Archive for January, 2009

The worms will save us all.

Before you have babies, you think you’ve got a handle on how the parenting thing works. You feed them, you change them, you keep them clean. What’s so hard about that? And honestly, the answer, so far as I can tell from eleven months in the twin trenches, is nothing. Except for everything. Most particularly, the last item on the list.

Clean? Ha. My kids have mashed banana glued behind their ears from breakfast, and some chicken in their hair from last night. Robin is rubbing his nose on the couch to get out the booger that he won’t let me touch with a tissue. Wren is chewing on something she found in her stroller seat. After I scoop it from under her tongue, I can only guess that it was once something attached to a plant. A leaf? A piece of bark? Maybe some bird poo?

Thankfully, according to the New York Times, we are just good parents.

In studies of what is called the hygiene hypothesis, researchers are concluding that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system.

I’ll buy the first round of tequila shots. Worms for everybody!

Dr. Ruebush deplores the current fetish for the hundreds of antibacterial products that convey a false sense of security and may actually foster the development of antibiotic-resistant, disease-causing bacteria.

Rhinovirus Microbe

Rhinovirus Microbe

At the Farmer’s Market, we see mothers diligently scrubbing the tables with sanitary wipes before setting down their trays. They douse their children’s hands in antibacterial gel. They probably use those stupid shopping cart covers. They may think they’re doing good, but when the superbugs rise up to enslave us all in their germy armies of the End Times, you’ll know who to blame.


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Husband was up until 4am or so (as per usual), so when I woke up this morning I asked him, “was I imagining it, or were the babies up EVERY TWENTY MINUTES last night?” I was not imagining it. Somebody was wriggling and fussing every twenty minutes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they were awake, but they were unhappy enough to require my attention.

There is not enough coffee in the world.

Edited to add: Hey! Look at that! In my sleepless daze, I put on the pair of pants that Robin and Wren covered with yogurt the other night! I am wearing yogurt pants at work! A helpful colleague made me aware. Loudly.

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The 2000 year old man.

The oldest man in the world works in my building, and his name is Harold*. He is a paralegal for Big Law Firm, from which we rent space. Conversations with Harold are a challenge, because he likes to make jokes, but he can’t hear very well. So he’ll say something humorous, and you’ll make a joke back, and then he’ll stare at you blankly through his thick, spotted glasses and say, “Pardon?” And by then the joke has died, but now you have to repeat it loudly and then wait through the long silence until Harold says “. . . Ah.”

Harold doesn’t see too well either, as was made painfully clear by our encounter this morning in the office kitchen.

Harold: What are you making?
Me: I’m not making, I’m just washing.
Harold: Ah. . . . Those are funny little dishes.
Me: They’re not dishes, actually.
Harold: Ah. . . . They’re not dishes?
Me: Um, no. They’re parts for my breast pump.
Harold: . . . Ah.

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Them pokes fun as shouldn’t.

I joke about my little Robin’s hypersensitivity, but it turns out he’s really quite brave in the face of actual carnage. Last night he pulled up on the coffee table, which I have begun to pad the edges of but have not quite finished, and – you see where this is going, right? – down he went! Bonking his face and cutting the inside of his top lip.

He yelled for about a minute, then got bored with that and wanted to play some more. But the blood, it continued to flow. So there’s my happy little boy, crawling around and blowing raspberries and smooshing his hands over his face just like always only now with more blood! and it looked like our living room had been the scene of some terrible crime that would rivet you to your evening news because OH MY GOD THE BLOOD. It stopped bleeding after a little while and a lot of gauze pads, and then he stuck his hand in his mouth and went waba-waba-waba and OH THE BLOOD.

We were planning to go to the grocery store, but I thought that it was maybe not such a good idea to take a grinning, blood-spattered child out in public. What’s that, Officer? No, we are the best parents ever, why do you ask? Hey! Where are you taking that baby?

We ruined two onesies (I stopped changing him after the first time he reopened the wound) and one of my favorite t-shirts. An ice cube stopped the bleeding in the end, though it did start again when he nursed to sleep, which I thought was kind of funny because it looked like the baby was eating my boob. Okay, maybe that’s not really funny so much as horrific, but it’s a little funny too, right? Right?

He’s fine. But I need to wash the floor before anyone comes over.

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I just sold a big bag of 0-3 month sized clothing on Craigslist. I could not sell the 3-6 month sized stuff yet because Wren still fits in it.

The babies are ten months, two weeks, and three days old.

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It only looks innocent.

“At this age, babies like to make noise,” I read in a child development book a few weeks ago. “Rather than get them expensive new toys, give them some pots and pans to bang together.” Okay! I rubbed my hands together in the glee of the congenitally cheap. I delved into my cabinets, and pulled out some pot lids and small pans, which I presented to a cheerfully drooling Wren. And oh, the cacophony! The rapturous tintinnabulation!

Alas, the joy was not fated to last. Robin, my sensitive fellow, when he is feeling particularly put upon by the rigors of babyhood and just wants to think for a minute, dammit, objects to loud noises. At these times, a sneeze, a slammed door, or – god forbid – a banged pot lid can send him into paroxysms of howling anguish. Of course Wren, lacking any such delicacy, likes to scream and smash things together as often and as loudly as possible.

butter-cookies-2 In an effort to respect Wren’s needs as well as those of her more high-strung sibling, I gave her a Danish Cookie Tin. It’s lighter than a cooking pot, and the sound it makes when beaten wildly against the floor is a more musical sort of racket. Robin looked a bit suspicious and gave it a wide berth, but was otherwise all right.

Cut to Wednesday night. Wren placed the tin carefully in the middle of the room, then sidled over to the CD rack where Robin sat and pulled herself up to standing. She spread her fingers as wide as she could and pulled seven or eight CDs onto the floor. CRASH! Robin began to wail. “Oh, sweet pea,” I said comfortingly, “come to Mama!” Still red-faced and crying, he crawled toward me. Of course, because he was crying, he couldn’t see where he was going very well. He put his knee right into the Danish Cookie Tin. BANG! WOW-WOW-WOW, it spun loudly on the floor. Defeat! Apocalypse! Robin sat and screamed.

The cookie tin has now been banished to the kitchen, where it lurks malevolently, waiting for recycling day. And Wren is looking for new havoc to wreak.

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My orthodox nineteen year old cousin updated his Facebook status today to read: “[x] is ardently supporting the IDF and their previosuly [sic] taken actions in addition to hoping there will be no cease fire”.* Hoping he was joking, I asked “Why would you hope for no cease fire?” He replied, “So we can finally end rocket attacks on Israel once and for all.” “By just wiping all the Palestinians out?” I inquired sarcastically. His sixteen year old sister answered, “yah if we can.”

There is absolutely nothing I want to say to these two children right now that wouldn’t wreak havoc in our family later. But I am ashamed.

*This was probably a response to my own Facebook status, which is currently “Uccellina wrote to her congresspeople to demand the US work for a cease-fire in Gaza NOW.” My letter, for those inclined to write their own, went as follows: “As a Jewish woman and a mother, I ask you to ensure that the United States employs all diplomatic means to move for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, and suspends all weapons deliveries and all military resupply to the IDF while it campaigns in Gaza. The AP reports that Gaza’s largest hospital is completely overwhelmed, and few if any of the casualties are militants. Please, please help put an end to this.”

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Pop Quiz

1. Which baby am I?

Which baby am I?

2. Okay, now which baby am I?

Okay, now which baby am I?

3. And now?  Which baby?

And now? Which baby?

which baby?

Last one: which baby?

I ask because I recently sent out some photos, and it quickly became apparent that people had difficulty telling my kids apart. I’m curious: can you tell which baby is which? (Remember, your choices are Robin and Wren. Harlow Madden and Suri Cruise do not appear in this photo set.)

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