Eat This, Jessica Seinfeld

What? This doesn’t look delicious to you? Good thing you didn’t come over for lunch, then. Here’s the story behind this sandwich: I attempted to trick my child into eating a healthy meal by whipping up the grilled cheese/sweet potato sandwich in J.Sein’s cookbook, which I and every other mom on the planet was coerced into buying by Oprah.

It involves mixing sweet potato puree into some cheese and butter. Entirely too much work for a sandwich, if you ask me. Anyway, halfway into this process Miles comes into the kitchen and announces he needs his diaper changed. By the time that was taken care of, the pan was smoking on the stove, causing me to scorch myself as I wiped out the burnt pan to start over. Even so, this is what I ended up with.

And you know what? Miles loved it. Devoured it. Asked for seconds. And yet he wouldn’t touch the applesauce/carrot/cinnamon concoction I made the other night that tasted like APPLE PIE! Weird kid. But I ask you, is all this worth it just to get your child to consume a ¼ cup of vegetables? I certainly will not be making the 10-ingredient homemade ketchup. A little high-fructose corn syrup never killed anyone.

Now don’t get the idea that I make every meal from scratch. No sirree. Sometimes (oftentimes) it’s a frozen pizza night. Which brings me to my next food nemesis of the week: Kashi. The other night I made one of their new frozen pizzas. They’re supposed to be chock full o’ whole grains and nuts and berries and what have you. It was a tomato and cheese pizza. Simple enough, right? Only this one had a bit of a kick to it. I noticed this when I took a bite, but when I scanned the ingredients for cayenne pepper or jalapenos and didn’t see any, I thought, “must be just me,” and served it to my son.

Miles, who had been so excited about the pizza he could barely wait for it to cook, takes one bite and starts crying, “Tongue! Tongue!” grabbing the pained body part. Kashi, that’s just mean. If you’re going to make your cheese pizza spicy, at least say so and spare some toddlers the trauma, OK?

Sticking with the food theme, does anyone watch “Jon and Kate Plus 8”? It’s a show on TLC about the Gosselin family, which includes twins and sextuplets. Reality show or horror show? You decide. I haven’t seen it yet, but I saw an interview with the parents recently. (How cute is Kate, by the way, especially for a mom of 8?!) Apparently, they were trying for one more baby after their twins … and ended up with SIX! Yikes. That’s gotta scare you off sex for good.

Anyway, the mom was saying that her days are basically spent preparing, serving, and cleaning up after meals. Me too!! And I only have one. The only way she can make it work, she said, is by using paper plates and offering only one choice per meal. If the kids don’t like it, they don’t eat.

Now, I’ve heard this “Mom’s not a short-order cook” philosophy before. And in theory, I agree. But, see, Miles has been sick and wasn’t eating for a few days … and I want him to eat healthy … and I couldn’t very well force him to eat hot-pepper pizza … and good moms make sure their kids eat vegetables, right? Which brings me back to the Jessica Seinfield grilled cheese fiasco. Next time, I’ll just slap together a PB&J and call it a day.

READ O’ THE WEEK: Even though I violated the title of this book, this is a short, funny, and inspiring read for any dedicated blogger: No One Cares What You Had For Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog


Slacker’s Guide to Good Works

I have several friends who are very dedicated to making the world a better place. One started a school for inner-city kids. One has vowed to volunteer every day for a year. Some others organized a charity event and foundation to fund research on pediatric epilepsy. They don’t just talk about making a difference, they actually get off their butts and do it. Why these people hang out with a slacker like me, I have no idea.

I can’t even show my face in the church nursery anymore. We’ve been bringing Miles there long enough that I should have signed up to be a parent volunteer. But I keep putting it off. What if the Sunday I’m assigned to work, I don’t feel like getting out of bed? What if we spontaneously decide to go out of town? It’s just too much pressure.

I can’t shirk every responsibility, though, so when my friends T. and T. (yep, they’re THAT cute) asked me to volunteer at their charity triathlon on Saturday, I agreed. I mean, I didn’t have to get up early, and all I had to do was stand around watching other people sweat and write down their times. Plus, I was dying to get out of the house now that C. was FINALLY home to watch Miles.

The T’s started this event a couple years ago, as a way to help kids like their 3-year-old daughter, Addie, who has a rare seizure disorder. This girl is one of the sweetest, cutest kids you’ll ever meet. She’s also quite the mini fashionista, running around in the most adorable little boots and leggings ever.

The way this family is, you’d never know everything wasn’t “normal.” Their house is the gathering place for everyone, and they somehow find time to entertain, renovate their house, rehab another house, take care of two kids, train for marathons, work full-time jobs, and organize this charity event. Sometimes I just want to tie these people to their couch and force them to watch the E! channel until they come to their senses.

So anyway, my friend E.G. actually did the triathlon, crazy girl, even though she’d flown in from Oregon at 1 a.m. I was very impressed with her motivation. Not so impressed that I joined her, mind you. No, I just cheered her on and then went and ate a big, fat quesadilla.

E.G. stayed at our house, and Miles totally fell in love with her. At first he was all bashful and shy. But soon enough he was parking his little butt in her lap and demanding that she read him books. Also, he has this thing about wanting to hug and kiss everyone he likes on the lips. It’s cute to us, but I can see how someone else could be put off by an amorous little suitor with a runny nose coming at them. When E.G. left, Miles sobbed and threw himself on the floor. It was so sad.

I like to think that I’m making the world a better place in my own small way by raising such an affectionate, sensitive little person. Hopefully when he grows up, he won’t be an emotionally unavailable creep who breaks girls’ hearts. Feel free to nominate me for a humanitarian award, ladies.

READ O’ THE WEEK: Did you see the funny YouTube clip of the mom who made up lyrics to the William Tell Overture? She’s a Christian comedian from Texas and there’s an interesting story about her in the Feb. 24 New York Times Magazine.


Bored to Tears

I finally understand the true meaning of this phrase. It’s when you feel like crying because it’s cold and icy and disgusting outside, everything is cancelled, and you can’t leave the house anyway because your child is sick, which makes him cranky and sleepless, and your husband’s been out of town all week.

Miles currently sounds like a sea lion with a smoking problem. His cough is worse at night, so he either sleeps fitfully or wakes up extra early in the morning. He won’t eat anything except dairy, which I’m sure is doing wonders for that phlegm in his chest. The pediatrician insists that cough medicine is bad and doesn’t work anyway. She let me give him some honey for his throat, which he promptly spit out all over the front of his shirt. (It’s PURE SUGAR, kid! What’s not to like??)

Because of the weather and the traffic, C. has not been driving back and forth from his new job as often as he’d planned. I gotta tell you, people, it’s tough not having a relief pitcher. I hit the wall about 5 p.m. every day. That’s when Miles and I have exhausted all possible activities, are starting to get on each other’s nerves, and are tired and hungry. Annoyingly, no one has prepared a delicious meal for us. So I am forced to turn on “Bob the Builder” and rustle up some grub. It’s all I can do to muster the strength for his bath and bedtime routine.

[Aside: You know who I feel really sorry for? Military spouses. Can you imagine doing it all on your own for months or years at a time, while worrying that your husband might be killed, maimed or taken hostage at any moment? Wow, would that suck.]

So playdates and most activities are out because I don’t want to inflict Miles’ germs on anyone he’s not related to. And icy roads keep me from going anywhere that’s not essential. I’d feel really bad if we got in an accident just because I felt like passing some time at Target.

I am really trying to cut back on TV, too, since Miles has become a bit of an addict. He’s started saying, “Watch shows?” right when he wakes up, perks up his ears like he’s heard a dog whistle when “Elmo’s World” comes on, and sings the theme song to “Dragon Tales.” I have to say, though, I’m conflicted about it. Why is TV so bad, anyway? It’s clearly not hurting his vocabulary or development, and it doesn’t keep him from physical activity or interacting with humans. Plus, all he watches is PBS. What’s the big deal?

Besides, even reading has gotten to be a drag lately. Miles used to like all sorts of books, like Dr. Seuss and stories about dogs and cute woodland creatures, but now all he cares about are trucks and trains. In Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever, he flips straight to the page with the firetrucks or the farm trucks. Then he points at each, saying “’zat? ’zat?” “That’s a hook and ladder truck, sweetie. That’s a pumper truck. That’s a backhoe. That’s a combine harvester.” Can someone please run me over with a front loader and put me out of my misery?

This morning Miles was up before the sun again. In a futile attempt to delay turning on the TV and get him to eat something, I made banana muffins from scratch while he dumped out all the blocks he owns on the floor. Then we played a few rounds of “My Belly, Your Belly,” ran up and down the stairs, jumped on all the beds, called Gram & Grandpa, searched for Noah who went missing from his ark, hid in the laundry basket, and tormented the dog. Then I checked the time and it was only 11 a.m.

With naptime uncertain, at least SEVEN WHOLE HOURS still loom until Dad arrives home. And that’s without traffic. I really don’t know if I can make it, people.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: For comic relief, CuteOverload.com is always a crowd pleaser, and moms will enjoy witty criticism of celebrity fashion.


Mother’s Helper?

Let me just say from the start that I may come off sounding like an ungrateful little wretch here. But I don’t care. I just wish we could all agree that coming to visit to “help with the baby” is a big, fat façade.

If you want to come see your grandchild/cousin/nephew, fine. Go ahead and give him a ton more obnoxious, battery-powered toys. Bring him piles and piles of clothes that will spend more time in the laundry basket than on his body. Sneak him bites of your ice cream and snacks every time he asks and then playfully scold his parents when he doesn’t eat his vegetables at dinner. Just don’t do it all under the guise of “helping.”

Now, I will admit: those first few weeks when I had no clue what I’d gotten myself into, when I couldn’t figure out how to eat, shower, and care for a newborn in the same 24-hour period, then it actually WAS very helpful to have my mother and mother-in-law visit. Another set of arms was invaluable, especially if those arms knew their way around a kitchen and washing machine.

But now that I’m out of baby boot camp? It’s actually MORE work for me to tell would-be helpers where the pots and pans are, how the highchair works, and what the baby does and doesn’t eat than it is to just do everything myself. And as you can see, Miles does a pretty good job of helping himself these days. Also, I can’t stand for other people to come into my kitchen and load the dishwasher wrong. (Bowls all facing the same direction = right. Thrown willy-nilly on top of the glasses with plates jammed in between = wrong.) I’m sorry if that makes me sound like an unappreciative control freak.

Besides, when most people say they want to “help,” what they really mean is that they want to hold the baby, coo at him, maybe read him a book or take him for a walk around the block. They do not want to change dirty diapers, pick oatmeal out of his hair, or rock him back to sleep at 4:30 a.m. In fact, I do not believe that my own mother has ever willingly changed her grandson’s poopy diaper. (She does, however, outfit him with a new wardrobe every few months, and feed him breakfast sometimes. I feel obligated to mention that lest she refuse to babysit ever again.)

Look, I don’t blame the grandparents for not wanting to do my dirty work. They changed a bazillion of their own kids’ diapers, for pete’s sake. But when people ask, “What can I do to help?” wouldn’t you just love to say, “Could you wash out the diaper pail with bleach, change the crib bedding, sort out all the outgrown clothes in the baby’s closet, vacuum the Goldfish crumbs out of the car, and then research potty seats on the Internet?”

I’ve often wished I could hire some help from 5-8 a.m., and then from 5-8 p.m. Strangely, no one seems to want to work those hours. But they line up to sit when the baby’s sleeping. I did have a fabulous sitter who would fold our laundry when the baby went to bed. That was a HUGE help. My SIL actually left the kitchen cleaner than she found it when she came to visit. And, you know, it actually is kind of helpful for someone to take the baby for a walk. That gets them out of the house so I can re-load the dishwasher properly.

Besides, I suppose I shouldn’t look a gift helper in the mouth, to mangle a metaphor. We moms need all the help we can get.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Wash any sharp utensils by hand. That way, you don’t have to worry about any small helpers hurting themselves on the steak knives when they help you unload the dishwasher.



On Sunday evening Miles was enjoying a nice episode of “Thomas and Friends” while his parents enjoyed a much-needed break from a long weekend of parenting a toddler. Suddenly, the power went out. We’d been experiencing high winds all day, and the temperature was dropping rapidly. We immediately learned that we are utterly unprepared for emergencies of any sort.

We could not locate the number of the electric company because we don’t own a phone book and we pay our bills online. Anyway, our phone was out since it’s a cordless. We also discovered that we had never replaced the flashlight batteries that we’d borrowed for some toy or another. So the only working light we had in the house was Miles’ Little Tykes tiger flashlight. It growled fiercely as C. carried it down to the basement to check the fuse box. No luck. Half our neighbors had lost power, too. At least our stove and one kitchen light were working so I could still cook dinner.

As fate would have it, this was also the evening that C. was leaving to start training for his new job … in another state. But what could we do? At least our heat was still working. So Miles went to bed, C. left, and I was on my own. I had been looking forward to sinking into the couch with a glass of wine to watch “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Alas, I was forced to read and listen to my iPod, like the pioneers of the Old West.

The next morning, I made Miles some instant oatmeal and plugged the refrigerator and coffee pot into the one working outlet. (Oh yeah, people, I’ve got mad survival skills.) We went about our normal routine, heading out to Stroller Strides and then story time at Barnes & Noble. (I know. It’s a glamorous life I lead.) When we came home a couple hours later, though, there was an unmistakable chill in the house. Craaaaaap. ALL the power was out now.

Our burglar alarm was emitting a piercing shriek at regular intervals and flashing a red light that read “trouble.” No kidding. I could not figure out how to turn the damn thing off. I tried C. on his cell phone. I texted him on his Blackberry. No answer. I fed Miles PB&J and some lukewarm milk. The temperature in our house was dropping another degree every time I checked the thermostat. The outside temp was 16 degrees. Super.

I used my cell phone to call our only neighbor I’m friendly with. She had power and was home with a sick 3-year-old, her newborn, and a nasty sinus infection. “You’re welcome to come over here,” she offered. Um, thanks … My other friends in the area were working. I could go hang out with their nannies, or I could go visit my SIL who lives an hour away. It took 3 more phone calls to determine that she wasn’t home. Then my only working phone died. No car charger = SOL.

I was beginning to panic, but I bundled Miles up and put him down for his nap. His room felt like a meat locker. Then I ran down to my sick neighbor’s with my cell phone, charger, and milk. I’ll be damned if I let an entire $5.69 gallon of organic milk go to waste!! I ran back home in case Miles was in the process of being kidnapped from our non-alarmed house.

No phone. No Internet. No TV. No radio, even. (Damn iPods!!) Me, my baby, and all my useless technology were going to FREEZE AND DIE. And then … the power came back on. We were saved. Until I needed to look up the number for the pizza place and discovered the DSL was down.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Prepare for an emergency. Buy some batteries and candles and a transistor radio and maybe a cooler for your expensive dairy products. Or at the very least, a car charger for your cell phone.

LINK O’ THE WEEK: My altruistic friend E.G. is embarking on a year-long goal of volunteering every single day for an entire year. Follow along on her blog. Maybe some of her do-gooding will rub off on her slacker friends. 🙂


Firsts for New Moms

New moms are all about firsts, aren’t they? We have pictures of the baby’s first bath, first tooth, first steps, first haircut. That’s all well and good, but what about the firsts for us moms? Say, that first postpartum mimosa, or the first piece of non-maternity clothing you buy for yourself. Other memorable firsts include:

The first time you forget you have a baby. My friend L. found herself in the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru recently on her way to work. There was a line so she thought, “I’ll just run in.” Oh, wait. Except there’s that sleeping baby in the backseat. D’oh!

For me it was when I was out running errands for the first time after having the baby. I browsed through Target, chatted on the phone, came home, opened the door and … there was a baby crying in my house! Oh, right. That’s MY baby. It takes some getting used to.

The first time you cut corners. You started out strong — you pre-washed all the onesies in Dreft, you sterilized everything in the house. For awhile, maybe you were changing the crib sheet daily. But then you started covering up the spit-up stains with a bib. Waiting a little longer between diaper changes. Before you know it, you’re employing the 5-second rule when the baby drops his pacifier on the dog hair-covered floor. Hey, a few germs never hurt anyone.

The first time you realize you are a bad influence on your child. Lately, every time I change Miles’ diaper, he says, “Gross!” Could I have maybe uttered that word a time or two upon unwrapping his ripe Huggies? Great. I’ve given my kid body issues already. Forget potty training. He’s going to develop a hygiene obsession that will impact his future relationships and render him unable to use public restrooms as an adult. Way to go, Mom.

The first time you think mean thoughts about your baby. Maybe it’s the night you are awakened every 45 minutes to feed him. Or when you realized you’re no longer welcome at your favorite restaurant with your new companion. Or when your offspring purposefully sprays a mouthful of pureed carrots all over your new sweater. “Damn baby!” you may think. “You’ve ruined my life!” But only for a second. …Right??

The first time your baby makes you laugh. I can’t actually remember the very first time Miles cracked us up. It may have been when he made this face upon his first encounter with our dog, Gracie. Or maybe it was when he tried to pull off his sock with his gums.

These days he makes me laugh constantly. Like when he grabs a fistful of Playdoh, gives me a mischievous grin and says, “Yummy!” The little punk. Or when he does his post-bath Naked Baby Dance. Or shouts “Happy New Near!” for no reason. Or when he hugs a kitten … in a book. Or when he kisses his trains good-night. It’s the first time I’ve seen such unbridled affection for mass transport vehicles, that’s for sure.

IDEA O’ THE WEEK: My friend T. has an ingenious idea for a drive-thru convenience store. You could pick up milk, diapers, tampons — all without unstrapping the kids from their carseats. Sort of like a Brew Thru for moms. Is that brilliant or what?


Month 21: Chatty Charlie

Miles is turning into quite the talker. When he wakes up in the mornings, we’ll hear him over the monitor practicing his words: “Mama, Dada, car, doggie, Mamie, Pop, firetruck, car, train, Gram, Grandpa … out, out, OUT!!” When we open his door, he either responds with an enthusiastic “Hi!!” or, “Morning, Mama/Dada.” This is quickly followed by “Milk? Milk? Milk!!”

He also needs constant affirmation that he’s chosen the correct word. He will keep repeating a word until you say, “Yes, that is Mama’s coffee. You’re right!” Or, “Yes, I see you spilled your milk. Yes, you did make a mess.”

Of course, not all his words are recognizable, even to me. One time he stood next to the computer for 10 minutes saying, “amo woor” and growing increasingly frustrated before I figured out that he was asking me to pull up the Elmo’s World web site. And “boo-fie” and “cappup” might elude me if he weren’t pointing to the butterfly on his highchair or the ketchup bottle.

Miles’ verbal skills are somewhat of a surprise to me. See, I didn’t talk to him much when he was a tiny baby. I always felt stupid saying things like, “Look, Miles. Now Mama is putting the newspaper in the recycling bin. Now I’m loading the dishwasher.” Even reading him children’s books seemed silly. I mean, a 3-month-old can barely recognize his own foot! Is he really going to appreciate Sandra Boynton’s whimsical rhymes?

Anyway, somewhere along the line he picked up some speech. He has always loved reading. I do find it pretty amazing that he went from calling any object he encountered a “ba” (ball? bird? bye-bye?) to saying, “Happy day to you, Mama.” (I think he got that from the Sesame Street episode about Oscar’s birthday.)

Just because he knows a lot of words doesn’t mean he understands them, though. For instance, there were those couple of weeks when he mixed up “open” and “oatmeal.” And he has taken to drinking handfuls of bathwater and saying it’s “coffee.” When you ask him what color anything is, he says “blue.” We’ve been working on manners for ages; now he says “thank you” right before snatching another kid’s toy, and “wampum” when I prompt him to “say thank you, Miles.” (No, *I* say “you’re welcome!”)

Sometimes his verbal aptitude is embarrassing. Like when another kid is just mastering sign language for “bird” and Miles walks up and says, “Owl. Whoo-whoo!” Show-off. Or when his pronunciation is questionable. For instance, around Christmas he became obsessed with the Grinch. Unfortunately, when Miles says it, “Grinch” sounds more like the word for a female dog. His poor sitter was so perplexed when Miles pointed at the neighbor’s inflatable Christmas decorations and shouted, “Bitch! Bitch!”

Now he’s in the parrot stage. He repeats EVERYTHING. Including the colorful phrases that slip out when his dad and I are driving. “Uh, no, sweetie, Dada said ‘shirt.’ He likes that man’s shirt.”

In church the other day Miles started shouting out “Christ! Christ!” I guess it’s the one word in the sermon that stood out? Hey, better that than shouting about the Grinch, right?

READ O’ THE WEEK: A book my Mom gave Miles might have something to do with his growing vocabulary: My Little Picture Dictionary It’s one of the few books that he will sit and “read” by himself. He also adores the Richard Scarry books.

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