I thought I had unearthed the greatest gift given to female bodies. No, it wasn’t cryolipolysis, or Botox, fillers, or even varicosity zapping, Summer’s Eve wash or the new ULTRA tampons from Tampax. It was indeed, the True Blue line from Bath and Body Works. Unlike any other line of body wash and body lotion, True Blue is a far cry from the latte consistency of Jergens, Eucerin and that milky crap that feels and looks like half and half for your body. This stuff is magically emollient, and your skin becomes baby soft, like a newborn in seconds, and can stay that way for days.
The wife of the magical duo of softness is True Blue Shower wash…just as silky smooth, just as rich, and in a matching tube. Please keep this in mind.
I actually used this stuff on my newborn babies and it kept their skin as thick and impenetrable as a Wendy’s Frosty. So, when my little beanie, my Gianmarco came home, I slathered him in lotion gold after every bath.
One day I noticed on my tiny gift from God, a very gentle, non-invasive type of peeling. It seemed surface only and no chafing or bleeding, just a gentle shedding, like a rattlesnake. Newborns don’t communicate too well except for a few grunts and sleeping shudders, so I guessed he was ok. He seemed ok, but what the hell was this? Of course, I googled new born skin irritations, cooties, peeling, sloughing, etc. I needed to keep his skin hydrated so I kept putting on the lotion. I was on my way to the pediatrician with my quandary, when I realized.
I had a new babysitter, a very, very sweet girl who came to help me for the weekend when I was home with the baby. I went to change him on the changing table after a bath, and to my horror, on the table was indeed TRUE BLUE in it’s beautiful neon blue tube, but it was the SHOWER WASH!!!! OH MY GOD!!!!! Our sweet mother’s helper was dousing our newborn’s skin in shower wash and not rinsing! But, I take blame. In my post-partum noctambulation, which could have occurred at any hour, really, I put a tube of shower cream on his table instead of the lotion. Well, we rinsed him over and over, and eventually he stopped excorticating. It took a few days, but he returned to normal.
So, Bath and Body Works, my bad, totally, but can we hear it for a True Blue face lift for sleep deprived mommies?
In our house you can imagine, if something is yours, truly yours, whether, edible, inanimate, dirty, clean, plastic or diamond, and especially if it’s printed on rag paper, you need to guard it with your life. You can pull out one of the drug smugglers tricks and hide it in your underwear or other places, but chances are, just like bomb sniffing dogs, someone will find it and use it.
Every morning, I make hot tea with lemon. I use the lemons later on for my humonogo water jug. Twice a week, I cut up a few lemons and put them in a baggie because I hate slicing, cutting and chopping anything. Odd for a cook, but I love my Cuisinart. I keep a citrus based surplus in my fridge in a little baggie hidden in the crisper. One morning I did this, made my water, and hid the lemons.
And there it was, as sure as Restallyn in Kim Kardashian’s lips, the lemons vanished. And, I was pissed. Who exactly I was pissed at, I don’t quite know, but it could be any of those interlopers who freeload in my house. Was it Vale using them for a baking sculpture or to fill a lemon crepe? Was it Eva making lemon slime? Was it Federica baking a lemon layer cake? There were endless possibilities. “Who took my lemons??” They looked at me like I had aphasia and nothing was coming out.
That day, I went to pick up. Camilla walks out of the building and calmly asks me in this little whisper of a voice, “Mom, why did you give me a bag of lemons for snack?” I stopped for a second and I said, “I gave you what?” She answered “There was a plastic bag with lemons in my lunchbox.” Well, so much for multitasking. I had found my lemons, and there was a bag of pretzels in the crisper.
Camilla does like lemons though, and she thought the acidic surprise should continue. So, it was a win-win.
When Devin was in pre-k, Brynn and I would have carefree afternoons after I dropped him at school. At the time, pre-k was just that, pre kindergarten, and three days a week for 2.5 hours, unlike today, I call pre-k, pre-c, or pre college, full day, full lunch, and transferable credits for circle time. We loved waving good-bye, and of course lunching and shopping.
Time management was always huge for me, so I usually brought every activity, leisurely or not, down to the wire.
One spring afternoon with crazy haired, smiley Brynn in her booster, we were cruising in our red Dodge Durango down the Parkway from probably Riverside Square in Hackensack to make pick up for the boy. As we were driving, sunroof wide open, Brynn’s hair flailing in the wind, I was observing the various flora and fauna of our Garden State. The Parkway is beautifully lush in the spring, but horribly dead in the winter so I do notice how beautiful it can be, despite the occasional decapitated deer or dead hedgehog on the shoulder. This time, I was driving and I noticed a bird, a crow, I think, flying splendidly, but diving near my car. I was afraid he would become my front seat passenger after he crashed into my windshield, but in an instant, he seemed to disappear.
Brynn and I showed up early enough to get my parking spot right in the front. If you know me, well, let’s just say I obsess over my parking spots. I was waiting outside for the pre-k doors to open with the other parents … a mix of moms, dads and grandparents. We were just making stupid little chatter when one of dad’s approached me and said, “Hi…did you know you have a bird sticking out of your grille?” Excuse me? What? “You have a bird in your grille.” Oh shit, that’s where he went…didn’t your mother teach you how to fly?
This grossed me out, but of course the parent posse thought this was hysterical, and so did Brynn, who will touch just about anything, blood, horse poop, and dead birds. She LOVED this! Devin on the other hand who gets grossed out just peeing on a daily basis was freaked to the max. He kept saying “It’s dead, it’s dead. I’m gonna throw up.”
I called my friend’s husband to come over and remove the avian corpse because hell, that was not my department.
My IPhone was still a really hip Razor at the time, which meant no pics…. had I only known what would have made a great blog entry 15 years later. LOL
With so many kids, one of them is bound to not follow the program, even when the trip or event seems fun and kid friendly. In this case, that would be Gianmarco on a trip to Sea World in 2016.
Gianmarco is a relatively sweet, but relatively moody three-year-old. On a vacation to Universal Studios, we deviated a little and went to visit one of my favorite places, Sea World. Oh, I dreamed he would be in love with the fish, the dolphins, sea lions, stingrays and be smiling ear to ear in his stroller. Nope. So, what does every mother do when you would like to enjoy the outing with the other kids, and one is a complete killjoy? The proper thing is to buy him a toy. In this case, a whale fan.
Gianmarco loved the Shamu fan whose black and white propeller fins were the highlight of the day, and he would turn the fan on, and off, squealing with delight with each rotation. On and off. He was happy and we could now see Shamu in the flesh at the Shamu show! Off we went. He even left the stroller and walked with us to the entrance, turning the fan on, then off, on then off, on then off.
We sat high in the rafters for a great view, and I gave him a bag of popcorn to distract him from the fan. He munched happily,and I was enjoying the killer whales out of their habitat perform human directed leaps and squawks while feasting on dead herring. Then one of the most top ten terrifying mom moments of my life…the popcorn wasn’t cutting it anymore and he turned the fan on..right into a little girls long, Morticia-like locks sitting in front of us. The little girl screamed in horror, and the fan, it’s motor whining had it’s Shamu fins glued to her scalp stopped its rotation. I was frozen in horror. I attempted to unwind her hair from the shaft of the fan, but with it came the equivalent of a hair extension…only it was real. Her parents were so nice…nicer than I would have been EVER. The little girl was almost catatonic, and I didn’t know what else to do except apologize over and over and over, and I gave her 20.00 to buy something in the gift shop.
I can still feel the rapid palpitations in my chest just recounting the story.
The moral here, and the mistake I made…never bribe your kid with a plastic, handheld fan-waterbottle combo. It could be insanely “hairy.” As for another trip to SeaWorld? It’s like returning to the scene of a horrific crime that plays over and over in your nightmares….not any time soon.
You would think that by child #4, I would have had my wits working for me, not against me. It is possible, too, that by child #4, you start to cut corners, or you are just really busy, or even dumb.
Federica was about four months old, and we were getting ready to go somewhere … it’s all a blur, almost twelve years later. I was getting her ready on the changing table, and since things have not changed in over a decade, there was little Brynn, afro and all right at my side, trying to crawl back up into my uterus. She was so pleasant, though, and always laughing, smiling, that I enjoyed having her close. As most seven year girls do, they move around a lot, cheerleading, dancing, or in Brynn’s case, pretending to be a horse. You are correct, I didn’t say “ride” a horse, I said “be” a horse. She started riding a few years back, and everything referred back to jumps and cantering, and this is how she navigated the house.
As I was prepping my darling little Federica, I needed a onesie which was not within reach on the changing table, but about two feet away in a drawer. So, thinking the almost eight year old could handle watching the baby for 0.6 seconds, and keeping her hand close to her, I gave her “eyes and hands on deck” duty. I turned for a fleeting moment, and there it happened..every mother’s worse nightmare…the “thud-silence-shriek” combo. Federica fell off the changing table and was screaking, face planted, like someone who encountered Jack the Ripper in a cold London Alley in 1888. From the corner of my eye, I could see the little Shirley Temple head leaping around the very tempting round turret room as though she was a Breyer Horse competing at the Saratoga Classic. Then our eyes met, and she saw her sister on the floor, and she just looked at me, alarmed for a fleeting moment, and kept cantering.
I swept Kiks into my arms from the floor, and comforted her with my boobs and my shaking arms. I called my best friend who was a pediatrician who assured me the carpeted floor and the height of the changing table were probably not enough of a horror combo to do any damage. For the next week I kept examining her for signs of a concussion or brain damage, because I am a complete catastrophist. To this day, every time she does something completely irrational, or takes twenty minutes to put on a pair of leggings, I wonder if it was the changing table fall.
Brynn, is actually a very accomplished equestrian, and still rides today, though she rides a real horse, and has stopped pretending to be one. We told her she had to really think about that because Manhattan College may expel her. She promised she would stop, and as far as I know doesn’t leap over jumps around campus.
When Al and I first got married, we lived in a townhouse in Park Ridge, NJ. It was Valentina’s first home, and we lived there until she was a year and a half with Devin and Brynn. One of the “features” of the townhouse was a small, but functional elevator. We were healthy, able-bodied youngsters and we didn’t use it for much, except maybe to move things from the basement to the top floor, but that was rare. And, I’m sure you can imagine when the kids had a play date it became like the Tower of Terror at Disneyworld, and that came to a screeching halt… another story.
Our first trip to Disney with Valentina was a bit more challenging for a third-time mom who now had to pack diapers and toddler things that I had not packed in over five years. Vale needed her own “supply” bag and clothes, and represented more luggage than I had been used to. (Today it’s like moving out someone’s apartment just for a trip to Florida). I packed Dev and Brynn in one suitcase, and on departure day, I put everything in the elevator to move to the ground floor.
We merrily went on our way, got to the airport, checked in, checked our luggage and boarded our plane to Orlando International Airport: the magical place where dreams start to come true as soon as the wheels are down on the tarmac.
We adore the Polynesian resort, and have been staying there with a few deviations to The Grand Floridian or the Contemporary but I love the carefree atmosphere and the Polynesian flare that really makes me feel like I should be in a Kaua'i rowing crew with some hot Polynesian guys in grass hula skirts. But then the hostess in her long mumu and plastic lei shows up with her Disney smile and hand gestures and it’s all over... LOL
We were waiting for our luggage and decided to go to the park. I had extra clothes for the kids, so we ventured out and did our Disney thing for a few hours. We came back exhausted and ready for bed. I went to give Vale her bath and I asked Al, “Where is Vale’s suitcase?” He said, “What suitcase?” I said, “Her suitcase with her clothes, and her other one with her diapers and bath stuff.” We looked at the bags we had, and none of them housed anything that resembled Vale’s stuff. Devin and Brynn were accounted for and could care less… Vale had on a dirty t-shirt and some gross shorts from her day of feasting on the fat in the Magic Kingdom. The only diapers were in my travel bag, and nothing else. What an ass! Did we lose the luggage or leave it? Al checked the baggage tags… we never checked in her bags.
In a panic, I called my sister, who I have to say, in her calmness, can solve a lot of problems I can’t. She claims she was much more histrionic in her earlier years, but if you ever met my nature-loving, animal-kissing older sister Christine, you would never believe it. She ventured over to my house, and found the bags… IN THE ELEVATOR. I pressed the button to send them down, and they never made it out. So, what now? Well, I will say this: there’s a reason we came home with gilded Mickey ears that read “Chris” in prolific embroidered script across the back. She took the bags to Fed Ex, paid the fee, and the next day, like everything in Disney, magically appeared.
The evening solution was Al’s pre-Uber trip to the Kissimmee Walmart with strict instructions to find the cutest pjs and short set that looked like I paid a lot of money for it. And of course, more diapers.
Needless to say, to this day, I have never left luggage home again, and I have learned to take pictures of my bags before we wave bye-bye on the belt... disaster avoided… no sibling rivalry here!!
My little Camilla, who is a total snacker, junk food junkie and gummy worm addict, and not so little anymore, was a 4lb 4oz weakling. When she was born, she looked like one of those skinny chickens you see in the poultry store window on Arthur Avenue.
I was always so worried about her weight, that it became all consuming. Since she arrived home, three weeks early, every two hours were spent nursing and pumping and feeding and weighing. That was MY life for the first three months of HER life, then around four months, she started a speedy gain when we introduced some solids. I tried not to be, but I am sure I was a hot mess for most of it.I can’t even dig up a pic for you, because I just don’t want to.
One evening, or maybe even early morning, as the routine was, I got up to nurse her and change her diaper. I did. You know what that’s like. You turn the switch on, you make the movements like Rosie on the Jetsons, and proceed with your evening, or morning, or whatever it is at that moment, as if you even have a clue. I snapped up her little onesie pj, and brought her back to bed with me.
A few hours later, I picked her up to nurse and change again, and what the *(&^…my bed was soaking in newborn urine. Well, you know, it was just a puddle under her, which leaked on to me ... you get the picture. I thought I didn’t have her diaper on securely, or the sticky part didn’t stick…none of the above. Guess what… NO DIAPER!!!!!! I never put the diaper on her.
I put her down in a stupor on the changing table, took the old diaper off, robotically threw it in the Genie, and just snapped her up and went on my way … back to bed, never being the wiser, until we woke up in baby pee.
To this day, I have no idea, or maybe I do, how I just didn’t put a diaper on the kid … she was very cool with it, though. She just peed as she was supposed to, diaper or sans.
I think in order for you to understand that it’s really okay to make mistakes, we just have to say what Lisa Bonet used to say on the Cosby Show … ”mmmm my bad.” It’s basically saying, “yeah, and so what … I made a mistake.” Guess what, parenting is not a perfect science. We are human beings and we make mistakes. How you choose to deal with that mistake and present it to your kids is up to you. My theory is they need to know we are not the perfect beings we think they are, and owning up to that is healthy.
Let’s take for example the summer I had Gianmarco. He was born in June, and was my paramount concern, on top of planning a family vacation to California when he was eight weeks. I thought I had it all going on: get up, feed the baby, shower, feed the baby, put on some make up, feed the baby, drop the girls at theater camp, feed the baby, take Albert to sports camp, feed the baby ... etc. I think you get the picture.
We sat down for dinner, about 6:00, and the phone rings. “Hi Linda, are you picking up Albert from camp.” I was like, “Albert, who?” Then I realized ... I forgot my kid at camp!!! Holy ^%&$! I had no idea this kid wasn’t even in the house. He could have slept there and I wouldn’t have realized till I checked his bed. I freaked out. I started proverbially pistol whipping myself “Bad mommy, bad mommy.” My girlfriend, Julie ran out the door like Ed McMahon was showing up with a check, and got him for me. Of course everyone was laughing ... ”LOL, you have eight kids ... lol” I found NONE of it funny at all. I wanted to call DYFS and turn myself in.
When Julie brought him in the door, I saw the halo around his head, and I hugged him like he had been lost in Agrabah at the market. He thought I was crazy and sat down and woofed a spare rib down his throat while I just stared at him, sobbing.
As you can see, almost four years later, I’m not really over the moment, but I can own it, and say yeah, even good mommies get a “MY bad.” and this was only the beginning.