Sunday, February 28, 2010


My husband sent me this image..."Why don't you blog about this?" He's the one who designed our home with 3 bathrooms and no medicine cabinets. Of course it's all in a bowl. We were going to a dinner party at the home of 3 humans and 3 animals. I suggested he medicate himself beforehand in lieu of waiting until his lungs collapse. I administered the Benadryl while he shook his head photographing the bowl.

Family medicine is really easy. Adults: Ibuprofen for muscles Tylenol for fevers or anything if you're pregnant, Nyquil for sick sleeping, Aleve for hangovers. Children: Tylenol for everything, and don't you DARE get the wrong color. If they are feverish and puking, you have to go the suppository route which is daunting but surmountable. I won't go into unguents and wart removers. I think Tim just wants an iphone ap. He could type in, "scary boil on Steel's leg" or "weird red penis" and it would spit out a miracle cream to be used once and thrown away.

I picked up the kids today to give an overwhelmed Tim an extra half hour. Steel was livid because she didn't get the middle seat. To lighten things up I started to sing the birthday month song. I would tell them who had their birthdays with each month. I got to May and said cheerily, "May is Jack Peter's month!" Steel shrieked, "I want May!" I carried on singing like the orchestra on the Titanic, but she didn't like the sound of October and was even madder that she had to share it with Toby.

Tim got into the car and I suggested going out. He sighed and said he could use a margarita. I suggested it because the fridge to him is much like the medicine bowl
. Every time I make a meal he'll say, "How did you DO that? there was nothing in there!" It was 5:30, too early for us to ruin the ambiance for too many people. The pitcher of margaritas came for the 2 of us with the chips and salsa. Steel refused to take her coat off and was dragging it through both salsa bowls as she grabbed for her chips. They were drawing on the floorboards with the crayons eschewing the Hello Kitty coloring books.

Finally their favorite black bean soup arrived in 2 bowls each of them decorated with swirls of sour cream. I'd even asked the waiter to make sure today's batch wasn't spicy. "I DON'T WANT SOUP!" Tim spent the next 20 minutes trying to spoon feed Steel. I was out of commission feeding the baby and myself. Jack Peter took this opportunity to eat the corners off of every chip. When encouraged to eat his soup, he'd eat 1 bean and then go back to lying on the bench singing to himself. When threatened consequences for not eating soup he shot at me.

Time for a potty break for Jack Peter. This leaves me with the girls. The pitcher is 2/3 empty. Steel is wandering around with black bean soup all over her. Toby has lost her booties. No eating gets done although I'm still managing to drink. At some point a waitress gives me a card advertising Mommy Margaritas the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 2-4. Clearly I look like someone who needs to be drinking hard alcohol at 2 on a weekday. After barely a dent in the soup and way too much drama, we give up. The waiter comes back with our doggy bag. Steel goes berserk. "THE MAN TOOK MY SOUP!" We're trying to leave and Jack Peter says, "I need to POOP!" I'm left with the girls. The only other table is a couple with a well-behaved little boy. They are glaring at me. I fling a ranting Steel out the door for a time-out on the sidewalk. It's 30 degrees; the coat has dematerialized; Toby is bald, bootie-less and shivering. I'm now screaming, "Will you stop screaming, so we can go back inside?" This happens twice, but on the second fling I pull my back out. The pitcher is now empty. We pay $62 and leave.

Steel's tub rights have been rescinded. I dump water over her head and dress her for bed. She's apoplectic. I propel her and her milk over the rail and into bed wrenching my back again. Outside of the room I'm holding the knob of the door as she's hurling herself at it still shrieking. Finally I think I've waited her out. We snuggle, she drinks, and I tell her I love her, and she appears to go to sleep.

I pass out with the baby-lying there longing for the ibuprofen in the medicine bowl. Tim has to deal with Steel again and Jack Peter's nighttime ritual. He decompresses and comes to bed at 1-ish. I can't sleep because I'm worrying about how I'm going to get my kiln unloaded and shipped as well as dismantle my entire retail store in 1 day with a bad back.

It's now 4...I completed and lost this blog entry once already. Now I'll drive to the studio to turn on my kiln. I'll come back to Tim helpless and exhausted with a hungry baby. We'll all get to sleep by 5:14. One of the big kids will wander in at 6:02. We'll go through the morning insanity, but I'll have the added anxiety of wanting to get to the studio to turn up my kiln. I'll finally get there, and I'll realize I need some Aleve.


me in the studio pregnant with Toby...Why paint a wreck?

"No Mama! I'm allergic to apples!" Steel announced this morning refusing to dip the apple slices in her little bowl of cinnamon sugar opting instead for the straight cinnamon sugar. Jack Peter was the first to invoke the power of allergies. He'd had a disturbing playgroup. His barely walking, little sister was zooming down the slide with all of the other little kids. He's risk-averse, so no zooming. A day later we were driving by a playground. He announced from his carseat, "Mama, I'm allergic to slides." Maybe I'll try it next time someone is placing an order, "I'm sorry, I'm allergic to bud vases." I'm starting to compile a list of my life-threatening allergies: low threadcount sheets, too-puffy pillows, anything low fat or sugar free, pastel baby clothes, sour milk-especially in conjunction with leaking sippy cups, uncomfortable shoes, visible earwax, drywall...Sleepy suits that button instead of zip render me anaphylactic.

Speaking of sleepy suits, we are on our third kid, and we still get baby gifts. It's alarming. It's not that I don't appreciate them, but I didn't know that I was supposed to give baby gifts. I get really nice ones from people I worked with 20 years ago who live across the country. Have people been waiting for me to walk away at parties and then saying, "She doesn't give baby gifts."?

I went to a party last week with my husband. In social situations I normally roll my eyes and blame my inability to focus on chasing children. Pottery and parenting are both time-consuming and strangely solitary. When I do get out I've been in my own head for so long I scare people with the stuff that comes out of my mouth. I could hear a faint sound of velcro ripping as people extricated themselves from talking to me. I particularly remember someone excusing themselves as I was lamenting my DIY eyebrow waxing. I used my husband's dirty boxers from the hamper to rip the sugar wax off. A pair of boxers is not the most precise hair removal tool, so I'll be relying on an eyebrow pencil for a couple of weeks.

Being 40 means it's futile to glam up anyway. I try and look OK; I wear white to hide the milk vomit, but I'm always covered in clay, puke or boogers, so why bother? I do have a botoxed friend. When asked how it looks, I surprised myself by replying, "She looks younger and happier." Maybe I'm just too stingy to try and look really good. New Englanders pride themselves on their frugality. They boast about how low the thermostat goes at night. My dad's nightly ritual as he turned the heat down was a low whistle imitating the sound of a bomb falling. When he'd hit the desired 61 degrees he'd make a quiet sound of an explosion.

Maybe I'm also allergic to hairdryers, nail clippers, make-up, shampoo and exercise.

Friday, February 26, 2010


"Mom! I peed on the floor!" Those words started my day, and they were coming from the one kid who is potty-trained. I wandered out. I'd optimistically assumed he'd been playing in his over-saturated nighttime diaper, and he'd dampened the rug. Every morning we have a graceful little ritual. While he's standing I undo the diaper with one hand, let it fall into the other without its touching his legs or having any of the pee side touch my hands and I swing it into the trash. This morning he'd pooped in it, so instead of my normal choreography, I had to use my left hand to catch a pasty ball of shit.

I then tried to get the 4 month old to eat mushy rice cereal. She hasn't mastered swallowing, so it goes all over the place. I also had to make myself a liverwurst sandwich for lunch. I walked to the studio with the baby. All of the snow has finally melted which is great except people who own dogs have been letting them poop on the snow for the past 2 weeks. Did they think the shit was going to melt away with the snow? There is a wet poo every 4 or 5 steps. The only good thing about that is it reminded me of someone in San Francisco sprinkled glitter on poop in the street and poked in a little toothpick flag with a happy message on it like, "Have a nice day!"

I arrived at my studio and had to deal with recycling clay. It's thick and pasty and has the added horror of being filled with my hair. I lose an appalling amount of hair a few months after giving birth. It's everywhere. It's especially revolting the way it sticks to the green scrubby side of the kitchen sponge.

I guess I'm lamenting that my life is consistently of the same consistency: soft shit. I suppose I didn't HAVE to make myself a liverwurst sandwich, but it's just so good with pickles, mustard and watercress.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Boob stories

Last night I let the kids go into the "bubbly tubbly" for a treat. It's the massive one in our master bath with the jets. I squirted in some shower gel. Normally they don't like soap, but I was hoping that I'd get away with it because it was the big tub. They got in, and I went to gather sleepy suits and milk. I returned to a tsunami of bubbles. It was like the snow last week: I was scared I'd lose them in our 10x10 back yard, so I threw them in the back of the F150 pick up truck in their snowsuits. The bubbles were about 2 feet deep on top of 10 inches of water, and the texture was particularly pleasing, really dense like shaving cream. After shrieking and throwing bubbles all over each other and the bathroom for a half an hour, things got more sculptural. There were bubble hats, beards and then, of course, boobs. Seeing those big bobbing bubble boobs on my daughter's already jiggly round body was hilarious, but almost too much.

When I was little my mom sewed most of my clothes. She made these amazing little cotton bikini bottoms that tied on the sides, but she would never make me a top. I pined for a top. It almost killed me. Susie never succumbed, "You can wear a top when you have something to put in it!" and then turning to whomever was present, "I do not like to see little girls being sexualized
!" Now, I could resent her for hexing me because I never ended up "having anything to put in it." But, instead, I fear I am becoming my mother. A neighbor gave me a brand new 4T Ralph Lauren string bikini the other day saying, "Isn't this so CUTE? My daughter didn't hit the size at the right season; she never wore it." As far as Susie is concerned that little number is a double whammy. A navy blue string bikini for a 4 year old with little embroidered polo players all over it. Susie never succumbed to my pleas for Izod, Esprit or Ralph Lauren either, "As soon as Mr. Lauren calls me up and wants to pay me to have my pretty daughter advertise his ridiculously expensive shirts, you can wear them." (Thank God for the Episcopalian Church fair where I procured all of the preppy shirts for $.50 each. I loved having them all worn in like a true New England preppy who'd had them in the family for linen) Luckily I don't think my girl will even fit her 2T booty into those tiny bottoms, so I'm not going to have to worry about it this week, but am I going to be the only mom at the Shore not letting her girls wear tops? Christ, those little Jersey girls will be wearing gold lame stripper tops, and my poor girls will be looking like Mowgli in The Jungle Book.

I don't know anyone who isn't fascinated by boobs-certainly not in my immediate family. My son said to me the other day with an almost stoned look in his eyes, "I love your boobs, Mama." My husband asked me recently, "So what is it like?" I said, "What?" He said, "Well, you have boobs
!" My daughter was cuddling with a shirtless male person (who will forever remain nameless) and his partner on a bed at the Shore last summer. She pointed to his chest and said, "Mama has boobs too." His partner misunderstood and asked, "You want food?" My daughter replied, "No, I just have nipples."

In college there was a Madonna Party. It was an excuse for all of the women to go out in lingerie, and all of the closeted gay guys got to wear leather. One of my bustier bedecked voluptuous friends said to another, "Oh my God! Can I just touch your boob?" The response was, "Sure!" It's as if the music stopped and the party went quiet, and those of us without boobs (most of them were men, I'll admit) just stared, mesmerized. I think I might have seen a few tentative hands go up inadvertently as if to say, "me too?!"

I had one busty friend ask me if I could arrange her taking my other busty friend bra shopping. "Why?" I said. The exasperated response: "Her cup runneth over; she needs to face facts; she's not a "C" anymore; she's a solid "D." She needs a Lilyette Minimizer
; it's driving me crazy!"

Around the same time I had a gorgeous roommate. I was staring at her in the kitchen one morning, and I couldn't help saying, "God! you have such a nice figure!" She replied in her loud English accent, "All I can say to that Naomi Campbell is, 'I've got tits!'" A moment later she kicked her foot up and said, "and I've got a mustache too!" It was the same loud voice I heard from my dining room one evening chastising my then boyfriend, "DAN! STOP STARING AT MY TITS!"

I guess I particularly like boob stories with accents. I called a Southern friend who had just survived breast cancer. I said, "So what are you up to?" "Today?" she replied in her gorgeous drawl, "I'm going to get my new nipples tattooed on...You?"

More recently, I made pottery for a woman who had just been bat mitzvah ed
with her granddaughter. I asked her how it went, and she was glowing as she spoke about the celebration. She started to gush about how much she adores her granddaughter, and then she made a proud reference to the girl's figure. I was sort of shocked and amused but mostly refreshed at her flagrant appreciation for her granddaughter's double-D's.

One friend was a phone sex operator. She got a call as I arrived at her house. She opened the door for me, and mouthed, "This'll only take a minute." She then proceeded to tell the guy on the line that she was a red-headed aerobics instructor with really big nipples. The conversation went on a little longer, but she was right; it only took a minute. She said flippantly as she put on her coat, "He just wanted to hear a woman say the words, really big nipples."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mr. Clean

Steel on Christmas Eve in her Christmas outfit: her brother's digger-man boots, frosty leg warmers, black leggings and her "Detroit Rock City" black thermal underwear shirt...

I actually have nightmares about Sharpies.

We live in a super-sustainable, award-winning home that my husband designed. The counter tops are white Corian. My husband and his partners/brothers intend to sell the home, so some of its modernist minimal perfection has to remain intact.
One August day I let my son play with a spray bottle of water. I soon regretted that decision as spray bottles became his obsession, and normally spray bottles contain toxic chemicals. I had the same experience with washable magic markers on the Corian counter tops. I let the kids graffiti them. I was probably feeling like a hip mom exposing her kids to the idea of process rather than product as we'd always wipe away their masterpieces. Now all surfaces are fair game, and they don't know one art supply from another. Did you know that sidewalk chalk on drywall is permanent?

My 2-year-old daughter is the graffiti artist. She hasn't hit the fairy princess stage yet. I'm not sure she ever will. I came to pick them up at daycare during dress-up time. My son was predictably Buzz Lightyear. I scanned the princesses and ballet dancers for my daughter's face to no avail. She was wearing a black muscle man outfit. Her one concession to glamour is lip gloss. I found her hiding at a friend's house in what I can only refer to as a "lip gloss stupor." She looked up at me with blue sparkle lip gloss covering every inch of skin and every strand of hair and said dreamily, "Mama, I'm beautiful." Of course lipstick is the next step. In desperation during one of the snow days I let her play with my make up. She's very fond of one of my "flight-delayed-too-much-time-at-the-duty free-shop" tubes of Yves St. Laurent red lipstick which is the make-up equivalent to a Sharpie. I have to give her some credit; she wasn't actively grafitti-ing the bathroom white Corian, but the constant climbing up and down to admire her reflection with her thick little ham hands covered in Yves left the counters somewhat violated. My calm as I used some water on a piece of black dirty laundry to wipe them clean turned into stomach-in-the-throat all-out panic. Those prints weren't budging.

In my mind Tim was serving the divorce papers on me when the "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser" popped into my head. I don't ever rhapsodize about cleaning products except for oxy-clean, so it's been strange for me to sit through MULTIPLE sonnets by other mothers to Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser. I was bequeathed a section of one by another mommy-potter. She buys hers and cuts them into pieces to make them last. I threw it in with the other ignored cleaning products. That evening I ended up putting "you saved my marriage" in the subject heading of an e-mail to her.

I have another connection to Mr. Clean. My friend had become so constipated after one of those barium body scan things that her husband had to go to Walgreens multiple times one afternoon for enemas. That probably wasn't fun for him, but to add to it, they lived in the Castro. (the gay neighborhood in San Francisco) He's a good-looking guy, so his repeat performances were not going unnoticed. On purchase number 3 the queen behind the counter said to him with a leer, "Well you really ARE Mr. Clean now aren't you?!"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

milk puke

So I am trying to run a pottery business despite having 3 children under 4. Last weekend Philadelphia hosted the show that is the basis for my business: "The Buyers Market of American Craft." For the past 2 years I haven't attended the show; I've parasitically tried to lure buyers to my studio instead. I had an accomplice this year: Baby Toby. Toby is close to baby perfection. Her only flaw is that she's a puker. One of my intimidatingly super-efficient buyers, Jude, is a tiny, gorgeous woman from Cambridge who is always dressed impeccably in black. She offered to hold Toby probably because it was painful watching me try to hold the baby, open a bottle of wine and greet some other buyers or maybe she felt it her duty as a woman to do so. Toby did an impressive job reaffirming Jude's decision never to have children. It was like a geyser in Yellowstone, magnificent, gravity defying and vibrantly smelly. By the end of the weekend I'm sure Jude felt like she'd been rolling in a pile of Gorgonzola. She's one of those people who has the one perfect outfit for the whole weekend, so she can carry a chic bag that looks big enough to hold a cotton ball and some dental floss. I hope we're still friends. Maybe I should offer to pay her drycleaning.


My husband is a really busy man. Clearly I am not as busy as I am blithering to you about the minutia of daily life for a mom/potter. Recently he said, “I want to help with the laundry, but before I can you just swoop it all up.” Swoop? I just looked it up: to seize or snatch something in a sudden swift attack. I thought the definition was going to have a little more of a Ginger Rogers graceful aspect to it, but either way, there is no swooping going on. I begrudgingly and methodically do laundry twice a week, 3 loads each time. I do not swoop. What I really hate is putting all the little clothes right side out. I’ll do anything short of complete asphyxiation to take my kids' clothes off right-side-out. They sit there blind and whining, little chins and noses smushed by collars, their massive heads stuck because I won’t flip the shirt. I wonder what would turn me on more: if my husband ripped off his and my clothes to make love to me or if he took them off and put them right-side-out first…mmm sexy.