Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: Baby Faces

As we all know, there is no higher honor in life than being given a guest post spot here at Grey Skies. Today, I magnanimously allow my youngest child, the 6-month old Duke of Juban, to write a review of his favorite book. Enjoy.

***

Baby Faces. 2006 Ed., originally published 1998. DK Publishing, Inc.




:::Spoiler Alert!:::

The literary world is, of late, unfairly divided into two camps: those who have read the classic board book, "Baby Faces," and those who have not. The message boards are on fire with furious and poorly constructed arguments on both sides. But I say that this is an unfair division because to eschew vitriol on babies who haven't read this book is to misdirect the blame. No one doesn't read "Baby Faces" because he or she doesn't want to read it; rather, one doesn't read "Baby Faces" because one's parent or guardian does not keep it in the house. The blame, then, lies with the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and well-meaning family friends who refuse to expose their baby to the cultural nuance of such a book, the underlying message of inclusion and diversity, and the sheer - I would say almost bottomless - emotional depth the book provides. Shame on you, grown-ups.

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the book. "Baby Faces" presents two challenges to the modern baby reader: first, there are words, and while it is not imperative to have a grown-up read the words to you, I do highly recommend you find one who will do this for you; and second, there are no new textures to touch or chew on as there are with other well-esteemed members of the baby board book cannon such as "Animals" or "Let's Get Dressed." But the lack of texture inside "BF" enhances, rather than detracts, from the book's draw: you, the reader, are forced to really LOOK at the baby faces. This emphasis on the sense of sight -- and only sight -- is deceptively simplistic. If you don't believe me, wait until you get to page 3: after two seemingly straightforward faces of babies listed as "Happy" and "Sad," the word under the emotion is read as "Puzzled," but clearly this expression can additionally be interpreted as "confused," "disappointed," or even "constipated." The brilliance of this writing is so far above what most baby books present, and in this way the reader is rewarded for his or her persistence, patience and intelligence.

One of the book's more controversial moments, and my personal favorite, is the two-pager "Peek-a-boo!" scene. In case you've been living under a rock and haven't caught wind of the firestorm surrounding this dramatic scene, I'll sum up for you: a red jumper-clad baby appears from under a basket, thus demonstrating the traditionally admired game of "Peek-a-boo!" 

The controversy around this scene is twofold. Not only does this scene take up two pages of a 16-page book, but in the first page of the scene the baby is not entirely hidden under the basket. In what is widely regarded as the authoritative book written on the subject of "Baby Faces," Stuart Gilbert's "James Joyce's Baby Faces: A Study" claims that without the baby's eyes being hidden by the basket, this game of "peek-a-boo" is false, and a trick. While that is a fair and valid reading of the scene, I agree with what David Foster Wallace said in an interview, which is that by seeing the baby's eyes at all time the scene is meant to be a parody of "peek-a-boo," and the reader invited in on the joke. 

Finally, no review of "BF" is complete without at least a casual mention of the kissing page. If the "peek-a-boo" pages are one of the book's more controversial scenes, then the kissing page is, without a doubt, the most controversial scene. Some words pulled from other reviews and online message board comments about this scene call it "gratuitous," "exploitative," or even "silly," but again, those are overly simplistic explanations for a rather complicated book. Sure, in an otherwise culturally diverse book we have two white, blond babies giving each other a little kiss, which might undermine the presence of the rest of the colorful cast, but my reading of the scene was that it was a natural progression of the plot. 

My strongest issue with the book is the ending. After rewarding the reader again and again with imaginative plot twists ("Angry" juxtaposed with "Worried!") and wink-wink-nudge-nudge satiric humor ("Hungry!"), I was left with a bad taste in my mouth at the vapid "Fast Asleep" last page. Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but I don't like when a book thinks it can trick me into sleeping with a picture of a - yes - sleeping baby. Not only was this an insult, but it was a low-brow one, which makes it all that much more disappointing.

Will "BF" be loved by everyone? Of course not. It already isn't. Is this something everyone should read anyway? Absolutely. Despite the ending the book manages to entertain, surprise, and challenge the reader in the best of ways, and this is why I return to these colorful pages again and agin.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stinky Feet

There is just no nice way to say it: my babies have stinky feet.

My older kid, the 3 1/2-year old Juban Princeling, has grown out of it, but I remember how bad his feet smelled as a baby. And now my younger kid, the 5-month old Duke of Juban, has the same stinky feet.

I don't understand it. It's not like the baby puts on his old sneakers and goes for a jog. He doesn't play in mud, and as far as I know he isn't friends with any skunks. I don't let him play in garbage. He doesn't even sit up yet, much less stand, much less walk, much less walk around all day in stinky shoes.

The irony is that the Princeling does wear shoes all day, sometimes old sneakers with no socks, but his feet smell fine. Well, maybe not fine, but they certainly don't smell like cat diarrhea anymore.

And yet.



The Juban Princeling's dirty feet, circa July 2009. At least
these feet had a reason for being stinky.


When I give him a bath - which he has finally come to terms with (Mommy-1, Baby-0) - I wash between his toes and scrub his little feet. Then, without putting lotion or socks or ANYthing on his feet, a few minutes later they stink like a homeless person stuffed Camembert cheese in his armpits.

How is this even possible?

My theories:


  • If babies' heads smell so good, then the law of balance dictates they have stinky feet
  • The Duke is making cheese with his feet in his crib (unlikely, since I have a video monitor and can see him when he's sleeping) (unless we're talking about a "Speed"-like trick here?)
  • Ghost Mommy is soaking his feet in turpentine and sour milk during his naps
  • The MTA has found a way to bottle that special New York subway station smell and has filled invisible baby shoes with it and put those shoes on my baby the last time we were on the subway
  • That one time we took him to New Jersey stuck to him, but only his feet
  • He's found a way to vomit via his toes
  • It's a defense mechanism to keep me from eating up his yummy chubby little baby feets and toesies

Ideas? Advice? Commiseration?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Real O'Clock: Politics

Every now and then here at the Grey Skies World Headquarters, we like to take it down a notch, from our usual wine-guzzling, Walking Dead-watching, geek con-going ways and get Real. If this were a rock concert, now would be the part where I sit atop a stool, mic in hand, spotlight on, and croon "Every Rose Has A Thorn" while swaying gently, like my depth and emotion are far too sincere to be contained by sitting still.

Get out your lighters (or cell phone screens), because it's about to get Real O'Clock all up in here.


Now that the Olympics are over but "Downton Abbey" hasn't started back up yet, we Americans are left with little else to do but talk politics. I've heard there's one of these "elections" coming up that the KidsTheseDays are all a-twitter about. 

Right?

Kidding, of course. I can't turn on my TV, open my laptop, or feed my baby without hearing about it. (My 5-month old baby, the Duke of Juban, has some rather strong opinions about campaign finance reform.) And aside from admitting that I think Ryan Paul is kinda hot in a weird white-boy sort of way, or reiterating my invite to the Obamas to come to my house for pasta and Tasti-D-Lite, I don't like to talk about politics.

I never have liked it, but lately I refuse to engage in political discussion. What's the point? Most of my friends, on both sides of any given issue, just like to repeat one-liners and soundbites, or post sad little FB memes with quotes taken out of context. 

From what I've seen, few people actually like to engage in an actual conversation about actual politics. Most people like to spew their opinions. You can either agree with them or not, but they really don't care. They say their piece and then shut their ears. Even people who consider themselves open-minded, or claim to listen to "both sides" before making up their minds, already have their minds made up. Having political discussions with most people I know is a pretty useless exercise in futility and frustration. I will never get my Conservative friends to admit that Obama is anything but a Socialist, secret Muslim, elitist tyrant who wants to take away their guns and force their daughters to have abortions, just like I will never hear my Liberal friends admit that Romney is anything but a Bible-beating, civil liberties-hating, gun-crazy pig who wants to turn American women into The Handmaid's Tale.



From Wikimedia Commons, author Cpl. Megan L. Stiner, 2004


Which brings me to my next point: political shorthand. To say that I am tired of people using this as a way to define anyone who doesn't agree with them is a woeful understatement. For the record, here are some terms, as well as things they are NOT synonyms for:


  • Liberal (or Progressive)
    • NOT a synonym for:
      • Tolerant
      • Open-minded
      • Non-racist
      • Gun-hating
      • Baby killing
      • Godless
      • Hippie
      • Elitist
      • Unpatriotic

  • Conservative
    • NOT a synonym for:
      • Ignorant
      • Gun toting
      • Racist
      • Misogynist
      • Religious
      • Rich
      • Patriot
      • Xenophobic

I'm a Liberal and I have Conservative friends. I know, but it's true! And sure, sometimes they post things on FB that make me roll my eyes, or sigh, or just scroll through. But here's the thing: they are people. They are my friends.

I still talk politics with people close to me. Sometimes the husband and I talk about things that are going on. But I refuse to engage in political discussion with others, especially on FB. I don't see this as irresponsible or unpatriotic or ignorant. I see it as saving my sanity. This doesn't mean I don't care about issues: I still give money to the charities and organizations I believe in, I still read, I still watch the news. I just don't want to talk about it much except with a few people I trust - including my Conservative best friend, Tia. I'm not sticking my head in the sand, I'm being selective.

What about you? Do you discuss politics, and if so, have you ever changed your mind or admitted you were wrong about a politician or an issue?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Costume Fails

The 2012 New York Comic Con is coming up, and by "coming up" I of course mean in two months. That may not seem around the corner-ish to you Muggles, but for we geeks that's practically tomorrow.

Thing is, October is generally a busy month for me. I've got my son the Juban Princeling's birthday on the 8th, my husband's birthday on the 17th, my brother Mr. Funny's birthday on the 22nd, and Halloween on the 31st. (I guess technically we all have Halloween on the 31st. But I like it more than you do, probably.)

That's two things I need costumes for: NYCC and Halloween. 

Halloween is easy. My friend NoLa does a theme party, and even if she craps out on the party I still make us dress up for it. Last year she used the excuse of having "foot surgery" and "not being able to walk" for "10 weeks" as her excuse not to create a space alien theme party, but I still made the Princeling dress up as a spooky alien, because do you know how hard it is to find a space alien costume for a 3-year old? Surprisingly hard. But it paid dividends in cuteness:



"I'm a spooooooky alien!"

This year her theme is Classic Haunted House, though she's threatened to crap out on me again. Doesn't matter. I already have our costumes: we're going as the ghosts of a family who drowned in the Gowanus Canal. Body glow paint will be employed, as well as our masks from Sleep No More:



"MacBeth hath murdered sleep!"


So, Halloween is covered.

My problem is what to wear for NYCC.

NYCC does a Family Day, and I want to take the Princeling for his first ever geek con. One year they had the New York Jedi Academy - yes, that's a thing - train younglings on how to use light sabers. If they do that this year I may actually drop dead of happiness. But I've been racking my brain for good mother-son costumes for us. The problem is that most mothers in fantasy and sci-fi are either dead or bat-shit crazy. Some ideas I've had for us, but had to dismiss:

  • Joffrey and Cersei (My son will be 4, and I know I'll end up having to schlep around the head on a pike when he gets tired of it.)
  • Superman and his Kryptonian mother, blown to smithereens (too depressing for a 4-year old)
  • Spiderman and whatever happen to his mother (ditto)
  • Harry Potter and Ghost Lily Potter (super ditto)
  • Spock and Winona Ryder (seeing a pattern, yet?)
  • Luke Skywalker and Padme Amidala (I cannot pull off a white bodysuit) (no, not even a little bit)
Maybe we can do Wesley Crusher and Dr. Crusher? I already have the red hair. All I'd need is the blue ST: TNG body suit (still more flattering than Padme Amidala's), a tricorder, and a poorly hidden lust for Jean-Luc Picard. Like that would be so hard.

Ideas? What sort of family/parent-child/group costumes have you all done?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lies My Breakfast Cereal Told Me

You know you're too grown-up when you start choosing a breakfast cereal based on fiber content and not cartoon character. 

Until recently - and by "recently" I mean a few months ago - I saw nothing wrong with being a 36-year old woman and mother of two who ate Lucky Charms for breakfast. I mean, come on, what's not to love? If I believe General Mills' ad campaign, the non-marshmallow part of the cereal is made with "whole grains" or some other healthy-sounding crap like that. Healthy AND magically delicious!

But alas. My husband, who is all, "We need to be healthier so we can live a long time and continue to annoy each other well into our 100s," is into healthy eating, probably just to piss me off.



If this had, like, 15 pounds of sugar on it, I'd totally be into it.


Exercise I have no problem with, when I have the time. I'll walk for miles, I'll do Pilates, I do do yoga every morning. I've even started meditating, so that in those moments when I'm about to lose my shit because all three of my housemates are ganging up on me in what is clearly a well-planned assault on my emotional well-being, I can find my Happy Place, take a deep breath, cultivate inner peace, and not go to prison for stabbing my family. (My matra is, "Pretty fish like me don't do well in prison." *breathe in* "Pretty fish like me don't do well in prison." *breathe out*)

So, you know, exercise is fine with me. 

It's the eating right part of "being healthy" that gets me. 

I grew up in the 80s, when putting cut-up hot dogs in my Kraft Macaroni & Cheese was considered a well-balanced meal because it had 3 of the 4 food groups in it: protein, dairy, and powdered cheese product. Apparently that is not an acceptable lunch for a grown woman.

Other things I grew up eating which I am now supposed to give up so that I don't have a heart attack at age 40 or develop Type II diabetes or have a stroke or some other stupid crap that so-called "doctors" and "scientists" warn us about:


  • Fried chicken
  • Bacon cheeseburgers
  • Pizza
  • Fettucini Alfredo
  • Chocolate ice cream mixed with Double-Stuf Oreos
  • Nutella
  • Potato chips
  • French fries
  • Pretzels
  • Anything delicious

The thing is, if it were up to me those things are ALL I would eat. After pushing 100-pounds of stroller and children uphill in 95-degree heat and humidity for at least a mile, and then doing all my diastasis recti physical therapy so I don't look 6-months pregnant anymore, I think I deserve some fried chicken, French fries, and chocolate ice cream covered in Nutella. I mean, right?


<3 <3 <3


But, oh no, in order not to weigh 900 pounds I have to "snack" on "light cheese" and "fruit," which is not filling at all. I don't like diets, but I don't like the idea of taking up more than one subway seat at a time, either.

And my husband pulls this card on me, which is so unfair but he's a lawyer and uses tricks like this all the time: "I quit smoking to be healthier for you, so you owe it to me and to our children to eat healthy and not die young." He's such a jerk.

So, crappy grown-up cereal it is for breakfast, because apparently Eggs Benedict is not "healthy" in the strictest sense of the term. But here's the thing. The box claims that because the cereal is full of fiber and protein it will help me "Stay Fuller Longer!" Exact words. But an hour later and I'm ready to eat my own arm off from hunger. 

WHY WOULD BREAKFAST CEREAL LIE TO ME???

You know what doesn't lie to me? Bagels. Eggs Benedict. When I eat those for breakfast I'm actually full for the next 3-4 hours, not pretend, lying, hippie cereal quote-unquote "full."

When I eat Lucky Charms, I know exactly what I'm getting: a bowl full of delicious, followed by a sugar high, followed by the hangover-like remorse of a sugar crash. At least Lucky doesn't pretend otherwise, HEALTHY GROWN-UP CEREAL THAT DOESN'T EVEN TASTE GOOD. Asshole.


***

I won't lie to you: I have a Bota Box picnic essay up over at Moms Who Need Wine. Click here to check it out! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zombies!

I've read/watched enough end-of-the-world books/movies/shows to know that people with small children generally do not survive.


I blame the children.


I've got two tiny ones myself: the Juban Princeling, who is 3 1/2, and the Duke of Juban, who is four months. When - NOT IF! - the Zombiepocalypse happens, we are goners. 


And the Zombiepocalypse is going to happen. I know this because just a few blocks from my house is a cemetery next to a power plant. Do the math, people. I don't know what bureaucratic asshat allowed this zoning debacle, but I'm going to go on record this election year and say that I fully support any candidate with an anti-zombie platform. I know that's a harsh thing to say, but even we Liberals have to draw the line somewhere.


Lately I've been watching "The Walking Dead," and I have no doubt my kids and I will not survive when that power plant goes all melty and zaps those pissed off Confederate soldiers back to life. There's a reason why there are no babies or preschoolers running around with Rick & the Gang: they've all been eaten. Probably the parents, too. 




The South rises again.
(Photo from http://familyhalloweenhorror.tripod.com/id1.html)






Why People With Small Children Will Not Survive the Zombiepocalypse:


1. Children Are Slow, and They Slow You Down
Have you ever tried to go anywhere with a baby? Or a toddler? Or preschooler? Or multiple children at once? It's Sisyphean. Here's how a typical morning in our house goes on, say a random Sunday when we try to go out for breakfast:


Me: "Princeling, get your shoes on."
Princeling: "No! I don't want to go out!"
Me: "Don't you want pancakes?"
Princeling: "No! Pancakes are stupid! You're poop!"
Husband: "You can have bacon, too. And bring a toy."
Princeling: "No! I hate you! Go away!"
Duke: "Waaaaah!"
Me: "You work on getting the Princeling's shoes on while I give this one a bottle."
Princeling: "NOOOO!!!!!" *kicks off shoes*
Duke: *poops*


Forty-five minutes later we may be out the door. Or we may have given up, sent the Princeling to his room, and already be one finger into two tumblers of Scotch at 8:45 in the morning.


And it's not like we can pick the children up and run away from the zombies, either. At least, not run far, or fast, or for too long. The Princeling weighs around 35 pounds and the Duke is clocking in at a healthy 15 pounds. Even if my husband, who is strong, carried the Princeling on his back and I took the baby in the Ergo, how far could we realistically get while running for our lives? And what about supplies? 


As my friend Cali, whose two daughters are the same ages as my sons, explained the other day: "My step-father told me about this ridiculous compound he has in Tennessee and said if anything happens we should make our way there, and we'll be fine. But it takes me two hours just to get out the door to walk across Park Slope. How the hell am I supposed to make it all the way to Tennessee in an emergency?"


Me: "You know, those of us with small children are going to be the first to go in any kind of apocalyptic event. Like zombies."


Cali: "Well, we all have to go sometime. When you number's up, your number's up."




2. Children Cannot Sit Still. Or Be Quiet.
As anyone who has ever left their home, ever, can tell you: children are loud and they run around a lot. 


Even my kids, who are relatively well-behaved, have only so much quiet and stillness inside them. If we have to hide from zombies there is no way I can make the Princeling stay silent long enough to let a herd pass us by. Like most kids his age, the Princeling enjoys doing the opposite of what we say. If we said, "Princeling! You MUST be silent and NOT MOVE until we say so, or else zombies will eat us alive!" He will shout "NO!" and run away just to prove we're not the boss of him. 


And forget the Duke. He's just a baby. Babies are cute, but they are also kind of dumb and lack any sense of self-preservation. If he can't even figure out not to roll off the changing table, there is just no way he's going to survive a zombie attack.




3. Children Are Delicious. SO I'VE BEEN TOLD.
At least twice that I can remember, "True Blood" - which is nothing if not realistic - has referenced how delicious little kids are. There was that one time Eric and Pam babysat for Arlene's kids, and commented about how much they wished they could eat them; and in a recent episode a guy had been thrown into Authority prison for eating newborns.


And at least once in "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" a reference is made to finding a nice, tasty toddler for Spike.


Now, zombies aren't the most practical of creatures, but even zombies have to have enough of a sense of smell to be able to pick out a succulent baby over, say, a stringy old person who reeks of hemorrhoid ointment and denture cream.


And no, that was not a suggestion to slather your children in hemorrhoid ointment and denture cream. 






How about you all? What are your strategies for the imminent zombiepocalypse? Besides grabbing your neighbors' babies and throwing them at the zombie masses while you make your escape YOU SICK PUPPIES.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Angelfish

My husband and I do not consider ourselves helicopter parents. We're too lazy for that. If a reality show were to spontaneously appear in our home, my soundbite would be, "Get off your ass and get it yourself." 


And yes, I do speak to my 3 1/2-year old, the Juban Princeling, that way, and no, I don't care what you think about that.


Even if we wanted to be helicopter parents, he wouldn't let us. The Princeling is so independent-minded he would have gotten his own apartment when we brought him home from the hospital if he didn't absolutely need us to change his diapers and feed him. And even then we suspect he was just humoring us.


We're fine with that. We're not the type of parents to encourage our kids to depend on us because it's just so sweet and we need to be needed or something like that. We love our children, and we love them more when they do shit themselves and leave us alone.


So I signed the Princeling up for swim classes every Saturday this summer. Because knowing how to swim is important, especially for us, because we're from Florida and my parents have a pool and my mother-in-law's condo development has a pool and my husband and I would rather splash about than hold our children so they don't drown.


We had the choice of signing up for one of three levels of "Angelfish" classes: Angelfish Plus, for 3-5 year olds who can swim without an adult; Angelfish, for 3-5 year olds who can't swim but can go in the water without a parent or guardian (...I don't know, either, so don't ask me); and Angelfish with Caregiver, for 3-5 year olds with their parent or guardian. I let the Princeling choose which one he wanted, and to my utter shock he said he wanted me in the water with him. 


Oh, yay. Because if there's one thing a 36-year old mother of two, with hypothyroidism, who has had three major abdominal surgeries in the past three years, wants, it is to wear a bathing suit in public.


But I love my son. Angelfish with Caregiver it was.






Photo by Heinz Albers





(Note to the mom in the class after us: just because you have the body for it does not make it appropriate to wear a skimpy string bikini to your child's swim class. Save that shit for "MILFs Gone Wild" or whatever.)

For class, the kids have to wear a floatation device that sort of makes them look like tiny Transformers. I think this is because the instructors realize they are in Park Slope and probably most of us parents are too drunk at 11am on a Saturday morning to keep our kids' heads above water for half an hour.

Despite having part of Optimus Prime strapped to his back, at his first lesson the Princeling would bob under water every time I let him go, sputtering back up and grasping for me with this look on his face that can only be described as a combination of terror and amazement. (AKA "Roller Coaster Face.")

At his second lesson we did something called floating airplanes, and somehow the Princeling actually managed to hold still and be a kick-ass floating airplane. And I told him so. He was the best damn floating airplane in the 11am Saturday Angelfish with Caregiver class, y'all. I'm not saying he's the next Michael Phelps...but I bet Michael Phelps didn't suck at floating airplane, you know?



Then we played a game where the parents had to keep throwing little rubber duckies ahead of our kids and let the kids do their "reach and pulls" to "swim" to them. And I held tight to the Princeling while he did his reach and pulls and kicked me under water. Finally he turned around and said, "Mommy! Let! Me! Go!"


And I protested, because, sputtering and grasping. But he fought me and pushed at me until I had no choice but to let him go.


And he swam.


Not well, and not far. But he swam. My little angelfish. 


All I had to do was let go.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ghost Mommy

My 3 1/2-month old baby, the Duke of Juban, has a Ghost Mommy.


I don't really believe in ghosts. When I told my Harry Potter Wife a few years ago that I want to do a "haunted castles of Europe" tour for our honeymoon, it was with the idea (at least on my part) that we'd get a good laugh. I believe in creaky floorboards, howling winds, and overactive imaginations, but I don't believe in ghosts.


I also don't believe in angels, or guardian angels, or things like that. I'm a sort of Buddhist/Jewish/non-theist/none of your damn business. (A non-theist is not the same as an atheist. But, again, none of your damn business.)


Still. I freely admit I could be wrong about pretty much everything in life, including the existence or not of ghosts and angels. 


And I think the Duke might have a Ghost Mommy, or guardian angel, or something.




"Twinkle, twinkle, little star..."
By Gallowglass (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons




Yesterday morning the husband told me he heard the Duke chatting to himself - not crying, but chatting happily in that cute baby way - around 5am, roughly two hours before he wakes up for the day. (Yes, we do know how lucky we are, not to rub it in or anything.) When he flicked on the video monitor he saw the Duke chatting and staring at something OR SOMEONE! outside his crib, which is highly unusual since the Duke usually sleeps (and dream chats) facing the wall. He's a baby, and babies like walls. At least, my babies like walls. My older child, the now 3 1/2-year old Juban Princeling, had an entire relationship with a brick wall in the apartment we lived in when he was born, two moves ago. So when we watch the Duke on the video monitor in a totally non-creepy or helicopter way, we've noticed he generally favors the wall next to his crib and not the entire rest of his room, including the corner with the monkey nightlight. Who needs a monkey nightlight when you have a bare wall? Certainly not MY son! Monkey nightlights are for assholes, not for the youngest child of Brooklyn's favorite wino!


So when my husband saw the Duke cooing happily with the air, that was strange enough. 


Stranger, still, was my husband swearing he heard a woman humming to the Duke, and the Duke going quietly back to sleep.


Now, I've gone over before how no one has their best brains on in the wee hours of the morn, and my wonderful husband is no exception. We live in an apartment in New York City - the humming could have been anything.


INCLUDING THE HUMMING OF A GHOST MOMMY PUTTING MY BABY BACK TO SLEEP.


Why not?


Later that same day I left the Duke happily napping in his room, with the door closed, when I took the Princeling and his friend downstairs to play. YES, I TOOK THE VIDEO MONITOR, STOP NAGGING ME YOU JUDGEY MCJUDGERSONS. I didn't hear anything on the monitor, but when I checked it I noticed the Duke was awake. Awake and happy and quiet. We went upstairs...and his door was open. I didn't open it. No one else was home.


Since there is no way even the most gifted of 3 1/2-month olds (of which mine certainly qualifies) can climb out of their cribs, get to their bedrooms doors, open the doors, and then climb back into their cribs I have to assume it was Ghost Mommy.


Am I jealous? No. As any normal mother will tell you, every child needs at least four parents, maybe more. I would not mind a few extra parents living in my house, helping with the kids, not getting paid, and certainly not having sex with my husband. So if Ghost Mommy can soothe my baby at 5am and make him go back to sleep, and she forgets to shut the door every now and then, I can live with that. 


If she wants to change poopy diapers and watch both kids while I make a Tasti-D-Lite run, that would be cool, too. 


Do you believe in ghosts and/or guardian angels? Why or why not?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Idiot Box

One nice thing about summer - besides baseball, mojitos, and key lime pie, which are pretty much summer's only redeeming qualities as far as I'm concerned - is the lack of TV on TV, allowing my husband and I to catch up on shows we otherwise would probably never get to watch because we're too busy watching other shows.




By Photographer: Hana Kirana (Flickr.com - image description page) [Public domain or CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons




During any given TV season, we can be found watching:
Dancing With the Stars (well, I watch, my husband complains) (but he secretly watches, and that's how he's able to accurately predict the judges' scores each week)
How I Met Your Mother
Cougartown
The Middle
Modern Famly
Suburgatory (which I only watch for Jeremy Sisto)
Don't Trust the B- in Apartment 23
30 Rock
Community
Up All Night
Top Chef
Louie
Portlandia


And, when there are new episodes online:
The Guild
The (Mis)Adventures of Awkward Black Girl


That's a lotta TV for one couple with two itty bitty children.


We're also too cheap to subscribe to premium channels, and by "too cheap" I mean Time Warner already has dibs on our most vital organs and one of our children (I won't say which one), and yet the service is kind of shitty. Kind of really shitty. So we're unwilling to shell out our other child and still wind up living in boxes under the Brooklyn Bridge just so we can get HBO, when Netflix will send us HBO shows for less than half the cost. Sure, we get them about 18 years after they've aired, but so what? Game of Thrones is timeless.


The problem with doing it this way, though, is we go through an entire season in less than a week. We wrapped up season 2 of Treme in about four nights and season 1 of GoT in less than a week. After tonight it will have taken us all of two nights to get through season 1 of Bored to Death (Brooklyn, holla!)


And then we have to wait a whole year for the next season to come out on DVD.


And if you're thinking that we can just pirate or bootleg stuff off the internets, well, my friend, THAT IS HIGHLY ILLEGAL AND WE WOULD NEVER EVER DO THAT, DO YOU HEAR ME FCC?




I <3 the FCC




Also, we tried that and it didn't work. For a long time we were all caught up on True Blood for free, but some wonderful, puppy-loving, highly attractive and clearly intelligent person over at the FCC must have caught on to all these nasty, no-goodnik pirating sites and shut them down. (I swear to god, if I don't get my Eric Northman fix soon I will cut a bitch. Not you at the FCC, I love you and want to have your babies, and by the way, have you lost weight? You look fantastic.)


So if you watch GoT the way god intended - on HBO - or Treme, or Boardwalk Empire (next in our Netflix queue after BtD), or Carnivale (after BE), please don't tell me what happens. I need something to keep me occupied next summer. (The chef and the jazz guy are totally going to hook up, right? NO, DON'T TELL ME!)


How do you get your fix of your favorite shows? 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I'm Afraid of Siri

For Mother's Day my husband insisted I get a new iPhone 4S. With Siri. My argument against this was, if Siri can't change diapers, massage my feet, or get me a table at Le Bernardin, then she's useless.


Also, I have a crippling fear of robots. I've seen 2001: A Space Odessy and all the Terminator movies, I know what's up.


I got a Siri anyway.


My fear of robots started when I was 7 years old and went to see Superman III with my family and hid my face in my mother's shoulder during that part at the end where the giant supercomputer turns that lady into a robot who shoots lasers out her eyes. My mother, helpful as always, narrated for me what I was missing by hiding and not looking, because if there's anything more terrifying to a 7-year old than watching a lady robot shoot lasers out her eyeballs, it's being told by your mom about it. My mom wasn't matter-of-fact, either. Or sympathetic. She was gleeful. "She turned into a ROBOT!" with this tone that sounded like, "I cannot possibly be more excited to destroy your sense of security and safety, and to stay awake with you for the next three weeks while you don't sleep! Also, there really is a boogeyman under your bed who wants to eat you, and the next time you refuse to eat broccoli I'm going to sell you to Gypsies!"


Fun fact: A few years ago, as a 30-something adult, I tried watching Superman III for the first time since I was 7, and I couldn't do it. 


Since then I have what I consider to be a healthy fear of robots, and Siri is no exception. The Terminator movies aren't just good entertainment, people. They are dire warnings, and possibly predictions!


IT IS A SHORT, STRAIGHT LINE FROM THIS





TO THIS


(Photo from: http://www.nakedfanmail.com/tag/the-terminator/)


Short. Straight. Line. People.




Me: "Siri, are you self-aware?"
Siri:








Yes, I have Siri call me "Your Highness." I want her to remember who's boss.












If you had told me when I was 7 years old that one day I would own a phone that was actively plotting the destruction of all humankind, I would totally have believed you.








Start stockpiling water and supplies, especially guns, and for goodness' sake, where is John Connor?

Friday, June 15, 2012

An Open Letter To: The New Tenants

Dear New Tenants in Our Old Apartment:


I know you intercepted both a package and a card meant for our new baby. I don't know why you chose to keep both these things, despite my note on your door with my phone number and email address so I could come pick them up. 


I also know you cashed the $200 check my aunt included in the card meant for the baby. That takes a lot of balls, New Tenants. Unless you coincidentally have the exact same name as my youngest child - which is highly unlikely - I have no idea why or how your bank went ahead and deposited $200 into your account. I can only hope someone there catches this oversight at some point and fines you $200.


Here's what else I hope for you:


I hope every time you get in line at the supermarket, the person ahead of you pays in pennies.


I hope every time you try to have a picnic in the park, a sudden thunderstorm breaks.


I hope you get an infestation of mosquitoes this summer. (I used to live there. It's entirely possible.)


I hope you develop chronic ingrown toenails.


I hope every time you place a food order it gets delivered to you missing one item.


I hope your laptop, portable DVD player, smart phone, iPad, e-reader, or other personal entertainment device dies five minutes into a long flight.


I hope you never get a table at Al Di La.


I hope you never get a cab in the rain.


I hope your DVR always cuts off your favorite shows 2 minutes before the ending.


And mostly, I hope that someone does this to you some day, so you'll know how it feels when people try to celebrate something special with you, but accidentally send gifts to your old address, and the people there keep your stuff instead of calling or emailing you to come get them.


Jerks.


Most sincerely,
The Previous Tenant

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

So It Will Make Us Mad

My brother, Mr. Funny, is pretty unflappable, generally speaking. He spent a chunk of time in college working at a store called Fairvilla (warning: link NSFW), which featured things like a people cage, medical-grade horse-size speculums, and something called "The Simian." 


So it takes a lot to shock him.


Something like hearing his sister say the following sentence:


"There was a part in the blood orgy that reminded me of my children."


Let me explain.


Saturday night I went with my husband and his brother, Gilligan, to "Sleep No More," which is probably one of the most awesome experiences of my life. It is, to paraphrase my cousin-in-law, like "MacBeth" on peyote.


An entire building in Chelsea was turned into the hotel set, and the actors go from room to room performing (very) loosely interpreted scenes from The Scottish Play. Guests are given creepy masks to wear, and are instructed to break off from their group and not to speak. At all. People who've been to "Sleep No More" have varying philosophies on how to do it best so that you see all the scenes and don't miss anything important, but honestly, even given the three hour window you have to wander around at will there is no humanly way to catch everything.




The Duke of Juban models the creepy "Sleep No More" mask.




So that's the situation I found myself in on Saturday night: Running silently around a dark, creepy hotel in a "Scream"-like mask, chasing actors covered in stage blood and getting grave dirt all over my feet. (Note to self: Don't wear open-toed shoes to "Sleep No More.")


Naturally there is a blood orgy. I mean, duh. How could there not be a blood orgy at something like this?


And part of the blood orgy reminded me of my kids. I won't say why, but if you've been to "Sleep No More" you know what I'm talking about and you know I'm not a pervert. Well, I probably am a pervert, but not because the blood orgy reminded me of my kids. In fact, I think I am the real victim here. Who wants to think about their precious little babies at a blood orgy?


Charles Manson might. But I am not Charles Manson. Not even a little bit.


Besides, my husband and I were paying a very nice young woman $12 an hour to think about our children for us. The last thing I wanted was to be reminded of them at all, but especially not during a blood orgy. Now, suddenly, I couldn't help but think of them.




The Juban Princeling in the popular "Sleep No More" mask/Darth Vader pajamas combo




One thought lead to another and before I knew it my maternal instinct told me the nice-seeming young woman watching our children was probably a Charles Manson-like pervert who was at this very moment kidnapping my babies and bringing them to a blood orgy. Which is how I wound up being one of the jerks at "Sleep No More" who hid in the stairwell to check my phone. 


As if a Charles Mason-like pervert is going to send me a text message saying, "Got your kids. Blood orgy. Be back by 11."


I tried to shake it off, but the baby carriages in the psych ward didn't exactly comfort me.


Anyone else get accidentally reminded of children, or other family members, during really inappropriate moments?