Spring Breaking.

We did not go anywhere for spring break. And by anywhere, I mean we didn’t go past 6th Avenue. It was a true staycation.

We stayed. We played. We watched some videos. We had a couple playdates. We went to Trader Joe’s. And we did not get bored.

There are several actually worthwhile New York things to do within shouting distance of the fun apartment. And we did none of them. The weather did not know it was spring break, so there was not a lot of outside time. There was hanging in. The man of my dreams worked late. Twice.

And I did not succumb to alcoholism.

I worried a bit before spring break that it would be messy and grim — a true test of survival. But instead it was a nice, low-key week of doing little boy things.

See, being on spring break with girls looks like this:

Not my kitchen. Not my kids.

Not my kitchen. Not my kids.

Being on spring break with boys looks like this:

WWE Practice

WWE Cage Match

Or sometimes this:

They grow up so fast that he's ready to shave.

They grow up so fast that he’s ready to shave.

On Sunday night, as I tried to remember whose lunchbag is whose and which pants belong to which boy, I thought to myself, “Wow! That was easier than I thought! Hey, we did it! Yay! Now, what street is the school on again?”

But then, as I typically do after surviving something stressful, I had a mini-breakdown over nothing after the main event. On Friday evening, I found myself sobbing into a sinkful of dishes, weighed down with angst about never finding a suitable (i.e. paying) job.

But luckily that passed quickly and we sat down to a spur-of-the-moment living room picnic dinner, buoyed by wine and surprise cupcakes provided by the Mister.

After all, this is the Fun Apartment. We can put legs on anything and make it walk.

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Something to whine about.

Do you want to know why my son is whining?

Here’s why, in chronological order:

7 am: He woke up and wants the lights off, so he can play night time.

7:20: He doesn’t want the oatmeal he asked for.

7:30: He hates oatmeal.

7:45: His oatmeal is cold.

8: He’s full.

8:20: He doesn’t want *those* airplane underpants.

8:30: His pants are too soft.

9:00 – 10:00 Sesame Street (Hey, don’t judge. I’m not at a bar. Yet.)

10:15 He wants to pick up the cups from the floor with his feet.

10:16He can’t reach the floor (screamed from his position lying on the floor.)

11:00 He dropped his favorite toy behind his bed.

11:10 Again.

11:15 And once more.

12:00 He wants to use a big spoon to eat yogurt.

12:05 He has yogurt all over his shirt.

12:10 He hates cheese. Except string cheese. And parmesan. And mozzarella.

(On our way to pick up his older brother.)

3:10 He doesn’t want to go up 9th Avenue.

(We procure older brother and start for home.)

3:15 He doesn’t want to go down 8th Avenue. He wants to go down 9th Avenue.

3:20 He wants to stop in the playground. (It’s 30 degrees and he’s wearing a spring jacket.)

3:25 He’s cold.

3:30 He wants to be the first and the second one up the stairs.

(Sainted mother in law comes over to babysit. I deny that these are even my children. Instead, I blame her son and the devil for them. She stays anyway.

Two hours pass. I return largely sober. Sainted mother in law insists they were little angels the entire time I was away.)

5:30 He doesn’t have any bath toys. (We have hundreds).

5:32 He can’t find his bath toys in the bath tub.

5:33 There are too many bath toys in the tub. He has no room.

6:00 He doesn’t know what we are having for dinner. But he doesn’t like it.

6:15 He can’t set the table because he can’t carry a fork. It’s too pointy.

6:35 He wants more bread. But not the half-eaten piece on his plate. A new piece.

7:00 There are too many (i.e. six) toys to clean up.

7:30 He wants PJs that he saw in a picture of himself as a baby. (A 3-6 month sleep and play).

7:35 He doesn’t want to read the book he picked out. He hates it.

7:40 He wants to read that book again.

7:45 He desperately wants to sit in the dark and drink wine by himself.

WAIT. Sorry, that last one was me. Somehow, I must have started whining too. No idea how that happened. Well, you know where to find me. . . .

Beast Mode.

Beast Mode.

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Spring reigns.

We hit a major weather milestone here at the Fun Apartment recently. Blow ye trumpets! We are back on scooters! And the rest of the city is so happy to unzip their poofy jackets that they don’t care about three wheeled terrors on the sidewalk!

See, without the scooters, we are virtual shut ins. I blocked out with alcohol err conveniently forgot the fact that the scooters are three season transportation. They have no snow tires. After the stroller went the way of the dinosaurs, bouncy seats, and things I thought looked good on me in college, the Age of Scooters commenced.

Why, oh why, did no one tell me about the scooters? Suddenly, aboard these wheeled wonders, we got places on time (ok, closer to on time, but Still!) and, more importantly, we got there happy! And exercised! Our springs and summers and falls are efficient and relaxed. (And hardly anybody asked me about the bruises on my shins!)

And then the snow fell again. The scooters went to drydock. We were stuck. The sidewalks were somewhat clear, but they were significantly more narrow. And lined with piles either garbage or ice. With lots of slushy patches and clogged reservoirs of brown sludge deep enough to accommodate an outboard motor at every intersection.

So I found myself dragging the boys up and down these gray brown paths, tugging them by the mitten, (when I could manage to find the mittens). I felt like some sort of large ship towing her loaded rowboats  behind her. It was trudgery.

But now, after a few warm days and one good rain, the whole dirty world is ours again! We have survived! One after school visit to our local (playground, not pub) and everyone’s head is clear and mood is up. We come home happy! We arrive there before nightfall! Trader Joe’s is accessible again! And the best news: two exhausted boys, sleeping away.

See you at home!

See you at home!

But for now, I care not. We can ride. We are out. Spring is here.

(Naturally, just as the spring weather commenced, I found this amazing coat at the salvation army for $8. It is cute enough to make me wish for six more weeks of winter. I will now hide under my desk to dodge all of the snowballs you are flinging at me.)

Holmes. Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes. Sherlock Holmes.

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Filed under Mommy, Not cool, The outside world

We don’t make it look easy.

Sometimes, my life feels like a string of unrelated and inexplicable tasks, perplexing projects, and quests for bizarre items, interspersed with the repeated cleanup of the Same. Exact. Things. I put away only hours before.

Like Valentine’s Day. All four of us sat at the kitchen table trying to eat breakfast and assemble super hero valentine lollipops. We needed 44. And we ran out of tape on number 7, thanks to the older son and his tape fetish. His “I’m a fixer!” Phase suddenly became an “I’m a problem!” Phase. The discovery of some double sided tape helped a little, but not much. The man of my dreams wanted me to cut it into two millimeter strips so that it would better affix the tiny masks. I didn’t show him my middle finger, but I did show him the one with the wedding ring, which means “Nope. We’re married, dude. Now start taping,”

After this fun family project, I had a quality four minutes to get dressed, because, you know, a girl likes to look her best, and then get the kids to school. With both of them safely ensconced, I could go on a mad tear through the city in search of toy sharks. Party City 0, pet store 1.

This day also included assembling Lego Star Wars separatist commandos (who the . . .??), caving to demands to put AC/DC’s Thunderstruck on our playlists, pulling an architecture coloring book from thin air, making an origami dinosaur, “helping” to clean up the knocked over cat food, and researching the role gladiators played in the society of Ancient Rome. And in preparing dinner, I spent rather too long trying to make my hard-boiled eggs heart-shaped. This whole process was not overwhelmingly successful, because when I asked my kids what they thought they looked like, my pensive older son looked at them for a long time before he finally guessed “Turtles?”

Sometimes I wonder: why all the effort? We don’t need to eat turtle-shaped eggs. Drug stores do sell valentines. But I guess life needs the exciting moments to drown out the screaming tedium of the repeated daily routine. Even if nobody follows the routine without me reminding them twenty times at exponentially increasing volume.

I guess that’s how we put the fun in the Fun Apartment.

I heart you.

I heart you. Or I turtle you.

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Filed under Home Ec, Mommy, Not cool

So, how was your day?

I have always had this thing about family meals. I suppose I heard that thing about how families eating dinner together keeps the kids from becoming drug dealers or pornographers. Or was it safe from shark attacks? I forget the specifics. Anyway, family dinner was supposed to prevent it. And because I am nothing if not a slave to half-understood concepts, I make sure we all eat together, whether we like it or not.

And sometimes its not. Because I might be more successful in my fork efforts with African Wild Dogs instead of these children. But still, we soldier on.

So yesterday at dinner, I put my foot down and insisted we talk like people instead of spout nonsense words and snort at each other, which is pretty much how the boys communicate. Somehow a discussion of my husband’s day at the office led to a discussion of the Chrysler building, which led to architectural stories of the city skylines, with a detour to William Penn’s curse, and then head on a disagreement about a probably apocryphal tale of construction races, and that sent us racing toward a book to look something up, and that showed us this picture of a building that was torn down.

I give you . . . the Singer.

I give you . . . the Singer.

I mean, really? Why would you tear that down?

“We’ll get them! I said. “Even if we have to call Klinger’s uncle.”

“That’s right Mommy!” These brave lads chimed in. “We’re going to get those bad guys and take their tools away and drain the gas from their bulldozers and take them to JAIL. Then we will build that building again and we will make it so strong that nobody can tear it down again.”

Excuse me, I am going to take a moment to swoon. My little architectural preservationist heroes.

Of course, all of this made dinner run so late that we were late getting to bed. But I was glad I insisted on real talking at the dinner table.

And look out Mr. Zeckendorf. They are coming. For you.

And they have a nerf sword.

An expansive view from a tiny apartment.

An expansive view from a tiny apartment.

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Monkey See

Recently, the Fun Apartment had a population explosion. And I do mean explosion. Like in the millions. We are completely overrun.

You see, it all began at the Dino-Store. During our monthly pilgrimage to the New York’s most awesomest place of fun for little boys who love animals, science, and large open spaces, we saw a kit for growing sea monkeys.

Happily, curiously, miracle of miracles! I happened to have a kit for growing sea monkeys! Even more astonishing: I knew where it was!

(I wish this would work for my snow pants. Boy, are those suckers cleverly hidden somewhere around here. When I find them, I am going to hide all the Christmas presents there.)

(Also, of course I had a kit for growing sea monkeys just sitting around doing nothing. Doesn’t everyone? Where’s yours?)

So I rescued the sea monkey kit from its cold dark hiding place. And I wish I could convey the thrill that both boys felt over these creatures. We bought the bottled water. We purified. We poured. We added the eggs with bated breath. And we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

This was not entirely wasted time. The boys used this time to plan an elaborate birthday party for the sea monkeys, 362 days hence.

We waited again. We added the food to the tank.

We waited. We fed.

We gave a sea monkey kit as a birthday present to an unsuspecting dear friend turning 6. (Sorry buddy! Great party, though!)

We waited. We fed.

The boys’ enthusiasm did not dim, but I finally began to suspect that we were feeding an empty tank. I began to read up on sea monkeys. At the university lecture, I learned that sea monkeys appear within 24 hours of meeting water. We were now at least a week past that. The sea monkeys were not coming.

But the boys did not notice! See, these are, after all, *my* children. They need no evidence to believe in the impossible, or even the unlikely! In fact, they can completely ignore evidence that runs contrary to their enthusiasm. They believe! They adore! They blithely ignore!

(I shall pause here to wipe away tears of pride.)

Eventually, the Mister and I broke the news to the faithful. They were not exactly heartbroken, especially because I assured them that we would remedy the sea monkey population situation as soon as the ridiculously archaic system would allow us.

And we are not without pets. We have an ancient yet understanding cat. He’s probably the most constant thing in my life. If anyone knows anything about cats who do not live to be 45 years old, keep it to yourself, please. Ironically, it was this feline fellow who offered the solution to the sea monkey problem. By throwing up. All over.

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the need to clean up cat vomit, but if you have ever done it, then you know about Nature’s Miracle. And it is a true miracle: you spray it on the vomit stain. And you walk away. And so does the stain. (Loaves and fishes, I tell you.)

But we had let our supply of this necessary tonic run perilously low before the most recent vomiting incident. So one day after school, we headed off to the pet store for . . . several hours. You see, pet stores are like fun houses. They are full of fish tanks, bunnies, lizards, turtles, and, of course, shipwrecks. Because if there is one thing we are really into here at the Fun Apartment, it is shipwrecks. In fact, if you ever find yourself, as I have, in desperate need of a shipwreck model, get thee to a pet store! There have more shipwreck models than pets! So, in between the many attempts to pry the boys away from the wrecks of sparkly pirate ships, I asked the clerk in an offhand way if they carried sea monkeys.

That clerk looked at me blankly, but another clerk behind her said “Yes, they’re right over here!”

Did you guys know you could buy sea monkey eggs at a pet store? Well, you can.

You can buy a lot of sea monkey eggs, as it turns out.

I've got the whole world in my hands. . . .

I’ve got the whole world in my hands. . . .

So we brought home our canister of life. The packaging assures me that our goldfish will never want for food again. Never mind, our fish (Happy, Healthy, Hopeful, and Thirsty) all departed the Fun Apartment long ago. Free range sea monkeys, I thought, in a vaguely Whole Foodsish way. None of those farm-raised captives waiting to be slaughtered for us! Those are for the fish whose mommies don’t love them.

So we tried again. I put what I thought was a conservative amount of sea monkey eggs into the tank.

We wai–

“Did you see that?? Look! They’re moving! Yay! Sea monkeys!”

That crytobiosis or whatever is powerful stuff, let me tell you. Soon we were in danger of being overrun by these little suckers. If they had banded together to vote, let’s just say it wouldn’t be the sea monkeys leaving the Fun Apartment.

There was much celebration. In fact, there was rather too much celebration, considering that sea monkey observation time happened just before bedtime. Whispered conversations about marine biology were heard long after lights out.

But maybe my conservative amount of eggs was too liberal. There was definite overpopulation in the tank (and believe me, we at the Fun Apartment know about overcrowding and density.)

We fed this new hungry crew, but that only seemed to make them sluggish. Perhaps brine shrimp eat their young and need no other sustenance?

Then, on Friday morning as we were getting ready for the day, I remembered we were having dinner guests. “Clean something!” I urged the Mister. “Like what?” he asked. “Anything,” I assured him.

So later that day I was mildly surprised to discover the sea monkey tank missing from the bathroom. Hmm. That’s a rather odd choice for cleaning up, but as I’ve noted before he’s not so great at prioritizing when guests are imminent. I assumed he had relocated the sea monkeys to some undisclosed location.

But as the weekend progressed, no sea monkeys made themselves apparent, nor did the man of my dreams know what I was asking about. “Perhaps they moved,” I thought. “Maybe they’ve got a bigger place in Queens. They’ve gone off to make all their little brine shrimpy ways in the world.”

But no. They were here, in the sea monkey graveyard / pile of washcloths that now all need laundering. They must have been knocked over in the morning’s excitement of . . . oh god knows what these boys get excited about, but it isn’t putting their shoes on, that’s for sure.

It was clean washcloths. Now its laundry.

It was clean washcloths. Now its laundry.

And so, we begin anew. The sea monkeys shall (hopefully) rise again. Maybe I can put them in charge of something. Like meal planning.

I hope they like their water salty.

I hope they like their water salty.

Hmm. I did not know I had more than one thousand words to share about sea monkeys. Motherhood changes one so.

 

 

 

 

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Clutter

The magazines I was supposed to read in January are getting a little bossy.  “Lose Your Clutter Now!” they tell me. “Start the New Year Clutter-Free!” “Organize Your Bathroom!”

Really, I feel like the bathroom is the only room I can organize. Perhaps this is helped by the fact that it’s minuscule and I am not super girly, so there are not a lot of products in there. But I do wonder why four people need four different kinds of toothpaste.

But do they need to be so bossy about it? They don’t live here. They don’t know how it is here on the ground.

Ok, I admit, there’s a clutter problem  at the Fun Apartment. But the magazines don’t seem to understand that microapartments are immediately cluttered by the simple proposition of setting down one’s keys or owning possessions. The Fun Apartment is really &%^#ing small. I can clean the place up within the limits of possibility. But then I do something crazy, like get the mail and the whole thing starts all over again.

Also, there never seem to be any kids in the magazines. I mean, even if they have kids, they don’t have real kids. The kind that play with toys. The kind that are a little bit like rock stars at hotels. The kind who consider a day without the lego bins dumped out a day not fully lived.

I might be part of the problem, too. After all, I have a natural inclination to keep stuff I like. And then there’s the Mister, who would prefer that I not mention him in this post, lest the producers of Hoarders be trolling around for material. But really, how many pith helmets does a man need?

Trust me, I’m a believer in the latest home organizing religion: bins. But we’ve run out of shelves for the bins. So the bins just float around like lifeboats for the couch.

More bins! Different bins! Lots more bins! Well, eventually one reaches a point where one believes that this is all just some Container Store shakedown. Also, I haven’t really seen a bin in the shape of a rocking giraffe, or an old typewriter, or a basketball hoop. I think they’re missing an opportunity there.

But the magazines of January make one quite purge-ish (in non-eating disorder and non-Stalinist ways). So we’re condensing the whole Pandora’s Unit of our storage situation. Countless hours of fun, I assure you.

But I might have discovered a solution to keeping the Fun Apartment clutter-free.

I'm sure Mommy will be back any minute now. . . .

I’m sure Mommy will be back any minute now. . . .

But it wouldn’t be fun anymore.

So, Clutter, it looks like you’ll be sticking around a while. Make yourself at home.

But, as one reader suggested, I am going to get rid of the magazines.

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Filed under Living Small, Mistakes I have made, Mommy, Not cool, The outside world