Do you remember I asked if you wanted to be in my super-secret and pretend book club to discuss the New York Times Magazine article, “What If The Secret To Success Is Failure?”  So… now that you all have read it, great. I actually wrote an essay based on what the article meant to me and Lisa Belkin was kind enough — plus, I slipped her a five dollar bill — to run it in today’s Motherlode on the New York Times. Here’s the link to my essay.

Do you remember I asked if you wanted to be in my super-secret and pretend book club to discuss the New York Times Magazine article, “What If The Secret To Success Is Failure?”  So… now that you all have read it, great. I actually wrote an essay based on what the article meant to me and Lisa Belkin was kind enough — plus, I slipped her a five dollar bill — to run it in today’s Motherlode on the New York Times. Here’s the link to my essay.

This one’s a bit of a stretch for “Things I Found On The Internet Week” but whatever…
I wrote an essay about things I wish I had known before I became a mom and it’s hot off the Internet press. If you’re interested, take my hand and stroll with me over to the parenting site, Babble.com to read it. If you’d prefer to skip my piece, that’s fine with me. I understand. Obviously, you have better things to do. Clearly, the fact that I worked really hard at writing something means nothing. You’re busy. I get it. I guess I thought we were friends. I was wrong. And, no, I’m not crying about this. I was thinking about the note on the nursery wall in “Juno.” And there’s something in my eye. And, I was just chopping onions. (Oh my goodness, you’re still here? What do I have to do to get you to go read my essay?!)

This one’s a bit of a stretch for “Things I Found On The Internet Week” but whatever…

I wrote an essay about things I wish I had known before I became a mom and it’s hot off the Internet press. If you’re interested, take my hand and stroll with me over to the parenting site, Babble.com to read it. If you’d prefer to skip my piece, that’s fine with me. I understand. Obviously, you have better things to do. Clearly, the fact that I worked really hard at writing something means nothing. You’re busy. I get it. I guess I thought we were friends. I was wrong. And, no, I’m not crying about this. I was thinking about the note on the nursery wall in “Juno.” And there’s something in my eye. And, I was just chopping onions. (Oh my goodness, you’re still here? What do I have to do to get you to go read my essay?!)

Today, I have an essay posted at Ye Olde Babble, which is what I’ve decided Babble.com (a parenting website) would be called if it were a Renaissance Festival booth selling roasted turkey legs and corn on the cob.
It’s called, “Why being a toddler is hard.” Here’s an excerpt: “Before I had children, when I’d go to the grocery store and see a little kid in the cereal aisle screaming and crying, I’d shake my head. Why was it that every time I saw a toddler, he or she was throwing some kind of fit? What could be so difficult about spending the day playing, napping and eating?

”
You can click on the excerpt and get whisked away to the Babble site to read the rest of the essay, if the suspense is now killing you. But, if you don’t feel like it, here’s a link to a thrilling Wikipedia entry on fruit flies. I’ll let you make the call.

Today, I have an essay posted at Ye Olde Babble, which is what I’ve decided Babble.com (a parenting website) would be called if it were a Renaissance Festival booth selling roasted turkey legs and corn on the cob.

It’s called, “Why being a toddler is hard.” Here’s an excerpt: “Before I had children, when I’d go to the grocery store and see a little kid in the cereal aisle screaming and crying, I’d shake my head. Why was it that every time I saw a toddler, he or she was throwing some kind of fit? What could be so difficult about spending the day playing, napping and eating?

”

You can click on the excerpt and get whisked away to the Babble site to read the rest of the essay, if the suspense is now killing you. But, if you don’t feel like it, here’s a link to a thrilling Wikipedia entry on fruit flies. I’ll let you make the call.

Do you know what one of my grand plans for Mammalingo was when I started it a year ago? I was going to frequently post my parenting essays. (I am now throwing back my head and laughing like a crazy person.) If you’ve been reading for a while or even for just a few days, you’ll see that I don’t exactly do that. But, the good thing about today is that since it’s my blog’s birthday, I can re-post an essay I did write one year ago. And, here it is. I’m taking the rest of the day off. Copying and pasting this was SO MUCH WORK. I need a beer. And a nap. And then another beer. Obviously, someone else will have to drive carpool today.
Letter to My Sons 
When you grow up, there’s nothing more that I want for each of you other than health and happiness. Those are the only two things in this world that really matter. Well, that – and of course – being kind and considerate of others. That’s all. If you’re good hearted, happy and healthy, then I will feel that I succeeded as your mother.
I also hope that you will both have the good sense never to climb a ladder in a thunderstorm. One of the most disturbing stories I ever heard was about a guy who was trying to climb up on his roof to improve his television reception during a baseball game. 
It probably goes without saying but I hope neither of you star in a reality show on MTV, unless it’s a program documenting the lives of astronauts as they prepare for a space shuttle launch. 
Don’t be the kind of guys who constantly quote aloud from Jim Carrey movies, especially ones where he’s a pet detective who likes to talk out of his butt. 
If you’re ever a groomsman, don’t comment on the attractiveness of the bridal party in your wedding toast by saying that you “wouldn’t kick any of the bridesmaids out of bed.” This goes double if you’re the groom. Triple if you’re the father of the bride. 
Unless you are 100 percent positive or in the lobby of a maternity ward, never ask a woman if she’s pregnant. 
Don’t drone on endlessly about your Netflix cue. And, if someone does reciprocate and tells you about what DVD they’ll soon watch, don’t ask, “Is that the one where his wife ends up being the killer?”
Learn to play an instrument – unless you consider the whistle an instrument. If you do, I’m not paying for your lessons.
Never get a tattoo of the name of your girlfriend. It always ends in heartbreak and lots of money spent on laser removal. 
No tank tops. No sandals with socks. No fur coats. And don’t go to football games wearing only a pair of pants and the name of your favorite team painted on your chest. In fact, don’t go anywhere wearing only a pair of pants and the name of your favorite team painted on your chest.
If you go to a strip club, and I understand that in many social circles this is a right of passage, don’t call it a “titty bar.” While we’re on the subject, don’t refer to breasts as “fun bags.”
Please be aware that the time to trim your fingernails is not on a bus or train. The same, it should be said, goes for toenails.
Be a leader, not a follower. Unless you’re leading people somewhere that’s dangerous. Then, it’s okay to let someone else lead.

Do you know what one of my grand plans for Mammalingo was when I started it a year ago? I was going to frequently post my parenting essays. (I am now throwing back my head and laughing like a crazy person.) If you’ve been reading for a while or even for just a few days, you’ll see that I don’t exactly do that. But, the good thing about today is that since it’s my blog’s birthday, I can re-post an essay I did write one year ago. And, here it is. I’m taking the rest of the day off. Copying and pasting this was SO MUCH WORK. I need a beer. And a nap. And then another beer. Obviously, someone else will have to drive carpool today.

Letter to My Sons 

When you grow up, there’s nothing more that I want for each of you other than health and happiness. Those are the only two things in this world that really matter. Well, that – and of course – being kind and considerate of others. That’s all. If you’re good hearted, happy and healthy, then I will feel that I succeeded as your mother.

I also hope that you will both have the good sense never to climb a ladder in a thunderstorm. One of the most disturbing stories I ever heard was about a guy who was trying to climb up on his roof to improve his television reception during a baseball game. 

It probably goes without saying but I hope neither of you star in a reality show on MTV, unless it’s a program documenting the lives of astronauts as they prepare for a space shuttle launch. 

Don’t be the kind of guys who constantly quote aloud from Jim Carrey movies, especially ones where he’s a pet detective who likes to talk out of his butt. 

If you’re ever a groomsman, don’t comment on the attractiveness of the bridal party in your wedding toast by saying that you “wouldn’t kick any of the bridesmaids out of bed.” This goes double if you’re the groom. Triple if you’re the father of the bride. 

Unless you are 100 percent positive or in the lobby of a maternity ward, never ask a woman if she’s pregnant. 

Don’t drone on endlessly about your Netflix cue. And, if someone does reciprocate and tells you about what DVD they’ll soon watch, don’t ask, “Is that the one where his wife ends up being the killer?”

Learn to play an instrument – unless you consider the whistle an instrument. If you do, I’m not paying for your lessons.

Never get a tattoo of the name of your girlfriend. It always ends in heartbreak and lots of money spent on laser removal. 

No tank tops. No sandals with socks. No fur coats. And don’t go to football games wearing only a pair of pants and the name of your favorite team painted on your chest. In fact, don’t go anywhere wearing only a pair of pants and the name of your favorite team painted on your chest.

If you go to a strip club, and I understand that in many social circles this is a right of passage, don’t call it a “titty bar.” While we’re on the subject, don’t refer to breasts as “fun bags.”

Please be aware that the time to trim your fingernails is not on a bus or train. The same, it should be said, goes for toenails.

Be a leader, not a follower. Unless you’re leading people somewhere that’s dangerous. Then, it’s okay to let someone else lead.


Something to do with Kids’ Art Besides Hanging It On The Refrigerator or Throwing It Out 
The New York Times just ran a big story about a major parental dilemma: do you save or toss the art your child makes? I do both. I also have one trick up my sleeve when it comes to kids’ art. I’ve written it up in case you are interested in trying it yourself. 
But, here’s a quick quiz before we begin: Do you consider yourself “crafty”? Do you subscribe to any publication with the words “Martha Stewart” on its cover? Do you know how to make sushi out of fruit? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, don’t waste your time reading this.
No, this is a craft for people like me. I can’t paint or draw, but I can rip and paste, which is all that’s required in this project. And, the beautiful thing is that in the end – no matter how much you think you might screw it up – it’s going to look good.
The material that you’ll be using in this project is your kid’s art. I know this may sound a bit shocking but here’s the background. When my oldest son was three, I realized that I, like the parents in the New York Times article, had a predicament. We were starting to amass an enormous collection of his work, and our refrigerator was only so big… as was our house. I gave away pictures. I filed pictures. But eventually, there was too much. After bedtime, I would sneak downstairs to throw some pictures away, even though I felt like Joan Crawford when I did it.  Eventually – out of sheer necessity – I devised a plan. I gathered up 20 or so of my son’s pieces, bought a canvas, decoupage glue and foam brushes and made a collage.
Supplies:
Your kid’s art – This is your chance to gather up some of the many, many, many abstract drawings, scribbles and paintings that your son or daughter makes. Any kind of paper will work. My only suggestion is not to use “representational” drawings, such as your child’s self-portrait. You don’t want to upset your little Rembrandt. Therapy is expensive.
Pre-stretched canvas – Buy one at any art supply or craft store.
Handful of foam brushes – They’re cheap, sometimes only a quarter each; buy lots of them.
Non-toxic decoupage glue – Various brands (Mod Podge, Aleene’s, Martha Stewart) are available. Fun fact: the glue dries clear.
A slightly damp rag or sponge – Use this to wipe away excess glue.
(Optional) A couple sheets of brightly colored paper – In my example, I added a few pops of color to the collage with turquoise and fuchsia paper.  This step is not for the purist.
Directions:
The first rule is that if your kid is old enough to understand that you are about to tear up some of his or her art, you need to get his or her permission. Even better yet, let him or her help you. Remember what I told you about therapy.
1) Using a foam brush, cover your canvas in a coat of decoupage glue. It will dry within minutes.
2) Take a piece of the torn paper, apply a thick layer of glue to it with the foam brush.
3) Pick a spot on the canvas. Place the paper with the glue on top of it; then, firmly push outward from the middle. Glue will ooze out of the sides but – fear not you faceless stranger – you can wipe it away.
4) Continue. Overlap pieces. Go nuts.
5) When you are finished, brush on 2-3 coats of decoupage glue on top of the finished collage. This is your sealant.
6) Hang your masterpiece.
7) Practice for the compliments you are going to get from your family and friends by sitting in front of a mirror for at least two hours, tilting your head ever so slightly and batting your eyelashes. (This may take longer than the actual art project but it’s nice to make time for yourself.)

Something to do with Kids’ Art Besides Hanging It On The Refrigerator or Throwing It Out 

The New York Times just ran a big story about a major parental dilemma: do you save or toss the art your child makes? I do both. I also have one trick up my sleeve when it comes to kids’ art. I’ve written it up in case you are interested in trying it yourself. 

But, here’s a quick quiz before we begin: Do you consider yourself “crafty”? Do you subscribe to any publication with the words “Martha Stewart” on its cover? Do you know how to make sushi out of fruit? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, don’t waste your time reading this.

No, this is a craft for people like me. I can’t paint or draw, but I can rip and paste, which is all that’s required in this project. And, the beautiful thing is that in the end – no matter how much you think you might screw it up – it’s going to look good.

The material that you’ll be using in this project is your kid’s art. I know this may sound a bit shocking but here’s the background. When my oldest son was three, I realized that I, like the parents in the New York Times article, had a predicament. We were starting to amass an enormous collection of his work, and our refrigerator was only so big… as was our house. I gave away pictures. I filed pictures. But eventually, there was too much. After bedtime, I would sneak downstairs to throw some pictures away, even though I felt like Joan Crawford when I did it.  Eventually – out of sheer necessity – I devised a plan. I gathered up 20 or so of my son’s pieces, bought a canvas, decoupage glue and foam brushes and made a collage.

Supplies:

Your kid’s art – This is your chance to gather up some of the many, many, many abstract drawings, scribbles and paintings that your son or daughter makes. Any kind of paper will work. My only suggestion is not to use “representational” drawings, such as your child’s self-portrait. You don’t want to upset your little Rembrandt. Therapy is expensive.

Pre-stretched canvas – Buy one at any art supply or craft store.

Handful of foam brushes – They’re cheap, sometimes only a quarter each; buy lots of them.

Non-toxic decoupage glue – Various brands (Mod Podge, Aleene’s, Martha Stewart) are available. Fun fact: the glue dries clear.

A slightly damp rag or sponge – Use this to wipe away excess glue.

(Optional) A couple sheets of brightly colored paper – In my example, I added a few pops of color to the collage with turquoise and fuchsia paper.  This step is not for the purist.

Directions:

The first rule is that if your kid is old enough to understand that you are about to tear up some of his or her art, you need to get his or her permission. Even better yet, let him or her help you. Remember what I told you about therapy.

1) Using a foam brush, cover your canvas in a coat of decoupage glue. It will dry within minutes.

2) Take a piece of the torn paper, apply a thick layer of glue to it with the foam brush.

3) Pick a spot on the canvas. Place the paper with the glue on top of it; then, firmly push outward from the middle. Glue will ooze out of the sides but – fear not you faceless stranger – you can wipe it away.

4) Continue. Overlap pieces. Go nuts.

5) When you are finished, brush on 2-3 coats of decoupage glue on top of the finished collage. This is your sealant.

6) Hang your masterpiece.

7) Practice for the compliments you are going to get from your family and friends by sitting in front of a mirror for at least two hours, tilting your head ever so slightly and batting your eyelashes. (This may take longer than the actual art project but it’s nice to make time for yourself.)

Letter to My Children About Their Sleeping Habits

(Not a Lazy Recycling of Old Material from May 2010 because I have a one-week-old baby… but a “Best of Mammalingo”)

First off, I have to tell you both how much I love you. You have surpassed my wildest expectations about what it would be like to have kids. It sounds trite, but I really feel like the luckiest mom in the world. But, sweet boys, please know that I’m tired. It’s not because you are newborns, waking every few hours to suckle at my breasts. I had expected that. And I had assumed there would be an end to the sleep deprivation. But no. It’s been five years since I first became a mom, and I’ve been waking up around 5:30 a.m. for almost every day since. That’s a lot of hours of lost sleep. A lot.


I’ve talked to my friends about this and was pretty surprised to learn that this is not the case in all families. Did you know that some kids sleep until 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning on a regular basis? I even have a couple friends who have to wake their kids at 8:00 a.m. to get them dressed and ready for preschool. I hate those friends. Can you imagine the woman I would be if I slept two and a half hours more each morning? I would, obviously, be rested. I would smell fresher, more like shampoo and soap. I might even wear cute sundresses in the summer with strappy sandals. And I hope you don’t take offense but I think your clothes would coordinate better as well and your hair would look… brushed.


Our house would be a lot cleaner if I slept more. I would definitely exercise more. (Okay, who am I kidding with the ‘more’? I would exercise. Period.) I would learn to knit. And crochet. And sew. I would sew all of my clothes and your clothes and I’d make baby clothes for all of our friends with new babies. I would learn a foreign language. I heard that RosettaStone is great. I could learn Japanese and then teach it to you. You would both get into Ivy League schools if I slept more. I would be more patient, more tolerant and just plain nicer if I slept more. I used to like to think of myself as fairly easy going (I’m not saying that I was easy going – but I did like to think of myself that way) but now… not so much.


I’d get fewer colds and fewer parking tickets. I’d be better at making small talk. I’d be a better listener and a better dancer. I wouldn’t lose as many things around the house. I’d be better at finding things too. I’d be more philanthropic, diplomatic and patriotic. I’d be more observant. I’d know the words to more songs and I’d remember the punch lines to more jokes. I’d be able to fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee. I could say, “I’m good. How are you?” and mean it. I could solve Rubik’s Cube. I’d know where Waldo was.


Both of you are so vigorous and full of energy, and that’s great. I bet that when you’re older your joint requirement for such little sleep will be a real plus. I sometimes daydream that one day the two of you will, together, find a cure for cancer. Who knows, maybe you will have made your world-changing discovery in the wee hours of the morning when most of the world (well, not in Australia but you get the point) was asleep? Maybe, for you my angels, the early morning will be a special time when your brain circuitry crackles and pops like Rice Krispies and scientific history is made. But if you are up that early, and you do cure cancer, feel free to wait to call me after nine o’clock.


Love,
Mom

My Breast Pump: Why Did Words Suddenly Appear Every Time It Was Near?

Back in September, I asked all of you if it ever sounded like your electric breast pumps spoke words — like mine had. Many of you responded either to the blog or by email. To all of you who contributed, thank you again. If I was a crafty gal, I’d make up t-shirts for us. But, alas, I’m not crafty. However, I did write up a short essay about it for the parenting website, Babble.com. The essay is up today.  Stay tuned in the next few weeks for my essay, “Faces of Famous People I’ve Seen in My Toast.”