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Posts from the ‘kids’ Category

the scariest catalog

I realize it’s September 9th and that Halloween is seven weeks away. Try telling that to my kids. It’s like they have a sensor that goes off when they realize they haven’t harassed me about anything new in a while. Or maybe it’s because the wretched Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies catalog arrived the day after Labor Day.

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It’s called “Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies” but what it should really be called is “Satan’s Manifesto by Chasing Fireflies.” It’s hard to enjoy the last days of summer when I know that thing is on its way. Because it’s filled to the brim with some scary, scary shit.

My kids don’t think it’s scary. When they see it in the mail they jump up and down as if possessed and then flop down on their bellies, heads braced on elbows, to lick through every page with the focus and concentration I would hope they exhibit at school, but which I fear they only exhibit towards the Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies catalog. They drag the thing around like it’s a pet. They look at it in the bathtub, pages held high over the water.

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tate explaining to me at 7:15 AM that he needs to check the mailbox because finn told him we are getting ninja costumes today

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me explaining to tate that his brother is a liar

I brought up the catalog to other moms this week. My friend Heather said parents she knows intercept their copies in the mail and then hide them. Other friends just destroy them. Technically these friends may be committing federal mail fraud, if the catalogs are addressed to their kids. But I didn’t have the heart to get all lawyerly, because God knows, I get it. I only wish I’d had the foresight to do something about it.

The day the Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies catalog comes, the insanity begins. There are other catalogs that will come, but Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies is the ne plus ultra of Halloween catalogs. The wares are displayed on real child models, mostly blond, and each costume bears a long, corny description that seeks to justify the staggering expense of the wares. There’s nothing like girding your loins to pay $60.00 for an astronaut costume and then realizing the helmet is an additional $48.50. An astronaut without a helmet is basically a repairperson. A homemade helmet on top of a $60.00 astronaut outfit is just sad. I know all this because I wrestled with whether to buy that costume for three weeks last year before deciding to bend Finn’s will into believing that he wanted to be a Stormtrooper instead ($29.99 on Amazon).

I might feel bad about cheaping out on my kids, except that I don’t, because it turns out that Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies doesn’t want money from my kind. If they did, they wouldn’t offer costumes like this.

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Don’t be the asshole who lets your kid dress up as another RACE. I mean, just don’t. Call me overly PC or whatever, but are there really so few options out there that you need to indulge your child’s desire to dress up in some bastardized version of someone else’s national or racial heritage? I mean, maybe you can dress your kid up as a specific PERSON of another race. Like, I guess, Pocahontas or something. Maybe. No, probably not. Unless you put a nametag on the outfit that says “Pocahontas” or otherwise makes it crystal fucking clear that you are paying homage, not being racist. But that still feels wrong. Maybe even more wrong than no nametag. I dunno. I’m not Native American. But maybe, just don’t do it. And that goes for the rest of your racist family.

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Finn and Tate have their costumes picked out. Black and white ninjas. With all the accessories, the costumes for both kids will cost a neat $150. But don’t worry. I have seven weeks to convince them that they want to dress up as their daddy instead, using his neckties and some of his cufflinks. The nice thing about your kids picking out their costumes seven weeks early is you get to enjoy the magic of Halloween for two months. What could be better?

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sorry kids. mommy needs that money for retinol

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sexting for married people

No one ever tells you how hard it is to blog during the summer, when there is life to be lived. When I thought up this post a month ago, Anthony Weiner was big news. What I wanted to say a month ago is this: there are about 20,000 things I’d rather receive via text from my husband before a photo of his penis. As it is, I find my husband’s penis pretty inescapable. I don’t need it following me around in my phone.

Instead of your penis, how about texting your spouse some pics that will really make them happy? Like so.

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“I thought of what to feed the kids and then fed them”

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“Hey, love the new bag! It really fleshes out your handbag options”

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“We’re all packed for the beach. I have towels for the kids and a change of clothes and some healthy snacks. But what am I forgetting? Sunblock? No, got that too”

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“Water! Drank some today!”

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“Tate put his shoes on. By HIMSELF”

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“Noticed the padding in your bra came out in the dryer. So I popped those suckers back in for you”

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“Finally got around to organizing that Tupperware drawer like we’ve been talking about. Felt GREAT and now I’m moving on to the tile grout”

 

 

clothes in my house that refuse to die

1. Finn’s Detroit Lions t-shirt

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I have a small to medium-sized phobia of black cotton t-shirts. Even the best black cotton shirts are bound to fade, and once your black t-shirt fades, you might as well cut the sleeves off that bitch and pull on some jorts. Needless to say, Finn loves this shirt. He likes to pair it with his too-short sweatpants and a pair of striped knee socks from H&M, and the whole ensemble cuts me like a knife, every time. If this shirt had cost money, I would have burned it long ago. But unfortunately, it was free, as Tom likes to remind me. It came with Finn’s Sports Illustrated Kids subscription, and Tom carefully checked the box for the Detroit Lions, and the rest is history.

I’ve actually tried to throw this shirt away. Finn found it in his trash can and lovingly folded it back into his drawer.

2. Tate’s Gangnam Style t-shirt

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I’ll take any opportunity to inject a little Korean flavor into my kids’ lives, which basically means that we eat a lot of Korean bbq and that I get mad when my kids ask to take Karate lessons and say they want to be goddamn ninjas. Gangnam Style is Finn’s favorite song and has been for a good six months. Finn learned the Korean word “yuh-ja” from that song, which means “woman.” He has taken to greeting me with “What up, yuh-ja,” which is technically not incorrect, as I am a woman, but sounds very rude. Whatever. Even I have to admit that the song is catchy.

But there is a big difference between the song and this shirt, which, let’s be frank, is racist. I can’t even really point to what’s racist about it, but it feels racist. Does Psy look that pig-like in real life?? I can’t be sure. I understand that Koreans designed and manufactured this shirt, because it was procured in Seoul, which makes it worse. Also, my mom bought it, which confuses me further. I mean, she’s more Korean than I am. Am I not getting the joke? I want to get the joke.

3. This shirt

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Tom and I turned on the TV the other day and caught ten minutes of the Walking Dead. I know everyone loves that show but if you’ve never watched it before and then you watch ten minutes of it, you might be forgiven for having the reaction that Tom and I did, which was to look at each other and laugh hysterically. I only mention that show because this t-shirt looks like something a zombie would wear. But it’s not. It’s actually something that my husband wears.

Whenever I complain about it, he leers at me, lifts up his arm, and asks if I find the direct access to his armpit sexy. He doesn’t use those words, but that’s the gist. I like his armpit, as much as I like the rest of him, but I don’t want direct access to his armpit. I just don’t.

4. Tate’s AC Milan shorts

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These shorts are fresh out of the wash. I have no idea what those stains are, but they aren’t coming out. I’ve tried. These look like they were worn by a guy manning the deep fryer at KFC. But when would my three-year old have been around a deep fryer?

Every morning, Tate wakes up and wants to put on a “soccer shirt” and these “sport shorts.” Tate’s actual interest in soccer or sports is arguably less extant than even mine, but his brother wears sports clothes, and he wants to be like his brother in a very bad way. Speaking of brothers, these were part of a complete kit bought for Tate by my brother Mike, a huge AC Milan fan. And I guess that’s why I can’t bear to throw them away.

5. Go Blue

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There’s a whole lot of maize and blue in my house. I don’t buy it, but still, it arrives, via Tom and his relatives.

Here’s the thing about the color maize. No one looks good in it. Especially not Asians (me, my kids) and extremely fair people (Tom). Sometimes the designers like to keep things fresh by replacing the maize with a lighter shade of yellow that you might call “cornflower” but which I call “pancake batter.” No one looks good in that either.

Anyway, we get a fresh influx of Michigan clothes anytime Michigan wins something or, in this case, gets close to winning something. Michigan made it to the NCAA finals this year, and it was a great run. I would never destroy this shirt even though it is intensely ugly. Because I love Michigan. And because it would only replicate itself if I tried to destroy it.

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**Tom said I could only use the photos of his t-shirts if I also provided this link. Enjoy.

6. Tom’s pick

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Tom got annoyed when he saw me taking pictures of his ugly clothes. So I told him to pick the thing he hated most from my wardrobe. So here it is. This offensive J.Crew cardigan, which I’ve had for eight years. Tom says it’s “Talbotty.” Meow.

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what’s in my bag, tate edition

Man, there’s nothing better than watching a kid pack his vacation bag. At the first hint of a trip, my three year old Tate will drag out his huge duffel bag into the hallway, and start filling it with his essentials. This week, in preparation for a week-long trip to Central Oregon, he packed the following.

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1. Robin (his older brother was Batman) costume from Halloween 2011

2. Gangnam Style t-shirt (more on this in my next post)

3. Envelopes, for correspondence

4. Maraca

5. Highlighter. Like mother like son. Other assorted pens.

6. Journal. For journaling. He can’t write.

7. Pastels. They melt, mark anything they graze, and oh yeah, the box has no real closure.

8. Blanket.

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Tate kept packing while I snapped these photos. He, like his dad (a master packer), works in stages. Also like his dad, Tate knows the importance of packing within packing. So he likes to put his toys in boxes before he puts them in the bag. Like so.

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Bon voyage, Tate.

insane bitch mom

As kids, we quickly learn which neighborhood moms are the cool moms. The ones who will sneak you a cookie an hour before dinnertime, the ones who will let you watch TV and build forts under their dining room table. Growing up, my mom was a cool mom because she looked young and wore cool clothes and cooked delicious snacks.

Now that I have kids and live on a street with other kids, I am eager to be “Cool Mom,” or at the very least, “Nice Mom,” but what I’m quickly becoming is “Mean Mom.” I mean, sometimes it seems like I have a goddamned gift for it. It’s not all my fault. I blame a lot of it on the fact that of the families on our block, I am the only one with a 3-year old. A 3-year old who desperately wants to hang out with his brother and the other older boys on the block. A 3-year old who has yet to develop 1) a sense of self-preservation and 2) a conscience.

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Now that summer is here, parenting has basically boiled down to one thing, and that is to prevent Tate from escaping the house. But no matter how often we close the doors, he slips out. Sometimes we think he’s inside and then I’ll look outside a window and see him standing in the middle of the street, shoeless, swinging a large branch that I have to hope he didn’t break off a neighbor’s tree. Sometimes we think he’s inside, and he is, only it’s someone else’s house. Tate walks in and out of my neighbor Chrissy’s house with impunity, picking up her son’s Nerf guns and transporting them to his own room. Anyway, I spend a lot of time running around the perimeter of my house with a panicked look, muttering “Where’s Tate?” If I see a kid around, I’ll grill them about Tate’s whereabouts, as if it’s their responsibility to keep an eye on my kid. So right off, I’m that mom, the annoying, harassing mom who can’t keep tabs on her own kids.

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But where I really excel is in getting involved in neighborhood kid conflicts. I can’t help it. I have a strong sense of justice and a short temper. When I see injustice being rendered on one of my own children, my eyes essentially start dripping blood and my hands and feet turn into cloven hooves. Last week I watched as Finn waited patiently outside Chrissy’s trampoline as three other kids bounced inside for what seemed like hours. I heard him ask to have a turn. I heard the kids inside refuse. And that’s when I turned into IBM, otherwise known as Insane Bitch Mom.

I stormed into Chrissy’s yard. “Get out. Everyone needs to have a turn.” The kids inside stopped bouncing, and looked unsure. I mean, it wasn’t even my fucking trampoline. I could see the oldest kid looking hesitant, as if he meant to call me out on it. Best to nip that shit in the bud. “I mean it. GET. OUT. Or figure out a way to include everyone.” Finn, who had initially looked happy at finally getting a turn, was starting to look embarrassed. Chrissy had stepped outside to see what the commotion was about. But no going back now. “Everyone needs to have a turn. You guys have been jumping for a long time and Finn’s been waiting.” The boys climbed out, looking chagrined. Punks.

I walked back to my house and looked over the fence in a few minutes to see Chrissy, timing the kids’ turns on a timer. By then the anger had burned off and I felt remorseful. Especially for Chrissy. She’d already given a lot in taking on the beast—the neighborhood trampoline! There was no way I was getting one, because, hello, I took Torts in law school. And I had returned her generosity by going AWOL on her kid. Now, she felt compelled to TIME them, probably because of IBM. I resolved to do better.

So last night, when Finn ran sobbing into the house complaining about being pushed to the concrete, I held him and talked quietly about how things can get rough when people play, and told him to take some calming breaths. I breathed calmly, to encourage him. But then I saw blood on his ankle. And IBM was back, just like that. BLOOD!! What the fuck, was this a neighborhood or was it Lord of the Flies? Wait a second. Was my kid Piggy?? My kid wasn’t going to be anyone’s fucking Piggy. I grabbed Finn’s hand and pulled him down the street to where the crew of kids had gathered, replaying the highlights of the melee. “You guys, he’s BLEEDING. What happened?” I could feel Finn pulling on my hand, because he wanted no part of the denouement. And I quickly learned why.

“They pushed each other!,” the kids cried out, in a chorus. I looked at Finn and felt like a stooge. “Did you push your friend?,” I asked. Finn nodded, guiltily. Shit. I laid down a mini-lecture to all the kids about not getting rough on concrete, and then I looked around at all their adorable faces. I saw there what I tend to forget in my moments of helicopter parenting. That kids have a strong sense of right and wrong, and even the most stubborn ones know deep down when an injustice has been wrought. I felt a moment of gratitude and relief that my kids would get to grow up on this street, with this crew. There would be fights, there would be scuffles. But that’s where they’d learn how to figure it out. How to win, how to lose. How to belong.

I feel ashamed to have forgotten the immigrant lesson I learned early on. I came to America when I was five. Didn’t speak English, and was poor. I remember my mom, who fought like a cougar for me when I was picked on. But she wouldn’t always pick me up. And so I learned how to cope, and how to fight. How will my kids learn to fight, if I don’t let them feel hurt or fear?

IBM may have some thoughts on that. I’ll have to ask her, the next time she’s in town.

hiding in my car

I ought to go in there. I really ought to.

I mean, it’s my house. And 9 times out of 10, I bound up the steps. That tenth time, though. Boy. That tenth time, I’ve had a bad day, and dealing with my kids just might put me over the edge. Times like that, I just can’t go inside.

In the house, Tom’s likely wrestling both boys towards bedtime. He’s prying lips back from two sets of clenched up teeth, and trying to touch toothbrushes to tooth surfaces. He’s suggesting to Finn that the wiping of the ass might be more effective if the paper goes between the butt cheeks. He’s trying to convince Tate to crap in the toilet now, instead of later in his pull-up, when it will be unspeakably disgusting for all involved.

In the bath, there will be water, sloshing all over. Tate will want to take Thomas the Train and his friend Percy swimming. It will sound like this, to Tom and any neighbor in a five house radius: “PUSSY WANTS TO GO SWIMMING!!” There will be the ten millionth explanation of why you can’t put wooden toys into the tub. There will be whining that the water is too cold (Finn), and simultaneously, too hot (Tate). Inevitably, there will be “DON’T GET WATER ON MY SCRATCH/FAKE TATTOO/CHUCK-E-CHEESE STAMP/BAND-AID!!” There will be screaming. There will be tears, most of them Tom’s.

But out here in my car, all is serene. I can listen to the radio and check my texts. The wireless in the house works just as well out here in front of the parking strip. If the light is good, I might do my nails. Base coat, color, second coat of color, topcoat. It all takes time, but you can’t rush perfection.

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From out here, I can quietly enjoy the view of my denuded lawn, which has no plants in it because Tom had them all pulled out last week in a fit of gardening rage. Instead of shrubs, I can now enjoy the hole in the boards below my porch, perfectly sized for rodent entrances and exits. Tom says he will cut and paint a new board to replace the missing one. But that would seem to require woodworking skills of which I’ve seen zero evidence during our 12 years of marriage.

Sometimes if I run out of stuff to do in the car, I’ll run to my mailbox on the porch and then run back to my car with my mail. US Weekly is the best for car reading, but if it’s not Friday, catalogs will do. Frontgate is my favorite. Frontgate is like the Skymall catalog, without the plane. Tom and I play a game on the plane called “Death is Not an Option.” Every page of the Skymall catalog, you have to pick something that you must display in your home. Sometimes the kids play, but they actually want the items. Who says married people are lame? Not me. Married people can squeeze fun from the most sullen, whiny, and ungrateful rocks, not that I ever think of parenting or my kids that way.

I flip some pages in the Frontgate catalog. A Sopranos Craps Shadowbox! Tom would totally pick that. I wish he was out here in the car with me. But it’s impossible, because someone has to be inside the house with my kids.

The light is dimming. Tom’s probably settling in for the 200th reading of the haunting children’s masterpiece known as “Superman v. Mongul.” Or perhaps tonight the boys have chosen the compelling narrative arc of the Lego Star Wars Character Encyclopedia. In particular I really enjoy reading which Lego sets each character can be found in and then hearing “We don’t have that set. Can we buy that set?” Sweet dreams, boys.

I ought to go inside. But I put them to bed last night when Tom was outside in his car checking scores and poring over the Eastbay catalog. Of course, when Tom hides in the car, I run outside with no shoes on and stand menacingly at his window until he gives up and comes inside. I shouldn’t do that. Because I get it. Sometimes, you just need to hide in the car.

a chest so full

I don’t know a single woman who is fully content with her looks. But I know a lot of men who are. It’s an odd truth, but one I never really thought about until my six-year old son began going around shirtless.

In the universe of cute things, I find little-boy torsos to be right at the top. The big head, teetering on gawky, narrow shoulders. Skin so pale it’s translucent in spots. A mountain range of ribs. Tiny baby moles, some in the same spots as my own. Nothing makes me happier than sticking my nose into Finn’s neck and feeling his laugh vibrate. I can feel his life blood beating there, the humid warmth mixing with the almost powdery freshness of youth.

I love Finn’s bare torso, but that doesn’t mean I’m not alarmed when I see it out in public. First to go were the pajama tops. “Where’s your shirt?,” I’d ask, when he’d come down for breakfast in the chill. He’d shrug as Cheerios fell from his mouth to rest on his bony chest. Spring came, and the temps got into the high 50’s. And then Finn started taking his shirt off at every opportunity. He takes off his shirt to play outside. He takes off his shirt to eat dinner. He takes off his shirt to watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He’s always fully dressed for winter on the bottom, which makes it even weirder.

I don’t fuss. If I’ve learned anything from my six years as a parent, it’s that odd behavior explodes exponentially the more you remark on it. A lesson I learned the hard way, with booger eating. Some things are better ignored.

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As with all things, Tate has started taking his big brother’s lead with the semi-nudity. But at least Finn has some meat on his bones. Tate’s 3-year old torso looks exactly like E.T.’s. That’s what you end up with when your favorite food is watermelon.

I don’t know if Finn associates bare torsos with athletes, which is a possibility. Or if he is taking a cue from Tom, who will start walking around shirtless after any two consecutive days of gym visits. “Do I look bigger??,” Tom will ask, while flexing his chest. Or, stretching luxuriously after a shower: “Do you want to touch my muscles?” I always try to nod yes. Because these are the kindnesses that life partners owe to one another.

I laugh at my guys, but I wish I had more of their confidence, their ease, their comfort with self. That extra five pounds? I’m fooling myself if I think anyone cares but me. Sometimes the constant struggle to be stronger, thinner, better—it just leaves me feeling hungry. And I want to feel full. Sated. Not by food, but by the knowledge that all the big and small pleasures in my life make me whole.

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downers: sweaty pits

Finn is on the cusp of something. I don’t know if it’s the beginning of manhood, or the end of babyhood, but I’ll tell you this: it doesn’t smell right.

As usual, Cuz voiced it first. “Finn smells,” she said. I had noticed it myself, usually after one of his soccer games, but had been in denial, for months. Normally, Finn smells like warm, active boy—a very good smell. Possibly, the best smell. More and more often, however, that boy smell comes with a dash of Gouda.

I can’t even tell where the smell is coming from. At bathtime, I stuck my nose under his armpit as he grumbled about privacy. It didn’t smell good, but neither did it smell like cheese. I think it’s his feet. I almost keeled over this week when he sat down next to me and pulled his feet, sockless, from a pair of Nikes.

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How did this happen? Finn is half Asian, and Asians don’t have B.O. I know, because I know a lot of Asians. And in general, none of them smell as bad as white people. It’s not a scientific sample, but take the Asian and white guys I know. The Asians might smell like a shit ton of Polo Sport, but they aren’t going to smell like rotting vegetable matter, like Tom does after a summer day in a suit. I’m just saying. Sidle up to an Asian after your gym class. Maybe not exactly roses. But not so bad, either. I can’t explain it. Might be the lack of body hair.

It sure as hell isn’t the lack of sweat. I am 100% Asian and I sweat profusely in situations requiring even the most minimal amount of physical exertion. Once, after a Zumba class, I passed by a nice old lady in the locker room. “I hope you enjoyed your swim!,” she chirped. Listen, friendly people: sometimes, it’s better not to make assumptions. Sometimes, in fact, it’s best not to say anything at all.

At least my sweat doesn’t smell. I know, because, duh, I’ve touched my sweat and smelled it.

Sweating really creates issues when it comes to clothes. I remember when I wore a pair of tight pants to go dancing, way back in college. They call it vegan leather now, but back then it was called plastic. Imagine dancing in a hot room in skintight plastic pants. I’d dance for a few minutes and then go to the restroom to roll down my pants and sop up the sweat with toilet paper. For the record, it’s really hard to look sexy in your tight plastic pants if people think you have a weak bladder or uncontrolled diarrhea.

Sweat is also really bad with silk. I wear a lot of silk, because it drapes nicely over my A cups and skims over my love handles just so. But for me, even thinking about sweat while wearing silk results in immediate pit stains of man-sized proportions. I’ve spent many a wedding with something wedged under my arm, to hide the evidence. Try hugging someone with a wedding program tucked under one arm, and an evening clutch tucked under the other. Or don’t. Best to wait to be hugged in such scenarios. You can participate in the hug by leaning in. I’m a great leaner.

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linds and me, leaning

Anyway, I’ve spent a lot of time googling stuff like “extreme sweatiness” and “excessive sweatiness” and “does Certain Dry cause cancer.” Linds turned me onto Certain Dry, which she says keeps your armpits sweat free. I’m sure Linds wouldn’t mind me sharing that as a white person, she worries about sweaty pits even more than I do. If there’s someone with B.O. in a room, she immediately assumes it’s her. Even I don’t do that. Anyway, the Certain Dry. It works, Linds says. Of course, she had to stop using it when it started causing her to scratch at her armpits uncontrollably in public. There’s always a catch. Why does there always have to be a catch?

Why can’t they invent a silk that makes sweat invisible? Can you put deodorant on a six-year old’s feet? That Asian you know who smells really bad? I’m all ears.

zucchini bread for liars

I suspect that vegetables are a relatively boring topic for anyone who 1) doesn’t have kids, or 2) has kids who eat vegetables (I hate you), and for that I apologize. For me, the only time I stop thinking about how to get my kids to eat more vegetables is every couple months when my brain shorts out and forgets to think about the topic out of sheer exhaustion.

We all know an adult who will only eat hamburger meat and chicken nuggets. My older kid, Finn, is like three Happy Meals away from becoming that societal freak. If he turns into that guy, I will kill myself. I really will.

Last week I asked Finn, as I do every few weeks, if he was enjoying the carrots in his lunch. Yes Mommy, he nodded, as usual. But that day, I don’t know—maybe he looked away a beat too long—something made me ask again. Finn squirmed in his seat and began staring at the far wall. Then things went all to hell.

“You have been eating your carrots, right?,” I said, thinking of the 500 or so baby carrots I’d packed in his lunch over the past six months.

(Long pause). “Wellll. Sometimes I don’t eat my carrots,” Finn said.

(Longer pause). “Sometimes?,” I asked, nibbling a nail. “Or all the time?”

Finn looked like he was going to cry. “All the time, mommy,” he said.

Man. Secretly I think I always knew he wasn’t eating those damn carrots. There were signs that I chose to ignore. Like the one morning I casually handed him a baby carrot at breakfast while I was packing more carrots in his lunch and he took ten minutes to choke the carrot down, which he then promptly regurgitated. “But you eat these all the time at lunch!,” I said. Like an idiot.

Looking back, I clearly chose to turn a blind eye. Lying is no good, but my grown-up behavior was arguably worse. Finn probably felt that he needed to lie about eating the carrots in order to protect my emotional well-being. When I asked Finn’s lovely teacher for advice, as I always do when the going gets tough, she suggested, gently, that I stop packing the carrots for the time being. So no more carrots.

Anyway. A part of me is glad that’s all worked out and the sham is over and now I can go back to hiding vegetables in Finn’s food.

Zucchini bread is a passion of mine. I like mine moist, zucchini-heavy, and not too sweet. After many dozen loaves, I’ve worked out my standby recipe. It’s low on sugar, part whole wheat, yadda yadda, but here’s the best part–you can mix all the contents by hand. My stand mixer is a beast that weighs approximately 75 pounds. Increasingly I find myself looking for ways to avoid using it.

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If you have a food processor with a shredder blade, you can get this whole thing in the oven in 15 minutes. As part of his ongoing campaign to do harm in the kitchen in order to avoid being asked to cook, Tom accidentally lit my food processor on fire about a year ago and it still manages to get the job done with the zucchini, even though I have to stick my hand in the feed tube to get the motor to work. Just think how easy it will be with your fully operational Cuisinart.

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Zucchini Bread

Adapted from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Ingredients:

1.5 cups all-purpose flour (spooned in to the measuring cup, not packed in)

1/2 cup + 3.5 tablespoons whole wheat flour

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 large eggs

1/2 liquid cup vegetable, safflower, or canola oil

1/2 cup sugar (add more for sweeter bread–Beranbaum’s original recipe calls for 1 cup)

3 cups shredded or grated zucchini

1 cup chopped walnuts (or omit)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Move rack to rung below middle of oven.

2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

4. Whisk together eggs, oil, and sugar until incorporated in large bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Batter will be a little stiff.

5. Add zucchini, mix to incorporate with wooden spoon. The batter will begin to loosen as the moisture from the zucchini incorporates into the batter. Fold in walnuts, if using.

6. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 5 loaf pan. Or cheat and spray the pan with Baker’s Joy like I do.

7. Bake in oven for 55 minutes. Check with toothpick, if batter still moist, bake for another five minutes. Do not overbake.

8. Cool in pan for ten minutes. Run knife along outside edges to loosen, remove from pan and set on cooling rack.

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talking sh*t about my kids

A couple weeks ago, my friend Mandy sent me a video of her kid doing something funny, and then immediately expressed remorse because she’d invaded his privacy. I felt respect for Mandy in that moment. But it was the kind of respect I have for people who go on hunger strikes. Whenever I hear about someone on a hunger strike I try really hard to think of an issue I feel strongly enough to starve for, and always come up short. An end to man sandals, maybe.

Before that conversation with Mandy, it had never really occurred to me that my kids had privacy rights that could be violated, least of all by me. Clearly not, because I blog about them. I share details about my kids that will likely anger them in the distant future when they are old enough to read blog posts, although Tom won’t let me write about the really interesting episodes. But I rationalize that I feed them and clothe them, and once this blog really starts making some serious coin, they can take pride of ownership in the family enterprise.

Not going to happen, my friend Courtney likes to tell me. She regularly reminds me that once my kids get older, I’ll have to stop blogging about them. She’s right, of course. Thank God I’ll still be able to write about Tom.

I’ve been feeling badly since noticing recently that I talk a lot of shit about my 3-year old. Tate is very cute. I’m his mom and, being a realist, I’m also prone to suspicions that my kids are less cute than I think they are, but I’m pretty sure he’s objectively cute. And it’s a good thing he’s cute. Because if he wasn’t so cute, I might have left him at Whole Foods months ago, bundled up in a basket with a rolled-up wad of cash and some Legos.

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Finn was 3 at some point. But Finn was never like Tate. There’s the first parenting no-no: comparing your kids. I can’t help it. If you go through an experience once, it’s human nature to expect a similar experience the next time around. Finn was energetic and Cuz remembers that he was mean at that age, but he has always hated getting in trouble. Tate could care less about doing the right thing. I blame this trait on Tom’s Caucasian genes, because Koreans are all about doing the right thing.

I might tell Tate not to kick a ball in the house. He will look at me, give a toothy grin, and then drill me in the face with the ball. I have no tools in my parenting toolkit to deal with stuff like that. I mean, I do, but Tom, being a liberal white person, frowns on spanking. Sometimes I have to pretend like I didn’t feel the ball hit my face, just to buy myself time to figure out what to do. FUCK!, my mind screams. WHAT DO I DO??? During moments like that I swear I can feel the weight of all my Korean ancestors looking down on me and shaking their heads in collective shame.

We worry so much as parents because we love our children more than cheap words can express. I know Tate will be ok. Even in my bleakest moments I have respect for his strong will, a quality I’m still hoping to develop at the age of 36, as related to food and portion control. Also, I try to remember that he’s 3.

This too shall pass. I know that because my friends say so. Friends like Mandy, who love and worry about their own children. And that’s why I talk shit about my kids, I guess. Being honest about how scary parenting can be makes me feel less helpless. It makes me feel less inadequate. It makes me feel less alone.

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