Friday, February 11, 2011


Welcome to vomit/diahrrea/fever week. Jack Peter and I are the only two who have not succumbed. Heather, aka extreme mom, celebrated vdf week last week. She culminated it by throwing a birthday/Superbowl party for her 1 year old, Gigi. Apparently we contracted the Ermilio family vdf. The liquids and the misery are vile and tragic, but the isolation is what gets you. You can't go swimming at the Y. You can't go on play dates. You're a shit if you take them to the Please Touch Museum. We thought Toby was on the mend yesterday, so we let her have milk and food. We were rewarded by her spewing a substance ressembling watery mayonnaise all over the kitchen. It's horrible to see a 16-month-old baby explode.

This morning I gave Toby the cereal she'd requested. I sat far away in the brown chair as she ate. She made it through the bowl. Steel was sick and still asleep, so I let Jack Peter draw. Normally I force feed him breakfast like he's a goose I'm preparing for foie gras, but I knew we weren't going to get to leave the house, so why rush? I asked him to pick up the 17 pieces of Barbaras Shredded Spoonfuls that were on the floor beneath Toby's chair. He ignored me. I asked several more times. He got up and held up the above hot pink "NO" sign he'd just drawn. I'm assuming he's been inspired by the success of the Egyptian anti-Mubarak revolution.

This morning our family was to be the subject of a lifestyle article for the Philadelphia Inquirer..."The architect in the home he designed with his potter wife and 3 children..." That's why I asked JP to pick up a little. Tim was frantically vaccuuming, stowing and cleaning toothpaste handprints off of all of the bathroom mirrors. I was trying to manage the Tobinator and wondering when I was going to get to bathe. Toby spends her mornings systematically taking books off of shelves, caps off of markers, toys out of toy chests until she has to stop to take a massive poop.

The writer and photographer arrived. His name was Chip, but the writer kept calling him Skip. I finally had to ask which it was. Uncle Johnny always says, "Who am I? Skip?" whenever he feels someone hasn't offered him a beer or food to the point that when I hear the name, Skip, I automatically assume that I'm being a poor hostess. We awkwardly cleared up the Skip/Chip confusion, but it was a jerky photoshoot. Steel was sick on the couch with a fever. She's normally camera shy, but with a fever I fully expected Skip to leave here with a black eye. The writer, Diane, finally said, "Let's just photograph the 4 of you. No one knows you have 3 kids."

Diane held a fascination for my home decor style which I will henceforth call, "grandma chic" She was admiring the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates that my Grandma Girly bought for me. I'm a December baby, so when I was in utero, Grandma was walking down the streets of New York and stopped to admire that year's Christmas plate, which incidentally has a goose on it. She bought it saying to herself, "If that baby isn't normal, I'll break this plate over my knee!" Subsequently she bought me the Christmas plate every year for my birthday. I put on a brave face when I'd see the tell-tale 8"x8"x2" box on the dining room table.

Recently my mom needed to clear them out, so here they are as well as the Norman Rockwell ones and the Audobon Woodland Series. I was told that these are "limited edition" and very valuable. I have all of the original boxes and literature. I cracked up when I went online to find that you can get them for peanuts on ebay. To Tim's chagrin I've put them up in the guestroom and the Rockwell ones were in the kids' room before operation bunkbed. I admit they're kitch, but I love them as I do Nana Kinder's watercolors and wonky antique lamps. Maybe those plates are the reason I'm a potter.

I know I'm turning into my mom. I hear it in my voice when I shout at my kids. But now I'm grappling with the reality that I'm also becoming my grandmother. Grandma Girlie was fabulously shameless. She'd ask me to pick out a dessert to take home from an all-you-can-eat buffet. A waiter would come over and dutifully wrap it up for us. She was a tiny woman, but she carried these massive purse/baskets. They had hinged wooden tops that would slam as stuff went in or out. In it she could put the black forest cake I'd selected as well as the sugar packets and creamers she'd taken from the table. She remarried a well-to-do journalist in her 70's. They were so cute and romantic. With him she became a member of exclusive clubs and had a glamorous, sable-decked, Florida life. She still nicked stuff from restaurants. The Biltmore Hotel to which they belonged had these distinctive yellow, pink and turquoise mints in a crystal punch bowl. Grandma Girlie always had a jar of them in her kitchen. I, too, am becoming a mint hoarder. I just discovered that if you microwave vanilla ice cream to soften it and stir in crushed up mints or old candy canes, you will have peppermint stick ice cream. Pregnant or not, peppermint stick ice cream is my holy grail, and it's only a seasonal thing in Philadelphia. I think of Grandma Girlie every time I thank a hostess and grab a mint for each of my kids and then a handful for my purse.

Heather, the source of the vdf disease, called today to see if we are still friends. I told her I was just about to stick pins in the eyes of the voo doo doll I'd made of her. She had just taken 2 girls on a Sam's Club shopping trip. Big box shopping with children should be an olympic event. She'd had to open cookies, fruit and a roast chicken to make it through. When she went to pay, she didn't have the right credit card, so she was on her way to another grocery store to re do the entire shopping trip. I told her I'd send voo doo doll to a spa with stinky snatch barbie.

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