You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2008.

Fits over shoes: 3

Tantrums involving coats: 2

Ear-piercing screeches responding to God-knows what: 12

Rampages ending with vomit on the carpet (Of course on the carpet! No one can ever puke on the hardwood.): 1

Moms ready for a drink: 1


Screw the calendar. It’s now spring.

Spring is:

  • A pale foot, swishing back and forth in the warm breeze while its owner flips the pages of a magazine.
  • Sunglasses. Wearing them for something besides the painful glare off fresh snow.
  • People outside EVERYWHERE. Swerving around swarms of bikers as we cross town to waste some time outside.
  • Kids playing kickball in the back yard.
  • Beer on a patio. Better when it’s a friend’s patio.
  • An impromptu barbecue — good friends, good food, good conversation.

All I have to say is: THANK GOD. We’ve earned it.

I think Simon summed it up best when he laid his worn-out little head on Ed’s shoulder before bed and said, “Fun Day.”


I have a shoe problem. Basically, I love them.

I usually have my eye on several pairs and wait patiently until it seems like it’s gone long enough since I last purchased some that the geek doesn’t complain about me buying more.

Let’s be clear — this is not a spiky-heeled, strappy, high-fashion shoe love affair.

Me, I can’t get enough of the clunky comfort versions they love to rip on on here.

Comfy! Cute! Probably mom-ish. Whatever. I AM a mom. I’m becoming more comfortable with that. (I guess it’s about time …)

Anyway, it makes traveling a huge challenge. I seriously have never packed a suitcase, even for a short trip, that contained any less than three pairs of shoes (you never know when you’ll need those black clogs).

This time around, I bought one pair of shoes for our trip, and I’m not packing any more. That’s right. One pair of shoes that will already be on my feet. It is giving me hives just writing about it.

But! They’re comfortable enough to walk many miles in, and cute enough to wear with a dress. So, in theory, I shouldn’t miss any of the other members of my shoe family.

But I might just kiss a few of them goodbye before we go.

Because even if you are, you’ll probably cry.

He lost his wife 27 hours after his daughter was born.

He tells his story in short, poetic bursts.

His daughter is beautiful.

Shortly after I wrote the previous post, I put Simon down for his nap. He insisted on taking to bed a regulation-size Packer helmet. I let him. Here’s the conversation Ed and I had when I got home from work last night:

Me: He’s been talking like crazy lately! I put him down for his nap and he spent at least 30 minutes talking to the helmet he took to bed.

Ed: Yeah, well, he ripped all the lining out of it.

Me: He did? He was talking to it so nicely!

Ed: Yep, talking to it sweetly while tearing its guts out. Just like a serial killer.

In the interest of letting the Internet know Simon does bring me joy sometimes, here’s my list:

1. He eats ANYTHING. Today for lunch, in addition to the mac n cheese and peas the other kids were eating, he chowed some of our asparagus and shitake risotto and was introduced to (and ate with a spoon) hummus. Most of the time, if you put it in front of him, he’ll eat it.

2. Kid knows how to sleep. He slept until 10 a.m. today, at which point I woke him up. He’s not afraid he’s gonna miss something by sleeping in. This is the kind of thinking I jibe with.

3. His voice. When he’s not using it to scream, the sweetest, high-pitched tone comes from his mouth. I love listening to him call out every object as we drive by: Car! Tree! Bus (that one comes with a delicious lisp)! Truck!

4. He’s fearless. Yes, that’s part of what exhausts me, but it’s fascinating watching a being who doesn’t throw caution to the wind — he just doesn’t have any. If you’re doing something, by god, he can do it too! And he’ll shove you out of the way to do it. He’ll dig in the dirt, jump off a step, balance on a ledge. If he falls, usually he shakes his head and keeps moving.

5. Hugs. He gives them. Often. Just now, he pushed my shoulder away from the keyboard and climbed on my lap to squeeze me. And he doles out an occasional kiss, too.

We’re going to Ireland. For two weeks. All of us. Yes, we’re crazy. But then, you already knew that. Here are a few of the most insane things I’ve stumbled across preparing for this trip:

1. Travel tip: Bring Tupperware in which to pack up your leftovers from restaurant meals. Not all countries understand the meaning of the word doggy bag! You have GOT to be kidding. Who’s nuking leftovers when they’re traveling? And wasting precious suitcase space on Tupperware? Then lugging it with them to a restaurant?

2. Used travel potty seat on Amazon. Need I say more?

3. Take lipstick and a small mirror in your hand luggage – if you’re having a bad time, take two minutes to put on some lipstick and give yourself a pep talk in the mirror. Um, yeah. LIPSTICK is going to fix what ails me. Maybe if it’s laced with Xanax …

4. Wear spunky clothes and dark glasses so that other passengers think you are someone famous enjoying quality time with your kids. Because famous people always sit in coach and fly overseas without a nanny.

Clare is potty trained. Sort of.

She wears pullups at night, which I think is pretty normal. She also refuses to use a public toilet. Ever. She will hold her pee indefinitely, and by that I mean many hours, until we get home to her comfort throne. She’ll whine, beg and plead to go home. Her twisted face and writhing torso make me uncomfortable. Usually, by the time we pull into the driveway, it’s hard for me not to shove her out of the way to relieve myself first.

Today, as usual, she was dancing in place when I arrived at preschool to pick her up. I asked, as I do every day, if she had to go potty. She said no. Until, as is the case every day, we got to the car. When, predictably, she started whining, “Mooommmmm, I have to go potty reaaaallly bad!”

I decided to try a different approach to the usual, “WHY don’t you just GO when you have to?!?!?”

“Clare,” I said, “I’ll take you to get a happy meal if you use the potty in school.”

Yes, I used fast food as a bribe. No, I’m not proud of it. But guess what? It worked!

She went inside, promptly kicked me out of the potty room (“I want you to shut the DOOORRR!!!”), and emptied her poor, stressed bladder.

The preschool has these adorable, tiny flushable toilets, so I only count this as a half-step. But I’ll take it.

I put my kid on a leash. Like a dog. And I pulled back when he was going the wrong way.

And we had the best public outing ever.

So all you holier-than-thou mothers who gave me the stink-eye at the zoo, suck it. You don’t have a kid like Simon, and if you ever do, I hope you discover the leash.

I could tell which parents had dealt with the likes of my two-year-old, because they’d look at the device with amazement, checking out how the little devil skittered from place to place unfettered but for a quite relaxed mom following his lead. One dad asked if they make double versions. I told him to just get two! Just like walking two dogs!

If you asked me two years ago if I’d buy a leash for a kid of mine, I would have given an enthusiastic “No!” But that was before I met Simon. He hates the stroller, and I used to spend half of every outing fighting with him as he arched his back and screamed. If he wasn’t strapped in, he’d run. Usually straight for the nearest car.

Before, I secretly thought that kids like Simon were that way because of how they were raised. And I still think that’s true to some extent. But I have raised him the same as my other kids (except I’m stretched pretty thin these days), and he turned out LIKE THIS. Which is always moving, often throwing fits, sometimes biting, usually hilarious and occasionally really super cuddly. Which is nice, and why I’ll keep him around.

Even if I have collar the little sucker.

It feels like spring. Time to fire up the grill!

I’m set to whip up some chile-rubbed pork, smothered with tomatillo salsa, grilled sweet potatoes, and a little jicama-arugula salad to brighten things up.

I have to make the salsa first. And the first step is to roast the dried chiles. I’m cooking with Rick Bayless, and I’ve made the recipe before. He recommmends one of two kinds, and I’ve always used the guajillo because I know its rich flavor well. But today I decide to step out of my comfort zone and pick up some arbols. They’re small, and yeah, I know that means hot, but Rick knows what he’s doing, right?

So I seed and stem the chiles (even a few less than he recommends) and toss them in a hot pan with a little oil. Almost instantly, my throat begins to burn. I think, hmmm, these are hot! They start to scorch almost immediately, so I take them off the heat and put them on a plate to cool. By this time, my eyes are watering. My nose is running. Oh, yeah, and I’m coughing uncontrollably. I seriously can’t stop. Every breath I take feels like it’s loaded with little daggers that are slashing the inside of my throat.

So I go outside, where, thankfully, the rest of the family is, to get some air.

Here’s where things get worse. I can’t fathom throwing the chiles out, and besides, I’m out of guajillos. So how bad can it be? I like hot. The house will clear out. I head back in to roast the tomatillos. The house is hazy. I open some windows. My throat still burns. I’m coughing, but getting used to it. Then Myles and his friend come in to play. They’re sitting in the living room, coughing like TB victims. I swear, if I had not pointed out the air was poisoned, they would still be sitting there pushing buttons on the video game controllers, wheezing and hacking. Reluctantly, they leave.

It’s about time for Simon to be getting ready for bed, so Ed brings him in. They both bark like seals for a few minutes then go upstairs to get Simon’s pajamas on. The tomatillos are finished roasting, so I follow them up. Somehow, the toxic haze has slithered up the stairs. It’s just as bad as the kitchen. Simon is playing with Ed, then collapses into a fit of coughing and gagging. Then the gagging turns into — vomit. Three slices of pizza and some barely-chewed popcorn have been regurgitated onto the carpet. The stain is still there.

Because I can’t give up, I whip the chiles together with the rest of the ingredients, and guess what? The salsa is so hot it’s inedible. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it, but whatever it is will wait until tomorrow. Tonight, it’s take-out.