Thursday, June 28, 2007
Cross that one off the list....
I met some friends for lunch today at Grand Central Terminal and as we were leaving I noticed we were passing the Oyster Bar which is the purported spot of a whispering gallery.

This is one of those things I've known about for years. It's always intrigued me but I never had a chance to see if it really worked. As a born and bred New Yorker, who ever has the time or a friend to try something like this out? If you are in Grand Central, you obviously have someplace to go.....

Well, today, I told my friend Peter to go stand in a corner while I stood in the corner diagonally across and we tried it out. If you face the wall it really works. Even in a very crowded Grand Central Station at lunch hour with our other two friends making fun of us we could hear each other saying "Can you hear me now?"

I can now cross the Whispering Gallery in Grand Central off my list of Things to Do in New York that New Yorkers Never Do (Unless They Make a List and a Very Concerted Effort).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Fare thee well, Kindergarten
The best part of saying goodbye to kindergarten has been the big folders they've sent home with their work from the schoolyear. I thought my favorite was her instruction booklet from writing workshop which gives the steps to bake a cake but I came across this gem, also from writing workshop:

The Harry
I love him.
He is 2.
He is annoying.
But I love him.

Yesterday, the graduating kindergarten class of 2007 had a meet and greet with their 1st grade teachers. While I thought this was a very exciting event, it apparently has had the opposite effect on the children. There were many tears shed last night over who won't be in Miss Young's first grade class next year and even the parents are in a tizzy. All you heard at drop off this morning was "Which teacher does so-and-so have next year?" And then either a sigh or a smile, depending on the answer.

Sophie is most disappointed that her friend, Theo, will not be in her class. They attended day care, Pre-K and Kindergarten together and this is really just making the post-kindergarten transition that much harder for her.

So last night, trying to focus on the positive, we talked about the new teacher. I asked "Is Miss Young nice? Is she older or younger?"

Sophie replied "She's a little old and a little young. Like you."

I hope that's a compliment.

And so today, at the stroke of noon, the children of my child's school will burst forth from the doors, flinging books and pencils as they run amok through the streets of Brooklyn as summer vacation begins.

Actually, it will be a very calm procession of releases as each caregiver arrives at the door to collect their charges and I just know Sophie will get a hug on her way out the door. I got one this morning from her sweet teacher when we gave her flowers from our garden. And then she told me what every parent wants to hear: "Sophie will do well in first grade. She's so far above where she's supposed to be and she's so wonderful!"

I wholeheartedly agree.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007
School's (Almost) Out for Summer
Just one more day left of school! Then we'll be singing that Alice Cooper song. (Funny, I don't remember that episode of the Muppet Show.)

Sophie has the honor of leading the school in the Pledge of Allegiance on the last day of the school year.

Maybe she will grow up to be a Supreme Court Justice and one day will vote to keep God in the Pledge of Allegiance just because she led her school in this recitation on her last day as a kindergartner.

Or she might grow up to be delusional, like her mother.

Monday, June 25, 2007
How to Disinfect and Deodorize Your Foot
Step 1: Adopt psychotic cat. Name her Inky.

Step 2: Erect tent in backyard for children. This works best if it is a Graco model, intended for the beach. These come complete with a "floor" to keep the sand off the kid(s).

Step 3: Sit in the yard while youngest child naps and read a book. If you read a really good book, you won't notice the cat entering the tent.

Step 4: Chat on the phone for thirty minutes (but don't pay any attention to what the cat is doing).

Step 5: When youngest child wakes up, let him come play in the backyard. He will be all kissable from his nap and agreeable to playing in the tent.

Step 6: Crawl in tent to brush out the leaves, which blew in there while you were relaxing.

Step 7: Notice cat pee. IN. THE. TENT.

Step 8: Let out an exasperated groan and turn around just in time to see psychotic cat hightail it into the house.

Step 9: Retrieve rubber gloves, Lysol and paper towels from house and begin scrubbing the floor of the tent. And the walls, where the cat pee splashed. This is more fun if you do it while simultaneously trying to preoccupy a 2 year old boy.

Step 10: Roll up the flaps of the tent for maximum air flow to dry the Lysol and air out the fumes from said Lysol.

Step 11: Curse, mutter and seethe quietly to yourself.

Step 12: Accidently knock over the open bottle of Lysol. Make sure 1/2 of the lavender scented liquid soaks your right foot.

Step 13: Curse, mutter and seethe to every single person within earshot.

Voila! You now have the cleanest right foot in town!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Any Week Now
It happens every year. September rolls around and I start saying, again and again, as if it were my mantra "Next week will be better." I say it every week and yet, it doesn't ever get any less busy. Just different kinds of busy until, oh, mid-July. This week, work isn't too busy but home life is all spazzy with birthday parties, kindergarten graduations, dance recitals, dance recital rehearsals, saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and upgrading my work computer to a brand, spankin' new MacBook Pro.

Let's start with the computer. New laptop! Yay! LOVE IT.

Yesterday was the Kindergarten graduation ceremony at Sophie's school. Each class sang a song and got to walk across the stage as their name was called. For all of Sophie's griping about being nervous and incapable of learning the words to "It's a Small World", she did great. She told me afterward how nervous she was but you couldn't tell from the look on her face on stage. The school gave us the option of signing the kids out of school for the rest of the day, which I did, and Sophie and I had a whirlwind afternoon: picnic, bike riding, making lemonade, reading and a trip to the library. Then a quick trip to the park to pick up Harry from the babysitter and out to dinner at Sophie's favorite restaurant for spaghetti and meatballs.

Today, it was wake up late, run around like a chicken without a head looking for Sophie's leotard for the dance recital (which, for the record, was on the toy shelf. I put it there on Saturday so I wouldnt misplace it for Wednesday), while listening to Harry say "Look, mama. There's chocolate on the floor!" (It wasn't chocolate. It was cat poop.) So I added "There's no such thing as Floor Chocolate" to the list of items already spewing out of my mouth all morning: "Put your shoes on! Eat your breakfast! Brush your teeth! Where's your leotard? There's no such thing as Floor Chocolate! Brush your hair! Please! Put. Your. Shoes. On!"

We rushed to make it to school on time-in the rain, thank you very much-so Sophie could say the Pledge of Allegiance over the loud speaker. She reminded me for the 51st time while she was waiting to begin that she gets a pencil "just for saying the Pledge of Allegiance!"

Once the dance recital is over this evening, we will probably collapse in a heap on the floor from exhaustion.

Thursday, June 14, 2007
Me and the school year? We are so DONE.
I was really DONE six weeks ago but I kept plowing through the last weeks of the school year and with nary a complaint. But that's it. I'm officially done.

About the only thing I'm not tired of is hearing Sophie talk about science. Her enthusiasm is infectious. But the rest of it? Over it. I'm tired of the permission slips, the lunch money, the homework, the notices sent home, the newsletters, the calendars, the reminders, the field trips, snack days (21 napkins, 21 juice boxes and 1 box of cookies or crackers). Sick of the drama that kindergarten can stir up both at home and in the classroom. Tired of rushing to make it there on time and still being late. Tired of remembering sneakers only on Wednesdays for gym and old clothes on Tuesdays and Thursday for art.

What do we want? SUMMER.
When do we want it? NOW.

Monday, June 11, 2007
Saturday night, while we were at Tom's welcome home party, the top of my ring finger on my left hand was steadily swelling and throbbing. Sunday morning, it was oozing. Sorry to be so graphic but it was. My husband seemed convinced that I was near death with a staph infection. Yesterday, the finger was not much better so it was off to see a doctor - a new one - who is a hoot. He walked into the examining room drinking a Pepsi. When I took the bandage off to show him my finger, he said "yep, you have an infection of the nail bed. It's called a paronychia. JEEZ! Whaddya doin'? Don't put the bandage back on! It's filthy!" Then he asked who recommended me to him and when I told him he was all "Oh, yeah. I know her." And then "So, your parents. Dead or alive?"




"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

See? I told you he was a hoot. I didn't want to like him. Really, I didn't but he was easy on the eyes and since I don't have any health problems what's there to get all worked up over? He's lived in our neighborhood for 25 years and "lemme tell ya, the neighborhood was different back then." He reminded me a lot of a doctor our family used when I was in junior high school. Dr. E would smoke in his office and knock back Coca-Cola and potato chips for lunch. He was the doctor that said "WOW. That's really bad." when I had tonsillitus.

So, in all this, I've determined that the infection is probably from gardening and I will need to either replace my gardening gloves or somehow disinfect them or just let the place grow over with weeds.

And who do I blame for these gardening woes? Why the squirrel, of course. If it wasn't for him, I'd be spending half as much time in the dirt fixing what he destroys, digs up or otherwise ruins. Yesterday, right after picking up my antibiotics I found myself on the patio doing exactly what made me sick in the first place: replanting some of the basil that the little fucker dug up. Have you ever tried to replant basil with one hand while a two year old is by your side repeatedly asking you "Mama? What you doing?" Try it. You, too, might need a drink afterwards. And Purell.

And, while doing a search for "finger" on the internet, I found this, a page on Fingerbootyology, which is the science of making your finger look like an ass.

Sunday, June 10, 2007
Last week was quite a week. In addition to all the inspiration I gained from gardening, we also visited one zoo, lost two fish and by this afternoon will have attended two parties. If all goes according to plan, I will have eliminated one squirrel from the face of the earth.

On Thursday our sitter had a fever and so I got to spend the day with the kids. Class wasn't in session for Sophie but the weather was gorgeous and lunches were already made and packed and so we headed to the zoo for the day. The Bronx Zoo was really wonderful, especially since Harry now knows most animals and is really interested in looking at them. We took a ride on their monorail and got to see a baby rhino and a pair of elephants, one of which reared up on his hind legs as we passed.

Carrot and Toast also passed away this week. Carrot died first on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning, the kids who barely glanced at them the day before woke up and immediately sensed the absence of one fish. Toast didn't look too hot and I let Sophie know it wasn't looking too good for him. We've decided to stick with cats, at least for the forseeable future, and that's just fine with me. I have bigger fish to fry, pardon the pun, with the squirrel. Not only did I discover that he'd been digging around in the pot with the lavender seeds but this morning I found him about to dig up a flower bed and then he knocked over the pot with the lavender seeds.

Last night we attended a party welcoming John's friend Tom home to NY. You may remember that we visited Tom at Walter Reed back in December while he was recovering from a gunshot wound he suffered while serving in Iraq. The last time we saw him he was flat on his back and he'd just learned that his pelvic bone wasn't knitting in right at the spot that bears all the weight while standing. Well last night, Tom was walking and standing and that was something we'd been praying to see for a long time. We met some of his army buddies and one them had just completed his third and final tour in Iraq. I stood in awe of these guys, and thanked them.

Today we will head to my dad's to celebrate his 60th birthday. For some reason everyone thought it was only his 59th and suddenly we went from Finding Dad Something Nice for his birthday to Finding Something Very Special to Commemorate This Milestone. We are naming a star after him because people, my father may very well be the World's Most Difficult Man to Shop For.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007
A little simpler and a whole lot better
When we first moved into our apartment we went hog wild planting and tending the garden out back. Then we had kids and it seemed like such a hassel to pull weeds when there were mouths to feed, diapers to change, laundry to wash, bodies to bathe and babies to tuck in.

This year it's different. I've become enamored with Mark Bittman, the Minimalist food writer for the NY Times and the man responsible for the Festival of Granola at chez Murphy this spring. I've been reading food blogs--Cleaner Plate Club and ice cream is not for breakfast-and I am inspired to eat better. I am reading Eat, Pray, Love and the first third of the book centers around eating in Italy with characters named, of all things, Luca Spaghetti.

The result of all this reading is that I've been inspired to garden again. I don't know how granola led to gardening but it did. I started out putting some flowers in window boxes (squirrel: you are grating on my last nerve!) and planting impatiens in a shady bed under the ancient grape vines the original owners of our building planted. Just when the last of the dirt had washed out from under my fingernails, I started looking around in the garden. My chives are back, thick, healthy and ready to flower. The sage has grown and the leaves are velvety and fragrant. Across the lawn was a bed overgrown with weeds, crabgrass and dandelions. These were all cleared over the weekend and three beefsteak tomato plants have taken their place, already surrounded by wire cages to support them as they grow. I planted more mixed herbs in a big clay pot near the stairs and this morning I decided to dedicate the last three empty large pots on the patio to cherry and grape tomato plants which will go in this weekend. I also planted some lavender from seed. It will take up to four weeks to sprout but I am patient and can wait. (Note to squirrel: touch that pot and you will die.)

What do I hope to gain from this? Better eating and more flavorful meals. I'm tired of my usual repertoire and plan on elevating the basics to something better. Doesn't a grilled breast of chicken with fresh rosemary sound so much more appealing than Lawry's Terriyaki 30 minute marinade? Wouldn't you rather eat store-bought ravioli in a brown-butter and sage sauce than just plain marinara? Wouldn't a salad of fresh mozzarella with homegrown tomatoes and basil be better than bagged romaine salad kit? How about green goddess dressing over fresh vegetables from a farmer's market? And if I am flush with grape and cherry tomatoes, I plan on slow roasting them with olive oil, sea salt and thyme in a 200 degree for several hours.

This may all sound difficult to make. The descriptions are all flowery and sound more Union Square Cafe-ish than throw-together-after-work-easy but trust me, the the only thing I'll need to plan in advance are the roasted tomatoes. Go on, check the recipe links. You don't need much more than some pantry staples. You don't even need a garden. You can buy everything at the grocer's. Get inspired. Eat something, just a little simpler and a whole lot better.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007
I knew it was too good to be true
On Saturday I mentioned to someone how wonderful my children have been lately. The last two weeks have been filled with wonderful things like naps, sleeping through the night, eating well, being agreeable, behaving. The air was filled with the sweet sweet smell of Good Children who love their mother and shower her with affection. I said "If these last two weeks could just last longer. Like a year. That's how great they've been."

Yes, a year, with my adorably gap-toothed daughter and my fun-loving son.

The Gods of Parenthood have decided that that is just not in the cards for me. Nope. Sorry. Time, as always, is fleeting. As is this behavior which I became quite fond of.

My daughter, is still on a streak with her "I love you more than Daddy!" whispers. But my son? He is two, and in all his two-ness he is quite two-like and the two-i-ness drips off him in puddles, which to the casual observer look like tears but no, it is two-ness, of which there is an abundance. When he isn't being stubborn he can be found crying and when he isn't crying he can be found whining or having a complete meltdown over the frustration of not being able to accomplish whatever task he is trying complete.

And they call it the terrible two's because you feel terrible when you think you understand why some animals eat their young.