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    September 28, 2006

    Does anyone else find vacations exhausting, or is it just me?

    We just returned from spending seven days in San Francisco, our favoritest of cities. On the plus side, we got to see some dear friends, do some hiking out on Pt. Reyes (where a family of deer bounded by right in front of us), see the sights, enjoy sleeping with the windows open, walk on the beach, feel good about our mortgage and eat, eat, eat and eat some more. We were all set to move there until we found not one restaurant that understood the true meaning of chips and salsa – and that was a deal breaker.

    On the negative side, on the flight out I was convinced that two suspiciously nervous guys were terrorists. I spent the entire three-hour flight eating Tums like popcorn and clutching my smuggled nail file in my coat pocket and praying. I was ready for a Sally Hansen-style duel where I ended up landing the plane or they ended up with a bad manicure. Either way.

    The other bummer was that the second day we were there, someone hi-jacked our credit card number and went on an $800 spending spree at Wal-Mart. As if someone could outspend me at Wal-Mart! The hoist was discovered when we tried to pay our dinner bill and the card was rejected. The waiter was nonplussed at our display of astonishment. When we indignantly informed him that this had NEVER happened to us before, his expression told us he’d heard that one before. Although it was true, it sounded false even to me, so I didn’t blame him.

    Joining the credit card crud in the negative column, I lost my new sunglasses in Golden Gate park, our washing machine broke as soon as we got home with three suitcases of dirty laundry and now my computer is PMSing. And I am tired.

    But, then as I’m looking through my pictures, there is this:

    A little boy who was thrilled with every new thing — a bar of hotel soap, jumping on the hotel bed, a seashell, the “go-go-gay” bridge, a pinecone. I am tired. And it was totally worth it.

    Photo temporarily removed.

    Still Vacationing

    September 27, 2006

    Back on Thursday. Here’s another from the vault.

    Toddler Travel Tales, Part II

    In part two, of Toddler Travel Tales, it turns out the actual traveling part of our recent trip was the easy part — especially in comparison with the staying in a hotel part. To say that we “slept” in a hotel room with our son would be a gross overstatement since in the four nights we were there, no actual sleeping occurred.

    Here are some fun hotel facts that you may not know:

    The curtains at the Marriott can hold up to 25 lbs.
    Cell phones do not flush, but they do float – for a few seconds.
    The contents of a mini-bar cost around $300.
    The receiver of the wall phone in the hotel bathroom can reach the toilet bowl — think about that next time you’re in a hotel room.
    The bottle opener on the sink can be used for many things including opening a remote control.
    Hotel table lamps do not make good kites.
    Hotel dresser drawers eventually leak when filled with shampoo.
    Every breakable item in a hotel room will fit on top of the armoire if stacked properly.
    A toddler standing on the desk can reach the top of the armoire

    Being the modern mother that I am, the safety of my child is my first concern. Anticipating that the hotel room would not be child proofed, I packed plastic outlet covers and immediately covered all the electrical outlets as soon as I got in the room. Then I immediately picked them out of the waste can, toilet, suitcases, mini-bar, dresser drawers and window ledge where Sean put them after he picked them out of the outlets.

    I really didn’t anticipate that staying in a hotel room with our little boy would be so exhausting. I thought that most of the time we were in the room that we would be sleeping. Isn’t that funny?! I thought we would be sleeping! In a hotel room! Bwaaah! We even ordered a crib to our room so Sean would have a little bed just like at home. We placed it right next to our bed so that he would feel secure. We put him in it with Mr. Monkey and his special blanket. We sang to him and tucked him in, just like at home. Then he stood up and shook the bed like an agitated ape and screamed until our ears bled and the neighbor’s ears bled and they had no other choice but to bang on the wall and beg for mercy, crying, “Please, for the love all that is good and holy, LET HIM OUT!” So we did. We put him in between the two us where he spent the remainder of the night practicing pro-wrestling moves including an impromptu body-slam at 2am.

    Another fun hotel fact: This is why hotel windows don’t open.


    September 26, 2006

    The House of Antique is on vacation for a few days. Here’s a post from a previous vacation originally published in September of last year.

    Toddler Travel Tales – Part I

    Earlier this summer, we took our first airplane trip with our toddler and it went a lot better than I expected. In spite of the discomfort and delays, more commonly called “air travel” nothing happened that involved mopping up and/or paying for the dry cleaning of a person heretofore unknown. So that was good. I was dreading taking him on the plane because I have been on airplanes with toddlers before and by comparison it makes poking my eyeballs with toothpicks seem like fun. Which is why the flight attendants don’t hand out toothpicks.

    On our return trip, we had to wait out on the tarmac on a packed plane for nearly an hour on a 90-degree day with almost no air conditioning. The A/C vents were operating full out at the speed of a pinwheel and doing double duty as cheap blower dryers. But that didn’t stop me from checking the little twisty knob every 10 seconds to see if it was working. We sat on the tarmac not only before leaving St. Louis but also when we arrived in Dallas, still with no A/C, thus making an hour and 45-minute flight a 5-hour trip to hell, only warmer. The only difference is that when hell is your final desAMtion, you don’t have to go back to the hellport the next day to find your luggage.

    You might think sitting in a sweltering metal tube with 100 or so hygiene-challenged individuals for five hours would make a little boy cranky. No. The boy was having the time of his life. The grown-ups were whispering mutiny, but Sean was in tactile heaven. For him, there were so many things to touch and so precious little time. Plus, he had a captive planeload of people who needed entertainment, and who was he to deny his public? Here are some of the highlights from Sean’s airplane activities:

    – Push Call button. Daddy waves off flight attendant.
    – Play peek-a-boo with elderly couple in row behind us.
    – Do impression of a lion for everyone who walks by.
    – Crawl under seat. Look through elderly lady’s purse. Try on elderly lady’s lipstick. Get stuck under seat.
    – Push Call button. Daddy smiles and mouths the word ‘sorry’ to the ill-humored flight attendant now looking at us through little slits in her eyes.
    – Rearrange the comb-over hairdo of the man sleeping in seat in front of us.
    – Turn light on. Turn light off. Turn light on. Turn light off. Turn…
    – Play peek-a-boo with a friendly lady across the aisle. Offer her remainder of mushy half-chewed pretzel. She declines. Lift shirt and show belly button.
    – Shred the in-flight magazine. Use as confetti.
    – Put tray up. Put tray down. Put tray up. Put tray…
    -Drop goldfish crackers in the drink of the guy sitting in the next seat. Steal his pretzels.
    – Feel up the flight attendant’s leg as she leans over across the aisle to set a drink down and then squeal “ooooo-wee!” Flight attendant not amused.
    – Dunk hand in a glass of Coke on the service cart. Wipe hand on flight attendant’s butt. Act innocent when she gives Daddy a dirty look.
    – Take shoe off. Throw shoe into first class. First class flight attendant returns shoe even though Mommy and Daddy avoid eye contact.
    – Put armrest down. Put armrest up. Put armrest down. Put armrest up. Put armrest…
    – Start over.

    And that was just the first 20 minutes.

    Noiseless and Patient

    September 22, 2006

    The first time I caught sight of Margie was late in the springtime. I was walking through the dining room and happened to look out the windows and there she was, just beyond the Nandinas. It was startling to look out and find someone looking back. We both stood perfectly still for a moment, pretending not to notice the other.

    I crept quietly to the window to get a closer look. She was beautiful and delicate like a ballerina with long thin legs. I stood there and spied on her for quite some time watching her steadily knitting and knitting the most stunning circle of lace you ever saw.

    At the end of the day she was still there. And she was there again the next day. And the next day and the next day after that. We didn’t know what her name was so we just started calling her Margie and that seemed right.

    Every day of the summer, Sean and I ran to the dining room windows first thing to see if Margie was still there and to watch the morning sun cast its pink and then yellow glow across her glossy web. And every day she would be there, noiseless and patient. No matter what kind of harsh weather the Texas skies served up — hot and sunny or rainy and windy – Margie stayed put, confident that she was where she was supposed to be, doing what she was supposed to be doing.

    The days are growing shorter now. The leaves are beginning to turn brown and occasionally one will spiral softly downward. Another season of life is upon us. One morning, we will look for Margie in the window suspended between the earth and sky and she won’t be there. All things come to completion.

    There are probably many lessons that can be drawn from watching a spider all summer, but for me, in this season of my life where patience eludes me, Margie has taught me that there is beauty in being noiseless and patient — no matter what life serves up.

    September Rain

    September 21, 2006

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    Sunday afternoon brought a warm and gentle (and much needed) rain to North Texas. Sean and I celebrated by grabbing our umbrellas and strolling around the neighborhood, making sure to stomp in every puddle along the way.

    Too few are days such as these.

    The (Flash) Light of Truth

    September 20, 2006

    Sean cannot keep a secret. This is not new. He has been ratting me out since before he could even talk.

    In theory, Antique Daddy and I agree that it is not good to indulge the boy frequently with material things. In theory, we agree that he should not expect to get something every time we go to the store. But I am spineless weak woman when I find myself within ten yards of the $1 bins at Target. And at that distance, that theory seems rather silly in view of all the fun cheap stuff you can get for a dollar!! Where else can you buy joy for a dollar!? (Except maybe at The Dollar Store.)

    So while we were shopping at Target the other day, something from the $1 bin hopped right into my cart and it just so happens that it was something that would delight the boy – a little Halloween flashlight with interchangeable faces!

    I told Sean that Mommy was going to buy the flashlight but there was really no need to bother showing it to Daddy, that he was very busy working and that he didn’t really need to see it because, you know, he’s seen a lot of flashlights in his life and he wouldn’t be impressed. His big blue eyes lit up and he nodded his head vigorously in agreement. “Daddy busy wook-ing. I not bother Daddy!” he said as he snatched the flashlight out of my hands and clutched it to his chest.

    As we pulled into the garage, I reminded my pint-sized cohort that Daddy was a busy man (busy earning the money that I am doing my best to blow through one dollar at a time) and that we shouldn’t bother him with our little flashlight, okiedokie?

    “Okay! Daddy busy!” he exclaimed, shining the flashlight on my forehead to indicate he had fully absorbed my exhortation.

    As I put the key in the door, I turned to Sean and put my index finger to my lips making the universal sign for silence. Sean nodded and responded knowingly by doing the same. Then he pushed the door open and ran into the house yelling, “Daddy when you’re done wook-ing, come see my new flashlight!”


    September 18, 2006

    When people find out that I was nearly 44 when I had my baby, they automatically say, “Aaah! Older parents have more patience.” Like all platitudes, it’s annoying and not universally true. And I have even less patience for platitudinal people than I have for my own oppositional dawdling toddler.

    I have never had a tremendous amount of patience and now that I’m old and have a toddler, I have not magically become Mother Theresa as the platitudinal types would have you believe. If it is true, that older parents are more patient, then the aging fairy forgot mine when she was handing out gray hair and crows feet. And when I find her, I’m going to jerk that little wand out of her hand and whap her upside the head with it.

    As a test of my limited patience, today I decided I would take Sean to Target to buy a new pair of shoes. He’s in the oppositional and dawdling stage and there are some days that by 9am, I am ready to pull my eyelashes out. Exorbitant outputs of energy (mine) are required to complete the simplest of tasks. He has his own idea about how to get things done and of course they are contrary to mine.

    AM’s idea: Put shoes on Sean.
    Sean’s idea: Crawl under the bed and remove clothes.

    AM’s idea: Put Sean in car seat.
    Sean’s idea: Insist on riding in Daddy’s car. Throw tantrum if necessary.

    AM’s idea: Put Sean in car seat.
    Sean’s idea: Wander around the garage looking for something to get in to.

    AM’s idea: Put Sean in car seat.
    Sean’s idea: Run down the driveway.

    AM’s idea: Put Sean in the damn car seat.
    Sean’s idea: Squirm away and run down the driveway.

    AM’s idea: Tequila!

    After an hour-long battle between older patient parent and dawdling oppositional toddler, I put the car in drive and head for Target.

    AM’s idea: Put Sean in shopping cart.
    Sean’s idea: Insist on the cart with three wheels and grayish pink bubble gum on cart handle. Throw tantrum if necessary.

    AM’s idea: Try shoes on Sean as he sits in the cart.
    Sean’s idea: Jump out of cart and pull boxes of shoes off the shelves.

    AM’s idea: Try shoes on Sean as he sits on the floor.
    Sean’s idea: Run down the aisle wearing cheap shoes shackled together with elastic.

    AM’s idea: Tequila!

    I was down to my last two ounces of patience, when we finally exited the store. As luck would have it, I had parked in a space that was on a slight incline. As I tried to get Sean out of the cart and into his car seat, the cart kept trying to roll away. In the process of keeping one foot on the cart and trying to get Sean into the car without him or the cart running away, I scratched his tummy with my car keys. Drama, twisting, wrenching and screaming ensued. As I was trying to throw the shopping bags onto the floorboard, they fell to the ground and the contents of which tumbled out into the parking lot and under the car. And then my left foot got caught in the cart from hell and I fell to the ground in an odd pose that combined the splits with an awkward prayer position.

    Just as I’m worshiping at the altar of the absurd, a Papagallo-shopping, Capri-pants wearing, Kate Spade-carrying June Cleaver, who had parked next to me, showed up and waited smugly and patiently for me to untangle myself from the cart, get my antique duff off the ground, collect all my Target valuables from under the car and remove myself so that she could get into her shiny clean and probably Goldfish-free SUV. I quickly got up and got out of her way and expertly and accurately shoved the cart off towards the cart return.   Score!  Her dirty look told me she found shopping cart hockey contemptible.  So I stuck my thumbs in my ears, waved my fingers and blew a big raspberry at her. No, I didn’t really do that, because I had my child in the car and he would report that to his father.

    When I finally got in the car, I sat there for a moment trying to summon the aging fairy to petition her for an extra helping of patience. And from the backseat, I hear Sean singing, “Poo Poo! Pee Pee! Poo Poo! Pee Pee!”

    My sentiments exactly.

    The Problem Solver

    September 15, 2006

    Learning to share is contrary to human nature and like all toddlers Sean has to learn how to do this. And it is taking some work. For both of us.

    So when I was at the grocery store today, I picked up the Blue’s Clues book One for Me, One for You hoping that the idea of sharing would be more appealing to him if presented by a blue dog rather than by his perpetually squawking mother.

    The book gets to the point quickly. On page two, Joe pitches the concept to Blue:

    “Look! Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper have a cookie for me and Blue! How thoughtful! Hmmm. There are two of us and only one cookie. What do you think we should do?”

    Sean all but rolls his eyes and asks, “Bake more cookies?”

    Part of me appreciates his ability to problem solve and think outside the box and another part of me fears that he will grow up to be some sort of Einstein hoarding cookies in his underground laboratory.

    Edited to add: Would it be too much to ask the editor’s of our children’s books to use proper English? I believe it should be ‘a cookie for Blue and me’ (not ‘me and Blue’).

    God Bless She Who Invented On-Line Shopping

    September 14, 2006

    Toddlers are very tactile people. They like to touch things. They must touch things. They can’t not touch things.

    Nonetheless, as a parent you strive to teach them to overcome their nature and to not touch things. It is very difficult. It requires the ability to repeat “don’t touch” about 40 billion times or until the hinges on your jaw are worn smooth.

    And since you yourself have probably been in a store, you know that they are filled with fantastic, wonderful, delightful, sparkly, glistening, visually delicious things that scream at you “Touch me! Go ahead! Touch me! I promise ya, you’ll like it!” as you walk past. And even though you try to ignore the merchandise that shamelessly begs you to publicly fondle it, you can’t. And then when you can resist no more and you pick up the bauble and turn it over and look at it’s sexy bottom for a price you will hear this announcement over the Emergency Broadcast System:


    The Negotiator

    September 12, 2006

    This morning, as I’m standing at the kitchen sink washing up breakfast dishes, there was this exchange:

    Sean: Mom, can I have a popsicle?

    AM: No Sean, you just had breakfast.

    Sean: Well, then how about an ice cream bar?

    AM: No. You can have an ice cream bar after dinner.

    Sean: Mom, can I have dinner?

    * * *

    I could have said “Go play!” or “I said no!” or any number of other mom-isms.

    But instead, I dried my hands, went to the freezer, got out an ice cream bar and sat down on the kitchen floor and shared it with him. Just because. Just because he looked so cute in those dinosaur pajamas with his hair all askew, just because he opted for negotation over whining, just because I sometimes over-compensate for having to be the parent who metes out most of the discipline, just because as I looked at him looking up at me I wanted to gather him up in my arms and cover him in kisses, just because life is too darn short. Just because.