Preschool Procrastination

October 17th, 2013

It started almost a year ago. I was on a playdate, and one mom-friend said, “So, where are you sending Trixie to preschool?”

At the time my daughter wasn’t even two. I thought, “Um…huh? Preschool is for three-year-olds, right? Am I really supposed to figure that out now?”

The answer—much to my surprise and dismay—was, yes.

Now, I have a lot of mommy friends and, to be honest, I let them do most of the dirty work. When one friend went on a tour of a pristine Montessori oasis on Brooklyn’s gritty Third Avenue, I sat back and waited for the report—that’s how I heard about every other reputable school. There was still some heavy lifting on my part though. Turns out if you want to apply to preschool you have to visit the school yourself first.

First up, we went to a slightly hippie, play-based school for our tour (and by “tour” I mean “interview”). All I knew of the school, in addition to the hefty price of admission, was that each parent had to volunteer seventeen hours per semester. Seventeen hours! And pay tuition! Yeah. Still, we gussied up and set out to wow the admissions staff.

Wow them we did not. Trixie spent most of the time picking her nose, but I was the screw up. I was nervous. I talked a lot. Tried too hard to be funny. At one point I randomly blurted out, “You don’t let the kids go outside, do you?” The woman looked at me like I’d asked to bum a cigarette. Like, maybe I lock my daughter in the basement—which might’ve explained why Trixie was standing in the corner of the office screaming, “Don’t look at me!” That’s what she does when she’s making a poop. (And who doesn’t like a little privacy when they’re pooping on a preschool interview?!)

Needless to say, we didn’t get a letter of acceptance. Still, I couldn’t blame it all on the interview. Like most preschools in the neighborhood (city? country?), this particular establishment had guidelines. Checklists, forms—weeding tools, if you will. They wanted to know what we, as parents, could bring to the program. What were our family’s goals for preschool? What were our child’s strengths and weaknesses? Ultimately, they were looking for children who would “bring something” to the two’s program. So I guess we didn’t bring what they were looking for—a diaper full of sh*t wasn’t it.

Another nearby school along a tree-lined block in Park Slope had a pleasant, eclectic vibe. I went on the tour—sans nose-picking daughter—and the school seemed great. Except…then I started asking friends about it. One mom told me parents often begin lining up at 1 am the night before registration to get a spot. And I’m talking bone-chilling February here. Seriously? I mean, I’ve never even queued up for a concert, let alone preschool.

Ultimately, I decided not to worry. I skipped the midnight line and put my preschool-addled brain on hiatus. I saw the forest for the trees and realized we’d find something. A co-op, a playgroup, the preschool where they give out razorblades at snacktime—something would materialize. A few weeks later, I decided to call the school with the eclectic vibe. Once I’d missed the 1 am registration, why not? Maybe Trixie could be waitlisted. To my surprise, the program director said, “Oh, sure! We still have a few spaces!” I was floored. After all those visits and interviews and applications, we managed to get into a great school.

And so, with months to spare, the preschool craze came to an end. Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of summ–

Wait, what about kindergarten…?

[Published in New York Family Magazine]

Fish Tacos!

June 18th, 2013

Made some delicious fish tacos with friends the other night. Thanks to Joanna Goddard for this recipe!  The panco crust was inspired, and so much better than deep frying! Of course I made my own guac, because I’m a New Mexican and take guacamole very seriously! My friend made a fantastic cole slaw (with creme fraiche rather than mayo–brilliant!) and a light and refreshing corn and tomato salad. The whole thing was delicious, and quite pleasing to the eye!IMG_20130615_091041

Book Review: The Crazy Things Girls Do For Love

March 6th, 2012

It took me a while to like The Crazy Things Girls Do For Love by Dyan Sheldon. The cover alone is annoyingly whimsical and I’m wondering if that girl on the bike has to pee or she’s just too wild n’ crazy to use the foot pedals.

But, once I got past that, the book was a lot of fun. The three main characters–Sicilee, Maya, and Waneeda–are as different as spandex and sweatpants, but they have one thing in common: Cody Lightfoot! Swoon. They will do just about anything to win over the gorgeous transfer student, even if it means eating tofu and recycling paper (which, to the detriment of the book, is a HUGE imposition on each of them).

It was both funny and frustrating to watch their quest to become passionate individuals. That process was a slow one (motivated mostly by jealousy and one-upmanship), but while the girls are waving their energy efficient light bulbs to get Cody’s attention, Sheldon provides great tips and facts on doing your part for the environment; most of which aren’t thrown in your face, but woven into the story and character development.

Making the characters ignorant and with no real interest in the environment was clearly a device but I found it exaggerated. NONE of their friends or families or townsfolk seemed to be aware of our deteriorating planet and the effect that we, as people, have on it. Maya’s friends ditch her slumber party when she suggests conserving electricity by not watching movies, and the mere idea of skipping pepperoni pizza nearly gets Sicilee kicked out of the cool clique. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but is the idea of vegetarianism that abhorrent to people?

In the end, The Crazy Things Girls Do For Love was a light, fast read. The characters were endearing (though Waneeda seemed like an afterthought), and I enjoyed watching them grow and learn to become advocates. If a book’s purpose is to inspire the reader (and her parents, and her friends, and her teachers) then I hope this one succeeds. Also there are some handy resources for relevant documentaries (Food Inc, etc), eco-groups, and other books that might encourage more people to start caring about the planet. I thought I was doing my part, but there is always more you can do–eco bulbs, Meatless Mondays–so read her book and get a glimpse!

I Never Thought I’d Do That …

November 30th, 2011

5 Embarrassing (And Gross) Things I Do Now That I’m A Parent

The other day I was sharing my water bottle with my one-year-old, and when she handed it back to me the water was cloudy with food and spit and god knows what…but I drank it anyway. The fact that I was willing to overlook her backwash and cooties got me to thinking: What else am I willing to do as a parent that I never thought I would do?

Eat food she has spat out of her mouth. Sometimes it’s just easier than finding a trash can, or trying to stuff the food back in her mouth for the tenth time. It’s a lot like drinking her backwash … only chewier.

Sing and dance and embarrass the hell out of myself in public, (previously the most mortifying thought ever!) just to get a smile. As a child watching my own parents humiliate themselves (and me) in public, I swore I would never do this. I was wrong.

Become a human teething ring. I’ve never had a high threshold for pain, but once those teeth came it was impossible to avoid my daughter’s lightning quick jaws! And I’ve got endless bruises to prove it.

And a human furnace. In the cold winter months, I often put my daughter’s c-c-cold hands under my shirt to warm them up–I don’t even let my husband do that!

Give my phone number to total strangers, simply because they have a kid the same age as my daughter. For all I know I’m handing my digits to serial killers and stalkers, but if their one-year-old likes my one-year-old, it’s a date!

The list goes on. But what’s worse is how oblivious I usually am. When you’re a parent you just do these things. It’s not until a friend, sibling or spouse starts making fun of you that you finally realize–”Oh my god, I really did just pick my daughter’s nose and wipe it on my jeans.” Gross! But to be honest, I look forward to many more years of gross-outs and embarrassing behavior. Moms are like that.

**As seen in New York Family**

Goodbye Mimosa Brunches…

November 17th, 2011

Today I went through my inbox and unsubscribed to all the alerts that had been building up–concerts, readings, gallery openings. I don’t want to alarm any of you preggos out there, but the reality is your social life is about to dissolve. Bye-bye date night, hello diapers.

It may not be as grave as all that, but my husband and I used to get up on a Saturday morning (late morning, mind you), and wander the city aimlessly. Maybe stop for a drink, a movie, or a museum. Now we get up at 6:30am on Saturdays and spend the day wiping boogers and floating from playground to playground, envying the twenty-somethings enjoying a nice mimosa brunch. Going out to eat–even during the day–has become tricky, as Trixie likes to scream randomly when the mood strikes. She is an adorable, blue-eyed n’ pudgy ticking time bomb.

When I was pregnant, a friend said to me, “You’re going to change SO much.” She is younger, and probably didn’t realize that this was the most horrible thing she could have uttered. One of my biggest fears was exactly that–that I would “change” and no longer have my own personality and interests. It’s true that the last book I read was Click Clack Moo, and the new Jonathan Franzen novel is collecting dust on my bookshelf, and that I am at least three crises behind in some of my friends lives. But, I have managed to stay me–with a little work. Instead of scouring the Bowery Ballroom website for awesome shows to see, I check out Stereogum.com to see what new albums to download. I even manage to play them pretty loud after Trixie goes to bed. We rarely go to the movies anymore, but there’s always Netflix, and I still haven’t seen all the episodes of The Wire.

It’s a juggling act. So maybe I didn’t see the McQueen exhibit at the Met, and I probably won’t make it to Sleep No More, but I dress the same, my sense of humor is the same (still awesome), and I’ve got a cute baby girl who walks and giggles and says “mama.” All in all, I’d have to say it’s been a pretty fair trade.

As seen on the New York Family blog.

Chomp Chomp

October 13th, 2011

When Trixie bit me for the ten millionth time, I started to wonder: Is my daughter out to get me?

The culprit.

 

With seven chompers in her tiny mouth, her bite is not simply a “love nibble.” Quite the opposite, my legs are black and blue with her signature bite. And not just my legs–also my face, arms, boobs, collarbone and fingers. She’s a vicious beast. And our nanny told me the other day that Trixie knocked a kid over at the playground and tried to make off with his stroller! Whoa, what have I gotten myself into? Less than one year old and Trixie is about to go on trial (in my living room) for auto theft and assault charges.

She is still too young to really know what she’s doing, but when will she begin to realize that biting and hitting are wrong? So far, saying NO doesn’t work at all. I’ve even tried a few Time Outs which have proven to be excruciating for both of us–she cries, and I die inside watching her–so I won’t do much of that. Sometimes I try to act hurt when she bites me, crying and whatnot, but instead of guilt or remorse, Trixie just laughs. Basically, no matter what I do I get a giggle, which is great for my ego but dampens the effect of the educational process.

So what do I do? Yell, cry, withhold the boob, enforce Time Outs, or just ignore it?! Thankfully, these outbursts don’t happen all the timeusually just when I’m kind of distracted (emailing, cooking etc). Seems like the answer is simple, doesn’t it? Never get distracted, never get bitten. Case closed!

**Also posted on Born & Bred**

How To Entertain Baby On A Long Flight

August 10th, 2011

I can barely remember why I was so nervous about flying with a 3 month old baby. In fact, I’d give anything for the days when Trixie slept and fed through the flight. It literally couldn’t have been easier. But at 8 months, things have changed. Now, flying is practically an Olympic event. It takes stamina, hydration, agility–especially if you get the window seat. Trixie is a pretty good baby, but as she gets older she is getting more active and more curious. In other words, she is no longer content with sitting in my lap for four hours straight. Oh no, instead she wants to play with everything she’s not supposed to (cups full of ice, my row-mate’s hair), or cruise up and down the aisle. I was worried that the altitude might affect her ears, but so far that’s the least of my worriesI’m more concerned that she’ll kick the person next to me and break their nose! There’s not much advice I can give, but here are a few things that made flying a little easier for me the last time around:

1. Treat the SkyMall catalog as a toy. Tear out a page (preferably one of the boring ones advertising Harry Potter memorabelia or bunion massagers) and let your baby have at it. Apparently, nothing is more fun than crumpling up and shredding magazine pages.

2. If they’re standing, put your baby on the floor between your legs and let her play with the seat belt. That held her attention for a good 15 minutes until the Fasten Seat Belt light was reactivated.

3. Use the tray table as a desk. I like to sit Trixie in my lap and lay her toys out on the tray table, then I pretend it is her “office” and send her to “work” for a while. If you have toys with loops or hooks, you can fasten them to the tray table latch which helps keep things contained.

4. Use the bathroom as your personal VIP area. It may be a cramped, elbow-bruising way of changing diapers, but don’t forget there are mirrors in those teeny lavatories. What better way to pass the time than letting your vain little princes or princesses stare at themselves! Just keep an eye out for other bathroom-goers, you don’t want to make unnecessary enemies by holding up the queue.

5. Let ‘em be creepy. If staring down the guy in the seat behind you keeps your baby quiet for a little while longer, so be it. The guy might start to feel uncomfortable having a pudgy, wide-eyed baby ogling him from between the seats, but it’s a hell of a lot better than listening to that baby shriek at the top of her lungs.

**Also posted on Born and Bred**

TRANSKEI TERROR

May 4th, 2011

Screening and fundraiser this Saturday, May 7th @ Brooklyn Brainery in Carroll Gardens! Hope you can make it!

Ghazal

April 4th, 2011

My family has a small writing group, and my uncle Tad created our last assignment: Write A Ghazal. The Ghazal is an Arabic poem made up of several rhyming couplets, but the first and second line end with the same word, and each subsequent refrain ends with that first word again–if that didn’t make sense, it will, below. A traditional Ghazal is about love or pain, but then, what good poem isn’t?

I don’t pretend to be a poet, but here is my Ghazal. It’s called “Sigh” and is dedicated to my beautiful 5 month old daughter!

The weight of the world expelled in her sigh
Slow breath upon tiny chest, an innocent sigh.

Watch the sun set and her mood temper,
blinking eyes grow heavy, ever-resistant sigh.

See her father in those eyes/ fair hair,
mama’s presence mirrored in her sigh.

More long nights, fractured sleeping,
a glass of wine, a burdened sigh.

Nothing lasts forever, even tears,
years from now I’ll miss her sweet sigh.

Dear Mr. Cockroach

January 26th, 2011

I’m sorry I killed you. Well, not that sorry, because I wanted you dead, but it looked kind of painful as you writhed around in your post-Raid haze, so I’m sorry for that, from a humanitarian standpoint. I hope the toilet-flush took you to a better place, and you’ve been reincarnated as a butterfly or something lovely like that. Now, I have a quick question for you. Where did you come from? My cat found you in the bathroom, and now I can’t go in there without checking above, below, inside, and behind every surface. And then when you temporarily skidded away and hid in the radiator, I wondered if maybe you came from there? So, if you wouldn’t mind telling me how you got into my house, and more importantly, if you have any brothers or sisters, or children that I might find at a later date, PLEASE, be a dear and let me know. My sanity is dwindling.

Yours cordially,

Alex