seven times. SEVEN. I went to bed around midnight and my husband, bless his heart (Correct use of that saying? I'm still not southern enough to know.), slept in the guest bed with him. Thursday was Freaky Friday for us; I went to work and my husband stayed home with our sickie, who was remarkably better after voiding every single crumb of food from his system the night before.

Throwing caution to the wind, today I ran some errands with him, thinking the little bug was gone. As we walked into Trader Joe's, the little guy started saying, "Poop, poop, poop." Three minutes later, while still in my arms, he let it out. Really out. Like out of his diaper. It was on his clothes and mine. The upside? I was wearing black and, dare I say it, potty training might be a snap!

Since TJ's offers only frozen potstickers and $2 wine in a situation like this, I ran next door to Carter's for the changing table. I hadn't seen poop like this in months, maybe over a year, and I certainly couldn't put his little shorts back on him. So I bought him a new pair and headed back into Trader Joe's for potstickers and a giant tub of cookies.

Thanks daycare. Your welcoming spirit has truly overwhelmed me.

END OF POST; ONTO SHAMELESS PLUG

My ebook is almost done! I've been focusing there instead here as I'm sure you've noticed my absence. My cover illustrator is designing my cover and then it's good to go. Eeeeeek!! Mark your calendars, you are just a few short weeks away from being able to buy:

The Cape Doesn't Work. How To Fly With Your Baby, Supermom.
By Ann Xxxxxx (that's me!)

It's so exciting to (self) publish!

Friday, May 3, 2013

I Miss My Friends!!

You know those first few months at a new job where no one knows you, no one understands your sense of humor, and no one has any reason to listen to you? Yep, I'm there and it makes me pine for my old work friends!

I want to walk in and say good morning to Grace, go to my office and see Mike already nervously waiting at the door, walk by Zac's desk and ask him what he's working on, go see Cynthia and get her snide commentary on the day's developments, find Steph and laugh hysterically at what Cynthia just told me, and be listened to when I say, "do this."

But alas, I cannot, and it makes me want to throw myself on the ground and pound my arms and legs on the ground until these people show up. It seems to work for my toddler, maybe it will work for me, too.

Happy Derby, to all!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I'm Not Going To The Mall For 15 Years.

Yesterday, I headed to the mall in search of baby gift and some new wedges.

Things did not go as planned.

To cope with the horrific events, I've blocked out most of the day and have only snippets of the highlights left in my memory bank. They include:

  1. A shoeless little boy running out of the play area and into the jewelry store across the way.
  2. A frustrated little boy arching his back, turning almost 180 degrees in his stroller, and screaming like he is being branded with hot iron.
  3. Me crawling into the dressing room next door to retrieve a cup of Kix which was furiously thrown when it became clear that little boys do not get out of their strollers while mom is trying on jeans.
  4. A determined little boy pushing an umbrella stroller into walls but shrieking when his mom tried to guide the vehicle.
  5. A curious little boy pulling shoes off the display tables to his left and right. The rhinestones and sparkles this season are truly things of wonder to a 17-month-old.
  6. The chuckles from women whose children were either in school or grown.
  7. The downright horrified looks from people who have no children and who will probably now reconsider their inclination to breed.
I bought nothing and left behind a wake of crushed Kix and destruction that surely make me unwelcome back at this particular mall. This was a brutal way to learn that for the next 15+ years all shopping must be of the online nature. Thank God I'm a Prime member.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston, You're My Home.

Boston is an easy city to hate. You can't go to school there unless you're a certified genius, you can't drive the streets unless you have lived there all your life or are one of the certified geniuses attending school there, you can't find parking, you can't afford your $1500 a month rent for your 600 square foot studio, you can't escape the eight month winter, you can't understand the accents, and the marathon has a qualifying time that most can't imagine hitting.

Despite this, I love Boston and every Marathon Monday since moving away I've wished I was there. For those who have never lived there, it's hard to understand the celebratory spirit of the marathon that engulfs the city on the third Monday of every April.

For the runners, this is IT. Not only is the course one of the most challenging in the world, but you can't just pay an entry fee and show up. Unless you're running for a charity, you have to qualify and getting to the starting line, 26.2 miles outside the city in Hopkinton, is a feat unto itself that runners spend careers hoping to achieve.

The crowds are amazing, lining every mile at least five people deep. They come out in droves because they've spent the winter listening to their runner friends lament their long, cold training runs and prattle on about the ferocious hills laying in wait at the end of the course. The size of the crowd is helped by the fact that everyone gets the day off. It's a holiday in Massachusetts. Sure, technically it's to commemorate Revolutionary War shots, but modern times have turned into a party for the marathon.

If the New England weather is in the spirit, it's finally nice enough to venture outside without a North Face and the spectators are thrilled to shed their hibernation layers.

The course is spectacular and steeped in the same tradition and ritual upon which the city itself is built. It meanders through bucolic New England suburbia for 10 miles and meets its first tradition at Mile 12 where the girls of Wellesely College form a scream tunnel that is heard about half a mile before the runners arrive. They dole out high-fives, oranges, water, and kisses; whatever you need. The mental snapshots I have of running by Wellesley will surely make it into my "This Is Your Life" reel when mine flashes before me.

At Mile 17, runners turn onto Heartbreak Hill, where things get a bit more serious. This three mile stretch of hills through Newton hit about the time each participant is wondering why she thought marathon running would be fun.

At Mile 21 the Boston College co-eds line the top of hill drunkenly yelling, "You're almost there!" While the runners know the last five miles of a marathon are far from grasping distance, they are thrilled to see the BC students, a symbol that the hills are over.

A few miles up at Kenmore Square, just outside Fenway, the crowds from the only Red Sox game played in the morning, stream out onto the street encouraging the runners for those last few miles.

When runners make the much talked about turn onto Boylston with just a few tenths of a mile left it is deafening and despite a tired body, one can't help but smile at the sight and sounds of the celebration leading to the Finish. The crowds are just as ecstatic as the runners, and much more able to physically show it, that the journey through their hometown was made triumphantly.

Today I am PISSED that someone tried to dampen the spirit of The Boston Marathon. Whoever did it knew the joy felt by every current or former Bostonian on Patriot's Day. They knew every runner in the world wakes up on Marathon Monday and smiles thinking about the excitement in Hopkinton. They knew the co-eds anticipate the debauchery and the office workers look forward to a long weekend. They knew the runners are terrified and excited to take on the Newton hills. They knew how long the Boston winter is and they certainly knew the unparalleled feeling of happiness when the sun shines on your face while you drink a beer at a Back Bay eatery on a spring day.

What they didn't consider, perhaps, is that a spirit this strong isn't easy to squelch. You can put a damper on it and you can cause fear but as long as the marathon route exists, as long as runners spend February and March charging up Heartbreak Hill, and as long as winter turns to spring in that wonderful city by the sea it will not evaporate in the smoke.

Today, I feel good about rocking my baggy old race t.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Terrorist Negotiations.

Twelve years late to the game, my husband and I started watching "24" On Demand and I feel guilty about the eye-rolls my mother couldn't hear when her response on the other end of the line was, "Let me call you after '24.' Gotta go." I did not expect to have interest beyond the first episode, but WOW, Jack Bauer's predicament is intriguing.

My connection to the show is also strengthened because I can strongly relate to Jack's position and thus know what he's thinking and feeling.

Many years ago I felt that same connection with The Bachelorette as I dreamt of a fairytale engagement and wedding. More recently, I felt it with Christina Applegate's character on "Up All Night" watching her navigate a big career with mommyhood. Today, I feel it with Jack Bauer, watching him negotiate with terrorists and hope against hope that he can keep their destruction at bay.

My terrorist is smaller and cuter than the one Jack works with, but unruly and unpredicable nonetheless with massive potential for destruction. Like Jack, I don't want to alarm the terrorist or let him know that I'm onto his plans.

When I see him climb on the first step, I stay very still lest quick movement send him shooting up, and potentially down, the stairs. In my calmest voice I convince him that he wants something else, "Look what I have over here," I chirp, "it's Elmo!" then start singing and dancing hoping vainly he will remove himself from the stairs of his own accord.

When he has my sunglasses in hand and is about to throw them violently on the slate floor I use an aspirational altruistic approach. "Good little boys give sunglasses to their mommies!" I say, "Don't you want to give me those sunglasses? You silly goose, they're too big for you!"

When his little hand is poised about the dog's water bowl, ready for some disgusting table water action I try to redirect. "Look behind you!" I say with nothing but excitement in my voice, "the washer is on! check it out!"

And sometimes, like when I'm trying to make dinner or make him lunch and he won't step screaming to be picked up, I resort to the carrot. "Want some crackers?!"

Will my methods work? I don't know. The outcome is as clear as the end of "24." America loves a happy ending so I doubt Jack's family or the presidential candidate will be harmed, but terrorists are so unpredictable, who can say? Time will tell and unfortunately, I think I have about 24 more months, not hours, to go.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Something New This Week.

Something new I tried this week made me sad.

I tried an eight-and-a-half shoe.

It's not vanity that brought a tear to my eye. One can cry no more for vanity when vanity is the one crying when she spots you in Target on a weekday afternoon.

I cried because I ordered the most darling spring shoes to help me feel my way through my springtime mom role. I believe in the method approach.

I cried tears of joy when they arrived in the mail and their cute factor far exceeded my expectations. Since I can't rip the pic from the web, imagine bright orange and white striped flats with a thin orange tie on the toe. Thinking about them brings back those initial tears of joy.

I cried tears of discomfort when I took them off my cramped feet.

I wept when the store employee told me they were out of Size 8.5 with no hope of receiving more.

I know new experiences help us grow, but I would have been much happier growing if it hadn't meant sacrificing the perfect orange flats.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bringing The The Holidays Up A Notch Will Be The End Of Our Nation.

By now we have all read this amazing rant from Rage Against the Minivan about bringing the holidays down a notch. I completely agree.  In my house, we too, celebrated St. Paddy's Day by wearing green and eating corned beef.

Oh, how far we've come. The achievement-oriented children of the 80s are now moms and we're all CRAZY and making ourselves crazier turning every single holiday into a technicolor event so we can instagram the $hit out of the technicolor and post our homemaking prowess on Facebook and Pinterest.

Barf.

Or so I thought.

I vowed to keep Easter simple. Maybe he'd get a basket with a box of Kix inside since those are his new packaged-good obsession.

The aftermath isn't too bad, but the setup
was cuter before he got his little hands on it!
Last night I realized I may have taken it a tad too far. In his cute froggy basket, which I HAD to buy because he started ribbiting at it in the store, were a dozen plastic eggs filled with Kix and crackers, one Reese's egg, bubble stuff, and an Elmo shirt because everytime he sees Elmo he says, "Momo" and it's just about the cutest thing ever. Next to his basket was a set of plastic golf clubs. You can't start them too early when they're destined for the PGA.

We did not have a scheduled egg hunt because of my mis-scheduling but next week I am hosting a Spring Treasure Hunt the bounty of which is eggs filled with, you guessed it, Kix. 

I asked myself numerous times last night why I did this when a single chocolate bunny would have sufficed. This year, especially, he'll never know the difference and still I couldn't stop myself from accumulating more Easter treats because I thought of the smile on his face and the peals of laughter he'd shriek when he saw a pint-sized Elmo shirt.

Now, I didn't take it too far. There are no chocolate fountains or barnyard animals in my living room, but I can see how that happens:

My Mom Train of Thought: "He just loves chicks. Thanks to their awesome data-mining, Target knows what I want before I do and just so happens to be selling a coop of chickens this Easter season that are strangely a perfect fit for my car and the playroom AND I have a Red Card. Throw it in the cart!"

It's hard to take it down a notch because we adore seeing our children full of joy, but the ends will not have justified the means. A century from now, when China is the dominating world power psychologists will write books called "Generation Deluded," that will track the fall of our nation back to the babies we birthed and  Pinterested through childhood. Moms, we DO NOT want this to be our legacy!

The frosting cocoon we are crafting for them (and creating a KICK ASS Pinterest board about) will be a detriment when 2035 rolls around and they enter the workforce. Their first day on the job, they will be searching for their Email Echidna to get through their inbox, their Meeting Moose to facilitate their meetings, their Polka Dot Panda Presenter to present to the Leadership Team, and their Office Orangutan to manage the politics and get them promoted.

Before Cupid starts shooting safe, yet well-aimed, candy-laden arrows every February 14th and Punxsutawney Phil spends February 2nd delivering summer treats to every child in the land, let's stop.

The productivity of our nation depends on us.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Let's Talk About The Kitchen Renovation.

So the renovation is just about done and while I'd love to share all the pics all at once, we still don't have everything set up just so and I can't find the damn charger for our nice camera so I can't take nice pics, anyway.

While we wait to set up and to find the charger, let's talk about my new appliances.

We were feeling European and much cooler than we will ever be when we made the decision to go with Miele. Neither Jenn-Air nor GE could offer us the smooth, sleek lines that sang to us like sirens from their German counterpart.

And so far, they look fabulous!

Same view. The post in the "after" is the wall where the microwave is "before." In the day, it's just as sunny in the "after," thanks to a giant picture window you can't see in this one. Oh, the new appliances are the three silver rectangles in the back.

 Using them, however, has taken some getting used to. Let's start at the beginning.

Meile Coffee Maker
Our first appliance is the coffee maker. This thing is no joke. I can make a latte, espresso, or a regular coffee with fresh ground beans if only I knew how! I have figured out how to make coffee, which is frothy and extra delicious come out of this bad boy, but the latte/espresso capability is still a mystery.

However, as soon as I figure it out I'm opening a Starbucks satellite location for carpool moms. With me in a green apron and the smell of fresh ground beans in the air, no one will realize they're not at the real thing.

Our second amazing appliance is the speed oven/microwave. Yes, that's a slash. This little thing has a mind of it's own. When I turn it on, I choose what I want to do. My options are Bake, Broil, Microwave, Master Chef, Defrost, and "More." Right now I mostly microwave, but I have done two other cool things with this appliance.

Miele Speed Oven/Microwave
First, I've baked with it and learned the name "speed" oven is accurate. The thing heats up to temp in about two minutes and then cooks everything in half the time you expect. We had some very crisp pizza on my first go-round.

Secondly, I used the meat probe. I mocked the name "meat probe" but I shall never do that again after witnessing its wonder. I stuck one end in an outlet in the oven, stuck the needle end deep in the meat, punched the meat temp into the oven and it cooked it until it was done. I didn't choose a temp or a time, it just did it!

Last up is the Steam Oven. This one is giving me the most trouble. When I turn it on, I choose what type of food I'm cooking and then dive into specifics.  Last night, for example, I cooked Broccoli Florets. Yes, that was a choice. Like its friend the meat probe, the steamer doesn't ask for inputs other than what you're cooking. From there, as long as the water reservoir is full, it goes until the food is done. It seems pretty amazing, but I don't know when to use it yet so I am steaming everything in the fridge.

Miele Steam Oven
So in a surprise twist, I'm more happy with the way the appliances work than with how they look. Turns out judging a book by its cover wasn't a bad thing (says the marketer who does this no matter what).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Purely Self Indulgent Post.

"Aren't  they all self indulgent posts about you?" I hear you asking. Well, I hope not. You'd tell me if I was an blogging egomaniac, right? Oh wait. I have a blog. Egomania is a free widget.

Anyway, I wanted to take a post to not be sarcastic or try to be funny and just say that I am very excited because I got to do something totally awesome on Friday...I got to go back to college!

Through a friend I was invited to speak to a marketing undergraduate class about New Product Development. I got to talk about what I used to do, share examples of successes, and feel sort of important again.

I also found another validation point about leaving my job, which I still seek almost a year later, when the professor asked me what my former position was, laughed, and said, "You can't do that and have a baby," when I told her.

Talking about products I launched that they knew of was also a reminder that not everyone gets the experience I had. I know at the end it almost caused a nervous breakdown, but aside from that blip, it was a dreamjob. Except on the days that were a total pain in the ass. Which tended to be Mon-Thurs, on average.

After class I had lunch with the head of the Undergrad Marketing program who told to let her know when I'm ready to teach. I said, "I am ready now," and she asked if I could teach Consumer Behavior. My answer is yes, yes, yes so she is going to try to make it all happen.

 "Professor" could have such a lovely ring to it even with the "adjunct" before it. Do you think I'll get Professor business cards because if so, I will accidentally hand them out to everyone I come across.

Dog groomer: I'm in office hours around the time the dog is clean. Call me here. I'm a professor.

Dry cleaner: Call me in my office in the ivory tower if you can't get out the stain.

Doctor's Receptionist When She Asks If My Insurance Has Changed: No, I'm only an adjunct, but university healthcare is so great. I know because I'm a professor. Take my card and call me if you have any academic questions.

Plane Seatmate: Oh, I'm not in the business right now. I teach about it. As a professor. Email me, that's dot e-d-u, and I will critique every marketing campaign without running one or having sales accountability because I'm a professor!

Cannot wait!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's Crackerpalooza.

It's Crackerpalooza.

He wants crackers in the morning. He wants crackers before breakfast. He wants crackers as lunch, dinner, and two snacks.

He wants Goldfish crackers, Cheddar Bunny crackers, Trader Joe's Peanut Butter sandwich crackers, Saltine crackers, and animal crackers.

8am shot of the kitchen. Crackers everywhere.
He wants crackers in Target, in the car, at the grocery store, and in his playroom.

He wants to feed his dog crackers.

There are crackers on every floor, in both cars, in the bathtub (don't ask), in my hair, and mushed into all my jeans.

His cracker tracker is more accurate than my GPS. He can spot them by brand from his perch in the grocery cart, through the door of the kitchen cupboard, and ground into the rug in his playroom.

He can crush, stomp, and throw crackers with the ferocity of an Olympic discus hurler. He can yell for crackers at a decibel that rivals eight opera singers hitting the high note together.

Get your tickets before the show gets shut down. It's Crackerpalooza.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sneak Peak of the Remodel.

"Where have you been!?" I hear my five fans frantically screaming.

Ladies, I have not abandoned you! The energy usually devoted to my incredibly funny wit has been temporarily diverted to moving back into our house, unpacking, and settling in at long, long last. I have set up the kitchen, the playroom, and hired a poolboy. Yes, I have a poolboy.

Since you are the reason I'm publishing today, I want to give my loyal followers a quick sneak peak of the kitchen. Don't worry, there will be several more living room, guest bath, playroom, pool, and kitchen shots to follow, but for bearing with me with baited breath, I want to reward you with an insider look at my fabulous new house.

Please note, it is far cooler than I will ever be.

Also, I added a picture of the boy and the dog because it is cute beyond words. They are so in love with each other it's disgusting. The dog for the food, the boy for the fun of chasing something who doesn't mind the tugs, whacks, and oh-so-tight hugs.

Also, the furniture has not yet arrived so it's a bit bare.

Also, the coolness will seem cooler when I dazzle you in a few weeks time with the before and after shots.

Also, I'd like to say the baby accoutrements scattered throughout are a one-off, but let's be serious. They're not.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Do Toys Really Need To Be Labeled Non-Toxic?

Dear Toy Makers Everywhere, Including China,

Is labeling toys "non-toxic" similar to labeling soap "antibacterial"? They are all non-toxic, yes?

I ask because, today, from two feet away, I heard my little boy banging something into the pristine, newly painted white wall. It was a red stamper that immigrated from China to the $1 bin at Target. We had fun stamping Valentines for Dad and now it's one of his season's accessory. A rock is the other one, but his archaeological tendencies are not the topic of today's letter.
The Toxic Stamps.

When I started the futile effort of explaining the wall is not for stamps, I noticed he his lipstick.

He sucked on the stamper and produced quite a little Geisha effect using his Chinese tool. Once I'd removed all evidence of the red ink from the wall and from him, I laughed and moved on.

Later, a nagging feeling about China factory standards lead me to the stamp package. I was certain I'd locate the "non-toxic" label. Guess what? There isn't one.

Is this some crazy toy industry loophole that if it doesn't say non-toxic, it IS toxic?

Please discuss. Am I the only naive parent who assumes toys are non-toxic without the non-toxic stamp?

Nice play on words, right? Let's hope I own a non-toxic stamp.

Sincerely,
annie

Monday, March 11, 2013

Living Under A Tsar.

My 15 month old is the youngest tsar in the history of the world. Don't look up whether or not this is true because I didn't and I wouldn't doubt if in the world's history there existed a baby tsar who came to power courtesy of a loose icicle that got his dad. I just don't want to hear it and blow this amazing analogy, ok?

We are moving in again and for several days our fabulously remodeled house was littered with half-opened boxes full of things babies shouldn't touch. My little tsar stumbled from box to box, destroying everything in his path, to reach the baubles that were not his own.

Nothing could stop him. Not baby gates, dogs, or my stern, "No!" and I am convinced the vodka made him bold.

When he heard no, he looked at me with utter contempt, pointed at my face like he'd identified a counterrevolutionary for the firing squad, and screamed in drunken gibberish, "How dare you speak to me in that tone!? You are a laborer and I am a little prince. Pick me up and carry me to my toys!"

Today, being the simple-minded peasant that I am, I forgot his cracker and experienced wrath that only a dictator knows how to dole out. We had to leave the store as fast as possible lest he tip over his mom-drawn carriage.

Yesterday, I rounded a corner just in time to see him casually flip off the lid of an open paint can and pull out the paint-soaked brush. "Lady," he said, "I really shouldn't be tarnishing my royal threads. Are you going to stop me?" I dove. He laughed.

The good news is that all tsars get overthrown. It's the way of the world and I just have to wait for my moment to revolt!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Moving and Podcasting. In The Same Week. This is CRAZY.

I've gone dark over here because we are in the process of moving back into our house. I will be sad to part with the horse and tent that have supported my nomadic lifestyle of the past eight months but am excited to stop living like I'm searching for a water source.

It will also be exciting for me, and hopefully for you, to share pictures of the finished project. Alas, for now we are unpacking and I do not want to share nor do you want to see pics of this mess.

Lucky for me, Cynthia at Oh So Pinteresting chose this week to broadcast our podcast about my meager pinning attempts which she thought were cool enough to PODCAST and publish my post for her blog. So go listen and read there.

Gawd, I am getting so famous.

Cynthia is a Pinterest expert and has amazing tips practically everyday on how to use Pinterest. Whether you're a light user or growing your business via Pinterest I highly recommend becoming a regular over on her space. I've heard from high-up sources that little Cynthia sent kids home crying from birthday parties when Pin The Tail On The Donkey was played. What other pinning credentials does a girl need?

I can't listen to the podcast because hearing my recorded voice makes me wish I'd never learned to Speak. Lest I spend the rest of my life confused for an amateur mime who can't get out of her invisible box, please go listen for me and tell me how it is. Seriously. I just can't do it.

Happy weekend. May you not unpack a single box.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Parenting By Marketing Calendar.

I'm average to bad in the Domestic Affairs department.

I claim to not be good at staying-at-home, and while the evidence upholds this truth, what I really am is unorganized.

Were I back in the marketing real world applying these meager management skills, I'd be saying, "Oh, let's just put that new sandwich thing on-air next week and figure out the rest of the year tomorrow." I'd be fired before tomorrow arrived.

So I'm changing my ways.

As soon as we move back into our house I am planning my little boy's learning like it's a g-d marketing calendar. Here's an example of what March might look like:



Each week we'll focus on a Food, Animal, Color, and extra "Wildcard" topic.

(If you can read the St. Paddy's wildcard topic, I agree I've gone too far. We'll change "Leprechaun" to "Rainbow," a less scary and more easily grasped concept.) 

I am going to integrate this into household activities like I'm a fresh MBA gunning for a promotion. We'll eat the food of the week which should match the color of the week, read on-topic books, and do on-topic crafty things.

The best part of this whole initiative? I don't have to build my calendar in Excel! I can use chalkboard paint or some other non-office approved material.

The morale of this story is that there may be a household application for the skills I thought I left in the office. THIS is exciting.

Who else has project-managed parenting within an inch of its life?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dear McDonald's. Thanks For Keeping Me Young.

Dear McDonald's,

My son had his 15 month shots today and as a reward for both surviving, we went to McDonald's for lunch. This was my first visit as a mom and I felt so damn cool watching my son in the toddler playland. Finally I fall distinctly into one of your target audiences!

Many years ago I migrated out of your dollar menu target and have felt odd running in ever since for a salad or milkshake as I was too old to be your "Value Fox" and too childless to be your "Mom." Thanks for welcoming me over to the playful side and making me feel like I belong again.

This sense of belonging, however, is not what today's letter is about.

For weeks I've seen your Fish McBites spot running and thought, "Disgusting," despite being a huge Filet-O-Fish fan and finding the "fishy, fishy" jingle a bit catchy. Something about bite-sized fish chunks produced en masse turns me off.

Today, though, when your friendly lobby worker asked if I would like to sample some McBites I had to say yes. A former fast food marketer, I am always interested in new products and was pleasantly surprised with my McBites. They tasted like comfort, not gross fish.

However, it is not the quality that most amazed me.

After trying them, I looked around and noticed a fish net, fish dangling from the ceiling, and merchandising depicting all the different ways to order fish bites. When we sat down I saw the fish message on my cup and on my little boy's Happy Meal box.

WOW.

Your in-store campaign for what I'm assuming is a limited time offer that will run only during Lent, is a phenomenal marketing feat. I imagine the Fish category just grew threefold and next year, all your competitors will be launching similar products the same way they tried to launch iced tea after you added it to your $1 menu.

However, it wasn't even your fully Integrated Marketing Campaign that most amazed me, either.

What surprised me most, is that no matter how old I get, McDonald's will always rock. I've played on the playland, eaten off the $1 menu, bought the salads and McFlurry's, analyzed the marketing from within the category, and watched the McD circle of life come full circle in my little boy.

Forever Young, right guys? Thanks for helping me realize that the best brand identities are actually quite true.

Sincerely,
annie

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hats. The Final Reason I Can't Fashion Blog.

I think the fashion blogging world may overlook my other faults (ombre misunderstanding, sparce makeup collection, all the wrong free gear, and Valentine's socks for those of you who haven't been following my awesome little series) and let me in the club were it not for this final flaw.

I don't own the right kind of hats. Mine are all appropriate for a day at the races but not for:

heading to an outdoor garden to casually sit on an overturned flower pot,

faux napping on a lounge chair with Botoxed lips,


sitting on the stoop of a Brooklyn walkup and adjusting an earring.

This pretty much seals my fate. I'm no fashion blogger. Back to the mommy/humor hybrid fashion I wear so well.