Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Barfday To You

Poor Gabby. She has yet to make it through a birthday without someone throwing up.

It started the day she was born. Right before I went to the OR for the c-section, they gave me some medicine that was supposed to settle my stomach and keep everything down. Let's just say the medicine did not have the intended effect. So much so that one of the labor and delivery nurses, who have surely seen everything, actually said, "wow."

When Gabby turned one, we were in Santa Fe with family. The morning of her birthday, I picked her up and she launched herself over my shoulder, landing on her head on a stone floor. She screamed until she threw up, and because she had thrown up the advice nurse said we'd best go to the emergency room, so off we went in a blizzard to have her checked out. She was fine, thank goodness, but the whole thing kind of put a damper on the day.

Last year, we scheduled Gabby's birthday party for a Sunday. The night before, Atomic started running a fever, and by morning he was barely able to move from the bathroom. Charming. We cancelled the party.

This year, we scheduled a party almost two weeks before her actual birthday so she could celebrate with her friends. Out of an abundance of courage, or a dearth of good sense, we agreed that she could have a slumber party and let her invite three little girls. She's been out of her mind with excitement for weeks, planning the menu (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), the cake (strawberry and princess-themed, of course, with sprinkles), and the guest list (ever changing until the moment I pressed "send" on the evite).

The night before the Big Event, she looked a little pale and had dark circles under her eyes. I noticed that her nose was running. Her head felt a bit warm. We gave her some Tylenol, put her to bed, and hoped for the best.

This morning she had no fever and her energy level was fine, so despite her still-running nose we proceeded as planned.
By noon she was sounding congested, so we decided to scale it back from a slumber party to just a regular party. We called all the parents and told them what was up, and gave them the option to back out if they wanted to spare their own household from whatever crud was rampaging through Gabby's system.

Bless their hearts, they all showed up anyway. And then, midway through pizza and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Gabby barfed.

The amazing part is that after some tears and a quick bath, she managed to blow out the candles, have a bite of cake, open her presents AND thank everyone for coming before crashing out on the living room floor in her new sleeping bag.

My poor sweetheart. I hope the Birthday Party Curse is now past us. Otherwise things are not looking so good for Dylan next year.

Update: Nope, the birthday curse continues, and expands. We were supposed to celebrate Dylan's birthday tomorrow. Sure enough, Gabby came home from school tonight and promptly barfed. WTF? The kid never barfs. Except when it's someone's birthday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mommy's Xmas List

Dear Santa,

I have been a very nice mommy this year. I only swore under my breath, and only when the occasion really really warranted it, like when the brand new Snow White underwear got pooped in five minutes after an epic and unproductive potty session. And I hardly ever pretended to be asleep when the kids woke up and started crying or pulled the covers over my head and waited for Atomic to deal with it. Really, I swear.

So here is what this very very nice mommy would like for Christmas this year:

1. Two hours during the day to get a mani/pedi
2. A nice dinner out with my girlfriends
3. A lock for the bathroom door

That's it. I don't need a Wii or an iPad or whatever fancy gizmo is in fashion this year. Just a little bit of time, and a little bit of privacy.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Gabby's Bedtime Story

Last night at dinner, Gabby said "Mommy, Daddy, I want to tell you a story." I happened to have my laptop on the kitchen table, so I took dictation as she spoke and asked a couple of questions along the way. Here's the story:

"Once upon a time, there was a princess named Daddy, and his name was Michael. And the Mommy-King was named Gina."

"And what did the King and the Princess do?"

"They hang out together."

"What else? Did they have an adventure?"

"They had some pancakes at the beach. The prince and the princess went on the beach and they got to fly away and a wolf came, and they put on the wings and they fly away from the wolf!

That's how it goes."

Thursday, November 11, 2010


We have quite a history with words in our family. Family lore has it that when I was three, I used to strut around informing anyone who would listen that I had "an extensive vocabulary." I also received a dictionary -- not a child's dictionary, mind you, a Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary -- and once I had learned to read I used to sit and read it as if it were Little Red Riding Hood.

What is it they say about apples and trees and such?

Anyway, Gabby informed me the other day that "When I was little, my favorite color was pink, but now that I'm a big girl my favorite color is fuchsia."

She has also started imitating our habit of spelling out words we don't want to say in front of her. Right now, her strings of letters don't actually spell anything, but I imagine we're going to have to learn Latvian pretty soon if we want to stay a step ahead of her.

And Dylan, being no slouch in the word department himself, grabbed Gabby's bottle of milk from her hands this morning[1], held it up in the air, and proudly said, "Bobble!"

Poor Mike will be lucky to get a word in edgewise around here.

[1] Yes, yes, she's using multisyllabic words correctly in sentences but she still likes her bottle of milk in the a.m. What can I say? She's not potty trained, either. Too focused on learning new words, obviously.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Torah! Dora! Torah!

Gabby is a huge fan of Dora the Explorer. I'm not sure exactly how she came to be such a fan, since I'm pretty sure she doesn't watch the TV show (I'm not even sure we have that channel). It must be something in the air, kind of like the Princess virus that infects girls of preschool age.

Gabby also started going to a Jewish preschool, which she (and we) love.

So I suppose it was just a matter of time before she put those two things together and came up with ---- Dora Torah!

I have no idea whether Dora is Jewish (my guess is no), but nonetheless, I kind of like the idea of Dora having adventures in ancient Palestine: "Vamonos, Moses! Salimos de Egypt ahorita!"

I think she could be on to something there.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cousins, Ice Cream, and Poems

Gabby's cousins came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. She had a wonderful time showing them her room and her toys, her ice cream store on the corner and her friend, the poet.

Here's Lynn's take on the theme of "cousins":

My friends have come to get lost inside of yards
that disappear in the imagined lands we seek together
as it gets bigger with the company and all the
more fun as we run to places only we can see
as I wait for all these times with these cousins
of mine who arrive to make more memories

Lynn Gentry
Haight & Ashbury
June 26, 2010
reprinted with permission

Thursday, July 8, 2010

More Wit And Wisdom From Gabby

I have a feeling my "Gabbycisms" posts are going to become like Jon Carroll's infamous cat columns, albeit not as charming or well-written. Those of you who like to read cutesy-wootsy stories about other people's children and the oh-so-funny (in the totally unbiased opinion of their mothers) little things they say, read on.

If not, tune in another time and maybe there'll be something here of interest to you.

A few weeks ago, Dylan (who has now acquired the nickname "Dill Pickle") caught some sort of a bug and spiked a fever in the middle of the night, because it is apparently against the law for children to spike fevers during daylight hours. Atomic and I must have been discussing it in somewhat concerned tones in front of Gabby, because the next evening before bed she announced, "Mommy, I'm sick. I think I have a beaver."

Ahem. (Oh, try try try not to bust out laughing, no, don't look at Atomic, you'll lose it, c'mon now, stop that)

"Oh, really, honey? You feel sick?"

"Yeah. I have a little beaver."

Aaaaaand give up all hope, bust out laughing and then spend several minutes trying to convince a skeptical preschooler that you are taking her concerns seriously.

On our road trip to Ashland last weekend, Gabby asked what the tall metal towers with wires were.

"Those are towers to hold the power lines, sweetie."

"Oooh. I want to see the Power Lions."

"Um, me too!"

"Mommy, is Grandpa Grandma Birdie's daddy?"

"No, Grandpa is Grandma Birdie's husband."


"Yes, the same way that daddy is mommy's husband."


"Mommy? Mickey Mouse is Minnie Mouse's husband!"

Monday, June 28, 2010

If I Had A Hammer

One of the things I love about urban living in general, and our neighborhood in particular, is the phenomenon of finding art and beauty in random places. I want my kids to grow up experiencing the unanticipated joy of a really good subway saxophonist, gorgeous murals on the sides of buildings, streetcorner philosophers, and the like. Our neighborhood offers so much of that richness.

On our corner, within view of Gabby's window, there is a man who sets up every day with a chair, a small folding table, and a manual typewriter. He has a sign that says, "Pick a topic and a price and get a poem." All day he sits there and welcomes all comers, all topics, clackety clack clack, poem after poem.

One day as we were returning home from daycare, Gabby asked, "What is that man doing?"

"He is a poet," I replied. "He will write you a poem about anything you want. What would you like a poem about?"

She thought about it for a minute, knitted her brow and said, "Hammers!"

"Hammers? Really?"


It was getting late, so I said, "Ok, next time we pass by, we'll get you a poem about hammers."

I figured she'd forget. But sure enough, when Atomic passed the poet with her a few days later, she asked, "Daddy, I want a poem about hammers!" And this is what she got:

Looking around the room I saw my family
in pictures and wondered how they got there
as another was put up somehow as
no where could I find the evidence
but a hammer left out now and as I sat and wondered
as my mother did return with one more picture in hand
and in that moment I learned as picking up the hammer
she put a picture up of me and with all the help he
gave I wondered where the hammer's pictures
were hiding.

Lynn Gentry
Haight & Ashbury
June 11, 2010
reprinted with permission

Before this interaction, we didn't even know Lynn's name. We'd nod and say hi when we passed, but we'd never had a conversation. Yet somehow, he managed to sum up so much of us in a little poem about hammers. That's a gift.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

(Dream) Worlds Collide

It's been a bit rough since I returned to work at the beginning of April. Not only haven't I had much time to blog, I haven't had time to breathe. Sleep is a distant memory, and reading for pleasure is something I might do on the bus from time to time, but for the fact that the buses are always jam packed and I usually end up standing, squished between some stinky
rasta dude and a nasty Jean Nate/b.o. smelling lady, so I get to work reeking like a stoned streetwalker.

It's not like I got to ease back into work, either. No part-time, this time. No, ma'am. I hit the ground at warp speed, with two back-to-back labor arbitrations and a disciplinary hearing within my first month back, including one on a Saturday.

Oh, and did I mention that Dylan is teething?

I know that feeling torn between work and home is just a part of every professional mom's life, but man it gets to be a drag sometimes. On Saturday, as I got ready to leave for work, I went into Gabby's room to give her a snuggle and kiss her goodbye.

"We going to the zoo, mommy?" she asked as soon as I walked in the room.
"No, sweetie. Mommy has to go to work today."


"I go to work, too. I get my jacket."
[Mommy weeps.]

And then there was my weird dream. I had spent the entire day in labor negotiations, and I was anxious about my upcoming arbitration. Dylan was fussy and so I brought him into bed with me. He proceeded to nurse just about every hour. In my groggy, anxious delirium, I drifted into a dream in which I was negotiating with the Committee of Babies, a union representing infants in their demands for more milk and the freedom to schedule their own naps. I found their demands unreasonable, but no more so than usual. I'm not sure I want to know what that says about my psyche.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Reasonable Fear

Gabby woke up screaming the other night. I went into her room and held her, and when she had calmed down a bit I asked, "What's the matter, sweetheart? Did something scare you?" (I asked this because she'd had a nightmare about a peacock the night before).

"I'm scared, Mommy."
"What are you scared of?"
"I'm scared of boogers."

Which was her way of telling me that she had a stuffy nose and couldn't breathe, and that she found that sensation a tad unsettling. But honestly, a fear of boogers seems completely reasonable to me at this point.

It's been a pretty awful, booger-filled winter around here. We've all had one cold after another. Poor Dylan has had a stuffy nose and grunky eyes for, let's see now, about 60% of his life thus far. And we all had RSV, which, if I recall correctly from the in-depth research I conducted with the help of Dr. Google and Web, M.D., stands for either "Really Shitty Virus" or "Rapidly-Spread Virus," or maybe it was "Remarkably Sucktastic Virus." Anyhoo, it appears that approximately 99.98% of all children in this area have said disease at some point in the last three months. (And by the way, what's with all these childhood diseases that we didn't have when I was a kid? Or did we have them and just called them something else, like "nasty cold and fever that lasts three weeks"?)

I suppose that means the preschool years are upon us. Those happy, golden days of wonder, Popsicle stick art projects and eternally runny noses. I can't wait to see what these years bring.

And meanwhile, I'll stock up on Kleenex.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Oy, The Guilt

Well, I had some Big Grownup Fun this weekend. In a bar. Where they serve (shhhh!) -- alcohol! In glasses! Made of glass! And the only other people there were other grownups! And my husband, whose name, as it turns out, is not "Daddy"!

Like those sweet young innocents of yore, or of cheesy movies, we stayed out 'til ten o'clock.

We had a wonderful time, and got to see some dear friends. We laughed and shared stories, and cussed freely, and felt like sane adults for a brief, shining moment. The kids, although both recovering from nasty colds, were both fever-free and in the capable hands of an experienced and loving nanny. They were both blissfully asleep when we got home.

So why do I feel so guilty?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Poetry Corner

Inspired by the recent Haiku contest at my friend's blog, Breakup, here is a Mom Haiku for you all:

The most beautiful
phrase in English: Machine wash
warm, tumble dry low

Seriously, given the amount that Dylan spits up, that phrase brings a tear to my eye every time.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dylan At Two Months

I guess I haven't formally introduced my son here yet. Friends-in-the-computer, meet my son, Dylan Gregory Dadslast.
He's a big boy -- 9lbs, 1 oz at birth and growing fast. The boy enjoys his milk, I'll say that much. His size gives him a critical advantage in withstanding the overeager affections of his big sister, who loves nothing more than to throw herself on him in a frenzy of kisses, shouting "I KISS HIM! I KISS HIM!" in his tender little ear.

Dylan is two months old today. At this early stage, it's hard to tell what he's going to be like, but so far the signs are good. He's got a pretty easygoing temperament and when he smiles, which he does often, he smiles with his whole face, and sometimes his whole body, kicking and wriggling and flapping his hands around.

He spends lots of time in a state of quiet alertness, just taking it all in with a rather amused look on his face.

Like all infants, he is capable of great fits of screaming, but they usually end once he's managed to coat my hair and all my clothing with a well-aimed stream of spit-up. (Who knew? Spit-up makes your hair shiny. Smelly, but shiny.)

And he sleeps for long stretches at a time -- a quality that may grow wearisome if it persists into adolescence, but which, for now, I consider a state of grace.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Sweetness Of It All

Well, obviously I haven't had a ton of time to post lately. If there is anyone still out there listening, sorry to leave you hanging. I've been a bit busy lately.

You see, I am now a mother of two. I have kidS, plural.

How odd. Not long ago I didn't think I would ever have a child, let alone two of them. And now, here I am, a completely assimilated citizen of Normalville, running around preoccupied with preschool applications and spit-up stains and oh-gracious-how-are-we-going-to-fit-two-carseats-two-strollers-and-two-grownups-in-one-Mini-Cooper (that's a story for another day).

It's amazing how easy that assimilation has been, how readily I've become just like every other stressed out mom, too easily distracted by the piles of laundry, too easily annoyed by a fussy baby or a whiny toddler, too ready to threaten to sell them to the gypsies -- this, after all we went through to have them. I often chastise myself for that.

Before I had kids, when we were struggling and wishing for them, I often imagined the special, precious moments, like gazing at my children asleep, watching them take their first steps, baking cookies together, hanging their art projects on the refrigerator. And yes, those moments are beautiful and rich. But the other moments, the stressed-out, hair-tearing moments, the exhaustion, the exasperation that comes after trying to explain for the umpteenth time that YES, we DO need to brush teeth EVERY NIGHT, the sore boobs from nursing the Giant Insatiable Baby, those are also very much a part of parenting. Those are the moments when it is indisputably real, and oddly enough, that is sometimes where the real sweetness resides.