6/30/08

Well, They Do Make Adult Diapers...

Elmo pottyYou only have to glance at the thickness of What to Expect the First Year and similar tomes to realize that being a parent requires an enormous amount of knowledge and work. Just when you’ve mastered one skill, you need a whole slew of others. Take potty training, for instance. Even while I’ve been patting myself on the back for handling certain baby milestones -– like getting my son to give up the bottle and pacifier -– I am aware that a much bigger issue is looming: toilet training.

My attitude towards this subject is much like my feelings about doing my taxes. I dread it, I resent it, it feels too much like homework, and I hope that if I ignore it, it will all just go away. That said, our pediatrician struck fear in my heart when she mentioned at Miles’ 2-year checkup that after 2 ½, potty training gets exponentially harder. Oh, goody.

Now, I haven’t totally buried my head in the sand on this subject. Long ago, I actually purchased an Elmo potty seat, the kind that fits inside the regular toilet seat. This purchase was made during a certain trip to Babies R Us when Miles was not in the shopping mood. Unfortunately, the potty seat aisle contains approximately 4,012 options.

As I was standing there scratching my head, Miles was shouting, “Want dat! Want dat!” He was pointing at a box of “pee targets” (I believe that’s the technical term), little colored puffs of what looked like Styrofoam that you float in the toilet to encourage your little boy to aim for the bowl and not his shoes. I absentmindedly handed him the box and continued perusing the potty chairs. Before I knew it, he’d torn open the package and popped some of the pee targets INTO HIS MOUTH!! I screamed, snatched the box out of his hands, and ran the hell out of there.

With such an auspicious start to the potty training project, it’s no wonder things didn’t get much better from there. A neighbor gave us a little potty chair that plays music when something hits the bottom of the bowl. As soon as Miles discovered this, he wouldn’t stop sticking his foot into the potty or throwing random things into it, like trains and toothbrushes. When he would agree to sit on it, he’d spend the whole time flipping the little “pee shield” up and down. On the big toilet, he’d wiggle around and unravel roll after roll of toilet paper. About the only part he seemed interested in was the flushing.

OK, so I guess we’ve accomplished Part One of potty training: get subject familiar with the toilet. He’s a little TOO familiar with it, if you ask me. Needless to say, my bathroom cleaning frequency has increased dramatically. The doc also suggested letting Miles run around without a diaper on whenever possible. Is she CRAZY?! We just got a new couch! Anyway, we tried it. This strategy led to more than one puddle on the floor.

I kept pressing the doc on just how exactly to get from Point A to Point B. The most I could get out of her was, “One day he’ll go in the potty by accident and he’ll make the connection.” Uh-huh. I see. One day, it’ll “just happen,” huh? Or like it says cryptically in this little book I got at Target, No More Diapers!, “…and then one day, it worked!” Vague enough for you? Well, it’s been several months and we’re still waiting for “it” to “work.” Until then, I’m keeping the T.P. and the pee targets out of reach.

PICK O’ THE WEEK: Can someone please recommend a good book or DVD on potty training? No More Diapers is not cutting it! YouTube offers this hilarious Japanese cartoon, mysteriously subtitled “Manage to go the toilet – Pants man!”

6/26/08

Expensive Li'l Buggers, Aren't They?

Baby w/ moneyDo you know anyone who doesn’t worry about money? Because I don’t. Not single people, not two-income families, not couples with one kid or 4 kids. Everybody is stressed out about the cost of living. I like thinking about gas prices and the economy and saving for retirement about as much as like getting a filling at the dentist. And yet I am plagued with panicky thoughts daily.

I read somewhere that when men learn they’re expecting a baby, they launch into full-on provider mode -- working longer hours, setting up college funds, etc. In fact, I’ve witnessed this phenomenon firsthand. And I used to be kind of cynical about it. I mean how can one be so crass as to worry about money when we’re talking about The Miracle of Life here?! I dismissed all those “kids are expensive” curmudgeons as cold, soulless capitalists. Or at least kill-joys. I wanted to say, “Can’t you just let me frolic among the pastel onesies before you lecture me about 529 plans and HSAs and IRAs?”

Well -- you know where I’m going with this -- turns out, those little bundles of joy ARE expensive. Holy cow, have you calculated the cost of diapers and formula and just the basic gear you need for the first year?! I’m sure I could find a statistic somewhere, but I won’t. It’ll just depress you. Besides, would knowing that really change your mind? “No, I’ve decided not to have a baby until gas prices go down.” As if.

Miles in suitI have a mild coronary every time I have to buy Miles a new pair of shoes. Which is often, because his feet grow sometimes overnight. I think paying $50 for shoes smaller than your fist is morally wrong. But what choice do you have? Let your child walk around barefoot? Tie plastic bags around his sneakers instead of buying snow boots? I’ll tell you what you do -- you take all the hand-me-downs you can get!! And you don’t buy a new pair of white bucks just because they’re super-cute and you’re going to a wedding and you want all the relatives to think your child is adorably dressed. Because they will get worn ONCE. (Trust me on this one.)

But you just can’t cut back on everything. You can’t possibly only buy clothes that you know your child will wear, food you know your baby will eat every bite of and not waste, or only go to the doctor when your child is bleeding because you don’t want to fork over the $25 co-pay. You just can’t. So you have to suck it up and open your wallet and just let the contents flutter out into the universe.

And when your baby is old enough for group activities? Oh, just forget it. Sure, you could sit home and play with your hand-me-down toys day after day after day, or you could schedule play dates or trips to the library or other free outings. But EVERY DAY?? You’re NEVER going to take your child to the zoo, or any place requiring an admission fee? You’re not going to sign up for any Gymboree or baby yoga or toddler music classes or swimming lessons? This strategy may keep your bank account in the black, but I guarantee you will lose your mind from boredom and isolation.

Where I get into trouble is, I always think that if I spend somewhere, I will cut back somewhere else. “Since we joined the pool, I guess we’ll skip our vacation this summer.” Yeah, right!! Not happening. I suppose we could get rid of our Lexus SUV, McMansion, and live-in housekeeper… Oh, wait -- WE DON’T HAVE ANY OF THOSE!!

So what are some real solutions to our money woes these days? Move somewhere with a lower cost of living and hope you and/or your spouse can find jobs? Go back to work if you’re a SAHM and depend on family for free childcare? Push your kid into sports and hope he becomes the next Tiger Woods? Make all your own clothes and grow your own food? (You KNOW how I feel about that…) I just don’t know, people. Thank goodness Miles shows signs of being a smart cookie -- at least we can hope for scholarships!

FACT O’ THE WEEK: Apparently, Oklahoma has the lowest cost of living in the U.S., while Brazil ranks near the lowest cost of living in the world. Rio de Janeiro, here I come! Kids only need flip-flops there, right?

6/22/08

Domestic Goddess by Default

baby on quiltI have never been an enthusiastic practitioner of the domestic arts -- cooking, cleaning, sewing, gardening, crocheting, what have you. I mean, I CAN whip up some tasty peanut noodles. I DO clean my kitchen (too often for my liking, yet still not often enough). I HAVE managed to keep a few houseplants alive. I even sewed a quilt for my unborn child. (Hey, I had to pass the time somehow during my 41+ week pregnancy!) But I wouldn’t say I particularly enjoy these activities.

I know people who love to cook. Look at Rachael Ray. The woman cooks for a living, and still claims she goes home and makes dinner every night. My question is: why?? Same goes for people who make their own clothes. I can appreciate a hand-sewn quilt, but why would you spent all that time making a dress when you could just go out and buy one? Gardening I sort of understand -– at least you can admire and maybe even eat the fruits of your labor -– but it’s still one of the least-appealing activities I can think of. Just the THOUGHT of dirt under my nails makes me cringe. And to me, mulch smells like vomit.

OK, so Holly Homemaker I’m not. Unfortunately for me, none of my hobbies (if you can even call them that) lend themselves to raising a child. Traveling, reading, going to concerts, eating out, exercising, even writing is not easy with a baby in tow. Early on, I was frustrated that motherhood curtailed so many of my favorite pastimes: the beach was too bright for a baby, his neck was too floppy for a bike seat, kayaking was too dangerous, and whenever he was sleeping, I was too tired to read.

Now that Miles is a toddler, he’s more adaptable. Still, we spend a lot of time housebound. Naps are sacred, he goes to bed early, and he prefers to stay home and play with his toys a lot of the time. So, I have been forced to find things to do around the house – like cooking, cleaning, and even (yikes!) gardening. It’s true. Miles and I spent a nice afternoon planting window boxes. Well, I planted while he dug in the dirt for worms and emptied the watering can on his shoes.

My mom, a skilled sewer and bread baker, revealed that she took up baking after she had a baby. It was a quiet, time-consuming activity she could do while he napped. Plus, it made the house smell nice and everyone got to enjoy the finished product. I learned to knit when I was pregnant, because I could do something productive and chat or watch TV at the same time. (Sadly, I ditched that hobby the minute I finished my first, and only, scarf.)

I have friends who are avid scrapbookers. (Or "scrappers," per the lingo.) That, I can get on board with. At least it’s an attractive way to deal with all those shoeboxes and/or hard drives full of photos. Other moms I know refinish furniture and make their own stationery. All productive activities you can do while keeping an eye on a baby. And that don’t take too much brain power. And that can be easily interrupted should you need to nurse, change a diaper, or rescue your toddler when he’s wedged his head between the slats of a kitchen chair. (Not that that’s ever happened to me. Oh, who am I kidding? Of course it has!)

I have not embraced my inner Martha. I do not aspire to win any bake-offs. I will never make a pair of overalls for my child or decoupage a lamp. (Actually, I don’t even know what that means.) I might, however, keep my window boxes alive this year. Fingers crossed.

LAUGH O’ THE WEEK: We were at the pool and another boy had a squirt gun. Miles asked me what it was. I paused, reluctant to introduce the concept of firearms. “What do you think it is?” I asked him. “A hairdryer!” he shouted. Sure. Let’s go with that.

6/19/08

Housekeeping Hell

In the hilarious and painfully honest book, “I Do. I Did. Now What?!” author Jenny Lee describes the moment when her newlywed bliss evaporated:

"On this very first morning [in our first apartment] … I was sort of humming and looking out the window, feeling very Disney movie-like, when I noticed that someone had left the bread bag open on the counter. Sitting next to the bread was a jar of mustard with the top off, and next to the bread was a mustard-covered knife lying on a clean kitchen towel … Now, I’m no Mrs. Clean, mind you, and I’ve been known to leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight, okay for a few nights even, BUT I WOULD NEVER, EVER PUT A MUSTARD-COVERED KNIFE ON A CLEAN KITCHEN TOWEL."

Lee goes on to describe more of her new hubby’s sloppy habits -- leaving orange juice glasses on the back of the toilet, unidentifiable sticky spots on the kitchen floor, and wet towels wherever they happen to fall. Reading this, I started to wonder, “Are she and I married to the same person?!” I, too, have scratched my head over the dirty-knife-on-a-clean-towel conundrum. Is it not 10 times easier to wipe off a counter –- or, dare I suggest, place the soiled utensil directly into the dishwasher -– than it is to wash, dry, and fold a dishtowel?

Lee, a braver woman than I, decided to conduct an experiment. Instead of cleaning up after her husband, she would leave his mess exactly as he left it. And to do him one better, she’d stop cleaning up after herself as well. An ice cream bowl left on the top of the TV grew green fur before her husband noticed it -– and that’s AFTER she tied a red ribbon to the spoon to draw his eye upward and catch his attention. (I laughed so hard at this I think I wet myself a little.)

Lee was starting to enjoy her newfound slovenliness when her husband finally noticed something was amiss. To her surprise, he spent two hours on a Saturday cleaning the apartment from top to bottom himself. Then, after realizing how much work it was, he vowed to change his untidy ways.

Yippee for Lee. Too bad for me. See, my husband wouldn’t even notice the house was a mess if he tripped over a petrified bagel on the kitchen floor, fell into a pile of dirty sippy cups, and a tower of year-old newspapers and wet towels fell on top of him. Sadly, it wouldn’t even take that long for such a mess to accumulate. If I let things slide even one day, the floors are covered with the remains of my son’s meals, assorted socks and toys, and tumbleweeds of dog hair. It’s disgusting, people.

Dog hair is such a common presence in our home that Miles has taken to regularly making a yucky face, spitting into his hand, and wailing, “Dog hair in my mouf!!” Get used to it, buddy.

I have a dream of one day living in a house so clean you can walk around in white socks and have the bottoms not turn black. I will be able to easily lift jars out of the fridge because they will not be stuck to the shelves by mysterious substances. I would never be embarrassed by the unscheduled drop-by because visitors or no, my home would be immaculate at all times. Then a stray dog hair tickles my nose and I wake up.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Housecleaning tips from Real Simple and from Merry Maids. I’ve used the fabric softener sheet trick. It works.

RETRACTION O’ THE WEEK: After I wrote this post (but to his credit, before my husband had read it) he willingly and of his own accord cleaned the kitchen twice, folded a basket of laundry, and made dinner. Knock me over with a feather!!

6/16/08

This Confusing World of Ours

lunch with doggieWhy do we peel and eat oranges, but slice and scoop grapefruit? Why do we eat Cheddar cheese in cubes, use a spoon for cottage cheese, and spread cream cheese with a knife? They’re all cheese!! And what’s up with eating French toast with a fork but regular toast with our hands? Come to think of it, who came up with the idea of stabbing your food with a tiny pitchfork and then putting this sharp utensil into your mouth? I’ve been looking at life through the eyes of my 2-year-old and, I’ve gotta admit, it’s confusing.

Setting aside the whole food issue, let’s look at reading material. Miles sees me tear recipes out of magazines, yet I yell at him for ripping the pages of his books. In those books, there are pictures of things that look remarkably similar, yet have entirely different names. What’s the difference between a frog and a toad? I don’t know. I started to look it up on Wikipedia and zoned out when I encountered phrases like “convergent adaptation” and “taxonomy.” And I’m sorry, I know that apes are primates and monkeys are … different, but I’m just going to go ahead and call them all monkeys for simplicity’s sake, OK? Hopefully Miles’ future high school biology teacher can clear things up for him.

Some other things that must be confusing from a kid’s point of view: crab cakes (“You call this CAKE?”), urinals, and smoking. Miles associates smoke with flames and flames with fire trucks. And fire trucks are emergency vehicles that rush to the scene of a blaze to put out the fire and rescue people. So what must he think when he sees someone walking around with a cigarette, producing smoke from their FACE?

My friend T. and I were at a coffee shop recently, and one of the employees went outside for a smoke break. He chose to stand in front of the one window DIRECTLY in front of the kids’ play area. Of course the boys were riveted. Super. As T. said, watch them take up smoking later and blame it on this incident from their childhood. (BTW, did you know that Barack Obama is a smoker? It’s true, Google Image it. I have to say, that’s disappointing. You know, role models and all that…)

Speaking of “do as I say, not as I do,” I became distinctly aware of adults’ hypocrisy when I started teaching Miles about sharing and taking turns. We went skiing one time, and I saw all these signs posted about proper lift-line etiquette. “Do they really need to tell people that?” I thought to myself. Then, wouldn’t you know it, a pack of rough-looking snowboarders cut in front of us. Nice example, guys.

As for sharing, that presents some sticky situations as well. Let’s say a homeless person asks you for money in front of your kids. (Kids young enough to be aware but too young for a lecture on socioeconomic issues.) When Miles has a snack and another kid wants some, I usually urge him to share. And yet there I am with a handful of change for the parking meter and I don’t share it with the homeless guy?

Am I a parent or a walking contradiction? I become less and less sure each day. Just like I was uncertain of how to respond to Miles’ question at lunch today, when he asked if he could eat a lime. “No, it’s not one of the edible citrus fruits, except for the juice and sometimes a twist of the rind in certain adult beverages?” I went with “It’s yucky.”

READ O’ THE WEEK: How to Fit a Car Seat on a Camel is a hilarious collection of stories about traveling with children. As you might guess, vomit plays a pivotal role in several selections.

6/13/08

Only a Dad...

Dads sometimes get a bad rap. There, I admitted it. Just because a dad has occasionally put a diaper on backwards, forgotten to change a kid’s clothes for 3 days, or unplugged an entire freezer full of breast milk to plug in his Shop-Vac (you know who you are!), doesn’t mean all dads are ignorant, bumbling, useless wastes of space.

I suppose they deserve more credit. (Grudging tone? Who, me?) My husband was actually the one who mastered the perfect swaddling technique when Miles was a newborn, and today he’s the only one who can get him out of the bathtub. When I’m on bath duty, Miles will slither around in the cold, empty tub playing with his rubber duckies for ages, even after every drop of water has been drained from it.

So in honor of Father’s Day, I’ve decided to give some dads I know their due. Here are some of my favorite dad memories:

• My dad’s not the most effusive guy. He’ll give you a hug if he hasn’t seen you in awhile, but he’s not big on “I love yous” or long, heart-to-heart phone chats. He’s often hidden behind a newspaper or computer screen. Still, he’ll surprise you every once in awhile. I visited my parents when I was about 7 mos. pregnant. I was feeling bulbous and bloated. I waddled into the kitchen one day and my dad was standing there with this funny grin on his face. “What?” I asked, paranoid that my maternity shirt had ridden up or something. “Nothing,” he said, “I just love the way you look.” Awww…

• My in-laws spend their summers on Cape Cod. The first time we visited them with the baby, then 3 mos. old, I was in new-mom hell. Besides trying to breastfeed in a crowd of relatives and worrying about my son’s cries piercing the thin walls of the cottage, I was having a hard time accepting my new situation. What the hell kind of vacation was it if I couldn’t do any of the things I’d normally do, like go the beach, bike, kayak, or even just sleep late?

One day my husband, in-laws, me, the baby, stroller, and our enormous diaper bag piled into the car for a day trip to a quaint little town nearby. I dashed into a couple shops while someone kept an eye on the stroller out front. We changed diapers in the back of the car. I stressed through lunch that the baby would start wailing at any moment. On the drive home, I was exhausted. My father-in-law smiled and said, “What a great day.” Now THAT’S a true family man.

• And of course I can’t leave out my favorite dad -- my hubby, C., aka Dad2Miles. It’s hard to pick just one memory, but if I had to I’d say it was the first time I ever left the baby. Miles was 10 mos. old, and I was going to a conference out of town. I’d have to be away for two whole nights. I made lists and piles and stacks of things C. would need and then barraged him verbally with additional instructions, JUST IN CASE.

Honestly, I wasn’t so afraid the baby wouldn’t survive. I was more nervous that when C. got a solid 48-hour taste of non-stop solo baby duty, he might run screaming for the hills, or at least the next flight to Vegas. Imagine my surprise when I got home and C. was not only still there and still sane, but announced that it was the best weekend of his life. Damn. Guess I underestimated the guy, huh?

Happy Father’s Day, dads! And don’t think this gives you a free pass out of diaper duty...

READ O’ THE WEEK: I’ve mentioned this book before, but I really loved it: Crawling: A Father's First Year. It defies all the stereotypes of the beer-swilling, couch-snoozing, Al Bundy-type dad.

6/8/08

Month 25: The Year of the Truck

playing with trainsTrucks and trains and tricycles, oh my! Guess it’s no secret what 2-year-old boys like, huh? 95% of Miles’ birthday gifts featured wheels of some sort. First, an entire new fleet of trucks arrived, including a dump truck as big as a dishwasher. Then, a whole new set of Thomas trains steamed into our living room.

If you’re lucky enough not to be intimately familiar with Thomas & Friends, you might not know that all these vehicles have names, as well as faces. Thank goodness they’re printed on the bottom, because otherwise I’d have no clue when Miles asks, “Where’s Percy?” Um, is he the green one?

truck cakeEven the books he got were in keeping with the theme: there’s “Little Blue Truck” and “Smash! Crash!” about two mischievous trucks who like to -- yep, you guessed it. We’ve read that one 6 times already. Coincidentally or not, the birthday cake I made was a yellow dump truck hauling a load of malted milk balls. It was a big hit with the 2-year-old set. It came out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. Especially considering the 94-degree weather this weekend. Heat and humidity do bad things to buttercream, people.

I used to think that parents who were strict about sugar and sleep routines were uptight. Back off and let the kids have some fun, thought my na├»ve, childless former self. At least on their birthdays! Now I know better. It only takes one junk food-fueled meltdown by an overtired toddler to teach you that you don’t mess with bedtimes and blood sugar. Maybe if I’d waited to mention the cake until AFTER dinner…?

As joyous as it was to watch Miles delight in his birthday loot, I swear he morphed into a Terrible Two overnight. Not that he’s always been a picnic, mind you. He’s just trotted out some extra-obnoxious behavior the past couple days. For instance, my old standby maneuver for when he won’t come when I call him backfired big time. We’re walking the dog, Miles takes off, I call after him, he ignores me. So I say, “OK, then. I’m going home. See ya later!” But instead of chasing after me, this time he says, “OK, bye!” and takes off in the opposite direction. So there I am, running after HIM with a dog and a bag of poop in 94-degree weather. Good times.

Then there was the hissy fit over the T-shirt. Even his birthday clothing featured cars and trucks, except for the requisite pile of New England sports paraphernalia from my in-laws. However, Miles was reluctant to stage a fashion show so we could take pictures of him in the “Big Papi” shirt. He only had eyes for the dune buggy shirt. So he screamed and cried and threw himself on the floor and could only be consoled by another reading of “Smash! Crash!”

His bad moods pass quickly, at least, and before long we were again playing happily with the convoy of construction vehicles that has invaded our home. At one point he paused in his vroom-vrooming, looked up, and said hopefully, “Cake time?” And, being the sucker mom that I am, I said, “Sure, sweetie. Let’s have some more birthday cake.” At least it was a break from the trucks.

PRESS O’ THE WEEK: Check out my SATC post in The Baltimore Sun.

6/5/08

Summer of the Swim Skirt

Land's End SwimsuitWe joined a pool last weekend. I grew up going to the local public beach, so I never saw myself as the “swim club” type. But now I live in Baltimore, where summers are sweltering and the ocean is a 3-hour drive away. Plus, as I may have mentioned a time or 10 million, I now have a child who loves the water and the outdoors. But you know what’s even more horrifying than the pool membership fee? Having to buy a bathing suit.

I have not worn a swimsuit in public for years. Two summers ago, I had a baby. In some sort of postpartum delirium, I actually went bathing suit shopping shortly after Miles was born. I was under the illusion that because it was summer, I might need one. People, if there’s anything worse than swimsuit shopping, it’s swimsuit shopping after you’ve just GIVEN BIRTH. You don’t even want to look down in the shower, let alone illuminate your postpartum body under harsh fluorescent lighting in front of a 3-way mirror!!

Two years later, my reflection is slightly less horrific. The shopping experience, however, was not. First of all, June is a little late in the game to buy a bathing suit. The best ones are already gone or picked over, leaving a random assortment of tiny or huge sizes with nothing in between. And since two-pieces are all sold separately now, good luck finding a match if you DO manage to locate your size. (And by a two-piece, you do know I mean a tankini, NOT a string bikini, right??)

I spent HOURS at Kohl’s trying to hunt down the bottoms that matched the only acceptable top I tried on. In fact, there was a whole rack of tops with no matching bottoms. This makes no sense to me. Does the store not order the same amount of tops and bottoms? Are there hordes of topless women running around out there? Anyway, it hardly matters that I did eventually find a matching set at the third store I went to. That’s because I had not yet realized that I would be covering myself up from neck to knee the whole time I was at the pool.

bathing beautiesI don’t know if I’ve become more modest in my old age, or if it’s strictly self-consciousness at work here, but do you realize that wearing a swimsuit is essentially like standing around in your underwear in front of strangers -- IN BROAD DAYLIGHT?? Did I not notice this before? Or did I just not care? In any case, I did the unthinkable: I bought “swim shorts.” It’s true. And I was thisclose to buying a “swim skirt” as well. (BTW, check out these awesome photos of old-timey bathing suits. Sexy!)

Let me back up for a moment here and tell you about this time I went to visit my grandparents in Florida as a kid. We went every February, and I looked forward to this trip for months. Swimming in the sun while my friends back home shivered in the snow was the best thing I could imagine. Except this one time, our luggage got lost. With no bathing suit, I had to borrow one of my aunt’s hideous floral “swim dresses.” It was about 9 sizes too big, with the stiff built-in boobs and an attached skirt -- a SKIRT! On a SWIMSUIT!! It scarred my 10-year-old self for life.

Fast-forward 24 years to me rifling through a rack of said swim skirts. Oh, you can go on and on all you want about how cute the styles have gotten, and you can call them sarongs or ruffles or cover-ups, but the truth still remains: I have reached a point in my life where I have been reduced to wearing a DRESS in the POOL!! I’m just steps away from becoming Amish.

I compromised by buying a tankini with “boy shorts” for bottoms. More modest than a bikini but less frumpy than a full-on, mid-thigh skirt. Even so, like I said, I still didn’t end up taking off my cover-up. It IS only the first week the pool’s open, though. Give me time. By July maybe I’ll be brave enough to bare my upper arms.

LINK O’ THE WEEK: McMommy wrote a hilarious account of what happened when some brazen hussy dared show up at the family pool wearing a thong.

6/2/08

Carrie Bradshaw’s Suburban Sister

Yep, I was one of the millions of women who rushed out to the theater last Friday night for the opening of “Sex and the City,” the movie. Sarah Jessica Parker and her pals can thank us for their $55.7 million box office. Reportedly, 85% of audiences were women. Now THERE’S a shocker!

You may be surprised that I am a SATC fan. After all, my cheapness and penchant for Target couture are well-documented in this blog. It took me some time to warm up to the show, truth be told. Being a writer myself, I could never get past the premise that Carrie Bradshaw was supposed to be a newspaper sex columnist who lived in an awesome Manhattan apartment and splurged on designer shoes. Do you know what newspapers pay, people? Hint: not even enough to afford ONE Jimmy Choo.

Watching the show was really just an excuse to get together with some of my girlfriends. Back in our single days, we used to meet weekly for dinner, drinks, gossip, and taped episodes of the show. (Videotapes, not Tivo -- now that REALLY dates us!) Along the line, the show grew on me. These days, we’re so busy with kids and husbands and work we can’t imagine how we ever got together every week. So we were all looking forward to a girls’ night out in honor of the movie premiere. One friend even flew cross-country for the event!

But first, there were some logistics that single gals in the city wouldn’t need to worry about. For instance, what to wear. Sadly, my wardrobe of stylish going-out clothes has diminished. I wear mostly flats these days. And all my purses have to be big enough to hold diapers, toys, and snacks. Then there was the issue of who was on baby duty. The husbands solved that. (Mine had to work late so I imposed on a friend’s.) But we still weren’t footloose and fancy-free just yet. Somehow, I don’t think Carrie & Co. had to field cell phone calls asking what the kids were supposed to eat and whether it was bath night.

Anyway, we finally got downtown, got our tickets, and piled into the theater. What a vibe! Groups and groups of girlfriends of every age, size, shape, and color, giddy with excitement about the movie event of the year. The theater we went to has a bar, so we could even bring our Cosmos in with us. I won’t say anything about the movie except that it was FABULOUS. And I went in expecting to have already seen all the good parts in the trailers. (I hate how they do that with every movie these days!) That wasn’t the case, though -- plenty of laughs, tears, and surprises awaited.

But you know, it’s gotta be a sign of the times -- and by that, I mean this particular time in my life, as a newish mom -– that after the movie, I was left not with such thoughts as, “Where did Samantha get that hot lingerie?” but rather, “I wonder what Charlotte does for childcare?”

Afterwards, we went to dinner at a hip new sushi restaurant. But instead of, “What a cool place!” we all said, “Damn, it’s loud in here!” At 10 p.m., it was already past most of our bedtimes. We tried to rally, heading to another hotspot for drinks, but the problem with hip cocktail lounges lined with comfy couches is that aging, non-hipsters like me start to fall asleep in our drinks. And if you’re not used to wearing heels? They HURT after awhile, people!!

So maybe we’re not so young and energetic and carefree as we once were. Maybe we piled into minivans and headed back to the suburbs at the end of the night, home to our loved ones in flannel boxers and footy pajamas. Maybe “sexy” isn’t the first adjective we’d use to describe our lives these days. The point is, we still had a blast, Manolos or no.

LINK O’ THE WEEK: Listening to the fun SATC soundtrack got me in the mood to make my own “mix tape.” (Thanks for showing me this site, E.G.!) It’s fun and it’s free!

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