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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snow Bullets

I don't know what it is about a blizzard but the idiots were out in full force. Like, hey, today seems like the perfect day to drive to Home Depot for that wing nut! And those old folks who could barely walk under normal conditions who decided to go out with a shopping cart. Yes, a shopping cart...I kid you not.

The Blizzard of 2010 was a doozy. It actually stopped most of the NYC subway from running. Not even terrorists have managed that, you hear me Bin Laden. So, although it was an extra day off for my husband, it was hardly a day off considering he had to break his back shoveling and climbed mounds of snow to replenish our beer supply. Thanks, honey!

Meanwhile, I was taking trips up and down the block every four hours to check in on my mom, who had come down with the flu. "I should've got the flu shot," she said. Yeah, everything looks good in 20/20 hindsight and ironically, she tells me things like that all the time. Guess it's a bitter pill to swallow when you're aching, shivering and just plain miserable.

As unfortunate as it was, I considered it a blessing in disguise. If she weren't bedridden, she'd be one of those busybodies venturing out in the snow because I know she absolutely hates to be cooped up. And since she'd have no where to go, she'd undoubtedly be over my house inspecting our snow shoveling. My wrists were instantly sore from shoveling a pathway that was only big enough for Paris Hilton. Though my mom wasn't there to critique it, our neighbors were and they must've felt compelled to "correct" my measly pathway by shoveling one of their own. Whatever.

On my way to check on mom, the streets resembled a doomsday movie. Roads clogged with snow deep enough to reach my hips and still, I saw two different cars stuck, magnificently, in the middle of the road. Faced by a wall of snow up to the headlights, the drivers of each vehicle were standing outside their car...wondering what to do.

Why do these four-wheel driving morons think their car was Moses or something? Dude, the Red Sea parts in half, okay...not three feet of snow, you mother-trucker!

I was also entertained for a while when a taxi cab driver got stuck in a snow ditch in the middle of 40th Street and Greenpoint Avenue. Nobody offered to help - not even a tow truck that passed him by. You know why? Because he was that dumb to drive in this weather in the first place. Raj, even folks in Colorado take lessons driving in snow - where you come from you don't have Fords or snow so, stay home! What made him think that anybody would get in his cab, anyway?

Now, my boys who couldn't wait to go out in the snow, were a different story. All they wanted to do with the snow was play in it and considering it was their Christmas break I saw no reason why they shouldn't.

Besides, it gave me an opportunity to brush up on my snowball making. Density, size, amalgamation make for quality snowballs and it is - an art. I tried to teach the boys how to make snowballs but they were too retarded with excitement so they came back with a million excuses, finally resolving to ass-kissing. "You make them better than mines, Mommy so, can you make 'em for me? Like one-hundred of them?"

As I was compressing snowball number fifty-six, I realized how similar it was to making "onigiri," a Japanese riceball, which really is a misnomer because it's actually triangular in shape. It made me wonder what kind of snowball a Sushi Chef might make. If they could shape sushi rice with a couple of fingers into a palatable little platform for a beautiful piece of tuna, just imagine what they could make with a fistful of snow -  snowbullets, perhaps?

I quit after seventy-some-odd snowballs. There was no point in working this hard without even getting the pleasure of pelting the little bastards myself.

At the end of the day, my family was pooped and I guess that's a good thing. Things could've been worst - imagine if we had an emergency. The most unfortunate thing that came out of this blizzard was to be faced with the fact that despite the amount of taxes we pay, the city couldn't manage to clear the roads. If someone on 40th Street had to go to the hospital - there was no way an Emergency vehicle was going to take them there. If they wanted Chinese food, however, Ten Full Chinese Take Out was open.

Nothing like a blizzard to make you hungry for some lo-mein.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Blog Burrito

Disorganized? Me? You bet. It's an occupational hazard, I think, of motherhood. Lost brain cells from pregnancy to the idle numbness mode my brain goes into when the males in my house open their mouths to speak - my mind is Popeye's fried chicken.
So when this girl couldn't remember where she put the computer cable for the camera, what did she do? She kept taking pictures until it turned up. Yeah, three weeks later. Now, she has about three weeks worth of events to post just days before Christmas and thus we have it - the Blog Burrito. That's really no excuse why she has to write in the third person but Elmo talks that way and people forgive his annoying behavior.

To begin, we'll start with the Sunnyside Ballet troupe's journey to Warren, New Jersey. Now I know what you're wondering - why would anyone go to New Jersey voluntarily? It's one thing to be hijacked there because New York's football teams can't find enough turf to play at home but to actually charter a bus to see a ballet seemed a bit radical.

But we had a very good reason: the troupe's ballet teacher was one of the creators of the Washington Rock Ballet's production of the Nutcracker. It was an opportunity to expose the kids to a ballet performance although I wasn't expecting much beyond High School Musical. Did they prove me wrong - I was floored. These young performers were exceptionally talented, the sets were beautiful and all in all, it was a stellar production. The only drawback was my four-year-old who thought it was a great idea to roar like a dinosaur during the quiet parts. But his older brother thoroughly enjoyed every bit. I think he was even inspired.

Jock straps in tights - how can you not watch?

And the bus ride was SWEET! We chartered a 38 seater bus by Skyliner Coach company and it was like going first class. Why can't airplanes be this comfortable?

If they were twelve years older, they'd be holding beers instead of lollipops.

The U.S.S. ENTERPRISE and her passengers

Next up, the Gingerbread House construction event at Samu's Pre-K. By 9:30 am, everyone agreed - someone needed to pass around a martini. If Martha Stewart tried to teach a shark how to construct a gingerbread house on the Disney Channel, it couldn't have been more disastrous.

I'm not talking about the brilliant idea of putting a plate of candy, frosting and graham crackers in front of a four-year old at 08:30 in the morning. As destructive as that seemed, it was actually inviting the parents to "help" out that spelled trouble. A dad next to us was diligently placing M&M's on the roof in a neat line. When his kid tried to stick a wayward gumdrop, the dad actually slapped his hand away. Whose project is this anyway? So the kid just popped the gumdrop in his mouth and followed it with a fistful of chocolate chips. Actually, every kid was busy picking the candy off the gingerbread house faster than their parents could stick it on.


This boy ate the residents of the Gingerbread house - they were Gummy Bears

Revved up after seeing a real live ballet, the Sunnyside Ballet's Winter Recital performed with heart and soul. It was amazing to see just how much these children have grown in a year and a half. And though the kids have come a long way - actually executing steps and choreography - all the credit goes to their wonderful teacher. She is a true miracle worker.

Before the show

Listening to the teacher's opening speech

Nutcracker Soldiers

Uh, Nutcracker Soldiers?

Victory Cupcakes!

The Miracle Worker tames my little demon

Art for Kids at the School of Visual Arts is touted as an art program that isn't "Kiddish." There is no coddling, no baby voices and "Gee! That's beautiful!" It's a rather serious program that has forced Zuki to grow up a little. True, there was a noticeable change in his art; it's more involved, detailed and expressive but even more astounding is a slight air of sophistication he's picked up lately.

He's developed a taste for English Breakfast tea with milk and sugar. What's up with that? Is he going to start wearing a white silk scarf around his neck year round?

The last session was on Saturday. The school opened its studio doors thirty-minutes before the class was over and displayed the student's work in an Art show fashion with refreshments for the starving artists. No, seriously...they were starving.

There was 3-D art, art with recycled items and the strangest clay sculptures I'd ever seen but I chose to post this work of art from Zuki because the backdrop was pretty cool.

Finally, how do you get two uncooperative boys to pose for a Christmas e-card? You have them pose with the Gingerbread house and tell them they can devour it afterward.

Sugar high round two.

At least the photographer got paid in martinis.

Thank you for a wonderful year. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season and a most prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Makings Of A City Hillbilly

My grandmother was born in 1908. Don't ask me why I remember, because I often have to do math to recall what year both my sons were born and you'd think that would be etched in my memory. Perhaps it's because I can't imagine what life was like in 1908; a time before people had cars, phones, canned food and even electricity was uncommon. It must've been those conditions that made up her character - valuing virtue over material. After all it is just "stuff."

She didn't buy what she could make. So when I was eight and visited her in Japan, she sewed me a Yukata by hand. I wore it to all the Summer Dance Festivals that went on every weekend. While she patiently stitched all the pieces together, she taught me how to make one for my Barbie doll. From the late morning to lunch, we would sit side by side, each sewing sleeves, collars and panels. By the time she finished my Yukata, I had sewed three crappy ones for Barbie - none of which would cover her tremendous boobs.

When my son came home with his Cub Scouts shirt the other day, I went on a sewing frenzy. It started with sewing a couple of patches on a damned sleeve and lead to "Frankenpants." A pair of school pants (Nautica, mind you), that Zuki tore a hole in the knee. The pants were practically new and I knew my Grandmother would be turning in her grave if I threw them out over a gaping hole that she could mend like new.

But I can't sew like her. I did the best I could and it'll do for now. He'll look like a Hillbilly in patched up clothing but it's either that or looking Ghetto. Anyway, everyone knows I have no fashion sense even though we live in the Fashion Capital of the world...or is that France? Oh no, we don't live in France.

Aside from saving a perfectly good pair of pants, I'm proud of myself that I could still thread a needle without a magnifying glass and only stuck myself no less than fifteen times to boot. I've paid my dues and I'm done with the patches, too. Too much pressure not to look like "Shirt Of Frankenpants."

There's a fantastic tailor on Greenpoint Avenue and he charges peanuts. Well, not actual peanuts but certainly less than a box of Bandaids for pricked fingers. And if my grandmother can hear me, I'm not giving up on sewing...I'm just avoiding the same needle pricking activity heroine addicts do...not that she would know what a heroine addict is because she was born in 1908 and I think people just smoked morphine back then.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Look At It This Way

Oh,'s cold outside. For the past week, everyone around here have been freezing their balls off, especially moms. The roundtrip back and forth from school - two times per kid - is pure hell. But you know me, the Queen of Optimism(Hah!). I'm trying to look on the bright side of things because this weather can be damn depressing.

Twenty-degree temperature is for penguins, not humans - I agree. But look at it this way, at least the garbage doesn't stink because it's Refrigerated! Try eating that frozen pumpkin now, you bastard squirrel! It also freezes doggie poop, so all you have to do is sweep it away - even the soupier turds. And spit? Transformed into a solid crystal of bubbles, something green in the middle. You think that's gross - try frozen vomit. Is that a whole White Castle hamburger in that mess?

Dressing warmly is heavy, man. Have on enough layers, you think? Personally, I wear a tank top, t-shirt, long sleeved shirt and vest for the top half and a wool mini skirt over my jeans to warm my mammoth ass and thighs. I don't even ask - I know I look fat. But I look at it this way, I look fat all around - not just in the mid-section - and it's harder to spot sweaty armpits. Zoo-wee-mama! The added bonus is, putting on and taking off all these layers to go to the bathroom is like doing Yoga, especially in a public bathroom when you're pressed for space and time.

And Lord knows I haven't done Yoga for about ten days now. Maybe I've gone about a month for any other workout. But who wants to exercise under these conditions? Of course, I feel the guilt and self doubt that consequently arises from skipping the exercise routine, but look at it this way. I'm saving energy and water because I don't have additional workout clothes to wash nor do I need to take as long of a shower. Besides, it's too cold outside to enjoy an ice cold beer inside so, in not having beers those calories are already canceled out, right? Although, I probably should be counting the hot toddies...nnnahhh.

Last but not least: copulation. You know, sex. In marriage, it's always the Big Gray Area. You love your partner of X-many-years that you know him inside out and that means he's, well...repulsive. Sometimes. Anyway, so this thing you used to do all the time kind of dies down year after year and you start looking for excuses to gracefully bow out.

Some couples go weeks, even months without doing it. I don't know this for a fact because I never ask but I can always tell when a friend had been "cozy" with his or her spouse - they usually crave a burger and fries for lunch the next day. No, I'm just kidding! Enjoy your Five Guys handmade burger, already.

Getting back on track, here. I've discovered that, "it's too cold," works better than, "I've got a headache." For this to work, however, the thermostat at home must be set at sixty-eight degrees. During the day, with natural sunlight to warm the rooms, it's not so bad. But at night...brrrr. You'll find that keeping the house cool also has the same effect as a cold shower. Though in my case, I think it's the Tinkerbell flannel pajama bottoms that puts out the fire of his desire more than the temperature.

And - on the other hand - the little chill in the air can bring out the animal in any old relationship. A wrestling match under the covers? A hot shower to-ge-ther? Hmmm...This is turning into a Redbook article. But before I stop, ever wonder why there are so many birthdays in September, October, November? Well, that's the way I look at it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Killing Santa

To believe or not to believe - that is the question. Why we encourage our kids to believe in Santa Claus is a constant riddle to me. We summon his omnipresence when October rolls around, threatening that bad behavior from this point on will earn them nothing but a sack of coals. And are they good? Well...temporarily.

I'm guilty, too. But as I tell my boys that Santa is reconsidering their list if they don't stop fooling around I can see that deep down, they know I'm feeding them a bunch of malarkey.

I know what's important to them: it's that they get the lousy toys they asked for. Who gets it for them or how it gets delivered is of no importance whatsoever. They play along with the charade, however, whether it's to humor me or to have the power to bust a brother's chops.

Just the other morning at breakfast, pandemonium broke out because I served eggs instead of chocolate Cheerios. When Zuki decided to spill some eggs on the table rather than eat it, his little brother was quick to conjure Santa's power.

"Ooo, Santa's not gonna bring you any presents cuz you made a mess, right Mommy?"

I didn't concur. As a matter of fact, I wondered what I created - a four-year-old using Santa's name in is this situation any different from George Orwell's "1984"?

It isn't really. And I find it typically Western - be good because you are being watched and judged by some guy! It's either Jesus, Santa or Big Brother but at any rate you can be sure they're not using AT&T to have that much coverage.

Eastern culture, on the other hand, relies on Karma. It's not seasonal, marketable or even selective. If you choose to believe what goes around, comes around then you know there's a price to pay for every action. Sometimes it's instant, like the time Samu kicked his brother, gave him a Bronx Cheer and took off only to smash into a wall. Other times, it takes a day - like the time I kept the change of a hundred-dollar bill instead of the fifty I used to pay a tab. I was smug with my profit but the very next day, I was served a fifty-dollar fine for not picking up my dog's poop. That was some expensive shit, right there.

There is no reason why the boys can't live with both, Karma and Santa. I guess it's the need for children to personify and put a face to Santa that disturbs me a little. They refuse to sit on the lap of a man dressed as Santa at a shopping mall. Yet, the UPS man - who is Black - delivered packages last week and my four-year-old who assumed the packages were Christmas presents asked the UPS man, "Are you Santa?" Luckily, the UPS guy was smart. He told my son that Santa wears a red uniform, not a brown one.

Hopefully, when my boys discover that there is no such thing as Santa, they won't be too devastated. Of course they'll understand that the reason they get presents at Christmas is because they have family and friends that love them and not because there's an Elf sweatshop somewhere at the North Pole. Until then, I'll have to check myself that I don't accidentally spill the beans - it's right up there with watching my language.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Constipated

My family thinks I'm obsessed with crap. Not crap in my house or crap on TV or even the crap that spews out of my husband's mouth. No, it's literally crap, feces - POOP! I routinely order my older son to go poopies during bath time - every...single...night. Not only that, I gauge the quantity and quality. If it's not enough, I order him to sit on the throne and give a King sized turd. I can tell he thinks I'm crazy and the rest of the family gives me the stink eye for it - no pun intended.

But after reading an article about the rising chronic constipation problem in children, I thought to myself, "See! I'm not such a Poop Nazi, afterall!"

The three main causes, the article states, is lack of physical activity, low fiber diets and insufficient water intake. I think water intake should be the first item to consider but I agree that all three play an equally important role. Kids just don't drink enough water. But who can blame them with the vast array of beverages available in every form, color and hypocritical nutritional claim to fame. From "flavored" water to Gatorade, it's all the same and just about as nutritious as soda, in my feeble opinion.

I've taken a similar stance as many of my fellow parents around here and decided to offer my boys two choices: milk or water. They'll undoubtedly have their opportunity to indulge in juice, soda and other sugary drinks when they go to birthday parties and other kid gatherings. But at our table, the beverage is either clear or white - no exceptions. If they don't like it, I'll Waterboard them...or Milkboard, which ever.

Physical activity is hardly a problem. C'mon, they're boys! All I have to do is clean the living room and tell them not to mess it up - they'll be climbing all over the sofa and stacking pillows higher than their heads in no time. High fiber in their daily diet, however, is trickier to manage than a push up bra.

My mother had no problem feeding me high fiber as a kid because a lot of Japanese food is actually a front to clean those pipes. Roots, seaweed, pumpkin, beans - where isn't there fiber? But cooking Japanese cuisine takes time and talent and my culinary repertoire consists of various forms to shape ground beef for consumption. Besides, the last time I served brown rice to my husband he swore he crapped out his spleen.

So as a result, I sneak in fresh veggies whenever I can. It's about the only piece of advice I'd ever taken seriously from Rachael Ray. Only, I try not to smother it in processed cheese, cook them beyond recognition or drown them in ketchup - thank you very much. My secret ingredient is good ol' bacon! Hey, if it works for dogs, then why not kiddies?

Spinach, kale, collard greens - it's all edible when sauteed with bacon. Not a whole lot, mind you. Just enough to make them search for the yummy bits. Like trail mix.

All this covert operations to induct nutrition into our childrens meals makes me wonder where our diets went awry. You never saw anyone on "Little House On The Prairie" wondering if they were drinking enough water, getting enough exercise or eating enough fiber. Although, I don't remember much at all from that television show except something about tetanus and Laura falling in love with "Manly."

No, it's just me again, standing on my soapbox and spreading the word against junk food and soda. If I drove a car, I might see Pepsico's headlights in my rear view mirror a la Silkwood but that would mean we were making a difference. Take back the health of your children, people. What goes in, must come out - otherwise, we're just full of sh....!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

About That Fare Hike

Our little friend, Emmett, is one of those kids who has that intense fascination with trains. We joined him again this year in visiting the New York Transit Museum to celebrate his 6th birthday.

The Transit Museum truly is a fun place, especially for New Yorkers like me who grew up riding the subways. As an adult, I get to visit my past - the faded baby blue and grays of the old Number 7 Line; the criss cross seats that could comfortably sit one whole adult of the old C Line - it showed me just how crappy it was back then. But the best part is, you can always get a seat on them here.

Emmett and Kazuki have been friends since they started walking. They've known each other longer than they've known their younger siblings. Consequently, Emmett's younger sister, Lark is the same age as Samu. Technically, they've known each other since before they were even born!

But they're all monkeys, if you ask me. Just look at them.

Okay, everybody make a Funny Face!  

Okay, now how about a nice one?

Um, Lark...we're doing nice faces now.

Looking at all the old signs and displays, I realized that the subways were always a mess. The only time they really got it together was when the Metrocard really kicked in. With its Fun Day pass and unlimited weekly and monthly cards - the offers which are being brutalized the most for the next fare hike - riding the subway used to be a true value for the money. Now - nobody's happy.

Emmett is the Courteous Bus Driver

Samu is the Crazy Bus Driver - Don't get on his bus!

Lark is the Distracted Bus Driver
Can someone get this monkey off the side of my bus?

Yes, I remember when the fare was a was not that long ago.

Although it was only my second visit with the boys, they remembered everything from last year. That's pretty amazing considering Zuki has already forgotten what we got him for his birthday last month. Would I be considered extremely mean if I said that this is probably the only positive impact the Transit Authority ever had? You might think so for about two minutes because that's how long the fare stays the same.

The Number 7 Line when I was a kid

Diane and Samu check out the old ads

Lark finally gives us a pretty smile

This must be Zuki's stop

Samu and Emmett check out an old Subway map while Zuki poses.
Getting to the museum is a breeze and Brooklyn Heights is just gorgeous - so, I guess what I'm trying to say is, visit the New York Transit museum even if it's not Emmett's birthday. And with fare hikes going into effect like every year, it's just a matter of time before riding the subway is for the elite.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Travel Agent Within

You can take the girl out of the Travel industry but you can't take the Travel Agent out of the girl. It happens every time I have to do anything remotely like a tour guide. Such as escorting First Graders on a field trip to Windmuller Park to collect leaves.

The field trip notice did say "Walking Tour," so I don't know why some moms thought that there would be a school bus to transport us. Yes, the park is fourteen blocks away(twenty city blocks is roughly a mile) and though it was a little chilly, it was a beautiful day. It was perfect running weather and run I did. Round trip, even. Thank God, I wore my sports bra! Did you need to know that - probably not.

Zuki's class was the first to depart and so we lead the entire First Grade to the park. That's when the "tour guide mode" kicked in and by default, I was appointed Traffic Guard duty. That meant I had to stand in the middle of the street, hold my hand up in an effort to stop crazy livery drivers from running over our kids while they crossed. After the last kid was safely across, I had to run to the front of the line and start the whole process all over again. For fourteen blocks.

Was I grateful I had that extra cup of coffee that morning. It was Coffee Shop coffee, too - the elixir of the true New Yorker.

Once we got to the Park, Ms. Luizza handed out Ziploc bags and told the kids to collect leaves. After they were done, they would be free to play in the playground. Here's where the "all work" separate from the "all play." Some kids were feverishly looking for bright colored leaves, whole leaves, leaves of different trees, even. And then you had kids like Zuki.

They placed the mouth of the bag at the top of a pile and shoveled in as many leaves (and garbage) as fast as they could. Then they zipped up the bag, handed it to the teacher and said, "Can I go play now?"


Finally, when leaf collecting reached a satisfactory amount, the kids were allowed to play. They ran into the playground, screaming with glee, bouncing off each other as if they only had thirty seconds to play at every station. I turned to the other Mommy-escort.

"Like they've never seen monkey bars before, eh?" I said. She laughed, stuck her hands in her pockets and made her way to a bench where she parked herself for the rest of the outing.

I should've done that. But, nooooo. Once again, the Hospitality Personality emerged and I found myself at the swings.

One of the teachers, in order to divert chaos and injury, decided to organize a system for the four big swings at the park. The kids would have to form a line and wait their turn, which would be delegated by the teacher. As she formed the line to the left, kids ran in on the right and jumped on a free swing until the teacher shooed them away and told them to wait on line.

Don't ask my how, but I found myself standing guard at that opening. My arm was the velvet rope that halted kids trying to steal a swing.

Yup, I was the Swing Bouncer.

I'd done a lot of odd jobs before, but Swing Bouncer was a first.

"Hey, where do you think you're going?" I asked kids who tried to bolt past me.

"I'm with him," they'd answer pointing to another kid on a swing.

"Yeah, right...get back in line." I said, my thumb pointed the way out. Too bad the kids didn't have sense enough to slip me a bribe. A piece of chocolate could have earned them a ride - I was starving. At least it was something to do, plus, I had a great vantage point to watch Zuki play with his friends and completely ignore me.

That's the thanks I get for putting myself in front of moving vehicles, policing the swings on an empty stomach and basically running a mini-marathon.

So Here's The Plan...

My Bag's Full 

The Line For the Swing Club

Zuki gets his turn

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Requiem In Ewww Minor

Perhaps comparing the death of a pet to the death of a family member is just wrong but that's exactly what I did when the kids were told that Frank, the exalted Hermit Crab from Wildwood had finally expired.

I broke the news to them this evening, even though I discovered the gruesome carcass this morning. Somehow, telling them before a planned attendance to a birthday party seemed like a bad idea. Let them have fun, enjoy their pizza and knick-knacks and surely they would take the news better.

So, they thoroughly enjoyed the day at the Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights. Running through the defunct trains and turnstiles that I rode and passed through regularly when I was their age. Of course the cars in the museum were actually clean and devoid of graffiti but it was nostalgic for me just the same.

Maybe that's why I chose invoking my father's death to explain the facts of life and pets to the boys. "Remember when Gigi went to the hospital and didn't come home because he died?" I asked them. They looked apprehensive and curious at the same time. Without saying a word, they both nodded yes.

"Well, that's kind of what happened to Frank," I told them outright. "Frank is dead."

Samu looked pained. Zuki let out a whimper. Oh no, I thought to myself and braced myself for tears. Instead, Samu broke out into a smile and asked, "Does that mean I can get a new pet?"

A new pet? Now that's just cold. Even Zuki's expression changed from anguish to ambition as he waited for my answer.

"Don't you feel sad?" I asked.

The boys shrugged and took some time to answer this. "Yeah." They answered.

"Well, do you want to see him and say goodbye?"

They both nodded in morbid agreement and I set the tiny plastic tank in front of them. I don't know what I was expecting them to say - I mean what do they know about death, really? I wasn't expecting a eulogy or a requiem, I wasn't even expecting a few parting words...just goodbye.

But Samu pointed to the stiffened cluster of legs and claws that was once Frank. "Ewwww." He said, as if I presented them with a moldy peach. I felt so bad for the little Hermit Crab. All those times he patiently endured Samu's curious fingers yanking him out of his cage, thrusting him into screaming faces of preschool children and the last words he gets is ewww.

I'm going to miss the racket he made at night. The annoying rustle of him pushing the gravel in his plastic box for hours on end. And my morning ritual of checking his cage to see if he's dead yet will have to be replaced. But right now, my biggest problem is throwing him out. Since Hermit Crabs have this nasty habit of dying outside of their shell, I have absolutely no desire to pick him up. Echk. So gross.

Goodbye, Frank.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Birthday, Bowling and Beer

You can always judge the success of a party by the size of the hangover. Mine wasn't bad but Zuki and Samu had an awful time getting up the next morning. That's what they get for losing control at an open  juice bar, I suppose.

Looking back, I don't know why I stressed out at all. The celebration of Zuki's 6th and Samu's 4th birthday party at Bowlmor Lanes was pretty much handled by Jessica, the event coordinator. All we had to do was show up, eat, drink and make sure the little people threw the bowling balls at the neon colored pins - not their little sister.

It was glorious mayhem that was as much fun for the adults as it was for their minions. Beer makes any event go down in the most delightful way. That was until Joy's baby brother, Lenox started running down the lanes. Dodging bowling balls chasing after a two-year-old is not easy with a beer in one hand. All the while, I was thinking someone needs to make a "Baby's Day Out" starring this kid. Thank God, there weren't any rude frogs and Samu added to the mix.

Crazy Samu takes a picture of himself
Lark contemplating a spare

Keeping score with Saiki & Louis

Juice, Lemonade or just Punchy?

Guests in one of the five lanes

Aedan sees something that made him happy

Taiichi goes for it!
Black lights and Bowling ramps
Zuki and Christian wrestling at a Bowling Alley
Joy, the bowling pool player

Setting up the Birthday Cake
A birthday cake hides amongst goody bags and juice

And though the picture is a little dark, here is the Grand Finale - Baba's duet with Mitsuki's grandma. A performance induced by the unlimited pitchers of apple juice, no doubt.

By the way, thanks for the beer, Mikey!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Scorpions, Sagittarians and Turkeys! Oh My!

Four days in November and already we've had freezing cold weather followed by two beautiful days and now rain. Yes, November is volatile and busy, busy, busy.

First of all, birthdays - other than February, I think this is the only other month that I could literally fill every single day with a birthday of someone I know - some days, even two. Scorpions and Saggitarians, how dull would life be without them? If you thought about all your best friends and all your best enemies, you'd find at least three Scorpios on each side.

To say that Scorpios are intense is an understatement. I'm learning just how much with Samu. There are times when he's having a Samu Moment, that Zuki and I just stare at each other, shrug and inch our way towards the exit. Like when Samu's pooping and his own crap is making him nauseous. Especially the stinky ones - he goes ballistic as if I released the odor like Zeus released the Kraken.

"Take it away Mommy!" He yells between his gags.

"All you gotta do is flush it, Samu!"

"No, it's too's too -"

Who throws up at the sight of his own turd? Apparently, Samu does.

Now maybe it's just him and it has nothing to do with the fact that he's a Scorpio. I'm sure every Scorpio would agree. And all the other people who know a Scorpio - they're just shrugging and inching their way towards the nearest exit.

Technically, Samu was supposed to be a Sagittarius. The happy-go-lucky, drug experimenting, hell raising sign of the Archer. Everybody can't help but love one. I think I know why they seem undauntedly optimistic - it's because they never hang around in one place for too long, including Earth.

You can't blame them. A person can't be positive all of the time and yet most of the Sagittarians I know are. I've worked with a few and every once in a while I'd thank them for always giving me a smile and being in a good mood. Sometimes I'd ask, are you high? But then I'd tell them I'm just kidding.

Once we're past the birthdays of November, there's Thanksgiving. In my opinion, it's the perfect holiday. Thanksgiving is what Christmas wants to be: warm gatherings, sharing the wealth, cops showing up for a domestic dispute down the block.

"No officer, that's not blood on the's cranberry sauce from the Missus throwing a plate at me."

Of course, when I was growing up it was soy sauce, not cranberry. But no matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving, whether it's a big party or just by yourself, there's no long as you're not the turkey.

Quite the opposite from Christmas. Which just goes to show you that commercialism can strike a deal with Santa but nothing better come between an American and his turkey dinner.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stranger for Candy

The Annual Halloween Parade at P.S. 150Q. They actually had the NYPD block off traffic. Although, they needed it - it was a mad house. I think it was more the parents - you know, people like me. I almost got run over by a Bartlett Milk truck trying to get a picture of my Power Ranger.

This year, both my boys were Power Rangers. It was not their costume of choice - it was more like, what's on sale. Originally, Zuki wanted to be Aang from "The Last Airbender" but for fifty-bucks? Nah, that ain't happening this year, son.

It's funny how you can gauge the popularity of a superhero by how many Halloween costumes you see of them. This year, Spiderman took a tumble to Iron Man. There were plenty of Darth Vaders, War Machines and even a Pac Man, who I mistook for a yellow M&M until a bystander told me otherwise.

And I'd like to thank all of Zuki's classmates for pointing out that Kenny was a Pirate. It was hard for me to tell, what with his Pirate hat and all. And Miriam's nun outfit was hilarious - I felt like singing, the hills are alive...with the sound of Muuuucus. Actually, I was going to wear a nun outfit for Halloween the year I was pregnant with Zuki but I thought religious fanatics might not think that was funny.

And can we talk about the Princesses? You can tell I'm jealous because when I was a kid, they didn't sell ready made Princess costumes. If you wanted to be a Princess for Halloween you either had to have a Fairy Godmother or a seamstress for a mom. I got to wear my dad's Karate gi with his actual Black Belt. At least it kept the bad kids from pelting eggs at me.

Without further ado, here are some pics of the P.S. 150Q Halloween Parade.

 Note the police van on the left blocking traffic - mostly speeding police cars - from plowing down kids in all their Halloween splendor.
 Note the police van on the left blocking traffic - mostly speeding police cars - from plowing down kids in all their Halloween splendor.

Samu - maskless Blue Power Ranger

Ray Nakajima Iron Man

Taichi War Machine
Should a Clown be leading a Motley Crew?
Louis Nakajima Spiderman on Harry Potter escorting detail
Joy, the Brooding Witch
Zuki is fourth from the left - the costume with Moobs. And that's Kenny, the hard to discern Pirate next to him.