Taking Care of Business

There comes a time in every parenting couple’s life when the two of you must consider the question: do we want more children?  Are we closed for business or should we continue to people the world?  Well, in Chris and my case, we are without-a-doubt-126%-stick-a-fork-in-me D-O-N-E.  Slam the shutters tight, roll up the carpets, lock up the doors, and throw away the key– my uterus is no longer available for sublease.

But what to do to ensure that we don’t have an unplanned “caboose” on the Reichert train? Well, in theory we both agree that Chris should get a vasectomy.  It’s permanent, it works, and most importantly, it doesn’t involve any action on my part.  (The third point is a major selling point- at least for me.)  So on paper, we agree that this is the right thing for us.  And we’ve continued to agree for the last 26 months; time and time again, Chris assures me that he is on board with this plan.  Yet, we (or really rather, Chris) have not taken any action.  What is a wife to do? Should I start shopping around for doctors?  Schedule it for him myself?  Honestly, I don’t even know who to call.  How do you even go about coordinating something like this? And then, I had an epiphany…

Imagine if you will:  you pack up your husband for a weekend away with the boys.  Think three days in Vegas- how could he say no?  He and his best buds will arrive in Sin City and be whisked away to a casino/resort on the Strip.  It will provide all the typical amenities of a high-end casino but with one very important addition…that’s right, SNIP SNIP!!  I mean, how brilliant is this plan?!? I’m envisioning the Wynn/Canyon Ranch/Mayo Clinic/Hooters all rolled into one central location.  So many advantages:

  1. While in most cases, guys like to go it alone (example: when was the last time you saw a group of guys go to the men’s room together or shop together?), I think this could be a solid case for strength in numbers.  By going as a group, it would be a bonding experience…sort of a rite of passage into the world of sterility.  Being part of a group would also ensure that the guys actually man up and go through with it instead of chickening out.  Who wants to be the lone coward who couldn’t endure a teeny tiny outpatient procedure?  They’d never live it down.  By the way, the merchandising opportunities for the casino on this point is ENDLESS….boxers, beer cozies, baseball caps, medical supplies, commemorative t-shirts, frozen peas.  You get the picture.
  2. For me as a wife, I would gladly outsource any caregiving duties to a buxom Las Vegas nurse.  By the end of the day, after I’ve tended to countless boo-boos (both real and imagined) for my girls and their entourage of dolls, stuffed animals, and make-believe friends, I have very little sympathy for any ailments my husband may have. The best I could muster in this situation would probably be to tell him to “walk it off, you wuss” and to “try squeezing a bowling ball through your urethra TWICE and then come talk to me.”  If he finds a better bedside manner with Nurse Tiffani or Jazmin, I’m all for it.
  3. The guys could recuperate in peace.  Rather than having a wife wondering whether he’s well enough to come open a jar of pickles or being surrounded by offspring who have an uncanny propensity to strike them accidentally in the groin area at any given moment, they’d be free to recover with no such interruptions or dangers.  They could order room service or sit poolside while a cadre of nurses, health aides, and waitresses cater to their cocktail (and medicinal) needs.   The casino could have a giant movie theater in-house stocked with jujubes, popcorn, and ice packs.  Or, they could just sit on their asses and do what 99% of the Vegas population does: gamble their life savings away!  Maybe they could start small and just bet on who of their group will cry during the procedure and have to call their mommy.  Or,  they could take advantage of a veritable cornucopia of games that require little to no physical exertion: black jack, mah-jong, poker, roulette, craps, baccarat, pai-gow, Texas hold ‘em, slots..can you tell my husband goes to Vegas a lot?  And the casinos would literally have a captive audience.  You think drink service can be slow at the tables?  Just try to get someone to push your wheelchair away.

I haven’t thought out all the details but I think I’m on to something.  I know!  Maybe if they gamble enough, the casino would even comp their surgical procedure.  I mean, who says the house always has to win?

Sin City? More like Sterility City! Viva Las Vegas!


A Room of One’s Own

The thing about being a stay at home mom is that nothing stays the same…I know, I am so profound for one so young(ish).  To continue: just when you think you have the little munchkin figured out and are settled into a routine that requires minimal drinking during daylight hours, they throw a wrench the size of Connecticut into your happy little schedule and leave you reeling.  I find myself in such a predicament as I navigate a frightening new world in which Katie refuses to nap.

Here’s the deal. Yes, it is a sad, sad day for many stay at home parents once a child stops napping.  Our mid-day break is snatched away from us and the transition period from one nap to no nap can be brutal.  There are a lot of tears, screaming, tantrums, and gnashing of teeth….and the kids don’t handle it any better either.  When my oldest, Sarah, started giving up her afternoon nap a few months after turning 3, I was distraught.  The silver lining was that she was at least old enough to understand the concept of staying in her room for a “quiet time.”  After some “training” (which usually involved threats of no dessert that evening), I could usually count on 45 minutes to an hour of solitude which was of course interspersed with potty breaks and more threats of no dessert.  Not as great as a nap, but I adjusted and my sanity, for the most part, remained intact.

But Katie, at a little over 2 years old, has no such comprehension of what “quiet time” means or why she must stay sequestered in her room.  Most days, she comes out of her room after approximately 3.5 minutes to announce that room time is “OH-VAH MOMMY!” On the very rare days I can get her to stay in her room for more than 15 minutes, I find that my 2 year old has been replaced by an F5 tornado.  Someone call FEMA.

Let’s go in for a closer look, shall we?  Notice that all toy baskets have been pulled out and there is crap EVERYWHERE.  I can only assume this was a direct and vindictive rebuttal to me and my admonitions to “get out your toys!” Well played Katie, well played.

Littlest Pet Shop scattered with Melissa & Doug magnetic dress-up dolls and Calico Critters accessories.  Why do they make kid’s toys so teeny tiny with so many pieces??? WHY?!
And in this corner, a whole box of Kleenex, deflowered.
And the perpetrator herself greets me with a smile and no pants.
So, I have to weigh my options.  Is it worth the 15 minutes of quiet I get to spend another 15 minutes cleaning up her disaster zone of a room? Sigh. I just don’t know.  I know it will get better and this too shall pass…the mantra of SAHM’s everywhere that keep us from tearing out our hair in clumps and sobbing quietly while we wait in the carpool line.  In the mean time, I’ll be buying my wine in bulk.

A Moveable Feast

A few weeks ago, I was driving by our old neighborhood and I saw my old neighbor at the school bus stop with her son.  For purposes of anonymity, let’s call my neighbor “Jill” and her son “Jack.”  Jack is probably about 10 by now.  The last time I saw him, he was a about 2.5 years old.  Seeing Jack and Jill that morning as I sped away in my minivan reminded me of one of the last dinners we hosted in our old house.

This dinner occurred 8 years ago when Chris and I were a newlywed couple.  We didn’t associate much with our neighbors on our street.  Most of them were  much older than ourselves and we were in very different stages in our lives.  We were too busy relishing the carefree existence of life without little ones.  I think we routinely slept in till 10am or 11am every weekend  to recover from late nights out where we didn’t temper our drinking because one of us had wake-up duty the next day.  And then, get this: after sleeping in, we would STILL nap later that day.  AND we had TWO incomes…can you even imagine such a nirvana?  But like fools, we didn’t fully appreciate the paradise we had created for ourselves when we had it.  And now it’s gone forever.  But I digress…we did have some neighbors right next to us who were about our age: Jill and her son Jack, along with their husband/father…let’s call him “John.”  One day, we saw the three “J’s” in their yard and started chatting.  Before we knew it, I had issued a dinner invitation and they had accepted.

To give you an idea of how totally clueless we were about children, we took John and Jill’s word that their kid was not a picky eater completely at face value and prepared grilled lamb kabobs, cucumber salad, cous cous, and grilled veggies.  No pasta, no chicken fingers, no fruit, no cheese sticks.  I think we even served Jack his beverage in a crystal goblet and I’m sure whatever I served for dessert was riddled with peanuts.  Ahhhhh, so naive were we in the ways of Parenting 101 in the year 2004.

We all sat together in our smallish dining room and I do recall dinner being fairly pleasant.  Jack was a little squirmy but he did eat his lamb kebob and cous cous. As the grown ups lingered over dinner though, Jack got more and more restless.  It was completely understandable but since we were kid-free, we had nothing to offer him as far as toys and our house was a minefield of non-child proofed sharp edges, unlocked drawers, and open staircases.  As Jack grew more and more fussy, his mother finally turned to him and said, “Do you want to suck?”

Hmmm…although Chris and I were obviously unfamiliar with parenting skills at this point in our lives, we had certainly never heard this phrase before.  What was little Jack supposed to suck on? A pacifier?  Or maybe she meant to say “sucker” like a Tootsie Roll pop or something.  Before I had any time to decipher her meaning, little Jack immediately yelled “YES!,” hopped out of his chair, and into his mom’s lap where a bare breast was exposed and ready for his eager mouth.

WHAT THE WHAT?!  Even with our lack of parenting expertise, Chris and I knew this was not the norm.  Chris was sitting directly beside me and we both immediately averted our eyes.  Unfortunately, our dining room was small and there was not much else to look at. I knew for certain that I could not look at Chris because if I had made any eye contact with him for even a millisecond, I probably would start shouting, “GRODY!” and dance on top of the chair trying to shake my willies out.  So instead, I focused intensely on John, the husband, while his wife and child, who just mere moments before had been chewing and eating LAMB(!), were next to him, caught up in their own very personal moment.  Should I have offered them a room?  Covered her up with a poncho?  Put up a Hooters billboard outside our house?  I was and still remain clueless as to the proper etiquette in this particular situation.

At this point in the dinner, I was ready to call it a night.  I mean, once someone pulls out a boob for their 2-year old, where else can the evening go, right? But no, our neighbor and her leech-like son simply moved over to our living room and made themselves comfy on our couch.  So, the evening wore on thusly: Jack suckling his mama’s breast, John chatting away, and Chris and I darting our pupils in all directions except at the circus show right before our eyes.  We never invited them over to our house again.

So, seeing Jack and Jill and the bus stop brought back a very memorable evening for me.  I am happy to report that Jack was standing independently and not sucking at his mom’s breast.  And apparently, they have been able to un-attach themselves long enough so that he could attend a public school, far from his mom.  So that’s progress, right?

And, serendipitously enough, a couple of week’s later, I see this on the news stand:

So Jack, Jill, and John were merely on the cutting edge of a new parenting philosophy called “attachment parenting.”  Now, I don’t know if I have my act together enough to actually have a “parenting philosophy” but whatever it is, it is NOT this.  And if this is your style of parenting, that’s fine if that’s what works for you.  Just don’t expect any invitations to our house for dinner.

Mother’s Day Primer

Fathers of the World: if you aren’t aware, and boy are you screwed if you are not, Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  Rather than a litany of gifts you could get for the mother of your children, here is a simple list of do’s and don’t’s to help you through the day.

1.  Do let her sleep in.  (Like, duh)

2.  Do start her morning right with some sort of pre-planned breakfast or brunch (if you let her sleep in long enough).  Cereal in a sloppy bowl of milk is not ideal.

3.  Do get the kids ready on your own- brush teeth, brush hair, get them into clean clothes.  As a general rule, they should not look as though they are going to star in a play about hobos.  Unless for some weird reason, they are.  If so, then your work is done.

4.  Don’t ask her what clothes fit your children.  Seriously, why is this so difficult?  The age of the child correlates exactly to the size of the clothing.  Read the label and do the lower-level mathematics to figure this out:

Let x = clothing size and y= age of child

If y = x ± 1 month and it is seasonally appropriate, then dress the child!

5.  Do give her time that day to get ready without any of her children acting as voyeurs in the bathroom or smearing her Chanel extra glossy lipstick all over their faces and running around  like scary mini-clowns with her bra on their heads screaming, “Look at my boobies!!!”  Just saying…it would probably be a nice change of pace for her.

6.  Don’t even think of scheduling a tee time.

7.  Don’t let her cook, prep, or clean after any meals.  Bonus points if you do any or all of this yourself but it is perfectly acceptable to outsource any of these chores….especially if, like my husband, your culinary skills are limited to foods that require less than 2 ingredients.

8.  Do give a small token of appreciation.  It doesn’t need to qualify to be a DeBeers commercial but a card or flowers are always nice.

9.  Do give her space, if she wants it.  In one camp are the moms who want nothing more than to spend the entire Mother’s Day with her family and wouldn’t dream of leaving for even a second.  Then there is the other camp of moms who would like just a little time away to do whatever strikes her fancy. It might be a massage or a facial.  Or maybe a nap.  It might just be sitting at a Starbucks and texting with her other mommy friends about how awesome it is to sip a latte without also wiping up spills from some little person’s chocolate milk while making sure they don’t receive third degree burns from her own beverage.  Or maybe watching all 300 minutes of the Colin Firth BBC version of Pride and Prejudice while guzzling Dr. Pepper and eating nachos and beef jerky in her stretchy pants.  Can you guess which camp I’m in?  At any rate, if she wants it, give her some time to do a little something extra for herself that day whatever that may be.

So that’s it….not rocket science but I hope it helps.  A BIG Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful mothers out there.  I hope you get pampered in the way you deserve.  And a shout out to my own beautiful mom…I love you!

My mom and me after a lovely afternoon wine tasting in Napa...happy and buzzed!

Happy and buzzed in Napa, June 2010

No More Pencils, No More Books

In hushed tones at play dates and playgrounds across America, the same conversation is taking place over and over again:

MOM 1: What are you going to do?

MOM 2: I have no idea.  What about you? 

MOM 1:  I don’t know but I’ve got to come up with a plan soon.  How are we going to survive it?

MOM 2: I’m scared.

MOM 1: Me too.

(Both Moms stare pensively into space)


What could be causing such terror in the hearts of so many mothers?  Two little words: Summer Vacation.  That’s right.  The thing that brought us, as children, so much joy and glee paralyzes mothers across America with fear.  While our children see a heavenly extended break from school, we see approximately 90 days of no structure, no routine, and no breaks.  The calendar mocks us with its empty days…I can see the tumbleweeds rolling through my June, July, and August on my MacBook and it chills my very core.  Because yes, kids do love summer vacation but I guarantee 26 minutes into their first day off, those same kids will wail in a nails-on-a-chalkboard sort of way, “Moooooom….I’m….soooooo…..boooooreed!”

Now, I love my children.  Truly I do, but there is a thing as too much “togetherness.”  And summer vacation tests those limits in painful and excruciating ways.  It’s all a very fine balancing act.  Yes, you want those long, lazy, hot days at the pool where you eat your weight in popsicles and you think you never want that day to end.  But end it does and you are faced with another day and another day after that…a seemingly endless string of days where you are expected to be some sort of Willy Wonka to your child’s Charlie, minus the ever entertaining Oompa Loompas.  And it is exhausting coming up with a roster of activities to fill the time: pool days, play dates, car washes, nature walks, park days, picnics, lemonade stands, and ice cream runs.  Because we do all these things and still, my children are bored.  Some moms may revel in the challenge of a 90-day one woman show and I salute you.  But I am also not ashamed to admit that I am not one of those moms.  I need help and I need it bad.

So what is a mother to do?  Thankfully, we live in a country that has no shortage of ways to keep children entertained via a wonderful, beautiful thing called CAMP.  Theater camps, nature camps, art camps, sports camps, language camps, book camps, church camps, zoo camps….it’s all there for the picking for the resourceful mom who can plan ahead.  And believe me when I say, you must plan ahead.  Because fear is a powerful motivator my friends, and there are thousands of other equally fearful moms out there prepared to take you out for the last spot on the “Pinkalicious Sing-A-Long and Dress-Up Camp.”  If you think just because you are a stay at home mom, you left the rat race, think again.  We may all be wearing scrunchies and tottering around town in a minivan, but we can be as cutthroat as a trader on the New York Stock Exchange floor when it comes our kids.

To illustrate: this past January, I was trying to sign Sarah up for a camp in August.  That’s right…January.  Winter was still in full swing and I was trying to enroll Sarah in a camp some 8 full months away.  I had coordinated with two other moms to get our girls into “Mermaid Magic,” a theater camp that promised four afternoons of under the sea revelry.  Phone lines opened at noon…yes, you read that right, “phone lines.”  What was this, 1988?? That should have been my first clue right there that this was not going to go well.  Undeterred, I forged ahead.  But I made a rookie mistake right out of the gate: I did not call until after Katie’s lunch, around 12:30.  I don’t know why I did this.  In all my years of signing up for various children’s activities,  I had never been “late” to the party so to speak.  I have set alarm clocks (sometimes as many as two at once when I was in California and realized I needed to get up at 6am for Central Time Zone 8am sign up), conducted dry runs logging in with my username and password the night before, placed my Visa in a secure but accessible location next to my laptop, and basically, had my registration process down to an art form.  It was the dang phone lines, I tell you.  Totally threw me for a loop.  Anyway, imagine my chagrin when all I heard was a busy tone.  Clue number 2 that this was not going to go as planned.  Hit redial, busy tone.  Redial; busy tone.  Repeat 898 times with Katie wailing in the background because I have abandoned all pretense of paying any attention to her in order to get through the $#&@ phone lines.

Had this been merely for some front-row seats at a U2 concert where Bono himself would personally serenade me or a date with Ryan Gosling to my 20th high school reunion,  I would have given up.  But no, this was for my child.  So I hit redial again and again and again.  Finally, at 1:25 I get through!  Exultant, I am prepared with my credit card in hand and have visions of Sarah in an undersea wonderland with her two little buddies.  I give the employee my desired camp time and am crushed to learn that it had already filled up….45 minutes prior.  I had failed.  No Mermaids.  No Magic.  No camp.  In the rat race that is being a stay at home mom, I was the sad, out of shape woman crawling to the finish line only to find that the medals had all been given away.

Luckily, all was not lost.  I regrouped and I was able to get Sarah into a different camp with a different friend for that week.  She’ll be making accessories for her American Girl Doll in what I can only assume is some sort of small sweatshop.  In addition, she will also take golf lessons and tennis lessons, participate on a swim team, go to a Y camp, and attend a one day “Hawks, Owls, and Falcons” camp where hopefully, no one will lose an eye.  All these activities plus the support of a team of highly skilled babysitters should get me through to the fall.  It takes a village, right?  And then school will start anew and mothers across the country will breathe a collective sigh of relief and feel a sense of pride that we survived yet another summer.

Sarah mucking it up at a summer nature camp

Sarah mucking it up at a summer nature camp

Mr. Sandman

Katie is slowly and painfully giving up her naps.  Sigh.

Bye-bye to this:

Can you feel how peaceful this is?

And hello to this:



And this at 6:45 PM:

And bye-bye  to my return-all-my-phone-calls time, my answer-all-my-emails time, my stalk-people-on-Facebook time, my come-up-with-a-brillilant-blog-idea time, my finally-finish-my-lunch-sitting-down time, my I-haven’t-gone-to-the-bathroom-all-day-and-I-really-need-to-go time, my scrape-off-play-doh-from-the-wood-floors time, and my hallelujah-no-one-is-touching-me time.  Pray for me.  Dark, dark days are ahead.