Category Archives: tips

The road trip

car1

People laughed when we told them we were driving from Chicago to South Carolina for our summer vacation.

“Your kids can stay in the car for that many hours?” they said.

“We’ll be fine,” we said, “we are going to take our time to get there, have a couple of overnight stops. It will be an adventure.”

And an adventure it was. (There’s a lot of yelling and throwing in adventures right?)

Besides, as Constantinos Kavafis, one of the greatest poets of my people, said: it’s not Ithaca but the journey to Ithaca that matters. (Especially if Ithaca is a beach in South Carolina- if you ask me!)

We had it all figured out:

– We planned to drive about 6 to 7 hours the first two days leaving us only 2 to 3 hours on the last day.

– Our route was pre-mapped with enough stops for bathroom and play breaks and we were staying at hotels with a pool so the kids could have some fun after spending most of the day strapped in their car seats.

– We had enough snacks for 3 hour stretches within reach of both children and emergency snacks (lollipops and candy) in the front.

– We went on an itunes shopping spree the night before, buying them all the shows they love, ensuring hours of entertainment.

– We got each of them Bluetooth headphones so they could watch their shows without annoying each-other and most importantly us.

So on Saturday morning, and only one hour behind schedule ,we got into our car and headed south. The music was good, the kids were watching their iPads; we were excited and optimistic about the future.

One hour later….

– The boy tried and dismissed all of the snacks.

– Took his headphones off and threw them on the floor at least seven times.

– Was tired of watching his iPad.

– And we were stuck in traffic on the Interstate just outside of Chicago.

I started to think that maybe this was a mistake, a 16 hour long mistake, each way….

the road trip
But then something wonderful happened. The boy fell asleep… for two hours. And like many children before him he was re-set after the nap.

The trip got better. He had his moments of “frustration” and my daughter did ask “how many more minutes until we get there?” more than just a couple of times.

Sure, there were times when we wished that, like a taxi, our car had a divider so that we could open a little window, quickly throw some snacks at the kids and close it to get back to some adult conversation. But we enjoyed the time together anyway. The route was beautiful for the most part and Satellite radio kept us entertained.

It was also an educational experience for all of us:

– We saw the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and drove through an Indian Reservation.

– On our way back we spent some time in Savannah and explored the beautiful southern city, admired the Spanish moss trees that line every street and visited a beautiful historic cemetery with haunting statues.

– We learned that bugs have not evolved enough to stay off the high-way and my windshield at times looked like the site of a massacre.

– My daughter finally learned the right words to the song “Milkshake,” by Kelis, and no longer says “my milkshake is bad but it’s better than yours.”

– We discovered the song “Lonely women make good lovers” on one of the many (you guessed it) country stations that SiriusXM has to offer.

– We ate fried pickles, which taste just like regular pickles only they are really bad for you.

– Turns out my husband can say things like “don’t make me stop this car” and keep a straight face.

So would we do it again? Ask again in six to eight months.

Of lice and curls

There are some things that are considered “rites of passage” when raising kids. For example, the other day I sent the kids to play in the basement and my son came upstairs with full make-up on because his older sister decided to “style” him.

This is not uncommon and a lot of friends say they have experienced similar scenarios. In fact, I remember doing this to at least one of my brothers and according to my mother-in-law my sister-in-law did to my husband. Sorry babe- if anyone doubts your manhood I refer them to: husbands, the cars they drive and the balls they carry.

A few weeks ago, I encountered a new “rite of passage” as a parent:

My daughter came home with lice.

Similar to a tragedy, I dealt with it in four distinct stages:

1. Denial:
There must be a reason she’s scratching her head so much. Maybe the heat? She’s sweating? Maybe she has a rash? Dandruff?

2. Anger:
Seriously? Lice!? Who gave her lice? I need a name and I will hunt them down with a fine toothed comb!

3. Depression:
Why? Why? Why do these things always happen to me?

4. Acceptance:
Google: “my child has lice” and learn all there is to know about the subject. (gotta love webMD). Then I go to the drugstore for shampoo and sprays and a special comb and get to work.

5. Itching:
Can anyone ever utter the word lice and not immediately start to itch all over? Pavlov’s bell had nothing on the word “lice” (and people say I never use my Psychology degree!)

So I put all the stuffed animals and throw pillows in plastic bags and put them away. (Lice cannot survive more than 24 hours away from the human scalp). I vacuumed everything, twice, and was prepared for the daily laundry of her sheets, clothes and towels.

But all this was, of-course, nothing compared to the main task at hand: To kill the lice.

The instructions were simple. All I had to do was put the lotion in her hair and then comb through to get rid of all those itchy bugs. Simple enough.

Armed with a fine toothed comb I was ready for the challenge:

“It’s on you bi*&es! I am taking you down!”

For two nights both the girl and I spent over an hour in her bathroom combing through her long curly hair. By day three I thought we were done.

I called her school to inform them of our infestation and they suggested that I bring her in. They would check her and if she was clear she could stay. She was not. They found a nit in her hair and sent us away.

Talk about the walk of shame!

So I then cycled through the stages of anger and depression again which were now followed by desperation: “this will never end! We will all get it and we will be the lice family: friendless and itchy.”

But then someone reminded me that I now live in America: The land of outsourcing (and the free of-course). Cue the music…

The land that invented dog-walkers, house-sitters, life-coaches and most importantly lice salons! God bless America. (I hope non-American readers can see the sarcasm here and American ones don’t see too much of it.)

The one near us is appropriately called Nit-pickers. At $90 per hour it was by no means cheap but it was so worth it. They just combed through her hair over and over again until they got rid of every louse and every nit that was hiding in there.

The professional nit-picker said that it was just a mild infestation and if I combed through her hair for another three days she should be lice and nit free. And she was. (Professional nit-picker …. So many possible jokes… so little time/limited word-count …for years I’ve just been an amateur nit-picker?)

Thankfully no-one else in the family got infested and we can now look back at it (and not laugh or even smile of-course) as a rite of passage.

But because this is not one I want to experience again I will be dipping my kids in tea tree oil before they go to school for the rest of their lives. (tip: lice don’t like the smell)

Now my head itches.

Tips to new parents from an OK mom

I have been a mother for five and a half years and I think I’m OK at it. I am by no means great, but I am also not the worst mom in the world. The way I see it is this: most people think their mom was the best. So unless I mess up royally, chances are my kids will think of me as more than half-way decent. I’ll take that.

Motherhood has had its ups and downs and it has been a wonderful [and frustrating] learning experience. So here are some tips for those of you just starting out, in no particular order.

1. When your child is first born, don’t wear cashmere. Or anything nice that is dry clean only. Newborns spit up a lot.

2. In fact, don’t buy anything nice. They will scratch, spill on, write on [with permanent markers] every single nice piece of furniture that you own.

3. Give up on the idea of having a ‘child-free’ zone in the house. The whole house is theirs. You’re just paying to live there.

messier basement
4. When other parents tell you that their newborn doesn’t cry and sleeps through the night. Don’t believe them! They are lying. [even if they are not what good does it do you to believe them anyway?]

5. There will be times when your own child will feel more like your Nemesis. Don’t hate yourself for it. This does not make you a bad person. It just makes you normal. Also, kids can be real a$%*&s sometimes.

6. When dishing out punishments BE VERY CAREFUL. If you are going to take away TV, iPad or other electronics use think twice before doing so on a Saturday. That is punishing yourself because you will be responsible for the kids’ entertainment for the entire weekend.

7. Always keep lollipops in your bag. They will be your best friend and can be used as bribes and rewards and will make flights, shopping trips and long car rides possible.

8. Do not make ridiculous promises to yourself like: you will not yell at your children, you will not be one of THOSE moms/dads, or you will never say “you will appreciate me when I’m gone”. Hate to break it to you. You will.

9. There will be days when you will start counting down to bedtime at 2pm.

10. Little kids cry a lot. Fell and hurt her knee? Cries. You won’t let him drink bath water? Cries. You are not a bad parent if you ignore the crying over the bath water.

11. Accept the fact that you will never enjoy a dessert in your children’s presence ever again. They will try it, eat it all, spit it out. Anything to keep you from enjoying it.

12. Other things you will not be able to enjoy in their presence include: reading a book, having a glass of wine, having a nice dinner, watching the news, having your first cup of coffee in the morning, talking on the phone.

13. Always bring wipes.

14. Always bring snacks.

15. Everyone is an expert/consultant: random person on the street will tell you to put a hat on the baby because he’s cold. Strangers in stores will tell you that your baby is crying because she’s hungry. Your mother or mother-in-law will say that you’re holding the newborn wrong. Don’t fight it. Just smile and nod.

16. Be prepared to break some of your own rules. Sure no sugary treats before lunch is a very reasonable rule to have. But if you are out trying to finish shopping for the week, and your toddler is bored and cranky and is about to throw the eggs on the floor give him a cookie. It’s not the end of the world.

17. In fact, most things are not the end of the world. Always keep that in mind.

You’re welcome.