Of Mice and Men

It has been a long, crazy Spring for my clan. We have just moved into our First Real House (that is, one we actually pay ourselves for instead of reducing the principal on someone else’s mortgage), Sally Bear has graduated Kindergarten, and Dr. Awesome is eight years to the day past graduating from mister to doctor*– Finally! He’s been out of grad school two years longer than he was in it!

*of Philosophy. But don’t tell them they aren’t real doctors. They hate that. Trust me, I know.

And what a crash course Real Life has been. We are currently being schooled by Homeownership. In fact, my handsome husband has actually transformed himself into a handy one…something astounding and wonderful, because he really wasn’t all that handy before. (The tool set that came into our marriage was mine.)

I am so relieved that this miracle I have spent 7 years nagging– um, I mean praying– for has finally occurred. No longer does he let a heavy mirror sit on the floor for 6 months until his dad comes into town and actually uses the stud finder. No longer does he simply let a leaky faucet drip. (OK, he learned a lot from that one that resulted in NO HOT WATER FOR 8 DAYS but hey, he figured it out while I was standing there googling plumbers, and that drip is gone, baby.)

And the poor man now has a to-do list as long as an undergraduate’s course requirements. How many credits would one need, I wonder, to major in Rodent Exclusion? Because we’re raking up those credits now.

So when we purchased our dream home, our primary animal concern was the allergic effects of the previous owner’s cats. We relinquished our beloved cats last year when we learned they were worsening Boo’s asthma, and I had done awholehelluvalotta wall washing and baseboard scrubbing to remove their dander once they were gone. So we decided to repaint walls, steam floors, and scrub, scrub, scrub! But when we were doing that deep de-dander scrubbing of our new house we discovered the first evidence of the fuzzy little tenants that had been left behind. Since the gruesome discovery of a nest and a dead mouse beneath my new stove (EEP!) we have been finding mouse holes everywhere.

Would that you were still with us, mine (scratchy, bitey, fully clawed) Eponine!




Now alas, and unlike No. 10 Downing St, (or rather like, if you read the Mirror) we are without a good Mouser here. Enter Dr. Awesome, to lock Mickey and Minnie out. Armed only with his wits and his know-how and a whole lot of copper and steel mesh, he set to the task.

First stop: the Kitchen.



Can anyone else’s husband slide across the counter to squeeze behind the oven and close all floor gaps along a 5-foot wall while pivoting in a spot the size of the stove? (In case you’re wondering, I keep him on a steady diet of whole foods and love.)


And it needed to be done. When we pulled out the range we discovered a gap of almost two inches all the way along the wall. You can see it in the bottom of the picture, filled with Xcluder. (Yes we did scrub that wall before we were done. But unlike in my fantasies, there has been no 80s music montage while the work is being done.)


As Sally sounded out: YUCK.

I bet you’re wondering how long all this mouse exclusion took? About 4 hours, including the furnace room, and we’re not even done. But we’ve seen a lot less “activity” in the kitchen since he started, and we did finally catch a mouse.

So after all his hard work, which impressed me so much that I took all three kids into the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon just to get him a six-pack and some candy, we all collapsed on the couch of our new house for Family Movie Night.

Naturally, we watched An American Tail.



The Mom Filter

Tired human beings generate a lot of what we call “human error.” But there’s “human” error, and then there’s “mommy” error, which is often just a failure of The Filter. You know the one. The Filter is the one that kicks in when a relative mentions casually around your five-year-old how many Christmas Eves she was up until midnight, and you jump in quickly with, “Waiting up for Santa?” because you know those little ears are listening.

The Filter primarily exists to prevent little ears from hearing EVERYTHING LITTLE EARS ARE STRAINING TO HEAR. My filter has failed on occasion, like that time I got really stressed and three-year-old Sally started shouting a new and fascinating word that rhymes with bucket. I stubbed my toe about six times before I finally fine-tuned my Filter. Now the word that comes hurtling out of me in pain and frustration is the kid-safe variation FUAHH—UDGESICLES!

But Filter failures do still occur. Not so much in the presence of the saintly Dr. Awesome, whose refined speech makes me sound like a sailor. Tonight Bitsy came into the office at bedtime, arms up and crying, “Nuh nuh, nuh!” (Translation: Nurse, nurse!) Tired mommy, trying to write, says thoughtlessly, “Oh, Bitsy wants some boob.” And Boo, streaking down the hallway after his bath (because when are little boys dressed? only when they absolutely have to be) declares at the top of his lungs, “Mommy, I want some boob too!”

This was hysterical, but this was not the Filter failure. The Filter failure occurred immediately thereafter when I laughed loudly at him and thoughtlessly replied, “You can’t have any boob until you’re married!”

You can imagine where that got me.

So, sitting in the big comfy glider in the kids’ room, giving Bitsy her nightime nurse, and being bounced on like a trampoline by Boo at the same time (now at least in half his pajamas with his teeth brushed) I get to hear the boy suddenly ask me, “Mommy, can I have boob when I’m married?” I knew I should nip this in the bud, but I said, “Go ask your father,” because I was suddenly choking with laughter. The kids pick up on mommy laughter like sharks smelling blood. At that moment even angelic Bitsy looked up at me and said, “Boob.” Hahaha.

We finally attempted to divert the fascination of this subject for the boy by saying, “Well, you’re just too big for breastmilk, and you’ll never drink it again.” And then, with all the little ears in the room, and simply not thinking, I turned to my husband and said, “Wow, I didn’t think when I said that how it might come back and bite me in the –”

Fortunately, Doc cut me off at the “pass.”


“Uh, I’m Not an Uber,” and other awkward moments in life

It’s totally normal to seek validation in the hecticness of our busy days. Do I look presentable? Is my breath OK? This minivan doesn’t make me look as uncool as I think it makes me look, right?

Oh Mama, of course it does.

Being a busy mom of three rambunctious hellions, I have had the occasional workout where the instructor tells me after class that my shirt (or my pants) was on inside out, and I’ve heard things like, “Did you know there’s a diaper trailing from your purse?” at the hardware store on a Saturday when I was without my children. I have been in the position to hand someone my credit card and offered a binky or a crayon or a pretend toy credit card instead. Once, while chatting with another mom near the sample station at Trader Joe’s, I fixed a cup of apple juice with coffee cream and nonchalantly extended it to her. Because I’m the hostess of my local store, apparently.

Let’s just say that I have done a lot of silly, stupid, sleep-deprived Mommy things while driving around in my minivan looking uncool. So imagine my delight this week when someone else made a funny mistake, and it wasn’t me!

The kids and I rolled up to retrieve Dr. Awesome from his place of employ on Tuesday night, whither he walks in the mornings. As we pulled into the circle in front of the building two dapper young professionals, with their trendy trimmed beards and suits with bow-ties, came out of the building. I expected shortly to see them retreating down the sidewalk to the bus station, Dolce trench coats catching a breeze. Then out of the corner of my eye I caught the figure of a man standing next to the sliding door. In that moment I realized they were on either side of me, hands stretched expectantly towards the van, patiently waiting for me to unlock it, and definitely missing the shocked expressions on the little passengers within. I rolled down my window and tilted my head at a man who looked like he’d stepped from the GQ style section.

“Uh, I’m not an Uber, if that’s what you’re wondering,” was all I could say, but hey, I could be! Wow the van must be a lot cleaner than I thought! was what went through my mind, because Uber has standards, right? And the poor guy looked so embarrassed, sheepishly mumbling, “Oh you’re not, oh wow I’m so sorry.”

He and his pal retreated to the building’s entry as my clean-shaven husband, in jeans and a leather jacket, came out the door and stole their ride. And he looked good doing it, because he’s totally trendy too. Trendy like the Fonz. We’re cool like that.

And we rocked out to the Trolls soundtrack all the way home.

Muffins on Monday: Blueberry Batch

It’s Monday night and the monsters have gone to bed. It’s been a wonderful day here, although a bit chilly out. Today my kiddos ate the last two chocolate chip pumpkin muffins from the fridge, so unless I want to give them toast tomorrow (which I don’t— the organic bread I buy in lieu of the homemade is $6.50 a loaf. So obviously, it’s rationed.) I had better churn something up. And this afternoon I felt particularly motivated, because we got Sally’s very first report card today! Yea, really! I feel SO OLD! All is well on the grade-level expectations, except… she had 9 tardies in the second quarter. Just the second.

Now, I’m not sure what ramifications there are for a tardy in Kindergarten. Probably nothing, unless they want to make me (or Boo, who is usually the reason we’re late) serve detention. But, yes, it’s true. I think I have to own up to it and start pulling everyone out of bed 30 minutes sooner so that we can make it into the car three minutes earlier. I tracked it once, and it’s true: for every minute I hope to get us into the van sooner in the morning, I have to allow ten off the front end of the day. Everything that can be done the night before, from laying out clothes to packing lunch to finding shoes and placing them front-and-center, must be done. And even then, the amount of time they can loiter in the a.m. is maddening. And you would not believe (except probably you would) the tactics to which we must resort, from pulling off the covers to blasting “Sir Duke” to standing on my head on the end of the bed to get them up. And we’re still seven years shy of a teenager! So I am glad to have these to throw at them—literally—on the way out the door tomorrow.


Awesome Blueberry Muffins

Makes about 24. Because why would you want to make 12 muffins if it’s only going to last you two days?

Necessary: two standard muffin tins and something to line or grease them. An oven at 375⁰F.

Handy-Dandy: a kitchen gate to lock your family out when the house starts to smell amazing. Will power to eat just one.


1 cup coconut oil, or half coconut oil and half unsalted butter

1 cup evil, cheap, granulated white sugar

2/3 cup plain yogurt, I use Greek

1/3 cup milk; today I used half & half

1 scant tablespoon vanilla

4 eggs

4 cups white whole wheat flour, OR 1 cup evil all-purpose flour and 3 cups hard (regular) whole wheat flour.*

1 tsp salt

4 tsps baking powder

1 bag frozen blueberries; preferably wild, like my children.


*I prefer the white whole wheat flour because it is a softer variety of whole grain flour, but you can mimic the texture with a 3:1 ratio of regular whole wheat and unbleached all-purpose, and since I believe in using up what I already have in the house and I made cake last week, there you go.


Method to the Madness

  1. Preheat oven to 375⁰F. Get your muffin tins ready however you like them. I grease mine with a bit of expeller-pressed (nonhydrogenated) shortening. You only have to grease the bottoms as they should pull away from the sides as they bake.
  2. Cream coconut oil and/or butter with sugar, then beat in yogurt, milk, vanilla, and eggs in a big bowl. In the recipe pictured here, I threw in two additional egg whites leftover from birthday cake baking.
  3. Sift together flour(s), salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl.
  4. Gently pour flour over wet ingredients and stir until combined. Don’t overbeat. The batter will be super thick, almost like dough.


  5. Dump blueberries atop like so. Yay! Does this make anyone else want pie?


  6. You will really have to work to get those baby blues incorporated; it’s more a folding action than even stirring, since the batter is so thick…

    …like cookie dough.


  7. Once the batter is a nice purple-y color, spoon it into the muffin tins. You will get 18 to 24 depending on how full you fill those cups.

    Exhibit A


    Exhibit B. If you have unfilled muffin cups, fill them with water.


  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until you can press your fingertip on to the top of the muffin gently and it springs back.



  9. Cool in pans for 2 minutes before moving to a wire rack. Test one. Go on, you know you want to.


  10. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or the freezer for…I’m not sure how long. We eat these up in 2 weeks.
  11. IF you have eaten all of your dinner vegetables, you can have a bedtime snack!


  12. If you have NOT eaten all of your dinner vegetables, you might still try and swipe one from your sister.



Layers of Love

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I’m sure that this is a sexist and outdated statement that isn’t necessarily accurate and offends many people, but I’m also sure that it’s true for my husband and probably my little boy. I asked Dr. Awesome once, back when he was still Mr. Awesome and we were not even engaged to be married, what it was that I did that made him feel most loved. I cozied up to him on my small apartment couch, inherited from my childhood and creaking with every shift in position, waiting to hear about how sweet, how thoughtful, how attentive and interesting a companion I was, in some effuse and elaborately romantic words. I was patient, I was helpful, I was kind, and I was going to hear it in multisyllables. (I have since far moderated my expectations.) He thought for three seconds and said, giving me a squeeze, “You make me biscuits.”

“What?” I sputtered, a little disappointed. But I tried again. “I mean, like, what ways do I make you feel special, like really you, not just anybody? What are the ways that you know I love you?”

And he gave a cozy little sigh and said, with all the love-light in his eyes that those first amazing new-romance months can bring, “You made me short ribs too.”

There you go.

Fast forward seven years, and we approach the Fourth Birthday of the first carbon copy of my man. I have mentioned the countless loaves of bread rendered unfit for other humans’ consumption by my little Boo. Exhibit A, half an hour after I pulled it from the pan:


He tore it apart and ate it with his bare hands while I had the gall to read a book to his sister on the couch.

In general I think food is an expression of love to Boo. But he’s not alone when birthday time rolls around. I don’t know why, but I think my children judge how much I love them by what kind of birthday cake they receive.

Why is this?

Other people’s kids get so excited for the grocery-store cake. And my Sally is overheard to say, “Their cake is store-bought, but ours tastes way better, doesn’t it, Mommy? I sure don’t want a store bought cake on MY birthday.” Perhaps she has heard me mutter things one too many times.

So, naturally, I have over-extended myself a bit in the past four or five years. Sally’s Baptism was celebrated with a coconut layer cake that was one of my crowning achievements. I actually baked a test cake first. This was brilliant because I got to eat it twice, although in retrospect, overly fussy in that anxious and exhausted new-mother way.

For Sally’s first birthday I baked two kinds of cupcakes. This was back when I thought the celebration of a baby’s First Birthday meant renting a room and covering everything in pink helium balloons. (These days, baby doesn’t get a party.) I served gluten-free carrot cakes and chocolate-chocolate cupcakes that were so amazing I can still taste the fudge when I think of them. I didn’t even let her do more than taste hers because she was my first baby and I was convinced cake would destroy her future ability to eat vegetables. (That was a ridiculous conclusion, because Sally eats almost all her vegetables, and she was my only baby not to throw her first-birthday cake on the floor. Boo refused to let any cake pass his lips. He also refuses to pass most vegetation that direction, too. The vote is split on Bitsy.)

For Sally’s second birthday Boo was only four weeks old, and although I made her a lovely, one-pan chocolate cake covered in seven-minute icing, I also declared a new and perpetual family rule: TWO-YEAR-OLDS DON’T GET PARTIES. At the time I thought I was saving myself some headache and establishing fairness for future progeny. Since then I have been to many parties of two-year-olds where the parents have clearly spent so much money, time, and effort for a toddler who is miserable and wants to hide the whole time. So this rule works really well for me.

When Boo was almost one and Sally was nearly three, I experienced that sense of guilt over things not being fair for subsequent siblings. I didn’t have the money to throw him a party just a month ahead of her third—all the guests would be the same, anyway! Yet I still hadn’t learned the lesson that simplicity is key. So we rented a room and “Sally and Boo’s First and Third Sock-Hop Spectacular” went out on LP-shaped invitations, costumes encouraged.

Oh, the fuss! Oh, the Pinteresting! Dr. Awesome and I dressed as Buddy Holly and a Bobbysockser. I made Sally a poodle skirt in ice blue felt with a picture of Elsa where the poodle should be, and we downloaded a playlist of The Chordettes, the Big Bopper, and Idina Menzel. Boo got a blue tie that said “First Birthday Boy” along with a cardigan sweater which really set him apart as a sweet, bald little Mr. Rogers. The chocolate-chocolate cakes made a comeback, this time sharing the spotlight with cookies-and-cream cupcakes I made by inserting an actual Oreo into the middle of each cup of from-scratch vanilla cake batter—yes, of course I whipped the egg whites separately—and frosted with cream cheese icing into which I had crumbled the rest of those Oreos. The two types of cupcakes were proudly displayed on cake stands I fashioned out of Goodwill LPs hot-glued to pink and blue malt-shop cups. My gosh it was cute. And dessert was to die for. And so very, very unbelievably fussy. But just wait for next year.

The following year Boo was two, and I had a pass thanks to my aforementioned Family Rule which has served me so well. He had no party, but I did knock out a sweet “Curious George” cake which was a single 9-inch round with cupcake ears. The frosting was two dark a chocolate in the end for a true George look, but the banana slices I used for eyes made my “monkey” cake look adorable.


That year we decided to host Sally’s party at the local nature center where they could provide a Naturalist and a real bunny. I thought a bunny cake would be easy-peasy-lemon-squeasy. But Sally had just one request, so she said. She wanted a cake where the cake is the skirt of a princess dress. The princess, of course, had to be Elsa. Except her best friend had already had such a cake the year before (from Safeway), so this year, Sally asserted, could she have an Elsa and an Anna?

What kind of an overachiever am I?

After the cookies-and-cream cupcakes which had caused me to gain ten pounds in a night, I had vowed henceforth to outsource dessert. But the Elsa cake was $40. I couldn’t afford $80 worth of cake, plus dolls. Fortunately, said best friend had both dolls, and was  past her Frozen phase anyway, so I was able to borrow them. Then I bought that Wilton Princess Cake mold and box of Funfetti mix. Of course I’ll make her both cakes, I reasoned, I’ll save so much money this way and I’ll make it easier on myself by only making one of the cakes from scratch….

I can look back now and say, “Ha. Ha. Ha.”

The Wilton cake mold, in case you are wondering, doesn’t produce a skirt tall enough for an actual doll to stand in, if it cooks the skirt evenly at all. The Funfetti boxed mix, in case you are also wondering, is not sturdy enough to support the weight of a doll with her lower half wrapped in aluminum foil, and is too soft a cake to use in a mold. Rather than wake my daughter up at 9 pm to break this news to her when I realized it, I cracked open my (beloved, coverless 1976 edition of) The Joy of Cooking and said, “Irma, what is a good cake mix to put into a mold?”

And so of course I was up into the wee hours doing the whole damn thing from scratch. Because the mold failed completely and I ended up just carving skirts out of layer upon layer of 8-inch round cakes. Because I am psychotic. I mean, I love my children. I will say that The Night We Frosted Skirts ’til Two I look on as a defining moment in my marriage when I said to myself, In case you haven’t noticed yet, this man is wonderful. And you are nuts.


I thought the cakes looked OK at best. But the next morning I caught Sally downstairs, kneeling on the floor and staring into the rearranged refrigerator at the two 10-inch doll cakes which now were basically the only things to fit. I will never forget the hush of awe in her little voice when she said, “Oh mommy, they’re so pretty.”


So naturally that set my lesson learning back a little bit.

But the following year I told myself I would learn my lesson. I produced a beautiful “Trolley” cake for my little Mr. Roger’s fan for his Third Birthday, and casually asked only three little boys to the house. There was barely a decoration beyond that twizzler-and-M&M-covered cake, and it was just fine.

(It was two square cakes cut in half and stacked into a rectangle. In the layers were raspberry jam. No fuss. Just dowels.)

To my princess planning her “Paw Patrol Princess” tea party I firmly said, “No, I cannot make a Lookout Cake like Mr. Porter and the Pups on Paw Patrol. Get over it. Think of something that is round, or square, because that’s what you’re getting.” And yet…

I invited every girl in the preschool class. I decided that rather than spend my $300 renting a space for the party, I would spend that money on housecleaners to deep clean my house and have the party at home. I asked Princess Buttercup from babycostsmoney to play Cinderella and I made her a dress for the role. (She was great. It was awesome. I’m still nuts.) I moved every piece of furniture that wasn’t the couch or the dining table upstairs and out of the way and organized the two-hour party around three “Centers” where the little “princesses” (split among three groups based on the tulle that adorned their princess party hats) could experience party games, tea with Cinderella, and a make-your-own-teacup craft in turns. I did this all because I thought it was what my Princess wanted me to do. And I made her a 5-layer chocolate cake with pink frosting, decorated with M&M flowers, because she had asked for five layers because she was five…but secretly, I think it was because she knew Boo’s trolley cake had four, and she needed to have more than him. And as I carried that towering pink confection into a room full of little girls about to sing “Happy Birthday” and witnessed my little princess have a complete meltdown like a strung-out bride on her wedding day, I finally learned my lesson.


This year, for Boo’s Fourth birthday, he asked me for “a huge tall wedding cake!” He asked several times. I think in his mind he recalled those five pink layers of Sally’s, and like his sister last year, needs to have more cake than the sibling. He needs to have the biggest, best cake I can make. But I put my foot down. (Sort of.) “Think round cake pans.” I said. I showed him some simple cat-in-the-hat cakes online. “No,” he said, “I want a big huge wedding cake!”

So we compromised.


Because that’s what lasting love is all about.

Muffins on Monday

This is not a food blog, for a number of reasons. First, I lack that kind of organization. I don’t actually follow recipes closely enough (usually) to share them in logical steps, or if I do, they are someone else’s recipes. Second, I take lousy photographs. But I do love to cook. I bake for my brood constantly and a number of people have requested that I share some recipes, so I’ve decided to include a (mostly) weekly feature where I share a current family-friendly recipe in my house.

Let’s call it Muffins on Monday (Get it? Sugar on Sunday? Tommy James and the Shondells? Anyone? Anyone besides my brother-in-law?) because usually, a current recipe means muffins of some sort. Today it’s not muffins, because the Awesome Blueberry Muffins I wanted to post got eaten up before I took pictures. So instead it’s Soft Sourdough Graham Crackers I mean Baby Cookies OK let’s call them Teething Biscuits that are nicely chewy, which the big kids keep stealing and even I love to dunk in my coffee. Bonus if you have a toddler working on molars.


Bitsy’s Soft Sourdough Teething Biscuits

Necessary: a rolling pin, a fork, and a big cookie sheet. And an oven at 375⁰F.

Handy-Dandy: a pizza wheel cutter, and parchment paper to roll out on. Clean counter tops! Hurray!


1 cup freshly fed Sourdough Starter (or fake it by mixing 1 cup buttermilk with 1 cup whole wheat flour)

2 oz. (half a stick) soft unsalted butter (I’m obsessed with Kerrygold)

1/3 cup raw honey

1/4 cup molasses*

heaping 1/2 tsp cinnamon, or any spice you like

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 ½ cup white whole wheat flour, approximately

*I prefer Blackstrap molasses. I made the first batch with some leftover Grandma’s Original, which is definitely not blackstrap. I made the second batch with Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blackstrap Molasses. Sally tasted the dough and said, “Wow that sure is too much molasses for me!” And yet her rate of requesting the finished product (“I’m teething my grown-up teeth, right Mommy? So I need some of Bitsy’s biscuits.”) sure has not declined.


Method to the Madness

  1. Cream the soft butter and beat in the honey and molasses.
  2. Beat the starter or fake starter into the butter mixture. Sift the salt, soda, and cinnamon over this and mix well.
  3. Start adding the dry flour, half a cup at a time, until a dough forms. You want a dough that will be stiff enough to roll out. How much flour you use really depends on the nature of your sourdough starter. The first time I made this my starter was pretty thick, so I only used 1 and 1/3 cup flour. The second time my starter was much thinner and I used almost 2 cups of flour to get the dough to the point where I knew after chilling I could roll it out.
  4. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. I usually let it sit in the fridge for about an hour. If you are concerned with reducing the phytate content of your flour and making it as nutritious as possible, try leaving it out on your counter overnight. (If you do, let me know what happens. I haven’t tried it yet.)
  5. Preheat oven to 375⁰F. Roll half the dough out, about as thin as you can get it. I try to roll it thinner than a commercial graham cracker. See Batch 1.


  6. Use the pizza wheel or a knife to trim the dough into a rectangle that will fit your cookie sheet. Make columns and rows of crackers whatever size you want them. (This is where the parchment comes in handy. I don’t bother to separate the crackers. I just bake them in one big piece and break them apart later.)
  7. Pierce each piece all the way through a few times with a fork.


  8. Move the parchment directly onto your cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the sheet until you can lift the parchment directly onto a rack.
  9. When the biscuits have cooled enough to touch, break them apart along the pizza-wheel lines you made before baking. Or just cut over the same lines again with your pizza wheel, and eat the scraps.

    This made almost a full gallon-sized bag. I’m lucky if these last a school week in my house. If they will last longer in yours, put half in the freezer.

  10. Repeat with the second half of dough. Store on top of the fridge to keep the kids out of them. Enjoy!

Cry to Me

As most children of the 80s, I’ve seen the original Dirty Dancing about seventy times seven times. In college I owned it on VHS. (You know, as a curiosity because the rest of my Class of ‘16 have never even seen a VHS…oh wait, I already admitted I was a child of the 80s.) One of my favorite songs from that movie—which I downloaded ILLEGALLY FREE FROM NAPSTER (how old am I now?!)—is “Cry to Me.” It’s so much better as a song than it is in parenthood.

Bitsy cried it out last night. And right now in fact, right through the wall, she is certainly crying to me. A dirty martini would go a long way right now to make one of us feel a whole lot better.


Not Real Food, just Real Life. Guilty Mommy buys Baby “ice cream.”


Siblings finish first, then steal her food. The vultures.

I was never really into the sleep-training thing. I tried a few times with my oldest daughter, but she wasn’t so much a cryer as she was a serious, no-holds-barred SCREAMER. Trying to get her to sleep via “extinction” made me want to vomit, and I had the luxury of being home with her, so I could pick my battles. She loved to fall asleep at the breast, but she never transferred to her crib. So I dealt with it. Eventually I read The No-Cry Sleep Solution, and that helped solve many of our problems. But of course her night waking wasn’t much of a problem for me anyway, so I didn’t need it all solved. I honestly don’t remember the rest.

Boo came along when Sally was 23 months old. I like to tell people that she started sleeping through the night the week her brother came home from the hospital. This is actually true. Boo was such an amazingly better sleeper than his sister. Once, around 14 months, he fell asleep in the car on the way to brunch. Dr. Awesome took him out of the car seat and carried him in, and we braced ourselves for grumpy, groggy screaming with our pancakes…but the kid literally slept the entire brunch sprawled out on the diner’s leather booth seat. Oh the good old days!

With Baby Number 3, of course, things are always different. Bitsy came into our bed pretty much right way and she stayed there until recently. Sure, she would go down at bedtime in her crib next to my side of the bed (after insisting on a gentle rocking and a softly uttered Rosary to lull her to sleep) and sleep soundly for a number of hours. But as soon as I entered the room for the night—“Smells like Mom Spirit!” the sleeping Bits would say to herself, and drag her mind from subconscious to full wakefulness in 6 seconds with a “RRAWRRRR! MM-MM-MMM MIH!” which of course in screaming Baby babble means, “milk!”

Many nights Dr. A and I have taken to hiding in the guest room just so we can sleep for a few hours without her between us. But I wanted my room – and dare I admit it, after 15 months? MY SLEEP BACK. Three days ago I put my foot down. Dr. Awesome was heading out of town, and I said, “Oh, Darling, on your way out the door, could you be an absolute angel and move the crib?” Or maybe I said, “Listen, Buster, if you’re sticking me with these monsters for a week you better – ” … but it really doesn’t matter what I said, because he was an absolute angel, and the crib got moved.

Now all three of my darlings are in the same bedroom, just like in Peter Pan! So I know Bitsy knows that Boo and Sally are sleeping in their beds. She can see them. Tonight after I left and the screaming begin, Sally spent fifteen minutes singing lullabies. It was so sweet (even though my Sally is a little tone-deaf) and Bitsy stood still and listened…until she didn’t want to listen any more. We’re 90 minutes in and the Big Two are sleeping like rocks. Bitsy is so tired she keeps dozing off on her feet, gripping the rail of the crib. Then she’ll wake up and scream some more. I am praying for her Guardian Angel to push her over or something, so she can do what she did last night and finally fall fast asleep for six whole hours. And part of me hates to admit that I let her scream yesterday for 90 minutes, until I think her legs gave out and the tiredness overwhelmed her once she sat. But then I realize that last night was the first time in over 10 months that I got a chunk of sleep over 4 hours. It’s a miracle I haven’t jumped off a building yet!

Update: This “Night 2 of Cry it Out” or as I like to call it, “Hell Night” was two nights ago. Bitsy cried off and on for two miserable hours. She fell asleep sitting up with a leg sticking out and her tiny hand gripping the bars like a prisoner in the Bastille. I slipped in and laid her flat to nary a stir or a whimper; she slept for six and a half hours. I know, I read once that they sleep more soundly after horribly traumatic experiences. Something else to feel guilty for. But you know what else is horribly traumatic? Living with my children.

Just kidding.…

Night 3 was rockin’! I rocked her for a song and handed her off to the just-returned Awesome Daddy. She stood up and commenced screaming right away, and Boo then decided he didn’t want to stay in his bed, so Doc had to sit sentry at the foot of Sally’s twin with that silent “Dad Dares You to Move or ELSE” posture…(which he was totally faking. He’s a cupcake. But Boo fell for it.) And after ten minutes, Bitsy stopped crying. She sat down and whimpered for three minutes. Then she laid down like her siblings and sighed, and went to sleep.

Tonight I timed her. Three minutes screaming, none of it standing up. Then she stayed calm, and fell asleep. Inwardly I am cheering. I can’t believe we did it! We won one! Go Team Mom and Dad! This never happens!

I still think I need a martini.