Friday, September 9, 2011

The Cohen Tribe

If you've landed here lately, read some of the old stuff. It's pretty much my heart and soul.

Plenty more heart and soul where that came from, though. So join me on to keep up with all things dec-o-blog. It's just as fun.


Monday, August 22, 2011

The Safety Years

We are in what I like to call, "The Safety Years." Everything is about safety. (You know, injuries.) I've lost the ability to open, close, enter, exit, and and generally use most things in my home without first needing to unlock, unlatch, or ungate something. There is a latch to open and close the oven. There is a gate both at the top and bottom of my stairs. (This is following an incident during which I casually made a salad in the kitchen and entered the living room to find my son not playing with his toys on the floor but playing with his toys on the SECOND floor. Had a heart attack, died, ran up the stairs, grabbed him, and drove to Target to buy a bottom gate.) There are safety latches on most cabinets in the kitchen, sans the ones with knobs close enough together that we can use rubber bands instead. Abraham likes to "play" the rubber bands; a talent I call "Strumming the Cabinet Harp."
Every cord in our house that comes close to the floor is now tied around something tall, like a chair, so that my son can't put them in his mouth. We've already lost two Apple computer chargers to my son's desire to turn them into lollipops. There is a giant, rubber frog head wrapped around the spigots in the bathtubs which is, frankly, pretty disturbing if you know anything about heads and they way they attach to the body.
We have no pictures, table lamps, and no vacation momentos out anymore. Actually, to be clear, we do not set anything on anything. Tables are now for show and not for actual use. My son finds the entertainment center to be just that, which is why we can no longer turn any of the electronics ON in case he tries to push buttons that can never be unpushed in combinations that Bobby Fischer couldn't keep up with. Computers, cell phones, and iPads must only be used in the attic.
Plants must be hung from the ceiling or stored at the top of our closets. The one potted plant that is too large to move has given new meaning to the term "mud pie" on more than one occasion.
We can only load/unload the dishwasher during nap hours. All window shade cords must be tied up high, meaning that we never open/close the window shades anymore. Garbage baskets now reside in closets, cabinets, and sometimes on top of tables. (Oh! I guess we do use the tables.) Toilet covers must be put down, baby wipes must be put up, and no fun can be had out of doors unless someone is permanently holding Abe's hands away from his mouth. We even have a crib tent now in anticipation of the day he figures out he can get out of there without me.
It wasn't until I began writing this blog that I realized just how much of my house is some kind of "proofed" with this child in mind. I always said, "I'm just going to teach my child what he can and cannot touch," which was adorable of me. Because "no" is so effective at this age.
None of this madness happened at once. We didn't wake up one day and think, "We should make everything about our house inconvenient." It was one safety latch at a time until going to the bathroom required a schlage lock, a set of fingerprints, retinal scan, voice confirmation, and a secret knock. So think ahead if you might have to pee while at our house.

Friday, July 29, 2011

11 Months

Dear Abraham,

You are 11 months old today. I didn't even know babies got that old. I definitely never thought you would get that old; at least, I didn't think that in the first 4 months of your life.
So here's a little bit about you and the last two months:
You learned to pull yourself around the floor in a sort of, "my legs don't work but my arms do" kind of way at 9 months. You did that for over a month. I was worried we should be signing you up for the short bus, or at the very least, art school. As it turns out, you were just warming up. When you turned 10 months old you started crawling. And as they say, you never looked back. You're a FAST crawler, too. Your little hands and knees sounds like mice galloping across our wooden floors.
Dogs barking and mommy's hair are the two funniest things in your life. Also, handing things to people is a total gas. It never gets old and always deliver the perfect, little giggle.
You love just about every food there is. Even pulled pork.
You've got three and a half teeth. One of the top ones keeps tempting you with cutting through. Some mornings your little gums are all bloody and bruised. It's so incredibly sad for me when you are in pain.
You can climb. Everything. You climb stairs, cabinets, stools, window sills, the dogs, the dishwasher, the list goes on. You do not have great spacial awareness, as often times you hit your head and then get very angry. I try to warn you but you never listen.
Walks make you introspective and incredibly quiet. People who talk to you make you scream (I think you think you're talking to them). The swing gives you a sweet, peaceful disposition. And you're a perfect angel in every store. I love that about you.
You're not really a stay-at-home-baby. As long as we are out and about, or you are figuring out a new place, everything is kosher. Home, however, is a different story. You've learned how to throw tantrums at home. Whenever your daddy or I open the front or back doors, you RACE to get to them. Then, when we close them (even when no one has left), you lose your marbles. You throw yourself, face down, on the floor and scream and kick and seemingly shout, "WHY WOULD YOU OPEN A DOOR IF WE'RE NOT GOING THROUGH IT?? WHYYYYY?"
You also sincerely love dog food. There's no fair way for me to explain to you why you shouldn't eat it, and a happy Abe that does not make.
We've done so much traveling this summer and you've been a real champ. I think it's been harder on me than on you. Thank you for loving traveling as much as your daddy.
You are strong, strong-willed, handsome, determined, focused, and funny. I love your super tight hugs and your sloppy kisses and your scratched up knees. I am so thrilled to have you in my life everyday. And in one month, I'm going to look at you and say, "Happy Birthday, bud!! You're 1!" (Can you believe that?!)

I love you,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wanna Do Some Good?

There are a million places to put your money. 

I'm putting mine on the Do Good Bus.

The Do Good Bus is an opportunity to get involved and help your community. Just get on the bus and we do the rest. Each trip is different and the locations are a secret. You never know where you’ll end up and what you might end up doing. You will be wined and dined while on the bus and learn about causes in your neighborhood. If you have always wanted to get involved, volunteer or help others but didn’t know how, hop on the Do Good Bus!

They're partnering with Foster the People to do more than just tour around the country taking up space. They're making changes everywhere they can. Good changes that folks of our generation rarely take the time to think about (like planting a garden in the middle of an exit ramp...I did that once.)

And if you have a few minutes, get inspired and watch Rebecca (The Do-Gooder) talk about how important this is to her personally.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Multi-tasking is a blessing and a curse. Mom-Erin can do about 11 things at once and get them all finished correctly and in a timely manner. It's a gift that mommies are given in exchange for pushing another person out of their bodies. Not totally sure I would have turned down a Macy's shopping spree instead of the whole, "I can cook dinner, mop the floor, write an email, change the baby, and pick an unknown sticky substance out of the carpet without ruining my nails all in under 30 minutes," but whatever. You get what you get.

That being said, I've come across about 70,000 things in my daily life that I don't understand why someone hasn't redesigned yet for women like me who need to get things DONE. Like fitted sheets. Hello? Everytime I make the beds I put fitted sheets on a MINIMUM of 6 times before I get it right. WHY DOES THE SHORT SIDE ALWAYS END UP ON THE LONG SIDE?? IT SEEMS TO GO AGAINST THE VERY LAWS OF PHYSICS. There is a very simple fix to this. Just put a little tag on the bottom left corner that says, "Hey. I go on the bottom left corner." You hear that sheet-manufacturers? Do it or we'll stop buying fitted sheets.

Or bacon. I love bacon. It's full of good fat and protein and salt and good lord now I want bacon. But why did an OCD bacon packager design the layout of all bacon sold everywhere? All the slices are perfectly stacked and stuck together in a way that only a professional sushi chef could filet them. Why would no one come up with a better way to present the bacon to me? I would cook it soooo much more often if I didn't spend 3-4 minutes per slice trying to separate it from its neighbor. Not to mention, the plastic it's wrapped in is the LEAST user-friendly packaging in the world. I don't have a fix for this one.

How about Chinese take-out containers? Who's the Steven Hawking subordinate that decided it would be smart to include a metal handle? Are we supposed to heat up our Chinese food in the convection oven? I can't tell you the amount of times I've forgotten that metal handle and nearly blown our kitchen into Canada. And who wants to live in Canada? Chinese food is meant to be easy; a night off from cooking. I don't want to scoop the congealed leftovers out of the take-out containers, put them in a microwave safe bowl, and then heat and serve. I want to eat them directly from the container with a fork. Or chop sticks. Just take the handle off, guys. We don't need a handle on our take-out containers. We're not traveling with them.

Last one, I promise.

Can someone please design a dishwasher rack that makes some freaking sense? I've never seen one that fit normal bowls or normal plates. Whose tiny glasses are they using for their design strategy? The next time someone designs one of these things and they contact some kind of household item consulting firm, they should just save their money and ask someone who lives in a house with a dishwasher. Ask, "Hey, what kinds of things do you wash?" I can tell you what they won't say: shot glasses and lobster pots. All. Day. Long.

Multitasking is an awesome gift that makes me feel like superwoman at the end of the day, so all in all I'm really glad I got it. The only problem with multitasking is now, I have no clue how to be leisurely. It is impossible to just watch a show or take a walk or go to sleep. Or go to the bathroom. I must be doing 7-12 other things at the same time or I feel useless and like I've lost touch with reality. And eventually Abe is going to go to school and I will be alone for 6 hours a day. Maybe I'll start redesigning bacon packaging...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mom Romance

Hello World. It's been a while. It turns out, parenting takes up a LOT of time.

About a year after I got married I saw an interview with Julia Roberts during which she remarked her first kiss with her husband made her stop and think, "That will be the last first kiss I ever have." So sweet. Very romantic. Until I realized that my last first kiss happened in 2004 and I never acknowledged it and then I started getting very anxious why didn't I realize I'll never have another last first kiss again oh my God I'm going to be 30.
Romance is different after being with someone for 7 years. It's not that get-your-heart-racing-every-time-the-phone-rings. And after you have a kid, it's even MORE different. And for a minute I considered I might miss it forever; that is, until, I discovered Mom Romance.
When Abe was 6 months old we started going to Baby Gym. Thinking it was a gym, I wore a sports bra and running shorts to my first class. (I have since adjusted my wardrobe.) I entered the room to a bunch of moms who knew each other and knew each other's children.
"Oh he's crawling!"
"Hi Sydney, you are getting so big!"
"I don't know, he's still not napping."
I introduced Abraham and myself to a number of the moms who looked to be on my wavelength. Most were very nice, but their kids were five and six months older than Abe. Not a big deal when you're 30. A VERY big deal when you're 6 months old. We had nothing in common. But I stuck it out and attended week after week until Abraham became a Baby Gym favorite. And I got to know a lot of the moms. There are a few stereotypes that I have found in every baby-centered activity:

  • There's always that mom who needs to interject something amazing about her child and does so at a time that makes no sense. Like when we're standing in line to hang from the trapeze and she turns around and says, "When I put him down last night he waved at me and said, 'Buh buh!'" You want to care, but you don't. So you smile and say, "Wooow." This only encourages her to expound and then you're stuck listening to story after story about "amazing" things her child does.
  • There's the mom who brought her friend and only hangs out with her friend and even when you try and relate or make a joke she looks to her friend to decide if they think it's funny. You often want to high five these women in the face with a wet sponge. These are women who were popular in high school. Mean girls still exist. They're just not as thin.
  • There's the mom who knows more than you. About everything. So shut up.
  • There's the mom who clearly lives on a commune and refuses to cut her child's hair or wash her jeans. She makes comments like, "His energy is off," and can be seen lying on her back in the corner watching her child climb a ladder while the rest of the class is having circle time. Don't worry. She's benign.
  • There's vanilla mom. She's just sort of there. She giggles at the appropriate times and participates in conversations when it's right, but never really adds anything to the room. If you try and have a chat with her it is always awkward and forced. She also seems to be on the verge of tears for about 30% of class but no one knows why. Pretty much everyone is uncomfortable around her.

And finally, there's the awesome mom. I like to consider myself to be an awesome mom. It's something I strive for. We're a rare breed. "Normal" people who don't expect others to parent the same way we do. A "brush your shoulders off" kind of tribe who don't mind when other people scoop up our children to play in the middle of Baby Gym; in fact, we welcome the break. I met a few of these awesome moms, but their children were quickly aging out of the infant program. I soon found myself the only awesome mom left. Until I met Kick-Ass. (That's not her real name.)
Kick-Ass is just as frazzled as I was most days. She is always in jeans and t-shirts and usually cracks up when her kid falls over instead of rushing to his side. She laughs loudly and never cuts in line. I quickly realized I wanted this woman to be my friend. And the Mom Romance began.
I started engaging her in conversation. I totally love her kid and told her how great he was. A lot. I said things I figured she'd think was cool. Then I thought, "What am I doing!? Just be yourself, Erin!" When you meet a mom as kick-ass as Kick-Ass, you don't want to ruin the friendship before it even begins. You second-guess everything and wonder if she thinks you're rad like she is. It took me about 6 weeks to work up the nerve to have a personal conversation with her that didn't involve, "Where did you get that onesie?" I think I started with, "What side of town do you live on?" The conversation grew exponentially until we were revealing our hometowns and favorite foods (she loves sushi, I love everything). It was a whole new kind of romance. Mom Romance. And I was a smitted kitten.
Then, suddenly, Kick-Ass wasn't coming to class. Oh my God, did her kid age out and she never said goodbye?! Why wouldn't she at least ask me for my number?! Or meet me during Free Play?!?! Baby Gym started becoming this thing I anticipated every week. Would Kick-Ass be there? Should I ask about Kick-Ass? I didn't want to seem desperate.
 Week after week, I watched the door for Kick-Ass. And finally, and with no warning, there she was in a vintage Fraggle t-shirt and a big rat's nest on her head. Man she's so kick-ass.
She immediately sat next to me in the circle and we picked up right where we left off. Where had she been? VACATION. Her family goes on a month-long vacation every summer. And by the end of class it was clear she felt the same way about me as I did about her. We were ready for the next step in our relationship.
She invited me to lunch and we planned a play date for our sons and I practically floated home. No. It's not the same as when my husband got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. But who said life as a mom would be any less romantic?!?! Now the only question is, do you think she'd prefer ants on a log or goldfish puffs?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tricks, Shortcuts, and Talents

1. I don't believe in bibs. They either stain their clothes or stain their bibs. Either way, it's laundry for me to do. So Abraham eats naked. Every meal. If we're out to eat I will occasionally give him a bib only because of the judging stares. Otherwise, it's chicken and sweet potatoes, hold the onesy.

2. I have a VERY hard time wasting food. I clearly starved to death in a former life. I save chicken fat in case we "need" it someday. I also can't bring myself to become one of the moms who cleans up after their kid by eating what's left on the tray. So when Abraham is finished with a meal, the highchair tray goes onto the floor. I sweep out any crumbs from the seat directly onto the floor. And I call the dogs. Abe lunch? Check. Dog's lunch? Check. Two birds.

3. Abraham has a nasty habit of spitting up. I've done everything they say to do but he continues to spit up. The doctor assures us he's growing and his gut is fine, so we just have to wait until he matures out of it. If I had a burp cloth for every spit up, I'd have a LOT of laundry. So sometimes (ok, all the time) I get Abe undressed on the floor in the living room and leave his jammies there before breakfast. That way later on when we're playing and he spits up, I can use the jammies that I was already going to have to wash. Two more birds.

4. There came a point in my life when frozen breastmilk was taking up an entire section of the freezer. This was both disorganized and unattractive (and embarrassing when I had to direct my friends to, "Reach past the breastmilk to get to the vodka"). Then I saw a trick on the Oprah show (RIP) about freezing soup in ziploc bags lying flat. Then when they're frozen you can stand up them and stack them like files. So I did it with the breastmilk and viola, they all fit in the door and the vodka is in plain sight.

5. We have iPads. They are a completely unnecessary object that I LOVE and use every night before bed to read, play games, etc. And in the morning when Abe joins us for morning snuggles, he very quickly loses interest in us. This is where the iPad becomes my best friend. I put on a baby app and away he goes. He will know how to email by the time he's 11 months old. I'm also not afraid to load it up with Baby Einstein videos for road trips (why do kids LOVE that series???).

6. Every baby toy on the market requires batteries and the loudest, most annoying sounds on the planet in order to be labeled "6+ months". However, I have developed a keen ability to hear and discriminate the meows of baby kittens whispering in the other room amid the songs, beeps, and cranks of every toy that makes a noise in my house. I can have a complete telephone conversation with the president while shaking a rattle, sending the cars down the zoom zoom racetrack, and pushing the musical lady bug's head. It's a new gift that I attribute to motherhood.