Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In which I explain all day to my kids that Mommy is sad because her Grandpa died

Celebrating his 90th in great health
Today I attended my first family funeral - my maternal grandfather passed away at age 94 (or is it 95? I could never figure out the lunar calendar).

I heard he was gravely ill the day we left for Ohio and I was hoping to see him one more time upon my return to California, but I was too late.

I am, as you could guess from my first sentence, a newbie at death.

But now I know. I am now part of that horrible club - Those Who Have Lost a Loved One.

Those who wish they had spent more time with the loved one before his death.

Those who Regret.

Those who wondered why they didn't and couldn't realize how much they would miss the loved one until his death.

Those who are grateful for distracting kids and general busyness.

Those who grieve.

Those who took for granted.

Those who return to the well of profound sadness in search of solace.

Those who realize that death is still horrible, even in very old age.

It didn't sink in for me until I saw him lying there in his coffin, looking slightly off-color but well enough that I could imagine he was merely taking a nap, as he often did when I visited. He wore all his usual clothes - his one and only worn suit and second-hand sueded vest with shearling trim. And later, Judah reminded me that he also wore his glasses.

Relationships are often complicated - filled with undercurrents of hurt and resentment, disappointment and abuse. But when I consider my grandfather, I feel nothing but the holy grail of unconditional love and acceptance.

Now that I'm a parent, I realize that that is the gift of loving grandparents. A parent and child are too close - too intermingled in their egos and motivations. It is too hard to parse out what is love and what is self-preservation.

But a grandparent is distant enough to be unequivocal.

Others will likely see only the inevitable passing of a very old man, but my goodness how great the hole left in the wake of such love.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

That Day

Ah Christmas.

Never is there so much anticipation and effort than for this most special of days.

We gather, we fete, we give, we receive.

And often (always?) to the backdrop of human frailty and despair.

As a child, I remember almost every Christmas was spent "together" yet alone. The gifts under the tree would remain unwrapped until the emotional aftermath of a big fight cleared, not unlike the toxic fumes of a nuclear explosion.

We usually opened our gifts well after the New Year.

But even without huge fights, there is always the insidious whiff of disconnection, the unshakable scent that deep down, all is not well. We are not the cheerfully decorated and brightly lit inner beings we so hopefully display. In fact, it's like they are mocking us.

We are beleaguered. Tired. Exhausted. Sick. And lonely. Aren't we?

Judah is pondering the cognitive dissonance he senses between holiday cheer and the reality of human brokenness. Obviously.

Maybe it's just me. I've been told I dwell on the morose. Indeed I wish it were just me.

But I know too much. I know the broader context and the personal history behind the cheerful photos shared on social media. All is not calm, all is not bright.

Are you sad this day, gentle reader? Know that you are not alone. Far from it. The entire human race and all of creation groans with you. (Well, everyone except Judah who is exceptionally happy with his Christmas gifts - a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle play hut, flashlight, camera, and binoculars).

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Thank You Parents of FB

FB might be the most annoying place on earth, but the young parents on FB are freaking awesome.

I posted a plea for survival tips for a 6 hour plane trip with a 2yo and 4yo and got lots of great advice within just a few hours, including a link to my friend Leslie's awesome travel tips blog:

Her blog is destined to be a young parent's classic reference - chock full of amazing, useful, indispensable info from changing nasty diapers at 30k feet in the air to resort and hotel reviews. So proud of her!

90 minutes into our flight and Noah is delighted to find that beverage service includes milk!

Anyway, I'm happy to report our flight went well! All 4 of us sat in our own row (Noah on my lap) and Judah and Noah were happily entertained by the new toys and snacks I continually whipped out - a Leapster game console for Judah, peek-a-boo books and magnetic puzzles for Noah, and many many many bags of pretzels and goldfish.

Michael and I even got to watch a movie on our own for an hour or so. Unfortunately the movie was This is The End with James Franco, Seth Rogan, and Jonah Hill, amongst other adorable degenerates. (Why? Long story, but in a nutshell, for sermon research for the Spouse). But whatever.

We arrived at the Spouse's mom's house to the smell of amazing Korean food and feasted like kings. Seriously I don't think I've eaten so well since...ever!

And then I took a steaming hot shower and changed into fresh non-airplane clothes.

It's so great here, I might just tell everyone I visited an exclusive Korean family resort tucked away in the suburbs of Ohio this Christmas. And I may never return!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Blur

One of my pet peeves in life (and frankly, I have very few) is bloggers who don't blog.

I just realized I'm becoming guilty of this myself.

I have a TON of stuff I want to share, but alas, no time. The holiday season is owning my sorry, unorganized butt and I just can't seem to find even 30 minutes to write anything meaningful.

There are presents to wrap, cards to send out, parties to attend, people to meet up with, last minute gifts to buy, a cross-country trip to the in-laws to plan for, blah blah blah...

And when I get a little free time, I'm not going to lie, I've been using my new Netflix streaming account like a gambler uses stolen credit cards - furtively and often. My excuse is that I'm sipping my hot tea. I can't just stare into space while I'm sipping hot tea. I need to stare into the warm inviting dutch oven of The Pioneer Woman or the cold hard cells of the inmates in Orange is the New Black.

Recently the Spouse and I have been watching Amazon's best effort to compete with Game of Thrones - Marco Polo. It definitely falls short of GOT with regard to character development and story line, but I love me some history. It's like a documentary with a lot of completely gratuitous sex and nudity. Which means I roll my eyes a lot. So lame.

Well, I've done my duty for today. I've gotten off my own pet-peeve list. But I can't leave without saying something about the let's see...

This is how Judah dresses every minute of every day. Seriously.

Judah is obsessed as ever with obtaining signs of affection. One day I will have to write a giant blog entry on this rampant behavior (that has me pulling my hair, doubting my parenting, and googling constantly "emotionally needy kids") but today is not the day.

Lately he's been saying:
Raise your hands if you love me!
[I raise my hand obediently]
Now raise your hand twice if you DON'T love me!
[I keep my hands down]
No! I said raise your hand twice if you LOVE me!
[I say - you tricked me Judah! and raise my hand twice like a well-trained monkey]

Repeat 25 times.

Witness the giant pile of my hair on the floor that came from me tearing it out.

Noah, on the other hand, has becoming the most scrumptious thing since buttered bread baked right out of the oven.

There's a mutant alien growing out of my baby's chest! But still cute.

His favorite phrases are:

Tickle me mommy!
Eat me mommy!

Repeat 25 times.

Witness the pile of baby clothing on the floor because the only thing better than tickling a baby is tickling a NAKED baby. Gotta enjoy the chub before it all melts away!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Risking it All for a Morning Hug

Every morning Noah wakes up about an hour before Judah and we hang out together, just me and the baby.

And then we wait for our favorite sound - the sound of Judah thumping down the stairs accompanied by his daily proclamation: Judah coming down the stairs!

It seems counter-intuitive, but life is so much better with both kids around than just Noah. Noah is happier with Judah there. Noah doesn't need me to constantly entertain him when Judah's around. He even mercifully lets me sneak off and go to the bathroom, and refill my coffee cup, and 100 other little movements around the house.

But yesterday morning, I made a big mistake.

Brother - a buddy from morning to night.

When Judah announced his presence, Noah immediately lunged toward him for a hug and a kiss. What mother could resist such a sweet fraternal moment? So instead of allowing Judah to ignore Noah and run to the bathroom because "Mommy! I have to pee right now!!" I told Judah - Just give your brother a hug! He's so excited to see you! (Judah still wears pull-ups to bed so I figured he could just go in his pull-up if he really couldn't hold it in.)

Bad decision.

After Judah finished hugging Noah and went to the bathroom, the next sound I heard was lots of liquid slapping a hard tile floor. And then a little voice - Oopsie, Mommy...

Judah had just pulled down his pants but couldn't get to the toilet in time. He peed like a horse all over the bathroom floor (a la Crazy Eyes in Season 1 Episode 3 of Orange is the New Black).

Hot, steaming, pungent, massive amounts of morning pee.

Ah, "good" morning to me.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Why Cuddling With Kids Kinda Sucks

Look at this face.

Pure cuteness, right?

Who wouldn't want to cuddle wuddle wuddle with this little guy all day long?

And this cute playful human puppy.

You'd think it would be bliss to huggle snuggle this guy and nuzzle his little nose, right?


Totally wrong, oh-people-who-have-not-experienced-the-infuriating-annoyingness-of-my-kids.

To wit:

Last night I went in to say goodnight to Judah and give him a goodnight hug. While I'm trying to hug him he is poking his finger in my ear. Continually. It's like he's digging for gold in there. I get super annoyed but try not to show it because the last thing I need is for my preschooler to get so upset it delays his bedtime by a good 5 - 10 min. Because bedtime is sacred. Do. Not. Mess. With. Bedtime (aka, Freeeeeeeeedom).

I get away diplomatically and then go to put Noah to bed. My little guy likes to cuddle right before crawling in his crib for the night and I'm always more than happy to comply. He has not yet figured out how to annoy the crap out of me by messing with my bodily integrity...until that night. While I'm trying to hug him he is picking my nose. Continually. And giggling like mad.

I've decided that from now on, they can just cuddle each other.

And I will just soak in the cuteness vicariously. From a safe, non-pickable distance.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Black Turtleneck

I have a giant to-do list, but instead of tackling it, I'm blogging.

This irrationality is driving me crazy, RIGHT NOW.

And yet, I can't stop.

It's like eating Pringles. Just. Can't. Stop. Eating.

I have so much to say and nothing at all. Nothing of any consequence what so ever.

What's with our social drive to share about our lives? Some strong "stuff" there.

So, instead of fighting it anymore. I'm going to scratch that itch. And then call my dental insurance, and then pay my property tax, and then renew my home insurance, and then [insert myriad other boring things that make me want to stick a fork in my eye].

So...things that are going on...

Today is the 3rd day in a row that Noah has refused to nurse. I feel deeply ambivalent. He LOVED nursing and it was his sole source of comfort in this whole entire world. He never took a bottle, never had a pacifier, never had a lovie toy, none of it. When he was scared or tired or sad, he went right for the boob.

For months now I've been longing to wean him, but because he's my last baby, I kept holding out. I set a limit date - his 2nd birthday, after which, the boob shop will be closed. Forever.

I was already planning to celebrate by wearing a turtleneck. I fantasized about what color turtleneck I could wear. I haven't worn one for 4+ years, ever since Judah was born. It was going to feel oh so cozy and modest. And then I was going to stop by the Gap and by a few crew-neck t-shirts.

But a few days ago, Noah told me his "teeth" were "sick" and he refused to nurse. He's also been drooling a ridiculous amount. Either he has mouth sores or he's teething badly. He won't open his mouth enough for me to inspect it. But he does tell me "Noah teeth sick" and "call doctor" and "get medicine."

And then 3 days of non-nursing went by. And today I feel sad. I think this is the end.

The end of an era.

Why do I feel so sad closing up shop now when I was already going to do it anyway in 3 months?

I might as well put on a turtleneck now.

I just didn't realize the color I'd choose is black.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Life, Death, and Love...and the Preschooler

Yesterday I was sitting on the couch with Noah and Judah was jumping around above us. I told Judah - Get down! That's dangerous!

Unexpectedly I heard Noah's little voice chime in - Might fall. Kill Noah. Die. Mommy sad.

Uh, someone's a little melodramatic.

But I think Noah's just imitating Judah's overly dramatic expressions. Judah is constantly asking me how I would feel if he died. This is Judah's latest (in a long line of many) way of seeking affection. It takes the form of the following:

Mommy, if I died, but Noah/Daddy/the whole world were still alive, how would you feel?
(Correct answer: My heart would be broken. I would be sad for the rest of my life.)

And then it's correlative:
Mommy, what if I was alive again? How would you feel?
(Correct answer - must be spoken with eyes twinkling with emotion: I would dance for joy and throw a big party to celebrate! I would be the happiest person in the whole world!)

Just another lost soul lookin' for love.

Judah is (obviously) my needy one. He is constantly asking for affection, devotion, and promises of everlasting, over-the-top, uncompromising love for the ages. It's exhausting.

And sometimes, a little humorous. Today Judah overheard me complaining to the Spouse about all the dishes I have to wash and he instantly formulated a new love-postulate.

Mommy, if I died but all the dishes were clean, how would you feel?

Oh silly child.

If you died, not only would all the dishes stay clean, the entire house would stay clean as well. In fact, it is almost certain that one day my house will be in tip-top shape because you will no longer be under my roof.

And I will most certainly be sad.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Mr. Manners' Mannerisms

Only 3 months away from turning 2, Noah has blossomed into a walking-talking-mommy-charming machine.

He ALWAYS says "thank you" whenever you oblige him and it's completely unprompted. It sounds like "ge-gu mama."

He also is really good at apologizing when he annoys others. The first time he refused a nice bubble bath I made for him, I spoke to him very harshly afterward (which I totally regret of course, ah the mom guilt never stops) saying - Noah! Why didn't you go in the bath?! You love baths! Why didn't you go in?!

And his little reply shocked me - Sorry mama.


Noah's adorable "sorry mama" face. Let's him get away with murder, every day.

Noah also is very good at peppering his speech with "oh man" whenever he's disappointed or inconvenienced. For example, he's running to put on his crocs to go outside and play and I say - Noah, it's cold, you have to wear a jacket. And he responds "oh man", just like a real kid! Amazing!

One thing Noah never does is voluntarily say "I love you." I always have to coach that out of him. I have to say - Noah, say "I love you mama!"

And then he says "Yeh-yu mama."

Close enough and it always makes my heart sing, even though I basically have to force it out of him.

Judah was never like that. He was more like a slutty highschool girl - giving it away freely and often. Sorry, is that inappropriate? But honestly, with Judah, all day long it was - I love you mommy! Hug! Kiss! More kisses!

Either way, I'm going to get my kisses before they're gone too soon.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Seriously, can I talk to HR now?

Today I quit.

As a mom friend once said to me when she had her "I quit" moment - I no longer accept this position.

I lasted 4 years as a mom and now I'm done.

Where do I turn in my badge?

I really hate vague writing, but in this case, I'm gonna keep it vague because to list every instance in which I wanted to tear my hair out and strangle little people would be (a) super self-abusive cuz I'd have to relive it all through my writing and (b) super time-consuming because there were maybe 68 instances today alone.

The only really scary thing about Halloween: how close mommy is to losing her sh*t.

Let's just sum it up like this:
--lots of whining and fussing. LOTSSSSSSS. Especially in the car when I can't do a darn thing about it. (Although, in fairness to Noah, he makes a good point when he screams, "STOOOOP CAR! OOOOOUT!!!!! BUCKLE!!!! (translation: undo my seat-belt buckle)")
--lots of clinging on to me. As in, NEVER NOT CLINGING ON TO ME.
--my own struggles with insomnia for the last 3-4 weeks. you know it's a bad day when you have to chug 3 cups of coffee just to have the feeble strength to lift your eyelids up all the way.
--shortest naps ever. Noah napped for 30 min yesterday and 20 min today. UGGGGHHHH.
--Noah's sudden and inexplicable aversion to baths. Seriously, why are you doing this to me oh toddler who used to LOVE baths?!

His cuteness is exactly inversely proportional to his annoyingness - well played God.

So today at 2:30 pm, after Noah woke up from his very offensive 20 minute nap, I snapped. Inside. In my head. I threw up my existential hands and told myself, "I quit. I no longer accept this position."

And then I carried on bathing and moisturizing and dressing and cooking for fussy, whiny kids as usual.

Because. Mom.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Other Moms

Since being a stay-at-home mom for the last 2 years, I've met a lot of other moms in my situation. A few of them stand out in my mind...

Perfect Mom

There is a woman I see only briefly 3 times a week when we are both dropping off our kids at preschool. But I can't get her off my mind.

In those short 2 minutes of contact (mostly just visual) I marvel at her perfect makeup and beautifully styled shoulder-length hair. She always looks good. Always. Her outfits are casual but very cute and complete with tasteful accessories, of course. And she definitely works out cuz that mama's bod is CUTE. Oh yeah, and she's always genuinely, truly, happy and cheerful.

I know nothing about her except (a) she always looks good and seems energetically happy and (b) she has 4 kids, with the youngest still under age 2.

Those two facts baffle me to no end such that I find myself thinking about her at odd times during the day, randomly. Like my brain is now working overtime, scrambling to resolve this seemingly unbridgeable cognitive dissonance.

My latest theory, she has a full-time housekeeper and cook.

Junkfood Mom

I know a mom who is always feeding her kid junk food for lunch. At first I thought it might be a once-in-a-while McDonald's treat, but nope. Every week her kid is chugging orange soda and munching on some kind of fast food. Somewhere Michael Pollan is weeping.

But instead of feeling superior and judgmental about this, I find myself secretly cheering her on.

You go Junkfood Mom! While the rest of us are begging and pleading our kids to eat some veggies and diluting our organic juices with water, you are feeding your kid crap. In front of all of us. Without any hint of shame.

While I'm a little concerned about this child's future health, I have to tip my hat to that kind of brazen boldness. I admire her chutzpah.

Pedicure Mom

Ok, so this mom isn't a SAHM, but I still admire the heck out of her. She works full-time outside of the home and once had a brutal 10-day work stretch.

When she finally had a day off after that long period, she didn't rush to lavish time on her child (like the guilty mom in me would have done), but she spent the day with me, getting lunch and a pedi while her daughter remained in daycare all day, yet again.

Some may question her priorities, but I envy her ability to feel so secure in her relationship with her child. She told me her spouse complains that she doesn't spend enough time with her kid.

I told her, dude, you're like my hero.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Paunchy and Punchy in the Patch

Every year I tell myself that we are not going to a pumpkin patch.

The one near us is kind of depressing (sad ponies, anyone?) and really dusty and we can just get pumpkins from our local grocery store. And at $3 PER RIDE for the rides, well...that says it all really.

But somehow we found ourselves there again this year. I don't know how. I guess deep down I love festivities, however pathetic. If someone says "party" or "fair" or "carnival", I find myself inexplicably drawn towards it like a moth to a flame, especially if the words "no entrance fee" follows.

And if you're going to go, you might as well dress up.

Judah's go-to-face when I say "smile!"
And make your kids take a million photos.

Judah's face when I tell him "Smile nicely, not like a tough guy. Smile for grandma."
Because, heck, they're all dressed up.

And in the very next frame...the superhero is back.
And then you go home and look at the photos and think...

Words can not describe how much I love Noah's pot belly. One day he will be skinny and I will be sad.

That wasn't too bad...maybe we'll go again next year...

Because I'm also a sucker for pictures of my kids in matching outfits in front of seasonal-themed backgrounds. 

That's right. You better believe these pics are going right into my annual Shutterfly photo-calendar for the month of October, 2015.

Yup, totally worth the $9 I spent on lame rides.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pack Man

Judah has started wearing a 10 lb backpack all day long.

And when I say "all day long", I literally mean from the moment he wakes up to the moment he sleeps at night. In fact, the backpack sits right at the side of his bed, waiting to burden Judah at first light.

This is pre-backpack era, but you can already see the seeds of crazy are there.

It started when he got a simple Spiderman 'rope' sack as a birthday gift a couple months ago. He put all his most treasured possessions in there (basically all his TNMT stationary plus scissors) and carried it around everywhere. The problem was he kept adding to it. And adding to it. And adding to it. Until the rope eventually left burn marks on his shoulders.

Well, thinking it was quite serendipitous at the time, I picked up a new Spiderman backpack with nicely padded shoulder-straps at Costco last week, and Judah immediately ditched his rope-burn sack for the cushy new pack.

Problem was, the new backpack is huge. It's sized for a normal elementary school age child. Crap.

Judah already had hoarding tendencies with his tiny rope sack, but now it's become a full-fledged disease. Not only is there stationary in there (notepads, pencil cases, folders, etc.) there is now a full-on superhero costume (plus weapons), crafting materials of all kinds, books, random toys, and God knows what else.

And did I mention it weighs 10 lbs and he refuses to take it off? All. Day. Long?

Often he's running around the house with just undies and his backpack on. Because, of course, everything else is optional.

Doesn't everyone drink smoothies in their kitchen with a giant backpack on? No?

When I try to reason with Judah he just says stuff like, It's not too heavy for me. I like wearing it. It feels good, mommy!

I do not know how to argue with that kind of subjective crazy.

But seriously, how do I get him to take that stupid thing off?!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Noah Whisperer

I really can't complain about Judah's "older sibling" skills. He's a pretty awesome big brother in the following ways:

--He rarely fights for the same toy as Noah. In the rare instance they do, Judah usually gives the toy back to Noah in about 10 seconds because, in his own words--Mommy, I really hate hearing Noah cry. It makes me sad and it gives me a headache.

--He is fantastic at "tricking Noah" (one of the reasons they rarely fight). At just the tender age of 4, Judah is already a better actor than a lot of people I see on TV. Many times a day I hear him whining--Noah, give that to me! I want it! Ugggghhhh! And then he adds, sotto voce--Don't worry Mommy, I'm just tricking him so he'll trade with me. And simple Noah falls for it. Every. Time.

--He is great at comforting his brother when Mommy and Daddy are not around. At various times we've left the 2 kids with one-off babysitters and Noah always has a hard time, as would be expected. But Judah has the "magic belly" touch. Without any training or prompting from us (we heard this first from the babysitters), Judah tells Noah to lay on his belly for comfort.

Judah comforts Noah with his "magic belly" at church nursery.

Judah applies the "magic belly" method while mom and dad go on a rare date night.

Noah hangs on for dear life while Judah watches a movie. For the entire length of the movie!

Noah in turn, like most younger siblings I imagine, adores his big brother. He has to do everything Judah does and copy him exactly, even down to the most minute details. Once Judah got hurt and I kissed his wounded knee. Noah lifted his chubby (uninjured) leg for me to do the same. The amount of mimicry and copy-catting in this house is just ridiculous. Ridiculously cute that is!

Bottom line, Judah is an extremely emotionally sensitive and empathetic guy who truly loves his little brother. Many times a day I hear him talking to Noah the way I talk to him.

Noah, come here! Gimme a kiss!
Hey Noah, do you know I love you?
I love you Noah! Gimme a hug!

The two of them are so sweet together, I daresay it's easier having 2 kids than 1!

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Checkout Guy, the Killer, and the Bad Mama

Yesterday I took the kids grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. They were acting like their normal, semi-whiny, semi-grumpy selves as we checked out.

The young cashier guy gives me a pitying look and says "So...would you do it again if you knew?", meaning, I assumed, if you knew what a pain in the butt they would be, would you still have kids?

I looked at him for a really long time, and then, because it's weird to just stand there and say nothing, I mumbled, "I...dunno...."

He looked shocked as heck. I'm sure that guy is rethinking his future as a parent now, ha!


I love over-hearing people's conversations at my gym. When I go, it's usually the time when every retired person in my neighborhood is also there so I hear a lot of talk about aging, mortality, and creaky joints.

The other day I heard a guy confessing to murder. He first confessed to something small, and then, because he couldn't help himself, confessed to something much larger in his past.

His first confession was that his neighbor had an annoying plant that attracted annoying pests, so he went out at night and uprooted the plant. His conversation partner said - Well, I'm glad I'm not your neighbor!

This spurred the plant-murderer to boast of his greatest crime.

Well, that's nothing. When I was a kid, our neighbor planted a huge row of bushes that blocked off a lot of our view and sun. My dad was so pissed about it. So one night I went out and poured a salt mix all around the bushes. Killed them all in about a week!

I know this guy only murdered plants, but still. It's chilling to know I was doing lat pull-downs next to a true, bonafide sociopath of sorts.


Today I had to go to Judah's parent-teacher night at his preschool. Noah was apparently really upset that I left the house for an hour. He looked for me, he cried a little, he clearly missed me.

When I was nursing and cuddling him to sleep he scolded me (that's a first!): Ba- mama! Ba- mama! (translation: Bad mama! Bad mama!)

And then he slapped me on my hand and said, spank spank! (which is what the Spouse does to him whenever he messes with the Spouse's book collection).

Noah did this 7 or 8 times.

What a presumptuous baby. Seriously. This kid is not afraid to speak truth to power!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Portrait of a Parent

Sometimes people see me out and about with the kids and make kind comments like - you are such a good mom! You are so patient!

It's amazing how seeing a 2-minute snapshot of a parenting situation is so different than a 12-hour time-lapse experience.

Because if you ask Judah how he feels about my parenting, he would probably present to you this very telling picture (which he in fact did present to me last week):

Mommy, this is about 'motions. So we can learn about 'motions. In this picture you are mad, I am sad, and Noah is confused.

And there you have it. The inside scoop from someone who tells it like it is.

Monday, September 08, 2014


This week and weekend has been pretty rough.

Judah's been dealing with a horrific all-body rash that has turned his face into a cross between a puffer-fish and Quasimodo.

Kinda looks like a pro-activ "before" pic from hell.

Oh my poor, deformed, rashy son.

It started around Tuesday and I finally took him to the doc on Friday. The doc wasn't that impressed (probably since it didn't look that bad yet) and told us it wasn't contagious. Well, that's a relief.

The prevailing theory is poison oak (or ivy or sumac), but to be honest, we have no idea when or how Judah came in contact with the offending plant. He is forever trampling through shrubbery and hiding in it so he can gleefully watch us hunt for him, so it was probably inevitable that he would get this sooner or later.

Either way, I realized I do not handle watching my child suffer very well. I went through wild swings of imagination - what if it's strep? what if it infects his blood and organs? what if he goes into shock from the allergic reaction? what if the rash leaves horrific scars for life? what if he stops breathing? Pure. Torture.

But Judah has handled it all with surprising grace and equanimity of spirit. At his most uncomfortable stage one night I was patting him with cold water compresses, and he sighed in relief each time the cool cloth was draped over his burning skin. "I have the best mommy in the world," he cooed.

He is so much like me - blessing physical discomfort if it brings emotional consolation.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This is one superhero you do not want to piss off...

I apologize in advance if this offends anyone.

There, you've been warned.

But how could I not share something that made me spit-up-my-water-and-pee-in-my-pants laugh when I turned around and saw it?

All I heard was his innocent little voice...

Mommy, look, it's Super-finger!

Uh, yeah, make that Super-MIDDLEfinger.

I am now seriously contemplating making Super Middle-finger my FB profile pic. The teen-boy in me is, like, yeah, totally, like, do it!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where did my kid go?

Today Judah was not himself.

At no point in the day did I get frustrated with him. Not once.

He was kind, obedient, cheerful, helpful, sweet, good to his brother, and very cooperative. From the moment he opened his eyes to the time I left his room at night, he was nothing but sweetness and light. What is going on????

During the day he occupied himself for hours drawing, playing with his new birthday toys, and writing little notes.

Mommy, how do you spell "Noah"?

Mommy, how do you spell "Chung"?

This is for you Noah! It has your name on it! You are the master of it. If you want to destroy it, that's ok! If you want to keep it that's ok too! No one can take it away from you because you are the master.

Mommy, how do you spell "Batlady"?

Judah hands me a picture of his rendition of Batman as a woman with the words "Mom" and "Batlady" on it. And then proceeds to give me the same speech about how I'm the "master" of that paper.

At night he very sweetly "huggle snuggled" goodnight with me, and then said "Mommy, when you get close to the door I'm going to air-kiss you and air-hug."

I don't know of a better way to end the day with him.

All the development books say age 4 begins the golden era of parenting. Children become more reasonable, less impulsive, and try very hard to please their parents. And indeed I've detected that Judah was on this trajectory starting about 6 months ago, but I could never predict that we would have a day like this.

Halleljuah. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we may have just crossed the Jordan.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Party Full of Love (and Superheros)

Yesterday we threw Judah a birthday party at a local wild animal shelter. I may be a little biased (since I pretty much put the entire thing together by myself) but I thought it was the bomb.

Don't let the face throw you - Judah did have a good time, honestly!

First, the kids got to pet some animals (and the adults got to learn some little known facts - like did you know that spiders are NOT insects? And spiders have 8 eyes? And chinchillas take dust baths? Gosh I love nerding out on zoology).

Then there was cake. Of course the theme was ninja turtles, Judah's latest obsession.

And then the piece de resistance - a visit from Leonardo! (Thanks CP for the idea way back when you had Spiderman crash Jacob's party).

I don't know who was smiling and laughing harder when Leo showed up - the kids or the adults!

I'm not sure which was Judah's favorite part, but mine had nothing to do with the party itself. It had everything to do with the beautiful guests who attended. Each and every person there touched our hearts by making such a great effort to show up and help us celebrate. (And buying some very thoughtful, very awesome gifts. And some little artists drew some impressive pictures or wrote very sweet messages).

Full tummies. Ninja eyes. Can't super-villains.

Isn't that how the saying goes? Well, it should.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

In Other News

Lately I've been having a crisis of confidence in blogging.

I guess with all the huge, momentous, tragic and otherwise issues going on in the world, blogging about my tiny little fiefdom seems so...uninspiring. It's like...

OMG ISIS is beheading children!
OMG another Malaysian airplane destroyed! (I know this was a long time ago, but still shocking)
OMG Robin Williams!
OMG Ferguson, Missouri!
OMG ebola outbreak!
OMG common core is starting!
OMG Jennifer Lawrence is dating Chris Martin!
OMG people have ALS and I'm now aware of that because of the ice bucket challenges thankyouverymuch.
OMG California is in a massive drought and I'm also aware of that because of the ice bucket challenges thankyouverymuch.

And yet, how I can I not blog about my two favorite little people? All day long they torture me and give me unspeakable joy all at the same time. They make me feel insufferably trapped, but have made me grow immeasurably more human. My world has shrunk but my heart has exploded.

I have nothing new to say about these 2 goofballs, but maybe some old phrases bear repeating - I love you to the moon and back.

You are my sunshine.

And I will never get enough of your naked dance parties.

Oh, that's not a line of a famous children's song or book? Well it should be.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Today Noah looked so cute in his freshly shaved head and baby wife-beater tank, we had to do an impromptu photo shoot. In order to keep him from wandering away, we asked him to give us a little 'gun' show.

"Noah, show me your muscles!"

This prompts Noah to do his best impression of Judah showing off his own muscles.

Often, the only way I can coax Judah to eat meat and veggies is to declare they have instant muscle-growing power. Each meal time is peppered with instances of Judah sticking out his arms and asking me to feel his muscles and me saying: Wow Judah! Your muscles have grown so much! Unbelievable! Now eat another pea please.

"No, Noah, that's not how you show muscles. You do it like this." (Spouse shows him the regular body-builder bicep pose).

Not quite right, but who needs muscles when you're so freaking irresistible already!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Up to No Good

I went to upload some pics from the ol' point and shoot and discovered some blurry random shots of our house.

Was a little puzzled until I came to this shot:

So Judah has figured out how to use the camera. And how to not tell his parents that he did something of which they probably wouldn't approve. 

I believe there are 'honest' people and not so honest people. The former are compelled to say the truth at all times, even if it's against their interest. They just can't help it. They are constitutionally incapable of not being truthful, however inconvenient. My spouse is one such person.

But I don't think Judah's one of those people. Which totally serves me right. I was the most dishonest sneaky kid in the history of kid-dom. It was just so much easier to do what I wanted and then lie about it, than to be honest and face the consequences. Rational, right?

In other news, the first monkey selfies have surfaced this week and it bears a remarkable resemblance to my human monkey's selfie, no?

Proof that preschoolers and primates are not that different I suppose.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

How Judah's Best Day Turned Into His Worst

Today I took Judah to Safeway and, as always, he found a balloon he wanted to hold. Ever since infancy he has loved holding balloons for the duration of our trip and is perfectly happy to hand it back to the cashier at the end.

But today, since Judah chose a really sad looking, half-deflated plain red mylar balloon, the cashier told us it was free and Judah could take it home! Judah was ecstatic, of course.

But then, just when he though life couldn't get any better, I told him we would stop by the local frozen yogurt store for a treat before heading home. At the fro-yo shop Judah happily slurped his plain tart yogurt as the song Best Day of My Life (by American Authors) comes on the speakers.

And right in the middle of the chorus Judah announces, Mommy, this is the best day of my life!

Wow. It's amazing how little perspective preschoolers have. Really? THIS is the best day of your life? You got a deflated balloon and tart yogurt.

Thirty minutes later Judah was whining and begging to watch a video, and when I denied him with finality he bemoaned, Mommy, this is the worst day of my life!

Okay hormonal teenager, get a grip. Seriously.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


His name is Noah but I call him Tenders.

Or sometimes, Tenders Love.

It started when he was a wee chunk of a peanut and it just seemed to fit. He was so sweet and good-natured and oh so chock full of fatty rolls everywhere. Mmmmmm, sweet brown baby fat. Sweeter than the darkest molasses.

And now I cuddle him all day, cooing his nickname to him and play-biting his round pot-belly and little dinner-roll feet. As if he's still just 3 months old.

Judah loves it and adds his own little voice to the chant. O Tenders, Tenders Love, Judah sings.

Our Tenders Love is growing up too fast.

Two weeks ago, though we've said and done nothing to encourage him, he one day, out of the blue, just sat on the potty and pooped! Since then he's wanted to go on the potty incessantly, which we've indulged, but never again did his magic business there.

Of course we had to take a picture of his first (and apparently last) successful dump!

Noah is also acquiring new words at a frantic pace and learning how to really communicate verbally. I love to hear his little voice say "Yeah, or No" when I ask him questions. And he now devours books and loves to read almost as much as Judah did. Although, truly it's pretty hard to match Judah's inborn obsession with stories. Judah was sitting through multiple readings of the Lorax at age 7 months, whereas Noah just recently started to love it.

Mommy's dramatic reading of the Lorax, take # 526.

Nevertheless, all the signs are there for me to try to blatantly ignore. Noah is 18 months. A toddler. No longer a baby. I don't have a baby anymore. That sweet brown fat.

And I realize I don't want another baby. I want that baby back. That baby named Noah that I call my Tenders Love.

It's hard to watch him grow up, but God is merciful. At least he's short and chubby for his age so I can imagine he's still a little younger than he actually is.

Who you calling short and chubby? I'll cut you #$@%!

Judah I egged on to grow up as quickly as possible. But Noah, sweet Noah, dear Noah, little Noah, can not stay little long enough.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Particularly Bad Day

Sometimes, after a long day of unsuccessfully "parenting" the kids, I want to read about another mom that's struggled as much as I have.

I've been googling for a while and I can't find any.

But YOU'RE in luck if you're looking for a mom fail. Of course, by now, you know that this is THE place to go for tales of utter frustration and disturbing ambivalence in parenting. And you can hear someone confess (and amply demonstrate) that she doesn't know what the heck she's doing and has no qualifications whatsoever to have little people's lives and impressionable young hearts and minds placed in her hands.

Honestly, every day is a rough day.

But today was a REALLY rough day. I don't even know why. But you know it's going to be a bad day when you completely lose your sh*t at 10 am in the morning. Usually I can last a good 7+ hours before completely losing it with the kids, but today was some kind of special.

Noah wields the sword like a pro, but his real power is clinging to mommy. All. Day. Long.

Noah copies Judah's power stance. And his ability to make messes everywhere and at all times.

It's not like the kids were especially annoying or anything. It's just...kind of like a boiling pot that finally blows its lid. Like a volcano that suddenly erupts. The constant whining, fussing, crying, negotiating, line-crossing, grumpiness, quick-to-anger, quick-to-complain attitude, pouting, outright defiance and disobedience, and even innocent spills, messes, repetitive questions and non-stop interruptions, etc. just built up to the point of tipping me into raging b*tch mommy-land.

And, after some more processing, I realize I've been impatient lately. I've been itching to get stuff done. We moved into our house over 18 months ago and it's STILL not settled. I would say our lives move at a snail's pace, but that's just way too insulting to those lightening-quick snails. For example, we bought a tiny half-window curtain to hang up in our bathroom and it just sat there in a corner for FIVE MONTHS collecting dust. Five. Months. We FINALLY hung it up last week.

The garage is stacked with yet-to-be-opened boxes. And pictures that need hanging. And files to be sorted. And goodness knows what else.

Every time I step into the garage my skin crawls with an aching desire to sort and organize. Heck, every time I look around the house I can instantly spot 10 things I'd like to do or undo in any given room. And I know each thing will take FIVE MONTHS to finally happen. Okay, that's probably an exaggeration. OR IS IT?!?!

Anyway, I've rambled on too long and now it's how do I end this...?

Patience, patience, my friend.

Patience is a virtue.

Especially when you have little people.