Saturday, May 30, 2009

La La La La, Ethan's world...

Remember when Saturday mornings were about sleeping in, steaming cups of Starbucks coffee and bad Saturday morning TV like a Real World or America's Next Top Model marathon? Doing as much of the crossword puzzle as you can on your own, and then admitting intellectual defeat and enlisting the help of your partner for those last "few" tricky ones? Oh, how I loved those days.

These days, we roll out of bed early, mutter a few words to each other, shower, corral and dress the beast, suck back a quick cup of coffee and then head to the local convention center to watch a bunch of "not quite living the dream" dancers dressed up as Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Abby Cadabby (who IS she???!!), and Elmo perform Sesame Street Live: Elmo's Green Thumb.

That's how we roll these days. On Sesame Street.

I bought the tickets the other day, but we didn't tell Ethan about about it until this morning. We learned that lesson. About a month before his birthday, I foolishly told him we were having at the Playroom and every. single. day. for the next 30 days, I heard, "Is it my birthday at the Playroom?!" There is still a Sarah's head shaped dent in the wall from me banging my head against it, thinking, "whywhywhy did I tell him so soooooon?!"

So this morning, as we piled into the car, we told him we had a surprise for him and we'd tell him what it was when we got to the Coffee Bean. While we sat at our table waiting for our coffee, Ethan pointed across the street at the random shops and said, "Is that my surprise?!" I don't know if he thought we'd bought him a hair salon and a tuxedo rental shop, or what. Kids are just weird. We assured him that no, the hair salon and tuxedo rental shop were in fact NOT his surprise, and for a second he actually almost seemed a little disappointed. Who knew his life long dream was to be a retail and/or service shop owner?

We told him that actually we were going to see ELMO!!! AT HIS HOUSE!!! ISN'T THAT EXCITING?! We got a big smile out of him (probably more a reaction to our over-zealous enthusiasm at our announcement than anything else), but overall, his reaction was somewhere between a luke-warm "cool" and an equally luke-warm, "really? neat." I think he was disappointed that the hair salon just wasn't in the cards (perhaps it's because he desperately needs a hair cut, but we keep putting it off because his long hair is so stinking cute).

The "we're way more jazzed about this than you" theme continued when we got to the theater lobby. Don't get me wrong, Ethan was excited, but I think our anticipation about his excitement sent us into a sort of parental "we're such great parents" frenzy. We got in line at the merchandise stand and loaded up on programs and another one of those absurd twirly light toys. I hate those things, by the way and cringe every time I think of how freaking rich whoever invented it is, thanks in large part, to me.

Our seats were good and Ethan got genuinely excited when we got into the theater itself. "Is this Elmo's house?!" and "Where's Elmo?!" He was, however, a bit disturbed by the fact that Grover was going to be there---for some reason? Not a fan of Grover. Where do they come up with this stuff?

When the lights went down and the show started, the mesmerization set in. Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Rosita, Grover, Cookie Monster--they were all there. And dude, they could dance. Even in those ginormous costumes, they got down like a boy band. Even Ethan was inspired to shimmy his shoulders while sitting in Husband's lap. He was clapping, singing, calling back responses to Elmo. All very super cute.

There was a bit of a creepy factor, though. At one part of the show, Elmo and his friends meet a couple of beetles. Telly is afraid of beetles, so they had to make them seem a little scary. Which, I guess if you're a kid, they did. But if you are an adult, they really just looked like the police man guy from the Village People. I was a little taken aback by the S&M cop looking thing they had going on, but all in all, Ethan was digging it.

After the intermission, though, the shine had pretty much worn off. The standard, "I want to go home"'s, and the giant open-mouthed yawns started to set in. The stupid spinning light toy was more intriguing than the entire "Nature is so beautiful, let's find the perfect place to plant this flower!" thing unfolding in front of us on stage.

All in all, it was a good experience for us. We were hesitant about the whole dark room, loud music, thongs of screaming people thing, but Ethan handled himself really well. Poor girl behind us flipped the hell out during the second 1/2 and they had to leave. I'm glad we were able to see the whole thing.

Trying to get Ethan as hyped up about this damn Elmo show as we were...

My favorite picture of the day--nailed in the head by mama's purse.

See how much happier Husband looks than Ethan?

Ah, there's the smile. Stupid, spiny light toy, thank you for making my child smile.

So mesmerizing...

There are the New Kids, uh, I mean the Sesame Street gang...

more fascination with the stupid spiny light toy.

Dueling stupid spiny light toys...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sunrise, Sunset...

Okay. So maybe more, "Sunrise, a quarter to nine". I know he's only three. But I'm trying to set a mood that says both, "My baby's growing up!" and "Hey, we're Jews!" so bear with me.

Because this morning, while in the middle of a diaper change, Ethan started singing in Hebrew. The Hebrew blessing over bread, to be exact. Or, in his case, the Hebrew blessing over snack time at pre-school (G-d's lost 11th commandment--Thou shalt pray over your goldfish and juice box).

Granted, a diaper change is not really the most auspicious of occasions for which to bust out the Hebrew blessings, but this struggling-to-maintain-her-Jewish-identity-and-pass-it-on-to-her-son Mama will take what she can get. I'll take a little "Adonai, Ellohainu" wherever I can get it.

I've not really been a great Jew in the past several years. No synagogue affiliation, a some would say unnatural love for Christmas trees and Christmas music during the holiday seasons. No formal bris for Ethan when he was born. Husband, who is Jewish basically on a technicality almost blew our wedding by telling the rabbi that his sister was getting married on the first night of Passover (I was sure the rabbi was going to refuse to marry us after Husband shared that tidbit--Jews can't get married during Passover), and his mother told the rabbi about Husband's baptism during the cocktail hour of our wedding, moments after our wedding ceremony (which is actually a really funny story and totally makes sense, but I bet the rabbi was WAY confused about why he had just performed a wedding between 2 Jews, one of which was also, somehow, a baptised Catholic). So the last few years I've been a little like your proverbial wandering Jew.

So it did my heart some serious good to hear Ethan this morning, smiling up at me and singing in Hebrew. I thought of my dad, walking into our house this past Hannukah, looking at our Christmas tree all decked out in silver and blue, turning to my mother and muttering, "Are they even Jewish anymore?" I know we're doing things differently than they did, and I know that makes them a little nervous, and I understand that. But truly. Yes, we are still Jewish.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The end of an Era...

Today marked the end of Ethan's "transition" into pre-school. In February, he started a class literally called "Transition", where I dropped him off in class, stayed "for a bit" and then retreated through a hail of weeping and "mommy, don't go!"'s to the couches in the "mom's lounge" in the temple's main building. E's teacher assures me that the second I leave the room, I am a mere afterthought and the theatrics ebb as Ethan engages happily with the other kids, toys, activities, and teachers, and proceeds to be an all-around gem of a student.

Initially, we went through a stint of "I don't want to go to schooooooool" tantrums that made me question the whole thing---is he too young? too small? are the other kids intimidating or bullying him (impossible to imagine, given the kids in question). Am I a bad mother for jumping on the "my 3 year old HAS to be in preschool or he won't get into Harvard" bandwagon?

Turns out, it was nothing a little pre-pre-school apple juice at The Coffee Bean couldn't fix, so clearly it wasn't a deeply rooted aversion. And pretty soon I started hearing all about Miss Claudine (the teacher) and Devon (his pre-school sweetie), and filling up my refrigerator door and kitchen window sill with paper butterflies, painted rock ladybugs and waxed-paper stained glass windows. So Ethan was all good.

And me? I got two hours, every Tuesday and Thursday to drink my coffee (translation: chai tea latte, always), sit on a comfy couch and chat with the other moms. I want to say it was a tough transition for me and that I was intimidated and overwhelmed by having to be "on" in front of a bunch of new people---I figure if it was a bit of a struggle for Ethan, I should have shared in that in some way, a kind of sympathy angst. But it was too fun to gossip and chit-chat and way over-share with these women.

At the end of class, the moms sigh one last "oh, it was so nice to have two hours off" sigh, gather up our things and walk across the parking lot to the bank of classrooms, the peals of our kids' laughter and the chatter of their voices all around (oh, the corniness of it all!). On one particular day, Ethan caught sight of us walking towards the gate and announced to everyone on the playground, "OUR MOMMIES ARE COMING!" If melting hearts make a noise, it was audible right then. Perfectly happy without us, but so excited to see us again.

There have been a few glitches along the way. A Passover puppet show sent Ethan into a downward spiral of histrionics (the puppets were more than life sized and WAY loud) and I got called out of my happymomchat mode to go cuddle some sense back into him. Miss Claudine pulled me aside after one class to let me know that Ethan had acted out to get attention when she was working with another little one. His favorite thing to do? Throw something across the room. Thankfully it's not "beat the snot out of a class mate."

So as I emptied out his cubby today, gathering all the left over art projects and changes of clothing, I was sad. It was a short era, but it was an era, nonetheless. He, on the other hand, really had no idea---he just wanted to play with daddy's car keys.

I shouldn't be too emotional, though. If this was one era ending, the next one begins in a month, when Ethan starts his first true pre-school class, Monday-Friday, 9am-12noon. Oh yes, folks, that's what I said. Five mornings a week. FIVE. That's like almost enough time for me to start feeling guilty about being a stay-at-home mom. Almost.

What do I plan to do with all. that. time? Well, I really hope to be lying on the bathroom floor, dry-heaving the morning sickness away, and napping, for at least the first month or two. But, should that not happen, oh my. Blogging more than once every two weeks, maybe? Going to the gym on a---gasp!---regular basis. And here's an idea---cleaning my house to such a degree that people could actually just drop by unannounced without my being utterly humiliated by the condition of our sty. A cross between Amalah, Martha Stewart and Jillian Michaels--that will be me. Right? Sure.

But anyway, let's do a little "end of an Ethan era" retrospective now by looking at some pictures of Ethan from February to now. You'll note that one thing is clear: we've not cut his hair since Transition class started. We are so torn between "long hair hippy freak" Ethan and clean cut Ethan. Sigh.

Ethan getting his hair cut the day before school started.

In the class room on the first day of class. If I remember correctly, he was "cooking a salad" for me. Ew.

Ethan and Noni play in the February. In short-sleeves.

"Mother, please. Do you mind? I'm reading."

May I taunt the kitty until he rips me to ribbons? Please?

Really, no caption needed...

Ethan's first Tot Shabbat service, in April. Perhaps a smaller yarmulke? I think so. And maybe next time mama could tuck in the shirt. Sheesh.

Ethan and Sammy cracking up at something (probably one of them farted...they are boys, after all.)

Possessed red-eye Ethan loving clutches Grandma Judy's keys in a death-grip.

Rocking out at the Skirball Cultural Center at the Noah's Ark exhibit. What you don't see here is the old-school air guitar that Ethan managed to wow the crowd with. The kid knows his air guitar.

Park in May, take 1, the flirty coy version.

Park in May, take 2, the "look at the green sidewalk chalk on my hands" version.

Ethan and Noni test the "no shirt, no shoes, no service" policy at their local hang-out (the couch). Good thing the management is easy-going.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Watermelon? Bubbles? Crazy "I've been playing in the water
table" hair? Must be summertime!

He doesn't look like a baby anymore...

But he will always be my baby.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I didn't tell you I was taking most of May off? Oh. My bad.

It's been a crazy couple of weeks. Remember how we had to move? Turns out, the land lady's kids were appeased by "a load of presents and rearranging their rooms", so in the end, they didn't insist that their mother kick us out so they could take over the house. I want to say a whole lot of things about spineless parenting and uber-entitled kids, but you know what? I get to stay in my house, so it's all good.

How's three been treating E? Pretty good. I'm definitely feeling the guilt of not writing that long "You're 3 years old now and this is how amazing you are" blog post for his birthday; I'm not winning any mother-of-the-year awards these days, that's for sure. But I have a good reason. I hope.

We've been hot in pursuit of a sibling for Ethan. This month, after being an annoying patient (remember Elaine Benes on Seinfeld? How the doctors wrote "difficult" in her records? Yeah, that's me.), I ditched my OB and headed to a reproductive endocrinologist. In my defense, while she said nice things and promised to help me get pregnant, she didn't listen to my concerns about taking clomid without being monitored. I called repeatedly to ask her to monitor me after taking the round of clomid, and she poo-poo'd me to the point of no longer returning my calls. So....buh-bye. I just don't know how you give a woman whose got such an incompetent cervix and wonky uterus a fertility drug that runs an up to 10% chance of multiples without monitoring her to be sure she's not popping 5 eggs in one month. So while maybe she was right and I was wrong, medically (I mean, she is the expert), I just didn't feel comfortable. And one lesson I learned from my pregnancy with Ethan is that things are freaking scary enough--you have to trust the person who's taking care of you. You have to feel like they are listening to your concerns and are doing everything in their power to make you feel safe in their care. She just didn't.

The RE does. And he agreed with me that I needed to be monitored. He was honest about our chances of conceiving (7-10% chance each month, even with help), but hopeful that we'd get there. We talked at length about my history, reviewed my blood work and all the other tests that we've had done, and you'll never guess in a million years what he thinks is keeping us from getting pregnant. Would you like to guess? Go on. If you've been reading my blog for any lenght of time at all, you'll know what it is....

Oh, yeah. That's it. My cervix.

Yup. Apparently, scar tissue from my cerclage has interefered in a variety of ways with my ability to conceive this time around. So, thanks, cerclage, for keeping Ethan in and all of that. But seriously? Seriously??? I should have known. It would have to be my cervix. That little freaking thing is the bane of my existence. Can't it just keep it together this once? I knew I'd have to deal with it again the next time I was pregnant, but I didn't think I'd have trouble with it while trying to get pregnant. It's always got to get in on the act, the little attention whore.

Fine. So it turns out, as annoying as that little bitch is, it's probably the best explanation for secondary infertility we could hope for, because the "cure" for a cervix that's not willing to play nice is just going right on past the it---with an IUI. Yes, the turkey-baster approach.

I took my clomid, I had my ultrasound---two follicles sitting pretty, one in each ovary, waiting for the word. Tomorrow I go in, either for the IUI or for the trigger shot to force ovulation, depending on what the RE finds.

I've struggled a bit with the idea that getting pregnant is no longer about intimacy for Husband and me. It's about timing, and pills, and doctor's offices and specimen collection cups and vaginal ultrasound machines (which will from henceforth be called "the dildo-cam", for your reading enjoyment). If I do get pregnant again, it will not be in the comfort of my own bed (or livingroom, or shower, or...well, you get what I mean). It will be on a doctor's table. In an office. At mid-day. With phones ringing, doctors asking nurses to hand them this or that, and a huge wad of cash flying out of my wallet.

I could go on and on about how unnatural that feels, and yadda yadda yadda, but you know what? I'm good with it. I don't care. First of all, I have known more than one person who went to far greater and less "natural" lengths to have a child. And I'd never take away from the profoundness of their journeys by kvetching about mine. And secondly, I don't care how this little one gets to me, as long as he or she does.

So, fine. Turkey-baster, it is. I'll take that. Happily. And hopefully, just maybe, the universe will smile on us.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Magic Kingdom

Okay, so I have to admit I'm one of those people who rarely likes to slap a character-laden t-shirt on my kid. I tend to giggle at grown-ups who want Disney weddings or who choose to honeymoon at a Disney resort--I know there are lots of grown uppy things to do there; I have personally gotten myself quite wasted whilst drinking 'round the world at Epcot. But a honeymoon? When there's supposed to be lots of sex? In a place that calls to mind childhood memories of family vacations? It's all a bit too "Daddy/Mommy issues" for me.

I've only been to Disney a handful of times in my life; once in third grade, once with the Big Bad Boyfriend of '95-'96, and once with Husband (but that was Universal--does it count?) I always knew we'd take Ethan, and that it would be fun in a "oh my god the sun is blazing hot and the lines are so long; we're all burnt to a crisp and sweating; the kids are scared out of their minds by all the giant characters and holy hell, where the freak did we park???!!!" kind of way.

That being the case, Tuesday was actually a pleasant surprise for me. We went to the red-headed stepchild of the Disney organization--Disney Land, as opposed to Disney World. And maybe that was a good thing. Also, it's being a Tuesday? Excellent. Lines? Ten minutes, tops. When I went to Disney Land with Big Bad Boyfriend of '95-'96, we got on a total of three rides in 12 hours because of the lines (who knew the day after Christmas would be such a mad-house? Um. Duh), and had to resort to getting drunk while wandering through Epcot. I'm so relieved that on Ethan's maiden voyage to Disney, we weren't forced to drown our bitterness towards stupid people (and all people in line in front of you are stupid...) with alcohol.

For days we'd been telling Ethan we were going to Mickey's house. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, I think next time we just won't mention the trip at all until we're pulling into the parking structure. Because three days of Ethan asking "Are we going to Mickey's now?" had me working up a bit of a twitch. So I don't know WHAT Husband and I were thinking when we hatched the plan to meander leisurely through the different lands in the park until we arrived at "Toon Town", where Mickey's house is actually situated. We figured, hey, we'll wander around, take in a few rides, get lunch and then head up Mickey's way. And we did manage to get on one boat ride in Adventure Land--the Burmese Jungle Safari ride, complete with freakishly real animatronic animals and incredibly un -PC representations of "the natives". The ride was awesome, but I could tell that Ethan kept waiting to see if Mickey Mouse was going to pop up from behind one of the elephants of giant creepy men with spears and shrunken heads on ropes.

So when we suggested another ride after getting off of the jungle safari, it makes sense that Ethan was having none of it. "I want to see Mickey!!!" was a pretty steady mantra as Husband and I mulled over the map of the park, trying to figure out the most efficient way to get to Mickey's house before a full-on day-threatening tantrum ensued.

And when he met the Mouse? Fits of glee the likes of which that person stuffed into the Mickey suit has probably never witnessed before. I had no idea the kid was so over the moon about Mickey. While other kids were cowering at their parents' sides or cautiously making their way to the Mouse, Ethan was cutting in line and shoving kids out the way like George Costanza pushing over women and children to escape a burning building. Not our proudest parental moment. Fortunately, everyone's in a good mood at the Magical Kingdom and we didn't get any dirty looks as our child charged Mickey, leaving the other, less Mickey-obsessed kiddos eating his dust.

After hugging, high-fiving, fist-bumping and many pictures with Mickey, we departed the Mouse House and thought about what to do with the rest of our day. Ethan's suggestion? "I want to go home." AGH!!! Being the parents intent on mandatory birthday fun (and who understood that paying the obscene entrance fee to the park means you stay for more than ONE hour!), we overruled his increasingly emphatic suggestion that we go home, headed to lunch and then to the Roger Rabbit ride. This turned out to be a very big error of judgment on our part.

How could any ride in Toon Town be inappropriate for a 3 year old? I mean, it's freaking Toon Town. The Roger Rabbit ride is a car-ride---Ethan LOVES cars. We thought it would be the perfect little adventure for him. Except that the wait line goes through dark tunnels and black-lit chambers, with creepy science-experimentesque cauldrons bubbling and steaming. Just a tad freaky. And the ride? Um. A bad acid trip is how I'd probably describe it if I'd ever had a bad acid trip (or any acid trip, for that matter). Dark rooms, haunted-house-ish things jumping out, and deargod the screaming! At first Ethan was psyched to be driving the car. After the 2nd or 3rd corner into increasingly freaky visual effects and all the screaming, Ethan was...well, not happy. Eyes peeled in horror, mouth turned down in a frown just seconds from turning into a full-on meltdown, Ethan clung to me as we made our way through the ride. I felt SO badly. Here I was, his ambassador to Disney, and the person who's supposed to look out for his best interests and wellbeing, and here I was throwing him on a crazyass, scary ride at Disney. Excellent Mom points.

Fortunately, we were able to turn the situation around as we left the ride and gushed about how proud we were of him for going on that ride and how he was such a big, brave boy, getting through that scary ride. It worked and for most of the rest of the day, he liked to share the story with us about how he went on the "really, really, really, really....(pause to take a breath)...really, really scary ride!"

We also met Minnie, Goofy, Eyore, Tigger and Donald. And met Mickey a second time. And went on "It's a small world" and a few other rides. None of which terrified or otherwise freaked the child out, thankfully. He loved "It's a Small World", the train rides, the Winnie the Pooh ride, the giant merry go round, and we heard a lot of "oooh, look it!" as we wandered through the park.

Around 4pm we started to hear the "I want to go home" whine again and decided it was time to oblige. We stopped at the shops on Main Street, got the obligatory mouse ears and dutifully had his name stitched on the back of it. Ethan got a stuffed Mickey and for some reason, Buzz Lightyear stuff (he's never even seen Toy Story). Then we poured ourselves into the car and headed home, the sun setting (figuratively, I guess; it was only 5pm) on Ethan's 3rd birthday, and our first trip, as a family, to the Magic Kingdom. I have to admit I was a little vklempt at having taken my little boy to such an iconic place and at having seen it through his eyes. He didn't feel the heat, or see the lines or fret over how much it was all going to cost. He was just completely wrapped up in the magic. There's a lesson in that.

This was how we started the day. Ethan was not pleased when we suggested waiting 1/2 the day to find the Mouse.

But he was feeling much better once we embarked upon the Jungle Safari boat, sporting his birthday boy pin and giggling at the corny tour-guide (he actually just laughed when we did; I'm not sure he really got any of the jokes)

This castle? Kinda blew, compared to the one in Orlando. But don't worry, I didn't tell Ethan.

Random chica waiting with Ethan in line to meet Mickey Mouse. It's like someone's slipping Baby-Axe cologne on him or something.

Making an important Ethan-to-Mouse phone call in Toon Town...

Big props to the poor slobs who hang out in these suits all day; it was hot. And they made Ethan's day.

Behold, this is what pure joy looks like:

check out the little shaking fists o' delight.

If he could have stayed forever in that little room with Mickey, he would probably have chosen to, such was his absolute happiness at this particular moment. Cutest thing ever.

And from pure joy, let's move to pure terror, shall we? The Roger Rabbit Ride.

This should have been a clue that the ride was going to be a bit whacked-out, no?

The car we drove through the tunnel o' horrors.

And the look on Ethan's face when the ride was over. Is it wrong that this picture makes me giggle? A lot?

Ethan and Tigger

Ethan before ice cream sandwich shaped like Mickey Mouse's head (um...creepy)

Ethan after eating ice cream sandwich shaped like Mickey Mouse's head (mmmm, that was some good mouse ice cream....)

family portrait with Minnie

seriously, this kid is never happier than when he's being held by giant mice.

Look at mah Buzz Lightyear!!!! I don't know who he is, but still, LOOOOOOKIE!!

and this is how we ended our day....

Happy 3rd birthday, my sweet little boy.