2012, Part 4.

There’s this meme I’ve been doing for a lot of years.* I swear I did it on Facebook last year, but now I can’t find it — even with the new fancy Timeline. Whatev, Facebook. Thanks for nothing. Anyway, this is 40 questions long. I’m going to answer 8 each day and then it will be 2012. Yes. Bring it.

*I’d love for you to do this, too. Either in comments or on your own blog.

(Read Part 1)    (Read Part 2)     (Read Part 3)

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Not exactly. Hate is such a strong word and I actually don’t believe that I hate anyone. There is one person, though, who recently really started getting under my skin. After a recent seemingly insignificant incident, every time I see this person’s name printed anywhere, I feel protective and angry. I should probably either let it go or arrange things in my life so that I am rarely reminded of this person and that incident. It’s not worth the negative energy in my life.

26. What was the best book you read?
The Help was the last book I really enjoyed. It was the book that kept drawing me back to my Kindle. I read every night and any idle time I had. Then, when the movie came out and all the social and political commentary and criticism was all over the web, the book got even that much more interesting. I am actually thinking of teaching it in my lit class next term because there are so many opportunities for analysis.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Pandora! Hands down. I know it’s not a band or artist, but it still fits, right? (Nosegay can be a flower.) I suppose, now that I am thinking about it, it’s no different from Sirius (to which I have a lifetime subscription) but it seems different somehow. And I enjoy it.

28. What did you want and get?
Again with the iPhone. Also, a little more clarity about my own toddlerhood and parenting a toddler.

29. What did you want and not get?
I’m not sure I can go into as much detail here as I’d like to — given how public this is. But it’s enough to say that everything is a work in progress and even though sometimes I feel like I am going to want and want and want and want and never get, forever is a very long time. And I am an optimist.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Bridesmaids, hands down. I don’t know that I would necessarily call it a “film” per se, butI laughed my ass off for two hours and that was just what I needed. (I also really liked Moneyball)

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 37 and I had very little memory of what I did that day, so I checked my Facebook Timeline and it told me that many people wished me a happy birthday, but that I had a mostly crappy day. I think it must have been rainy, which I hate on my birthday. I also saw that the day after, I wrote:  “I’m re-doing yesterday. The Who and I got up early, ran a couple of errands, hung out at the Y, swimming lessons, pizza lunch date, now he is napping. Tonight, m* and I have my birthday date night. Let’s just pretend today is my birthday instead.”

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Please see #29.

2012, Part 3.

There’s this meme I’ve been doing for a lot of years.* I swear I did it on Facebook last year, but now I can’t find it — even with the new fancy Timeline. Whatev, Facebook. Thanks for nothing. Anyway, this is 40 questions long. I’m going to answer 8 each day and then it will be 2012. Yes. Bring it.

*I’d love for you to do this, too. Either in comments or on your own blog.

(Read Part 1)    (Read Part 2)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder?
I’m not sure, to be honest. I am sadder than this time last week. But last year? Probably depends on the day you asked me.

ii. thinner or fatter?
Certainly fatter and a lot has to do with the amount of Panera bacon/egg/cheese ciabattas I have been consuming lately.

iii. richer or poorer?
Poorer in my personal savings account. I’m not contributing much to it these days and can’t wait for my birthday so I can ask for some liquid cash as a gift. (Is that tacky at age 37?)

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Sleeping. I do not get enough sleep. I go to bed way too late and always have. Although I love sleeping and love feeling well-rested, I cherish my alone time in the late evenings and extending it feels like a decadent gift every night.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Wasting time. I let hours of each day slip away without really noticing it several days a week. It’s fine to sit around on Facebook or click through a bunch of websites for hours as long as I do it mindfully. But too often, I’ll find that time has disappeared and I wasn’t paying attention.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Moot point because it’s over. But this year, I spent Christmas day at home, all day, fighting with my internal self and trying to control my control issues. Irony, much? It certainly was a challenging day and although I didn’t feel completely miserable at the time, in retrospect, it was exhausting and not terribly pleasant. Good thing I’m a Jew and my expectations for Christmas are about the same as my expectations for any random Sunday.

21. What was your favorite month of 2011?
August pretty much ruled, as it began with a week on the beach with my family. Summer is generally a good time for me these days.

22. Did you fall in love in 2011?
No. Not new love, anyway.

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Ah, this is a hard one. This year, our first with a DVR, we have watched a lot of shows together. Among my favorites: American Idol, Top Chef, Next Iron Chef, Dexter, Nurse Jackie, and Mad Men. Our DVR seems to have a lot of competition reality on it and I’m probably supposed to be ashamed or embarrassed about that, but I’m not. We also watch The X Factor, The Next Great Baker, Food Network Challenge, Top Chef Just Desserts, Dancing with the Stars, and America’s Got Talent.


2012, Part 2.

There’s this meme I’ve been doing for a lot of years.* I swear I did it on Facebook last year, but now I can’t find it — even with the new fancy Timeline. Whatev, Facebook. Thanks for nothing. Anyway, this is 40 questions long. I’m going to answer 8 each day and then it will be 2012. Yes. Bring it.

*I’d love for you to do this, too. Either in comments or on your own blog.

(See Part 1 here.)
9. What was your biggest failure?
All the times I lost my temper with my kid. I understand that it happens to the best of us and I’m not crucifying myself for it, but I do believe those times were my failures. Learn from them and move forward.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing aside from the typical migraines. I would gladly trade my twice monthly migraines for three colds a year. Does it work like that? I downloaded a migraine diary app, which lets me track when they occur, what the symptoms are, treatments, and triggers. Someday, when I convince myself that it is a significant enough issue to see a specialist about, I’ll have this data to share. In the meantime, I’ll continue to get them, complain about them, and then forget about them until the next one.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Most definitely my iPhone. Not that I needed more to divert me from the things I should be doing, but the productivity alone is worth it. I am specifically digging the foodonthetable.com app. Three things I need to do, but hate to do (and am not very skilled at doing) are finding grocery sales, buying the things on sale, and creating meals from those things — or really creating meals at all. This app does that all for me and automatically creates a shopping list with the items I need to make the meals.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The Who’s behavior, overall, always merits celebration. Considering how much he has had to learn and integrate since he was born, it’s amazing. He handles himself with more grace than some adults I know, who have had ten times longer to practice living. Stunning, really.

Also, m*’s and my own. We are committed to and work very hard at our relationship and the fact that we still sit together most every night and laugh so hard we cry is a testament to that commitment and work.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Over the course of the year, I saw some Facebook comments that really got under my skin and, frankly, surprised me. Sometimes it’s worth commenting back and sometimes it’s not. But I guess that’s what it’s about in the Great Big World. We all have different opinions and beliefs, right? (Of course, all the ones that are different from mine are wrong.)

I have also been appalled and depressed about my own behavior, specifically as it relates to control and self-control.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Cumulatively, the mortgage and groceries. But, all in one shot? The iPhones m* and I reciprocally gifted one another with for Hanukkah.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The one weekend day that m* gave me “off” a couple of weeks ago. It’s not that I don’t have whole days to myself when The Who is at school (especially now during winter break when I have no classes to teach and no papers to grade) but something about a totally unexpected day was just glorious. And knowing that it was gifted to me genuinely and generously made it even better.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Any of the songs from the Dora the Explorer CD that we’ve pretty much been listening to on endless loop. I am especially fond of “Feliz Cumpleanos.”

2012, Part 1.

There’s this meme I’ve been doing for a lot of years.* I swear I did it on Facebook last year, but now I can’t find it — even with the new fancy Timeline. Whatev, Facebook. Thanks for nothing. Anyway, this is 40 questions long. I’m going to answer 8 each day for the next 5 days and then it will be 2012. Yes. Bring it.

*I’d love for you to do this, too. Either in comments or on your own blog.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Joined the neighborhood pool. I’ve written about this pool thing before, but it’s monumental enough to mention here again because of what joining it required me to do: don a swimsuit in public, haul a toddler and all of his stuff in the blazing heat while wearing said swimsuit, and then parade around the pool grounds, in and out of water, often bending in unflattering positions, while surrounded by my friends. It was so worth it, though. The pool was pretty much the highlight of my summer.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I have no idea what I resolved to do last year, but I do have some for this year. I love resolutions. And I hate them. I lovehate them. I believe that resolving to do something sets one up for certain failure. And also, the popularity of them makes it seem like we are all so wrong and bad and broken that we need to resolve to change and fix and be better. I suppose I could resolve to stay the same. But even then. Still, that said, I love a clean slate. A fresh start is my dreamy boyfriend. I’m probably not disclosing my specific resolutions anywhere except maybe in my personal journal, but I do have some.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. Not yet. But I know quite a few pregnants. And while I, of course, hope they all go well, there is one in particular that I feel really invested in. I really can’t wait to meet this baby and see the fruits of this couple’s labor get rewarded with a tiny human. They deserve it.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yeah. My Nana died. She was coming up on 95 years old and whenever I hear about people that old who have died, it always seems to me that their age should mitigate the family’s pain. But it doesn’t.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
So many tangibles: a potty-trained child being at the very top of my list today. A new printer that actually works with my computer. A real driveway. Always more money. It’s the intangibles that really count, though. More self-respect. More self-control. Less self-criticism. Stuff like that there.

7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
11-11-11. Because people just couldn’t stop talking about it.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Paying off my car and my student loans, although, by all accounts, I really shouldn’t count this as my achievement. M* did it with her hard work, her impeccable bookkeeping and her commitment to our family being debt-free. I never could have done it alone — at least not in 2011.


Ugh. You’ve got to be kidding me with this.

We’ve discovered, based on some internet sleuthing, that The Who holds his poop and pee as a form of control. (Boy, we catch on fast, don’t we?) Somewhere along the line in this potty training (it was me, I’m sure) we completely stripped him of his personal agency and now he’s hanging onto the last little shred in the form of bodily functions. The remedy, as we read, seemed simple: give the control back. Piece of cake, right? Just let go of the control, put it into his hands, and everyone goes along his or her merry way. Puppies. Rainbows. Cotton Candy.


Turns out that it’s next-to-goddamn-impossible for me to relinquish control. Inside my head, I am screaming: You are miserable and uncomfortable! Take a shit! Just — why? Why don’t you just do it? But I learned long ago that 3-year-olds don’t think rationally. They’re like little mini maniacs and nothing makes sense. So he holds it. And holds and holds and holds and runs around the house, doing everything he can to keep it in, including laying on the couch and moaning and whining that he is “tired.” He even asked to go up and take his nap today because he knew that staying up any longer would just mean more fighting to keep it all inside.

It makes me want to poke my eyes out with the broken tip of a shattered Christmas light.

For two days, we’ve all been inside the house, with the two grownups relinquishing control and the little one [hopefully] regaining it. Him: I’m tired. Us: Ok. Him: I wanna watch a show with cocoa (another “holding it in” technique.) Us: Ok. Ok, ok, ok, ok. Everything is ok. And in conjunction, we’re trying to give him more overall autonomy to encourage his self-sufficiency, which is actually a perk of this whole business. It’s amazing how coddled and cared for first and only children are. I can totally see where a second child would be doing way more on his own than The Who is, but now that it’s come to our attention, we’re changing it up. Just over the past two days, The Who has (for the first time ever ): put on his own underwear with no help; rinsed himself off with the handheld shower after his bath; unbuttoned his own jammie shirt (with minimal help); got out all the ingredients for his grilled cheese, including opening the fridge, opening the deli drawer, and finding the cheese; and lit the Hanukkah candles independently (well, I lit the shamash, but he used it to light the rest with no assistance.)

And there were probably more things, too, that were just as [in]significant, but that I didn’t necessarily take note of. He’s our first. Our only. How were we supposed to know he could put his own underwear on? He couldn’t always. Hell, maybe he couldn’t yesterday.

I’ll tell you what all this power struggling and control and burgeoning independence does. It shines the brightest, most glaring, most unattractive and uncomfortable light ever on us. We keep having to look at parts of our own childhoods that we’d just as soon walk away from. I have also been reminded, more times than I care to remember over the past two days, about my own control and power issues.

Oh, man. I so don’t want to screw up my kid. I want him to be happy and well-adjusted and self-possessed. I don’t want to kill his spirit. It’s just so exhausting. For all of us.


I like money. Don’t you like money? I’ll tell you what I don’t like: sweepstakes. I thought I was an optimist, but I don’t think I am when it comes to this stuff. I like good odds. Like, if I’m bidding on a silent auction item, I’ll only bid on one if there aren’t many other bids. I am not a big risk-taker. I guess that’s what it boils down to. But what fun is that? I’m never going to win $500 if I don’t throw my name in the ring. So, screw it. So what if the odds aren’t in my favor. I’m posting this to enter a contest offered by Check ‘n Go at Creating Motherhood! I want to win a $500 gift card! Enter to win here: http://bit.ly/plaidcash


We’re breaking up with our pediatrician. This was not an easy decision to make, but it was made and done in the span of, well, two hours — just the amount of time we had to sit and wait in the waiting room for our scheduled-far-in-advance Well Child visit yesterday. (I know, right?)

We’ve had this problem before. The practice is huge. I don’t even know how many doctors are there and frankly, I don’t care because we only see our doctor. I am That Mom. I insist on it. I even sweet-talked our doc into giving us her admin office number so she could squeeze us in if The Who got sick. We have only seen another doc once or twice in the whole three years. We love our pediatrician. Love. And that is the only reason we stayed at the practice as long as we did.

She knew him back when his toes were tiny!

The waiting room, regardless of when we arrive or how far in advance our appointment is scheduled, is always overrun with croupy coughs, wild children, and parents glued to their phones. There’s maybe one toy in the waiting room, surely crawling with virus, and sometimes there is a box of torn up, old books. The tv in there always plays crappy big-kid shows (Spongebob and the like.) There’s nothing in there that says “happy place for kids” and even less that appeals to parents — least of all the wait time.

Two hours, you guys. Two hours with my three-year-old and my wife who had to get to work. Two hours with no discussion of why we were waiting so long. Two hours with nothing to do but run the halls and go up and down in the elevator. Fortunately, once we got in, it wasn’t so bad. Sometimes, because it’s a teaching practice, you have to see 17 psuedo-doctors before the real one comes in, which, lemme tell you, is no treat when you have a feverish kid in your lap.

We’ve wanted to leave before, but the continuity of having the same doc who first listened to his tiny heart was compelling. And, in case I haven’t mentioned it, we love our doc. She talks to both The Who and us with respect and I have always trusted her cautious-without-being-alarmist nature. She is honest and friendly and bright.

But, at the end of our visit yesterday, I gave her a hug. I’ll send her a heartfelt message on our holiday card this week, and then we probably won’t see her again. We’re moving to a practice with one doc that comes highly recommended. It’s close, convenient, and I can already tell that it’ll be better than the other one.

Change is not easy for me. The Who, on the other hand, when he heard that he would have a new doc and needed to say goodbye to this one, gave a nonchalant wave and said, “Bye, Dr. XXX. See ya later,” and he was out the door. Que sera sera, I guess.


In a brief discussion this afternoon in the kitchen, M and I decided not to lie to our kid.

Nana’s body doesn’t work anymore and she is under the ground. The cats went to live with other families. Santa Claus is not real.

Wait. What?

Yeah, we’re not doing it. And it’s not because we’re Jewish* (although that might make it easier, ultimately.) It’s because it’s a lie. Made up for kids to infuse some excitement into their lives. Listen — Christmas is exciting with Santa or not. Houses are covered in rainbow lights! Trees come right into the living room! There is an abundance of sweets everywhere you look! Parties! Presents! Music! TV Shows! Do we really need to add a story about a big bearded fellow slipping into our house when we sleep? It’s not like we’re not giving him presents from us already. Between his late fall birthday, Hanukkah, and Christmas, there is no shortage of presents for this kid. Plus, Santa is a scary dude. The Who has already woken up in a cold sweat once this week, worried that Santa was coming and it’s only December 3rd. The two “kids-with-Santa” photos I have seen online today were both of toddlers screaming their fool heads off when faced with the Big Guy. I don’t see the good that perpetuating this myth is going to do, frankly.

I’m sort of digressing here, though. I know that lots of families have great memories of Santa and that lots of kids all over the world are delighted by him. I know that parents get a lot of good behavior out of the whole “naughty or nice” thing and that the Elf on the Shelf is the only thing that keeps their kids in line this time of year. I don’t begrudge them that. And I don’t look down on them for creating this fantasy world for their kids; everyone has his or her reasons and I suspect a lot of them have to do with magic and tradition. I’m all for tradition.

But for us? Well, maybe it’s because The Who’s so stressed about Santa already and maybe it’s because Santa  was never a big part of my childhood, but I just don’t feel compelled to encourage belief. We’re not exactly sure yet how we’ll go about letting The Who know that Santa is not real. I’m actually not convinced that he knows the difference yet between a “character” and a real person. (He understands “pretend” because he will often pretend to be a firefighter or pretend to be an animal, but those things he is pretending to be are actually real. I’m not sure if he understands that when he is pretending to be Bob the Builder, for example, that Bob is not actually a real person.) So the way we go about explaining this calls for a little research.

But, yeah. No Santa. And, following with the same logic, I guess there’s no Tooth Fairy either**. Bummer.


* I have always been Jewish. M was raised Catholic and now considers herself Unitarian. We made a decision to raise The Who Jewish and fully plan to join a synagogue and send him to Hebrew School in preparation for a Bar Mitzvah. Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that we have twinkle lights strung across the living room, stockings hung from the banister, and plans in the works for procuring a Christmas tree.

** Please don’t worry; The Who will be handsomely rewarded for losing his teeth. We’ll just make no bones about who is doing the rewarding.

Scattergories: a Post in Three Parts.


One year, while snooping through my mother’s closet searching for hidden Hanukkah gifts, I came across a big, heavy rectangular box. Wrapped. Fortunately (for me) the wrapping was either thin or light-colored (both?) and if I stretched it and peered really closely, I could make out what was inside. I knelt on the floor next to my best friend and we squinted and pressed our fingers along the paper, reading the words underneath. “Right…Off…The…Top…Of…Your…Head! Right off the top of your head!” I was getting a new game, I declared triumphantly and for the rest of the month, whenever anyone asked me what I was getting for Hanukkah, I smugly replied that I was getting that new game called “Right Off the Top of Your Head.”

Have you ever heard of that game? Yeah. Me neither.

Turns out I had been snooping at the *back* of the Scattergories box. Classy.


Scattergories turned out to be one of my favorites and was a game I frequently played with my wild and crazy friends in our wild and crazy youth. The beauty of it, see, is the battling. It’s not so much about who could come up with the most ingenious entries for each category, but rather who could bargain and reason her way into points for a *clearly inappropriate* submission. Case in point: nosegay. A “nosegay” is not a flower. It’s a collection of flowers. Come on. Every Scattergories player worth her salt knows that “flower” is the category and “types of flowers” is what belongs on the line next to it. So dedicated to this line of reason was I that a full-out argument ensued, right there in the living room over the giant, polyhedral die. Such an epic battle it was that it eventually made its way into a haiku that this friend wrote for me and read aloud at my 30th birthday party. For years, my friend has maintained her correctness and for years, I have stood firm. Until today. I just sent her this email:

"I am writing a bog post about Scattergories and I went searching for a photo of the card that had the "flowers" category on it so I could tell the nosegay story. What I found was this. Clearly, I have been wrong all these years. If "bridal bouquet" is acceptable to these random scattergories-players, then "nosegay" should have been acceptable. I'll give it to you retroactive to 17 years ago. I disagree fundamentally, though. Let me at least go on record with that. I think the bridal bouquet people are bullshit here and I don't think nosegay should be acceptable, but I will go with general consensus. You win. Nosegay."


Blog Scattergories. Here is where my love of the game comes full circle. I had no idea this was a thing, but I found it in Dresden’s blog and far be it from me to turn down an opportunity to play “Right Off the Top of Your Head!” Play here or let me know if you play on your blog. Use the first letter of the answer to the first question to come up with answers for the rest.

1 )What is the name of your favorite Holiday themed song?
Santa Baby

2) Something on your wish list
Speaker dock for my new iPhone

3) Something you plan on baking
Snickerdoodles (although until this post, I had no plans of baking anything.)

4) Something you plan on giving

5) Something you plan on avoiding eating
Spaghettios (This goes for all year, every day. No one needs to eat tin-flavored faux-Italian food.)

6) Something you plan on adding to the chorus of ’12 Days of Christmas’
Seven hours painting

7) Something you plan on returning/ re-gifting
Sad substitutes for actually useful things

8 ) Something you wish was stuffed into your stocking
Shellac nail polish and the UV light to go with it

9) Some place you wish you could travel to this month
Sandy shores of Florida’s west coast

10) Something you will decorate with