No Snooze

Friday, April 11, 2014

Have you guys seen Jerry Seinfeld's stand-up bit that's before The Wink episode?  The one where he talks about what a bad idea snooze buttons are; that they should be sold with an unemployment application & a bottle of tequila...  

Well apparently I've traded in the tequila and the snooze button for a toddler and some monogrammed towels.  

Up until 2 weeks ago Poppy slept until 9:30am, sometimes 10:00.  Now not only does she not sleep until 9:30, she wakes up at 7:00 comes into our room and won't go away.  She doesn't curl up with me in my bed and sleep for a few more minutes either.  She crawls into my bed and gets under the covers pretending like she might sleep for a little while longer.  Then she starts to squirm.  She's squirmy.  It was cute for about a week.  It is no longer cute.  

My toddler would make an effective snooze button debilitation app.  I introduced Poppy to some IT execs in Palo Alto and they seemed pretty excited.  They're working out the beta logistics now, but she'll soon be translated into an alarm app that you can't disable – the noise doesn't stop until 35 minutes later (and you can't turn your phone off either).  If you set The Toddler Alarm for 6:00am, you'll be hearin' Gloria Estefan's 1989 hit  single 'Get On Your Feet' until the clock strikes 6:35.  You betcha.  

'Just The One For Now Thanks.'

Saturday, March 22, 2014

everyone: ‘You gotta have another one!’

me: 'Well, wouldn't that more than double my caregiving responsibilities?  I've heard that it's not linear...'

everyone: 'That's true, but it's still better to just get it over with/out of the way. #outoftheway'

(just kidding, there is no hash tag)

me: 'Yea, I'm not sure about that.

everyone: '...if you go ahead and get it out of the way now now, your kids will be close in age, which means they'll go to the same schools, which means you'll only have to make one stop!  They'll be school-age at the same time, so they'll both be out of the house during the day...'


me: 'Okay, maybe.  But wouldn't it be better to wait until Child A is old enough to be a supplemental caregiver for Child B*?'  

An essay entitled It Only Takes a Partial Village if You Just Have One Kid  is
 a particularly fine study of this conundrum.

The Sh•tty moms say that 'One kid is a carry-on bag — portable and manageable. Two or more is like checked luggage — costly and likely to get lost.' 

Yes, Sh•tty Moms, I'm glad you brought up the subject of travel/vacation time.  Wouldn't it be rude to ask the poor grandparents to take care two children while Matt and I go on vacation?  I feel like that would be kind of rude.  So then do you have to ask one set of grandparents to take care of child A, and ask another set of grandparents to take care of child B?  Doesn't that present logistical challenges?  

*Obviously if you're old or almost old, you've gotta suck it up and get back in there.  

Suzanne Fleet's '20 Things I Learned From the Second Baby'

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Suzanne Fleet – the writer behind the award-winning blog Toulouse & Tonic – offered 20 useful tidbits for parents in The Huffington Post this week.  I've taken the liberty of curating a little sample for you:

  1.  A baby doesn't really need shoes.

Suzanne is right, they don’t.  But that doesn't mean we'd want to deny our acquaintances and distant cousins the pleasure of gifting those little shoes to our babies, would we now?  Let's not deny them that, they're doing the best they can. 

   2.  Five stained onesies can make up a baby’s entire wardrobe.

Another valid point, Suzanne.  But we'll still want to push our various agendas onto our children via supplemental onesies, and that's okay.  When there's a baby around, us parents/grandparents/aunts/other interested parties can't help but exploit its illiteracy by way of the onesie.  This is why babies have so many onesies (way way more than 5).

My husband's agenda. I don't like California.

   3.  I do not indeed have an unlistenable singing voice.

Which reminds me of how lovely it is that your children are, at least for a while, so completely and organically into you.

   4.  No, you will not have any ‘me’ time.  Even in a two-parent household, no one is ‘off’ anymore – you’re now in man-to-man coverage.

It's this one that gives me the most anxiety about getting back into the procreation game. 

  5.  Some kids do not like TV at all.  At all.  

Really Suzanne?  Not even Julie Andrews?  Are these kids American?  If this not liking TV thing turns out to be true with my second one, how will I be able to finish getting ready in the mornings?    

I’ve become dependent on Petit Nicolas
for that a.m. dazed child interval.

I Love My Absurd Little Bird, and She Loves Julie Andrews

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Julie Andrews is Poppy's middle name – Poppy Julie Andrews Darrah.
At around 7:25pm most evenings, Poppy starts going: 

'Cuckoo, cuckoo.' 

She is of course referring to that sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall.  Oh, are you not familiar with the clanging?  Well, you can learn all about it by watching the Roger and Hammerstein classic Sound of Music.

These nightly rendezvous with Julie and Co began about a year ago (when Poppy was 1 year old).  All of a sudden, and with no warning whatsoever, she started singing alongside the von Trapps.  Each time Gretel and Brigitta pop out from behind their siblings to say 'cuckoo' to Captain von Trapp's party guests (Nazis included), Poppy follows suit.  She has even incorporated the occasional head tilt when popping out to say cuckoo.  We find this to be very amusing. 

So yea, The Pop-Tart is very into Julie Andrews.  It's my fault really.  It's fine though – I suppose it's never too early to begin briefing your child on the niceties of WWII and the pre-EU days of yore.  Plus the film helps get her to sleep.

Pam Allyn says it's time to integrate interest development books into the scene and to ‘be on the lookout this early for your child’s passions and interests.  They are there, and can be nurtured through your connections with your child through literature.’  
Hence this book:
and this book:

...and the penciling-in of Austria to be the first of Poppy's transatlantic travels.  The voyage will include, but will not likely be limited to, the following sites:  
  • Bertelsmann, Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria (lakeside scenes of the von Trapp family's house)

  • Felsenreitschule, Salzburg, Austria (music festival scenes)

  • Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg, Austria (Do-Re-Mi steps)

  • Schloss Frohnburg, Salzburg, Austria (the front of the von Trapp villa)

  • Werfen, Salzburg, Austria (mountain picnic scene)

Anyone else in?  Austria or bust – Julie Andrews style.  

The hills will be alive....

So Long, Farewell

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall
And the bells in the steeple too
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird
Is popping out to say "cuckoo"
[Poppy, Gretl, Brigitta:]
Cuckoo, cuckoo

[Children: Poppy, Gretl, Brigitta: ]
Regretfully they tell us Cuckoo, cuckoo 
But firmly they compel us Cuckoo, cuckoo 
To say goodbye . . . 
[Poppy, Gretl, Brigitta:]
. . . to you

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night
I hate to go and leave this pretty sight

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu
Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu

So long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehen
I'd like to stay and taste my first champagne

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye
I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye -- Goodbye!
I'm glad to go, I cannot tell a lie
I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly
The sun has gone to bed and so must I

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

[Guests and Nazis:]


Northpark's Duck Tales

Friday, February 28, 2014

Northpark Mall...its got everything: small marine animals, an artful interior landscape, women with fancy baggage, Neimans.  It was built in 1965 by art patron Raymond Nasher – the same dude behind the Nasher Scultpure Center.  On weekdays you'll find a decent size crowd of kids and mommies hanging out by the faux pond that's stocked with ducks and turtles.

I've always thought it was a little bit tacky, but I am nonetheless very happy it's an acceptable practice.  Dallas parents know what I'm referring to – 

You see, we have this habit of allowing our youngins to ascend, mount, or otherwise climb that large flowerpot statue thing that's situated in front of Neiman's:

said large flowerpot statue thing-
see her shoes back there?    

Yep; that's right.  We'll even go so far as to let the kids to take off their shoes and socks (everyone knows that bare, moist feet increase traction).  Eiseman Jewels shoppers have a lovely view of these shenanigans while they're buying Rolexes.  

I'm not sure when we began allowing this, but I remember climbing up that large flowerpot statue thing circa 1995*.  If I had to guess, I'd say that it probably began on an August afternoon in the early to mid-80s: 

There was a mother who felt guilty about not taking little Sandra to the park (the large hairdo of an 80s mom frizzes somethin' awful in 105˚ heat).  The pair are walking out of Neiman Marcus, heading for the benches next to the faux pond:

little Sandra: 'I can't believe you won't take me to the park.  You PROMISED!'

80s mom: 'Well it's not my fault that we're havin' another hundred degree day.  Let's watch the ducks for a while before we head over to Orange Julius.'    

80s mom sits on a bench and looks down to search her fanny pack for a scrunchy.  Sandra – exasperated, bored, and full of energy – eyes the large flowerpot statue thing.  She decides to goes for it.  

15 seconds roll by.  80s mom gives up trying to locate a stray  scrunchy. 

80s mom raises her voice: 'Sandra, just what do you think you're doing?  That is totally inappropriate.'

An unfazed little Sandra ignores her 80s mommy and continues climbing up and sliding down the large flowerpot statue thing.  

80s mom: 'If you don't stop that this minute...I won't buy you that Wham! record.'

Another child has joined in at this point.

the ducks don't seem to mind these shenanigans –
they've been tranquilly tolerating our kids
pelting them with pennies for decades

We Dallas parents know that this practice is tacky, but we're still glad that the 80s mom decided that frizzy hair would be tackier (hair is very important in Dallas).  

80s mom, if you're reading this, know that we Dallas parents salute you.  You're a true pioneer in the continuing effort to find stuff for the kids to do during Texas summers.  

* Okay...I climbed it again two weeks ago.  But I resisted the temptation to remove my shoes and socks.  Gotta have standards.

Miranda Hart Defines The 4 Varieties Of 'Extreme Mother'

Monday, February 10, 2014

i truly respect her choice of footwear–

In her book Is It Just Me?, Miranda Hart hits up a variety of subjects – from grooming, to that pressure society puts on you to have hobbies.

In the chapter entitled 'Mothers and Children', Miranda takes us through her observational notes on the subject of extreme motherhood by defining the 4 Types of Extreme Mother (with Type 1 being the most extreme):

Extreme Mother Type 1

  • These are the terminally superior ones.  
  • They bestow the most ambitious of names upon their children.  
  • One major source of Type 1’s pride is the fact that she owns the largest SUV on the market – it was assembled in Afghanistan, it's bullet-proof, and can hold up to 14 bugaboos*.

Extreme Mother Type 2

  • These ladies take motherhood a fraction less seriously.  
  • The stroller is a MaClaren.  
  • Her diaper bag looks like this:
cath kidston is an adorable British novelty brand.  i recently
almost bought one of her wallets whilst milling about Heathrow.
and is stocked with organic, gluten-free food in neatly labeled tupperwares.

  • Her car is oddly clean...which is one of the ways she silently competes with the other mothers.  
  • She never appears to be at wit's end; she simply forces through her fatigue with a song.  

Extreme Mother Type 3

  • She lets her children watch TV.
  • Her car is not clean.  
  • Type 2 mothers are pumped that Type 3 mothers exist because there's nothing to prove; it's plain to see whose children will turn out better. 

Extreme Mother Type 4

  • The 'Too Much Information' mother.  
  • She uploaded her birthing video (yes, the unedited director's cut) onto Youtube and Facebook.   
  • She can be found scouting for mommy friends at various activity group meetings.  

By the end of the 'Mothers and Children' chapter, it’s obvious that all Miranda is saying is that we should calm ourselves; I tend to agree with her.

*It might have been my deep-seated aversion to Extreme Mother Type 1 that lead me to purchase a Fiat.  The Fiat can hold one non-extreme mother, 1 husband (if he quits late-nighting at Braum’s), one Pop-Tart, and up to 1 bugaboo – and that’s if you push the little cinque cento to full capacity (not recommended).

poppy has her own fiat-


Jet-Setting Parenthood

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

a slightly yuppy American mom: 'Where should we take the kids for the month of August this year honey?'

a yuppy American dad: 'Oh, hmmm, I dunno sweety.  How about some place we can go sailing?  How 'bout Nantucket?'

a slightly yuppy American mom: 'Oh no, we can't go there this year.  I heard that Bob and Sarah will be there again.'

 a yuppy American dad: 'Good point.  Let's rent a house someplace else then.  Someplace different; someplace...exotic.'

Enter Kid & Coe ( ).  Travel + Leisure  describes it as 'the new go-to site for jet-setting parents'.  

I'm not sure that I could describe myself as such, but I know that I'd like to fall under the heading of 'jet-setting parent'.  I've got a diverse collection of stamps and visas in the ol' passport...they've just been accumulating at a slower rate than they were pre-Pop-Tart.  

Kid & Coe finds kid-friendly houses and apartments that are available to rent.  These places have kid stuff in them: toys, games, children's dinnerware, high chairs, toddler beds or bed rails, cribs...stuff like that.  

Here are some reasons that one would want to go with a curated rental instead of a hotel room:

-There'd be more space in-between you and your child.  This is especially practical when your child is sleeping and you're still wide awake reading (aka drinking wine and watching Girls on iTunes).

-Any extra bedrooms could be used for putting-up a grandma or a babysitter. 

-Kitchens: although many of us wouldn't feel like cooking while on vacation, the aforementioned grandma/babysitter is going to need somewhere to heat chicken nuggets while you – the parental units – are out there siteskipping ( and learning new languages.  

-Children are more easily tended to when you've got STUFF – stuff that wouldn't be worth hauling or renting – much of which you'd find in Kid & Coe's curated rentals.  (the kid-related materials are listed in each rental's respective 'amenities' section).  

I think Suffolk is somewhere the U.K. ...
I'd go just to play with these sheep-

The site also goes into detail (without being too verbose or chatty) about why each destination is a good place to take kids and what to do with your kids once you get there.  For example, they consider Iceland to be 'one of the most child-friendly countries in Europe' where your kids (and you!) can ride 'hardy ponies', swim in the apparently famous Blue Lagoon, and go offshore puffin watching!

he's skipping.  that icelandic puffin is skipping.

Okey dokey.  Let the G-rated jet-setting begin!

This article interviewing Yolanda Edwards is what first introduced me to the sensible practice of renting as opposed to hoteling.  It's worth reading if you want to travel with your child:

Interpretive Dance Moves

Monday, January 27, 2014

The following is a public service announcement delivered from a place of relatively genuine neutrality.

If a friend of yours is weighing the pros and cons of procreating, she'd do well to consider the following:  the amount of cleaning involved in the upkeep of one of these mini-persons is rarely (if ever) overstated.  

the guy on these paper towels seems nice-
I have no reason to believe that Poppy is any more or less messy than the average toddler, so you're welcome to use our family as a point of reference: we're almost 2 years into this thing and the cleaning associated with it has yet to peak.

Now, I'm not saying that this increase in janitorial duties could or should be a deal-breaker, I'm simply saying that your friend should take it into account before signing anything.  

Having said that, Poppy's interpretive dance moves have really come into their own lately.  So much so that they could be considered satisfactory compensation* for all the pooping in the bathtub, drawing on walls, chicken nugget launching and sippy cup throwing that goes on chez Darrah. 

It's a beautiful thing – to have the zesty confidence that's required to offer an unrehearsed, unsolicited dance routine to the group.  Yep, Poppy's interpretive dance moves seem to inject some justice into the fact that I'm perpetually tidying.  

So, if your would-be parent friend does decide to take that leap into parenthood, I wish her the best of luck.  I 
hope that her increased janitorial obligations are put into perspective on a regular basis.

Well then, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my sanitation duties.  

*This would not be the case if we didn't have a bi-monthly cleaning lady.  And, unfortunately, this cleaning lady doesn't accept Poppy's interpretive dance recitals as payment for her services.

A Kerfuffle

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Well, The Pop-Tart got into her first fight.  It was over a doll – Poppy's doll.  Some kid tried to steal Poppy's doll.  Poppy loves dolls; she calls them 'baby'.  'Baby'.  The other day she came into my room with one baby in each arm.  She has this strong maternal instinct that I thought was reserved for rural communities.  Poppy even goes so far as to feed her babies imaginary food and kiss them on the head.  

I only wish that I had been at MDO with a video camera to document said fight.  How did it all go down?  Both of these children are under 2 years of age and thus can't put a sentence together – ruling out the arrival of an unmediated verbal settlement.

I'm sure that this other kid had innocently assumed that the baby belongs to the establishment and is thus communal property to be shared amongst the children at Mother's Day Out (daycare).  Having said that, I don't really care what this other kid assumed...I'm on Poppy's side.  

The dolly incident at Mother's Day Out resulted in a permanent ban of Poppy's babies at school.  I hope that her maternal instinct isn't suppressed by this restriction.  


What Can I Do With This Toddler Today? Take it to Ikea.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Ikea retail experience – at least from a maternal perspective – is under-appreciated.  

Up in the children's toys and furnishings section of Ikea, there are 9 child-sized tables on which the children can test out the toys before their bored, tired looking mommies purchase them 

When my 2 year-old and I are there, at least as far as I can see, there's no call for this collective malaise.  I'm thinking 'this place is AMAZING!' the whole time*, and probably have more fun than the toddler.  Now, obviously, none of us caregivers are happy all the time.  Why aren't these other moms similarly excited about all of these cheap toys?  And what about all these cute storage solutions?  

me:  'Hey Poppy, look.  This is what the inside of houses look like in Sweden.'
i point to this display
Poppy ignores me; she's busy helping Ikea get organized.    

i mean...look at this stuff.  you could put all kinds of things in these containers!

So, mommies and guardians of toddling children, let us go to Ikea; let us  go to Ikea if for no other reason than to simply watch our children's faces when they're test driving the imported goods.  The days of boisterous curiosity and enthusiasm for a $2 plastic hammer are numbered, and it's a refreshing thing to observe. 

'Bring the kids!  The IKEA store is family-friendly. your kids can test all the toys in the children's department or have fun in the free supervised playroom while you shop.'

* except during those 45 seconds that my kid was missing as the direct result of my shameless eyeing of a $9 pastel tea set.  Everything turned out alright though; I found her and she got a new tea set.