Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And we're off...

Dearest, we are off to our one month European gallivanting. We arrive in Sofia tomorrow afternoon, and in a week are off to Italy. I will stay in touch with everything that is important!

I wanted to give a special shout-out to my faithful readers in Japan, Andorra and Canada! Drop a line and tell me how you are! Also, a special one to my folks in Bulgaria and India--I love this new-found way of keeping you in the loop!
Ok, off to battle a toddler on a plane (Snakes on a plane have got nothing on Son!). My next entry will tell you all about my collected wisdom about traveling with an infant/toddler on transatlantic, as well as long domestic flights for I am a pro!

Monday, June 28, 2010

An Indian wedding in Maryland, Part 3

Saturday, the day of the wedding. We had the whole morning to ourselves and so we used it to go and check out some of the apartments provided by the State Department (while we are in DC for training before shipping out to post, we will live in corporate housing provided by Oakwood in Arlington, VA). We quite liked them all--all had swimming pools and very swanky feel to them. And guess what (I did let out a little squeal of joy)--we get maid service once a week! Oh boy! Why am I so excited about that? Well, have you ever noticed that a good deal of your fights with your beloved circle around house chores? It just always seems to me that I do all the house work, and it magically seems to him that he is spending his weekends scrubbing and vacuuming. Well, he ain't. So, it will be fantastic to have someone help us with the cleaning and resolve the cleaning ratio conundrum. At any rate, we decided that we'd love to live in Roslyn. We will know where they will put us in on July 15.
Then we dropped off Son at our fabulous friends M&M--they have a son who is the same age as Son (if you remember, they visited us last week for the good-bye party and their car was vandalised). They took Son and apparently had a party with a bunch of other kiddos that evening while we ran away to the wedding. M&M are awesome and we love them!
Well, we had a lot of fun. Our night stated with a Hindu and a Christian ceremonies, followed by copious amounts of Kir Royals, a fabulous Indian buffet, an unforgettable sight of scores of Indian aunties swaying their sareed hips to the tune of "I Gotta a Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas, and finished with a particulalry peculiar and hysterical discussion of Funyuns (no, they are NOT funny bunions; turns out they were simply onion chips). At 1 am, we dragged our weary, partied-out butts to bed.
On Sunday, we went for a (completely unnecessary) shopping spree at Kohl's where Son spent a blissful hour running and hiding around the racks of clothes while I was trying to find what I need, chase him around to his utter delight and stare fiercely back at other irritated shoppers as he was rolling on the floor giggling. After about 63 hours in traffic and amidst Son's inhuman yelling, we stopped for a brief but refreshing visit at (another) one of Diplomat's cousins house in NJ. They fed us copious amounts of tea and bhel poori (good people!) and sent us mercilessly back on our way to NYC. An hour and half later and more yelling from the back, we were finally back. Gosh, it is good to be home.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

An Indian wedding in Maryland, Part 2

I left you to go to the rehearsal dinner. The entire posse of wedding party et al left Aunt and Uncle's house to go rehearse, including the Diplomat who was given the crucial role of lifting the bride during the garland exchange. Son was blissfully asleep. That gave me a few peaceful hours to sit down and relax. What did I do?? I decided to vacuum the house--it seemed like the least I could do for Aunt and Uncle who were running around arranging the zillion details involved in the wedding. Once that was done, I fished out a nice Indian movie from their library and watched the intensely mawkish drama of the Raincoat. After I had rolled my eyes about 37 times during the ridiculous plot, I left for the rehearsal dinner at the Foster's Clambake at National Harbor to have some lobster and run after Son in 4-inch heels. Two excellent Grey Goose martinis later, up to my elbows in butter and lobster shells, I kept trying to shove some lobster in Son's mouth while he persistently refused to put the suspicious-smelling meat in his mouth. He did seem substantially more interested in playing with the tiny stones on the ground since, naturally, I had dressed him in his best, which soon became looking like his worst. I think you can imagine how much effort it took to look elegant and effortless while chasing him in high-heels through those darn pebbles. It took one more martini to get some of my dignity back.

And then I forgave it all once Son asked me to dance--we mommies are weak that way. And while we were dancing, I realized that one day, not that far away, probably some quick 25 years later, I will most likely be dancing like that with him at his own wedding (well, perhaps with a bit more coordinated effort on his part--hmm, then again, he is his father's son and I can tell you the Diplomat is not going to be a hit in Bollywood any time soon). It took a super-human-mommy effort not to cry. It is moments like that when I realize just how mercilessly fast life flies away, and the best that I can do is not allow it to pass me by but to live it to the utmost and savor the memories.
As the night progressed, the party kept on going strong, while Son was pretending to sleep in his stroller. It is moments like that when the Diplomat and I try to really figure out this parenting thing--do we leave the fabulous beach party and take Son to sleep in his bed, or do we leave him to (not) sleep in his stroller while we socialize and party. This time we, um, chose the latter. Judge all you want but we were having fun and I firmly believe that sometimes, it is not just about our kids but also about us, the parents. Contrary to popular children's belief, we parents are also human and deserve to have some fun. So there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

An Indian wedding in Maryland, Part 1

First day of the wedding down. Yesterday was as chaotic, hysterical, fun, colorful, hot as hell, and loud as I thought it would be. The evening was the so-called Wedding Sangeet--or an Indian wedding party prior to the wedding party. One thing is for sure, Indians love to party (which is yet another reason why I married one of them). It was also the night when they apply Mehendi, the customary henna painting of the hands and feet of the bride and female relatives, and frankly, everyone else who wants to jump on the wedding bandwagon. The bride herself spent over 3 hours being painted, and the rest of the night holding her hands out to dry. Beauty requires sacrifices! I got some neat squiggles on the hands. I deserve it--I spent an hour in the blazing 100+ degree mid-day heat sticking cut flowers in the ground in the garden "to look natural."
It was held at the house of the bride's parents (Diplomat's Aunt and Uncle), and they had about 60 guests or so. You can never really understand what that exactly means until you have been to an Indian party of expats. It was one fabulous, hot affair. The aunties sit together in a big circle, eat massive quantities of food and giggle inanely constantly. The men sit in a separate circle, leaning backwards, big bellies shaking from laughter. (One thing always amuses me at these affairs--alcohol is purchased in small quantities because "we don't drink." But literally minutes into the affair, all of the aunties can been seen holding full glasses of wine, their giggles audibly louder.) Everyone is singing, laughing, eating reasonably spiced food, wearing sarees in all colors of the rainbow, blessings are issued left and right, along with constant boasting of what their sons and daughters have achieved, to which Ivy league schools they have gone, who has become a doctor, investment banker or any other banker, engineer, architect or accountant (nothing less than that!), how many apartments or cars have been purchased and so on and so on. I freely admit that the Diplomat and I deserted Son to play in the garden among the guests while we were cozying up to the Proseco and watching the madness. Despite the 90+ degree heat, we had a fabulous time.

Today did not start so well, I am afraid. First, the Diplomat woke me and Son up at 8 am (we went to bed at 1 am) because his excellency wanted to play tennis, which meant going to his aunt's house. Then, when I was trying to transfer all of wedding party pictures, I deleted them by mistake. Then, on cue, Son peed in his pants. And refused to eat his breakfast. And yelled for 25 mins in the car demanding his binky, while I was trying frantically to recover the lost pictures on my computer, perched precariously on my knees in the passenger seat. All the while I am trying to look cool and poised and super put together, because I am one cool mom!

We will soon leave for the wedding rehearsal, followed by a clambake dinner. To be continued...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Washington, DC trip--Part 1

We drove to DC yesterday afternoon for the Diplomat's cousin wedding. The wedding itself is this Saturday but, since it is an Indian wedding, it will span three frenetic, loud, incomprehensible, henna-painted, aunties-filled days. In other words, a three-ring circus. Meanwhile, we are staying at a friend's apartment in DC while they are away (the wedding festivities will be in nearby Maryland), and in anticipation of the massive amounts of fatty, ghee-involving foods I will be consuming, I decided to go to the gym this morning. Now, our friends live in a full-service, luxury building. OK, I know this is DC but this building is taking security to a prison level: to give us the keys our friends left for us, the receptionist needed to find a key release form, then inspect two governmentally-issued IDs (I ended up giving them my health insurance card??), then she went to bring the keys from "the vault" (pronounced VERY gravely), and then finally we were escorted to the apartment. To park, they made us fill more papers, park the car and then took our car keys; then this morning when I went to the gym, I decided to go to the restroom. Seeing none in sight, I went to ask for it. I was told to use the one in the other wing of the building--sure, no problem. Wait, did you say it was about 10 min walk? Oh, there is another one in the sauna. Ok, I will try that one seeing that it is right next to the gym. Wait--you need ANOTHER governmentally-issued ID to give me the keys to that? Eh, forget it. DC is a bastion of security, no kidding. Moving here will be awesome.
Now, off to The Indian Wedding, Day 1.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to lure a child into a swimming pool

Yesterday was the Diplomat's first day of leisure. He is taking 6 weeks between his old job and his start at the Foreign Service for pure leisure (apparently equated with laziness in his mind). That means an obscene amount of playing tennis for him while I sit there and roll my eyes and make snide remarks. He even suggested I go and watch him play (clearly, to admire him). I just don't see it in the cards for him. Mirka gets paid to go to those games, I don't. I did put him to use yesterday though--he took the car for inspection, changed the oil and bought tomatoes. I am one lucky, lucky lady!

The highlight of our day was taking Son to our pool. It is a bit odd--when we vacationed in Bermuda, Son was all about the pool. He would jump off the ledge and play with us in there. For the past few months he has behaved as if there are monsters in the pool (or maybe people offering him food since he behaves like that when I try to feed him as well). Well, yesterday we found a cool baby flotation thingy and stuffed him in it. After the initial shock, he loved it. Only proves that one has to be a little pushy with new things at times with small kids, otherwise they might never try them. Although we really don't have that kind of problem with Son. He is the absolute risk-taker, I truly hope he does not become an investment banker or Chairman of the National Bank of Greece. As a side note, Son has also taken on feeding himself lately--a turn of events heartily saluted by his parents. For let me tell you--there is no other more boring/frustrating/unnerving/maddening/discouraging routine event in motherhood world than trying to feed a protesting child by shoving spoons of food in his mouth while he tries to send it flying up in the air. Since Son had a bit of a weight issue, feeding him has been a (boring) priority for me. I am (sadly) known as the mom who is always chasing Son with a spoon at the playground. So, let's hope this lasts.

I had thought that Sunday was our last night hosting friends in NYC, but I was wrong. A couple of our closest friends who couldn't make it to the party in Saturday called me earlier in the day and came over for a BBQ. It was a nice surprise to see them (and to find out they were expecting a second baby!!) and to have dinner on the patio. When they were leaving, I noticed that my friend's purse was huge--you know the type, they call them the "mothership" purses, and we had a nice, productive discussion about it. I never quite got the large purse syndrome (it is a syndrome, I swear!). I carry three things in mine--keys, phone, wallet. I cannot for the life of me think of anything else to put in there. My purses are tiny and I have always been intimidated by women with those large monsters. It is almost as if they are saying to me--"we are very important, our bags are full of important and fascinating things, you got nothing!"

One last piece of news: I now come clean and admit that I have also been taking the Foreign Service exam and have managed to somehow pass through to Oral Assessment. I scheduled it yesterday for September 2. Everyone--circle the date and pray.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Good-Bye Party, toddlers and a broken window

The last weekend of good-byes has finally passed. Almost as if to help us transition, our wonderful friends from DC came to visit for the party--as my girlfriend put it, "Our memories of NY are connected with you so we will also be saying bye bye to the city." She also has a toddler, who was born just 3 weeks after Son, so the two kids had an absolute blast this weekend. I suppose I understand better the appeal of having two kids--there were stretches of almost an hour when we did not even hear from them while they were playing together in the kid's room or the terrace. And then, I also understood why I am not yet ready to have a second baby when they both were tired and threw crying fits.
Well, on Saturday, both daddies took the kiddos to the playground while we mommies went on to pamper ourselves. A couple of blowouts and mani and pedis later, several people pointed out to us that we have a flat tire (of course we did, why should anything go effortlessly???). Good thing I am a woman of action, so we had it fixed in no time, coiffed hair and manicures and all!
Time to par-tee! I can safely say that we all had a blast. I still cannot believe that I am going to say this, but, um, Lady Gaga Rocks. Nothing more visually appealing than a bunch of 30-something year olds on stilettos jumping to Bad Romance and screaming: "Ra ra-ah-ah-ah, Roma ro-ma, ga-ga!"

At 2.30 am, we had to leave or I would have passed out from shoe pain (plus, um, we did not exactly tell the babysitter we were going to be that late AND we did not have her number on us--BAD PARENTING moment!!). To cap the night, we stopped at the 96th street taco stand--a NYC classic!!!! Nothing better than a few greasy chorizo tacos at 3 am, after a few martinis. Gosh, I LOVE this city...

And then the next day I did not love it so much. My friend's car was vandalized--I am sure you have all heard about the nasty little habit of breaking car windows to steal stupid things like GPS, cell phones and even CDs. Well, what truly pissed me off on this one was that the thieves apparently could not break the front passenger window (you can see the brick marks on it), and broke the back window where the baby car seat was to steal a Blackberry--as you can guess the car seat was covered in tiny glass pieces. Good luck vacuuming that one off. And that is why I don't love this city.
We capped the night with a quiet lasagna dinner with two of our closest friends. It got really sad.

Bye-bye, our dear NYC friends. You have defined our lives in this city and we love you so, so much. You better come to visit in DC and then wherever the governmental wind blows us.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Car troubles and a wonderful Mr. Diplomat

The Diplomat is a wonderful human being and I love him so much. For the record. Another perfect illustration of his greatness occured this Friday. On Thursday, I had gone out to yet another uber trendy NYC spot, Spice Market, with a girlfriend for dinner. After dining and giggling and heart-to-hearts for hours, at about 12.45 am we headed over to my car only to discover that it had been towed by the almighty fantastic NYPD (may the force be with them). Apparently, I was not supposed to park there after 11 pm. Which I knew. But forgot. Hardly the point, really. So, instead of heading home and be in bed by 1.15 am so that I can be up in time to send Son to daycare, I spent the next hour or so wrangling My Precious from the hands of the NYPD for the spectacular price of $300. Whoaaaa!
So, when I finally crawled up in bed at about 2.30 am, I asked the sleepy Mr. D to take care of Son the next morning so that I can sleep in Without even a question, he agreed. Mind you, he still goes to work. Thank you!
In related news, Friday was the Diplomat's last day at work in the private sector. I think he is both excited and apprehensive. The happy hour his company threw for him definitely did a lot to allay his fears. He appeared home quite late in, um, high spirits...
We will begin to travel a lot starting next week. On Wednesday, we are off to DC for a wedding. We will come back on Sunday, June 27, spend a day in NYC, pack up and leave for Europe. We are spending a week on the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria, followed by a week in Umbria in Italy with Son. Then my mom is coming to Rome for literally 3 hours to pick up Son at the airport, and head right back with him to Bulgaria, while we enjoy Rome and later on Venice. After that, we will go back to Bulgaria for a few days and finally go back to NYC, only to move to DC a day later. I am not entirelly sure what we were drinking when we made all these plans.
It is incredible but our life in NYC is nearing its end. Our Good-bye party is tonight. I have made an overly sappy video of pictures from all the past years to show at the party. I envision a lot of crying.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cars, Playdates and Daycare party

The past two days have been hectic as usual (honestly, sometimes, I get tired just thinking of my own life). On Tuesday, I decided to hop into the car with Son and drive 115 miles up north in Connecticut to meet a friend whom I had never met. I know it sounds odd but it really is simple--I have the priviledge to belong to a group of 20 moms who likes to call itseld the Crazy Mommas - (Mostly) First Time Mommas Over 30. Indeed, all of us are over 30 years old and in September 2008 we all had our first babies (well, to be more precise—we were all SUPPOSED to have our kids in September, but as these things always go, a couple were born in late August and the beginning of October). One of my moms-in-crime lives in the exotic town of Coventry CT. In the spirit of good-byes, I decided to get in the car, drive up there, meet her in person after talking to her for over 2 years and meet her son and her newborn baby. Now, let me tell you about traveling in a car, in broad daylight, with a toddler, when it is NOT his time to nap. The first 3o mins go OK, he plays with his cars, sings loudly, points to other cars and trucks, and is generally in a good mood. The second 30 mins he realizes he is stuck in the car seat for some time. He freaks. You try NOT to let him cry since he will pee himself before you have the chance to park dangerously by the side of the road to let him go potty. You find a book in your bag that you cleverly packed. He is happy for entire 4 minutes. He begins to yell again. You (again, cleverly) toss him a cup full of Cheerios. You buy yourself about 20 mins. Once that is over, he is seriously bored. You resort to singing--if your baby repertoire is as poor as mine (Old McDonald and Twinkle Twinkle pretty much sums it up), you try the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Elvis, Black Sabbath, even truly horrendous versions of Kelly Clarkson's hit songs. It does keep him amused (I wonder why...) for another 20 mins. You are almost there when the storm really hits. You end up stopping at a parking lot 10 mins from the place you are headed only to discover that he has, after all, peed himself. Peeved and disappointed, you get back into the driving seat, tell him to zip it and get there.

Meeting my friend was fantastic, and while our kids did not play together at all, they had fun playing along each other. Individualists...books do say that is what happens at this age, so no surprises there. While we were there, I managed to put together a crib for my friend's baby. I am handy that way. Son becomes obsessed with a Fisher Price garage thingy. He actually refuses to leave. I drag him out of there by carrying him under my arm. The drive back was surprisingly easy. Not sure why. He simply chewed on his sandals most of the time. Yes, I did tell him not to. Like, 128 times. Another great thing I found out on this trip is turkey franks. Son LOVES them. We are all stocked up now.

And today, we had Son's end of the year party at daycare. All kids danced, sang, ran, screeched, played, pulled, fell, beat up an Elmo pinata (?????), ate, drank, pushed and shoved. It was fabulous and I have some absolutely awful video footage to prove it. I can tell you though, even though Son is the youngest at his daycare, he did insist loudly on beating the Elmo pinata as well. Boy, was I one proud mommy...

On a different note, the Diplomat keeps insisting that I cease calling him that and switch to Mr. D or something like that. He thinks it sounds like I am mocking him. Now why would he think that? Also, I am not likely to stop.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Another weekend of saying Good-Bye

It is tough to believe that yet another weekend has passed by. It was, to say the least, eventful. I dined out with girlfriends on Thursday and Friday (we ended the night at the fabulous 230 5th Av rooftop, where a pair of aging firemen flirted with us); had brunch with folks on Saturday for the US-UK soccer game, then went out with the Diplomat for one last dinner at the restaurant where we got engaged (Il Bagatto), followed by a satisfying cigar at the Velvet Cigar Lounge (one of Diplomat's gifts for Daddy Day); then on Sunday we had brunch with our fabulous neighbours, and topped the day and the weekend with by hosting dinner at home for yet another great pair of friends. I am afraid that I am enjoying this intense social life a bit too much and once we move to DC, I will have some problems being bored...

Son also had his share of fun, I suppose. We took him to Central Park on Saturday with the single purpose of putting him on the Central Park Carousel. Well, we bought tickets for the last round of the carousel, and at the moment the Diplomat and him climbed on top of one horse, the child got so horrified that he yelled he needed to go potty. Grudgingly, we got him off the horse and he did proceed to pee in the bushes (I swear he did it just to make a point). Naturally, the carousel was underway already. We begged and pleaded with the carousel guy to let us do at least half a run since we are leaving NY. He probably took us for some crazed tourists and relented--well, needless to say, the moment they got perched atop one of the horses, Son started to scream potty again. Trying to not show my utmost irritation, I took him down and apologized to the carousel guy (who DID NOT give us back our ticket money, btw). Too bad they did not do the ride--the Diplomat looked positively fetching astride that horse. Son went on to scream (happily) and run around the park afterwards--I suppose he was celebrating his near-death escape from the carousel!

On Sunday, before brunch, we did a Costco run (the Diplomat likes to call it my favorite store; I am not sure why, I can assure you my favorite store is Tiffany's)--Son had so much fun eating all the samples that he passed out in the car on the way to brunch. He refused to wake up and spent the next hour and half sleeping on top of two chairs at the restaurant, while we drank Proseco like two responsible parents.

It is weekends like these that I realize how much fun NYC could be. I have often claimed city-fatigue, but now that I am leaving, I all of a sudden remembered how great this city is. Oh well. I am sure I will have just as much fun next year in Burkina Faso. Or Cote d'Ivoire. Or Albania. Or not. One thing is for sure: there will always be those moments when I will think to myself--what the heck did I get myself into?

Friday, June 11, 2010

It has begun

As I ran in the gym this morning to the tunes of Alicia Keys belting out, "New York, New York," I started crying. Silly me. I will miss this city. It is the place where I came into my own, where I met the Diplomat, where I bought my first car (and my second, MUCH cooler car), my first apartment, had Son, got my first job, two university degrees (with not much to show for them except loans) and where I grew up as an adult. It is a place where I have tons of friends, who have defined my life in the past 10 years. I will miss all of this. Very, very much.
It is also the place where I have managed to accumulate the usual (phone bills from the last 6 years... An ice cream maker ... An odd and decidedly ugly collection of candles) and at times, unusual (like, a cricket bat??) clutter even though I periodically throw stuff out. I'll tell you two things I DON'T have for no good reason: corn holders (always wanted them!) and an electric can opener (NEVER wanted it). So, I have started to slowly disperse, sell, donate and throw out stuff. You will be amazed how easy it is to sell old, old finance and econ books on amazon.com. I encourage you, no, I DARE you to sell as much of your old textbooks as possible!
It is a sad and yet rather gratifying process, this purge of the house.
I am also having dinners out in the city with my close friends, sort of saying Good-bye to each and every one personally. Last night was especially hard--I went out with one of my closest friends and we both struggled not to cry (we DID have a martini and 2 glasses of wine each, so THAT might have been part of it, ahem). Next weekend the Diplomat and I have our big Good-Bye party in an East Village bar--boy, that will be a cry fest!

Son is blessedly oblivious to all this. As long as he has all of his car and trucks and buses in row, life is beautiful. Then again, Son is a traveler: at the age of 21 months, he has been to:
Florida--at 2 mos
California - at 3 mos
Bulgaria - at 5 mos
India - at 6 mos
Bulgaria - at 11 mos
Bermuda - at 14 mos
Florida - at 16 mos
California - at 17 mos
Bulgaria - at 19 mos
Good thing he travels for free.

In other news, we are waiting, breathlessly, for Diplomat's salary letter--the State Dept still hasn't really told us how much he will be making. One thing I have noticed during this entire process--the government is not exactly a paragon of fast and efficient procedure. Wait, you already knew that? Ha, interesting...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When rain is your friend

I love rain for two very distinct reasons:
  1. I do not have to water the flowers in my garden
  2. I do not have to take Son to the playground.

Now, mothers of the world, please, do not dare tell me that there haven't been days where you'd rather have your nose hair plucked rather than taking your kid out to the playground. Sometimes I just feel lazy. Others, I just feel nice and content to be home. And sometimes, I simply feel frumpy and do not wish to comb my hair (even though there are quite a number of ladies out there at my playground who APPARENTLY do not think it is necessary to do that last one EVEN if one is to present herself to the critical eye of mommyhood at the playground--I draw the line at combing at least!). Sheesh, sometimes I do not even feel like brushing my teeth that day. And yet, every time the weather outside is nice, I hear this little, grandma-like voice at the back of my head--"You should take the child out, he should be playing in the air with the other kids, and not be stuck at home." Ugh. So yes, I love rain. So, today was a good day. It rained cats and dogs.

Which makes me think--there are SO many times my life as a mother when I know very, painfuly well what I am supposed to be doing and what is "good for the child" and yet I don't want to be doing it. Like when we ride in the elevator, and Son is lying on the floor (which is positively filthy) and rolling himself happily there--the nice man riding with me says (I suppose HE thinks he is so subtle), "Oh, well, one day he will grow up and know that it is dirty there and he should not be doing that." Yes, smartass, I KNOW he should not be rolling on the elevator floor. So what of it, as a famous friend of mine would say? Or when, in the laundry room, Son is playing with the laundry carts, nibbling on them in the process, and ANOTHER smartaleck remarks "to him"--Oh, this is dirty, you should not be doing it, to which I (cleverly!) responded, "Well, this is the cleanest thing he had put in his mouth today." She had the good sense to laugh her heart out. I forgave her.

Yes, mothers know exactly what is good for their kids and what should they ideally be doing. Like when we give them french fries and horrid looking nuggets for lunch, rather than have a fabulous, nutritious snack at hand. Or when their sippy cup falls 34 times on the ground, and we just pick it up, wipe the spigot and give it back. Or when we know we should stand up to their tantrum and show them reason. But we sometimes just do not have it in us. Period. For you working lot out there--have you had days when you just have had enough and walk out to get a coffee rather than write that pesky deck? Well, consider my letting Son roll on the elevator floor as me getting out of the office for a cup of good old coffee. So, next time you see a mom not performing up to your loftly (often childless!) standards, please, do not roll your eyes, but simply give her a break!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Horse races and a sick mommy

This was yet another weekend for the books. On Saturday, we took Son to the horse races at Belmont, to watch another Belmont Stakes and lose small bets. Well, one thing is for sure—small children get frantic in huge crowds. Son proceeded to have 3002 tantrums, forcing the Diplomat to walk him around in the crowd several times as a distraction.
Imagine us: a zillion people around us, not all of them of the most gentile sort; some smoking horrible, cheap cigars right next to us, other smoking pot right behind us, and third screaming obscenities at the jockeys as they paraded the horses in front of us; a screaming Son, jumping up and down and crawling under the benches in the filth; his portable potty set up next to us, bags of snacks and a couple of beers for me and the Diplomat, from which Son is desperately trying to take a sip. All of this while I am trying to make educated guesses and bet at least $2 on the horses. Along with us were another couple of good friends with their 4 year old boy, who was incredibly well behaved. Nothing makes me feel more like a bad mother than having Son screeching and throwing himself around like a wounded elephant next to another child who is sweet and well-behaved.

In a fit of motherly genius (NOT), it dawned on me that Son might be hungry. I gave him a nutritious snack of Cheetos, corn chips, pita chips and a pretzel, and lo and behold, the child brightened and started smiling. Too bad it was time to go home. Moral of the story—do NOT bring a hungry and possibly under-slept child into huge, confusing crowds.

That same night, the Diplomat and I decided to go out for a romantic dinner in the city. Our choice of restaurant was, at best, unfortunate—we were the ONLY ones there, which, given the enormous size of the place, was quite unnerving. It did not help that the server spent 85% of the time were there at our side, chatting. Nothing spells romance better than that experience, I daresay.

And on Sunday, I suppose I was down with a nasty food poisoning. LOVELY! I spent the entire day in bed, while Son proceeded to jump up and down the bed and on top of me. While it was very sweet and funny, it also involved a superhuman effort on my part not to throw up while he pranced on my stomach. I feel much better today, thank you.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Joy of Small Things

People always say, "Don't sweat the small things, and it's all small things." Ok, I can understand that. And in the same vein, I can also say: "Take joy at all the small things, and life is made of small things."
I am truly thankful for all the small things in my life. And Son gives me so many small things to be happy about. This morning, as we were leaving to go to daycare, he put his first 2 words together--he said, "Bye, Jinxy." (Jinxy is our fat cat). Small step for humanity, huge step for Son. Then, after I brought him to daycare, he asked to go potty (Son has been potty trained for about 2 months now, but refuses to go at daycare)--voila, he went a peed there. Another small step, but it mattered to me. His teachers were overjoyed and several Oy veys were overheard. At the playground, later on that day, he finally said "Up" when he wanted to go up on a bench. So far, he used the word "down" both when he wanted to be put down or lifted up--I suppose, he always connected the word with a motion away from just standing. In the evening, while I was making salad and prepping dinner, I asked the Diplomat to put the ingredients for bread in our bread machine. He had never done it before and winced, but with my verbal guidance, he did it! He made bread (in a machine). Definitely small step, but oh, so cool!

Life is full of small things. Just like we should not sweat them, we should also learn to recognize them, enjoy them, celebrate them even (I covered Son with kisses when he peed at daycare!), remember them and point them out to those who have missed their beauty.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The international day of children and guns

Today is the International Day of Children, June 1st. It's a nice holiday, sadly not celebrated in the US as it is in Europe. Anyway, to celebrate, I took Son to the Intrepid Museum. Since it was Fleet Week in the city, the USS Iwo Jima was anchored in the NYC piers right next to the Intrepid. The really nice guard at the front of the Intrepid museum told me that visiting the Iwo Jima was free (vs the $24 to go on the Intrepid??), plus the Iwo Jima is a live, fully functioning ship, so I immediately swiveled the stroller in that direction. Well, let me tell you--it was spectacular! That ship was humongous.

It had a whole bunch of terrestrial vehicles inside (like trucks, diggers, some shooting-looking thingies, tanks, humvees, more trucks, ginormous multi-terrain carriers, and what have you). Son looked quite smug on a tank. It also had a whole different section with boats, bigger boats and mini ships.

Then we went to the aircraft area, which had a bunch of helicopters of any possible variety you can imagine. Son was in helicopter heaven. Mommy was also feeling quite nicely since a pleasant, uniform-clad officer was making some efforts to flirt with her.

Unfortunately, the visit to the USS Iwo Jima disturbed me as well. The ship was full of school groups of fairly young children. The Marines had weapons stations to show people their rifles. Naturally, the kids wanted to see them and so I stood and watched little girls holding massive rifles and Marines explaining to them how to shoot them. On one hand, I understand that is a form of recruiting for the future soldiers of America. On the other hand, however, I could

not stop but be reminded of the horrifying images of the Children of Conflict in Sierra Leone. Perhaps I am over thinking this. I know it is natural curiosity on the kids' part to want to hold a gun in such circumstances. But after overhearing a very excited girl ask one Marine, "Can I hold your rifle?" I think that, in times like these where school shootings have become so horrifyingly commonplace, we should all be very, very careful about the kind of excitement we create around guns. Peace!