Losing My Baby


We used to call Zuki “The Prince,” because he’d never do anything on his own. Eating, pissing, thinking – it was all too much work for him to do for himself, especially when his grandmothers were willing to help him out with all of it. I thought the best way to teach him how to cope and own up, was to give him a younger sibling to fight with – or – fight for. Thus Samu was created. Little did I know that we created an even bigger tyrant.


“The Dictator,” my mother calls him. And to some degree, she hit it right on the nose. He’s bossy, arrogant, cocky and smart enough to know how to pull the right strings so you can’t stay angry at him for long. Honestly, I think that he actually believes everybody on Earth serves a purpose – to serve him in some way.


The other day, he asked me if the Scholastic Book Fair at school accepted Library cards because he had no cash to buy anything.


When I explained to him that a Library card is not a credit card, he just assumed I’d give him cash or buy what he asked for.


Silly rabbit. As he talked his baby talk and batted his eyelashes to get me to cave in, I told him he can’t get everything he wants by begging. Sure enough, somehow, he managed to walk out of that Book Fair with a Ninjago book that cost me seven bucks. I don’t know how he did it – considering he cleaned me out, literally, my wallet was empty.


Then last night, he ran over to show me his loose tooth. He was very excited but I – was suddenly melancholy.


Already? I thought.


For me, when the teeth go, that’s when it all changes. And so, I took this picture as the last I’ll see of this baby-toothed smile.

Loose front bottom

And as we still struggle to get him out of diapers at night (he still wakes up wet), part of me is holding on to that part that makes him my baby and so I don’t push it. But then I realize, he’ll be six-years old in less than 24 hours – I better get over it.


From babies to boys – boys into gentlemen.


Well – that’s the plan, anyway.


Like my socks?

That’s What I Want


I really miss payday. I don’t miss having a day job or all the other “joys” that come with it – just payday. And not the entire day either, just the part of picking up the check and then punching out for lunch. Since my status changed to full time “mom” six years ago, I hadn’t had a “payday” until this year. Two freelance gigs that each paid about a week’s pay at my last job, which was executive doormat.


With the money, I bought my iPhone and a pair of winter boots – the rest I stashed for a rainy day. Okay, so that the rainy day came within 72 hours of getting paid and came in the form of play dates, goody bag goods and gummy vitamins and so it got me thinking – maybe it’s time I earn a steady paycheck, again.


All full time homemakers go through this struggle, I imagine. Money is always an issue, but aside from the money, there’s the social aspect for the homemaker, too. It took me a couple of years to get used to dressing like I was going camping 24/7, so when I suited up for the last gig, I was tempted to falsetto “I’m back in the saddle, again!”


For two mornings in a row, I washed my hair, wore pressed pants and – makeup. No, it didn’t rain – as the saying goes when you do something out of the ordinary. But there was this little hurricane that passed through…


Regardless, the job that I did in October was – exhilarating. Meeting new people always is and the fact that they knew nothing about parenting made it even more challenging. They were a group of young, hip twenty-year old kids from Japan, on a tour of New York. They were adorable – giggly, innocent and impeccably fashionable. Their enthusiasm for life was energizing.  In their company, everything held promise – life was positive. Remember that feeling? Yeah, me neither.


Well, it’s been a long time for a lot of things. Like laughing for the sake of laughing. One young lady in the group attempted to say something in English and it came out, “Aaaah – aaaah – ahhh.” The person who she was trying to talk to, replied, “Aaah, aah, ahh,” and a laughfest erupted. Everybody was giggling. The last time I giggled that much, I had the munchies ten minutes later.


I did laugh when my friend handed me an envelope of cash for my part of the tour. It was more like an evil scientist cackle but that was because I was giddy with the prospect of spending it all on me. A haircut, new threads perhaps and shoes – free of guilt.


Well, one out of three ain’t bad.


At this point in my life, I’ve realized that money, like time, chocolate and sleep cannot be stashed for personal use at a later time. I’ve given birth to children – and they take everything – like the government.

36 Japanese students waiting for an elevator at Bergdorf



The Siren Song


I can’t shop at the supermarket anymore because I’m afraid of hearing this one bad cover tune. Two times in a row, I was in Stop and Shop and was subjected to a very boring version of some chick singing “Drive.” Originally, it was recorded by the Cars and even for them, it was a stretch since it wasn’t sung by Mr. Ocasek. But this woman totally demolished the song and Stop and Shop just -won’t – stop – playing – it.


I could Google this song so you know what I’m talking about but that would mean voluntarily hearing it again. I’d rather listen to my kids fart – at least that’s entertaining. At the time, it did occur to me to use the Music DNA app on my iPhone but I wind up looking like  a fool – not hard to do, I know but it didn’t seem the right time to call even more attention to myself since I had Halloween chocolate on sale and sanitary napkins in my cart.


Hopefully, the song will never reach Samu’s ears because he’s like a digital recording gadget. Whether it’s a song, commercial, movie score or video game background tune – he’ll hum it like a digital loop until you’re ready to put yourself in a straight jacket. He must do it in school, too and I’ll find out next week during Parent Teacher conferences – but I already heard his Kumon tutor comment that “He is very…noisy.”


Sometimes, I can tune out his noise pollution because I’m powerless to shut him up. Kind of like when I’d let that telephone recording loop over and over again to “please check the number and dial again” while I was busy actually looking up the number.


Then it occurs to me how annoying the noise is and I just feel like this:


Gas Wars


In this house, gas is plentiful – unfortunately, it’s not the kind that fuels cars. The lines for gasoline in New York are outrageous. Tempers are at an all time high and there’s an eerie tension that permeates through the windshield of camped out drivers in line for gas that stretched for seven blocks.


“Gas Zombies,” my husband calls them.


And they do have a glazed look in their eyes, sniffing for fresh gasoline. They look like slaves as they lug back a full gas can to their car parked somewhere populated, I’m sure. Is it smart we trust these morons to pump gas in the middle of the street? Idiots like the ones my husband witnessed in the “Gas Can” line with an empty five-gallon water jug. Fortunately, the police pulled them out of line and explained to them that it’s illegal. Can you believe, they put up a fight.


A quarter mile line of cars waiting for gas


Taxis and commercial vehicles, I can understand. It’s their livelihood. But the other folks? Where do they need to go that they need their cars so badly? At this rate, everybody’s going to be out of gas – as it is, private cab companies are telling their customers there are no vehicles to service them because they’re all out of gas. Do we wait for 911 to tell us there are no ambulances to help them for the same reason before people get off their fat asses?


Any day now, I’m expecting Lord Humungus to show up at the Hess station and demand all the drivers with full gas tanks to just “Walk Away.”


We will spare you your lives, just leave the gasoline.


Instead, I saw a woman – probably in her fifties – in her walking outfit and going down the middle of the street doing something I pictured my mother would do: she was going from car to car, yelling at the drivers to get out and walk like everybody else!


If I had my tuba with me, I’d have walked behind and cheered her on. Hope she doesn’t get shot.


Another WHAT?


An entire week. That’s how long the schools in New York City will be closed due to Hurricane Sandy. I don’t ever recall the city shutting down for more than a few days for anything. Blackouts, a terrorist attack and a subway strike didn’t stop us longer than three days, but we’ve decided that due to “inclement” weather, we won’t be back in business for a week.


This isn’t the New York that I grew up in.


Then again, according to my Manhattan dwelling friend, people south of 34th Street have no electricity. A lot of residents in Long Island City (a twenty minute walk to the West) were flooded. And in Sunnyside Gardens, giant trees blocked traffic and consequently, Trick or Treaters, from crossing. That’s new…kinda. So, there still being no subway service and limited air traffic, although longer than the shutdown from the MTA strike of 2005 and the air traffic ban after 9/11 – is a little forgivable. What the heck, it’s not like I have to be somewhere.


Obviously, I underestimated this storm. Perhaps it was the name: Sandy – it sounded, so – friendly. Like a Karate frenzied squirrel who lives in Bikini Bottom.


Aside from the boys driving me to my nineteenth (hundredth) nervous breakdown, I can say this time of incubation has lead me to do some “questionable” deeds. Like making homemade pasta of all things. By Tuesday, I had enough of cooking for thirty minutes to be told that everybody was hungry an hour later. Homemade pasta sits like a fifty-pound rock in your gut, apparently.


Have some Lasagne made with one pound of flour, you tapeworm!!


Something I’d never do in my right state of mind. Call somebody a tapeworm that is.


This is what “The Anvil” looked like.

Eggplant lasagne with homemade pasta

I love Fabio. He makes my dinner chore easy. Then again, if I got to do vodka shots with Lou Diamond Philips while making Vodka Sauce, I’m sure my family would never ask what’s for dinner because they’d never have the chance! Seriously, watch the clip and tell me the guy hasn’t gotten hotter with age. The rest, I leave to your own interpretation.


After being cooped up for a couple of days, there was finally a break in which we explored the damage to our neighbors north of Queens Boulevard. I felt bad for these car owners but in all honesty, I was thinking, “Thank God it wasn’t me.”

Where’d you park the car, Louisssssss?

Enough to make an Ent cry. Not that it would ever stop these two from harassing people for candy.

Darth Maul is out of the closet


Along Came Sandy


This is the first time in my puny life that the city was shut down over a hurricane. School’s closed, the subway’s shutdown and even the stock market has taken a day off from making 99 percent of the people miserable. Is it necessary? I could argue with it. I’ve just been out to get milk and honestly, I’ve been through rain storms more treacherous than this. (This was before the winds really kicked in at 4pm. I just witnessed my neighbor’s shed demolish into bits).

But I get it.

The shutdown is to keep the idiots off the streets. Not dumb-asses like me – I’m talking about the crazies like the eighty-pound grandma who insisted on using her umbrella against 60mph winds. What the heck was she going shopping for anyway – saltines and butter?
People like her make me appreciate my own mother, who left me a voice message saying, “I’m taking some pills and going to bed until the storm is over.” Made sense. But then she followed it with, “Remember to take a bath. And save the water…in case you have to use it for doing laundry.”

I was afraid she was going to give me permission to drink it.

Naturally, I’m drinking something else and that’s thanks to all the immigrant bodega owners of Sunnyside. They don’t give a shit what the Mayor says. Bad weather, black outs, zombie apocalypse – nothing’s going to stop them from selling beer, milk and Lotto tickets to their loyal customers.

All I can say is, there’s gonna be an East Coast population boom in July.

At least Hurricane Sandy didn’t hamper any plans for us this year. By the seat of my pants, I got through a big outdoor event for the PTA and “Swanoween” – an over-the-top Halloween party thrown by my friend, Swan.

Zuki and Samu look forward to it every Halloween, even though it makes them break out into a cold sweat. A basement set up with life size figures of Jason killing Freddy Krueger while Mike Myers watches, will do that to you.

Every year, Samu summons up the courage to see it but he winds up munching all the Cheez Doodles instead. As if they’d give him cheesy balls.


To the moon!


Samu the Mu-mmy
Darth Maul needs to tie his shoe laces
Why are you constipated?
Who-Invited-This-Guy and the Narcissistic Grinch

Birthday Tradition


Anything done two years in a row is a tradition in my book. It seems “Dinosaur Barbecue” is the latest addition when it comes to birthday celebrations. Last year, we took Zuki to the Museum of Natural History followed by ribs with actual meat on them. But considering we’d been to the museum twice this summer alone, we opted for a different activity – a carousel ride. Yes, I saw the potential hazard of loading boys full of barbecue onto a spinning ride but I buffered it with a two mile walk.

Genius of me, huh?

Disclaimer: Until I get the hang of how WordPress loads pictures, I’m not sure how this post is going to look.

We started with lunch even though I knew we’d be heavily weighed down with food – and farts. We discovered the “Kids Menu” at Dinosaur Barbecue is perfect for peckish eaters – between that and the brisket we ordered, we finished it off pretty neatly.

We probably wouldn’t have had to take home the Mac n’ Cheese if my husband and I didn’t split the additional Hickory smoked bacon, lettuce and fried green tomato sandwich. Thank God, for makin’ bacon. That’s all I gots to say about that.

And the beer. Can I tell you – if my home brew hadn’t exploded – this is what I’d be aiming for. Lagunita’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin. It was so good, I would swim in it. Of course, I’d drown because it’s like 7.50 ABV – but if I had to drown in anything, better that than shit, right? Plus if you order a pitcher, they give you…kid sized pint glasses. Not that we would ever share the goodness with our kids. They just got to pose with it.

Moving on to the carousel. We took a long hike along the Hudson River to the “Totally Kid Carousel” in Harlem. The “horses” and animals of the carousel were designed by children! It’s the sweetest, wackiest, most imaginative carousel that even Tim Burton couldn’t have come up with. The ride is only a buck and the music is not your standard “insane-clown-carousel” music – this is Harlem, man.

From the carousel, we made our way back down to the “Harlem Tavern,” for dessert. I don’t know why, but I feel like the name is an oxymoron. It’s like saying the “Buckingham Crib”…yo. But if any hood knows how to make a lively beer garden, it gotsa be Harlem.

Real vanilla bean ice cream.

What’s the verdict?

Now, we’re not exactly “Run Streak, Kim” but we managed to walk from the restaurant at 125th street along the Hudson River walk to 155th street, looped back towards the carousel at 145th street and ended at the tavern on 116th street. Approximately 2.3 miles if we walked straight through but of course, there was plenty of monkey business. The last ten blocks, the boys needed musical encouragement from my iPhone on speakers. I pumped up C&C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now” because I didn’t think “Eye Of The Tiger” would go over well with fellow pedestrians along Malcolm X Boulevard.

The grand finale was the Lego store in Rockefeller Center. I caught a cat nap on the benches while my husband dealt with the insanity of the store.

Tourists can be tiring, but not as much as newly turned eight-year old boys, apparently.




The Chinese character for the word busy is 忙. It is “kill” and “heart,” which makes sense because when you’re busy, you’re basically crowding your soul. Smart, them Chinese. There have been times in my life that I looked at my plate and realized I went crazy at the buffet. It seemed there was no way I was going to get everything done without disappointing somebody. And that’s the thing about being busy – somebody winds up disappointed. Somebody gets their heart broken – or killed, as in the Chinese character, which shows they have a flare for dramatics, too.

So I’m not busy – busy is a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I’m swamped. My volunteering hours have cut deep into my family time, blogging time, reading time and let’s not mention house cleaning. As for dinner? Hah! I shamefully admit to having served yogurt one night as an entree.

Bridget said it best in her post about volunteering and school fundraising. It is degrading and self-defeating – even more so, when I’m helping the candy company dangle prizes in our kids’ faces to get them motivated to sell. It would be worth it if I could promise the funds were going to something meaningful like musical instruments or to refurbish the library or purchase new gym equipment. But the sad truth is, most students in public school have a better chance of throwing up with Justin Bieber on stage than having music in their curriculum. The amount of chocolate we’d have to sell to replace worn books would finally drown Augustus Gloop and forget gym equipment – we don’t even have a gym teacher!

I can’t complain really – on a positive note, I watched the season premier episode of “The Walking Dead” without waking up in a cold-sweat nightmare because it was overridden by fundraising chocolate dilemmas. I doubt any of the parents we represent would appreciate that until they take a bite of the “Nutty Pleasures” and realize they named it – literally.

At times, I wonder – had I skipped the last meeting where I was suckered into becoming one of the Graeae Witches, I’d have time to do things for myself – cut my curling toenails, trim my Mr. Snuffleupagus eyebrows, take a five-minute shower – instead of hanging myself out to dry.

But my husband and the boys try to convince me we’re doing a good thing – making a difference, making changes. And sometimes, like when the security guard gets a crowd going with “We’re Going To Kentucky,” or “Punchinello”, I can feel a shimmer of hope. Then there’s Samu who put his search for rhyming words to use after learning a new word – dental hygienist. Apparently, that rhymes with penis – enough said.

In the search for the right words, I’ve knocked off “busy” and decided that in it’s place, I’ll just say I’m – involved. It’s a minor adjustment that keeps me sane while I wonder if any of my sleepless nights is helping anything at all. At the end of the day, I see this drawing that tells me that I’ve been going about it all wrong. All I needed – was a marker.

My comutiy HeLper is A Techer. She uses a marker.