Sunday, November 27, 2011

That's a Whole Lotta Baby

We tried for several hours to get a good holiday picture of these two bundles of joy this past weekend. Let's just say, "epic fail" and leave it at that. We had fun though. There's a reason why we call Sadie "hilarious" and she did not disappoint this weekend. And you can see that Simon is sporting the cutest little pot belly on the planet.

I love these two wiggle worms.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Say what?

Sadie's art project this weekend consisted of coloring Simon's cheeks pink. He's just about over it. I tried to get as much avocado on his face as possible so we'd have a little Lilly Pulitzer prep thing going with the pink and green. He was about over that too.

"Can't you people just feed me and then leave me alone?"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Energy

It's possible that I am bringing the wrong energy to this holiday weekend. Namely, my sentiment is generally, "Thanksgiving is gonna be my bitch." Maybe it's a tad hostile. But, I keep finding myself saying it over and over. You give a girl a stuffing recipe and next thing you know she's talking shit to the most American of holidays.

I actually really like Thanksgiving. It's way better now that I am in recovery for my eating disorder. I guess that kind of goes without saying. Even when I was busy polishing off pecan pies and swearing off the dinner rolls before eating a fourth helping (Frank Bruni wasn't the only person born round), I always like that it was everyone's holiday. I guess I liked that it wasn't religious. Being thankful was beyond religion so it was a holiday for everyone I knew, including my Jewish ballet teachers and my Baptist grandmother. So I especially like that aspect now that Jeff and I come from different religious traditions.

It also got better when I accepted that I probably won't ever be part of a family that plays touch football in autumn leaves before eating turkey around a large farmhouse table. I accept that I hate football (I am looking at you, Penn State) and that I don't really want to do anything more with autumn leaves than look at them from the warmth and saftey of my mini-van when I drive to the suburbs. We are usually in LA visiting Jeff's family during the Thanksgiving holiday, which is a raucous good time and a double celebration because we celebrate Hannukah during the weekend. I am not sure I have seen any autumn leaves in Southern California, but I have seen and experienced lots of love, and some damn fine fried potato pancakes to boot. This year we were not brave enough to do the holiday travel with our two junior members, so we are going more low-key (except for the part where I am going to make this holiday my bitch) and having some friends over for an early dinner. It won't be relaxing because the children are invited and nothing ruins relaxation like children.

So, here I am almost 40 years old with a fridge full of things that I made while holding Simon and holding off Sadie. Most of it, I don't even particularly like. But I am leaning in to the holiday and waiting to welcome home my husband-- the one with the bad back who told me that he won't be able to pick up our children for a few days. (So much for my plan to have him change all the diapers for the weekend.)

It's good. I feel grateful and alive and realistic. And that's the best recipe I have.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Awww. Look at Mommy's little 27-month-old baby giving her a kissie-poo! It's too cute. It almost makes Mommy forget that that Sadie has a rather tenacious case of diarrhea right now. Let's just say Mommy needs all the kisses she can get.

Did I mention Jeff is out of town?

In his absence, Mary Poppins has inhabited my soul. Last night I baked a pumpkin pie, and this morning I baked not 1 but 2 kinds of stuffing: one is quinoa-based and the other is traditional (with the requisite 2 sticks of butter). I don't even like pumpkin pie or stuffing, but here I am in all my glory. And you better believe I am bragging about this.

And through this cooking binge, I have discovered why I am not a good cook: the chopping. Oh good lord, the amount of chopping is insane. Onions, celery, garlic, leeks, more onions, another celery stalk, more garlic, sage. I would be an awesome cook if it wasn't for the chopping. In addition to how long it takes and how my hands now smell like a deli, I had the inprecision of chopping. It makes me crazy when some of the celery is shaped like a cresent and some is shaped like a half-cresent. So, then I chop it all so there are only half cresents, but I spy a few that were double-chopped, so now there are quarter-cresents and my OCD screams at me to make them all quarter-cresents. On and on it goes and next thing you know it's noon and all I have done is chop one measly stalk of celery. And I started chopping at 6:23 a.m.

Not cool.

So I think I did all the chopping today. Jeff says he threw his back out in D.C., so I am going to have to focus on my heavy lifting for the next few days. I hope Jeff can life Sadie's full diapers, because I am done with that the second he gets home.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Great Works of (He)art

Please feast your eyes on this, the most amazing and generous gift I have ever received. I am serious. This is right up there with the gift of life. Last night, bedraggled as we all were, our friends Frank and Joyce came over for Chinese food and frolicking with the children. I am not sure I had even brushed my teeth-- we were running our weekend that close to the edge.

Joyce walks into our kitchen holding a cardboard box with a red string around it, announcing that she had our wedding gift. Well, how's that for a surprise for us (who were married almost 3 years ago). I personally was of the opinion that sticking by me as I prepared for my wedding and showing up in hundreds of countless ways as my matron of honor is present enough, but who am I to argue someone out of giving me a gift?

So, I thought it was a joke.

This was no joke. Jeff and I opened the box and found two oil paintings of our children, which Joyce had painted. This is no recreational, paint-by-numbers or sell on Etsy project. Joyce is a real painter with real shows and a real studio and real models who pose nude for her work. These are capital P paintings of my children. I gotta say I was a little speechless when we opened the box. Jeff had tears in his eyes. It was such a great and thorough surprise to see those two oil paintings staring back at me. She perfectly captured Simon's cheery Simonness and Sadie's impish focus.

Jeff's been asking me where we should hang them. My real answer is that I want to buy a new house to display our paintings of the kids because I want it to be on a wall with lots of natural light and a place where people can get up close and admire the work of the Master. Jeff thought I was kidding, but I really wasn't. So now when people ask us if we are moving for schools I will say, "no, we are not playing that game . . . we are moving to find some good walls for our paintings of our children. They are original Polances."

So, yes, next to the gift of life from my parents, these are my favorite presents ever. Better so because I got to share them with Jeff. I am telling you, befriend an artist and your life will be richer than you can ever imagine. They give so much better gifts than lawyers.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Has anyone seen my zebra?

Oops. After a little puking on his dinner tray and some fever and some major sleeplessness, we took Simon to the doctor today and found out that he has an ear infection, which means his earlier ear infection probably never healed. I am not sure how I feel about my baby having an infection that 10 days of antibiotics couldn't heal. Actually, I am sure: I feel like it sucks.

But, we got new medicine today and Simon is starting to be his old self. I sent Jeff into the pediatrician with Simon today, but I gave him a list of questions: Is Simon a sickly child? Is my breast milk broken? Why is he sick all the time? Do I have breast cancer? Does he hate me? Is this all my fault?

Jeff's report from the doctor's office confirms that it's too soon to be labeling Simon as "sickly," because all second siblings end up sick a lot because older siblings bring lots of germs into the house. The doctor did not think that my breast milk is broken or that Simon hates me. (What the hell does she know?)

We've had a rough couple of nights and poor Simon is trying to sleep while his fever spikes and makes him feel horrible. We are doing our best to comfort him. I can say that when Simon is up for good at 3:40 in the morning and I want to be a mother who embraces him and gives him what he needs, I sometimes fall short of my ideal because it's so fucking early. But then when he falls asleep on my chest sleeping with his lips all puckered up and snoring his little piggy snores, I think that it's worth all the sleeplessness and that it's one of the sublime moments of being a parent to experience the capacity to comfort and hold a sick child.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Zebra or a Horse?

Simon has been in a bad mood since Monday night. Actually, it was Tuesday morning around 12:49 when the call went out. I am referring to his call of searing pain that he sent out for about 2 hours on Tuesday morning, with a repeat performance on Wednesday morning for about an hour. Both mornings he followed that up with a prompt 5:00 a.m. wake up call. Needless to say, Simon wasn't the only one in a bad mood this week.

I worried about my sunny little baby. Was he sickly? Did his ear infection recur or worsen? Was he mad at me? Was it all because I am a bad mother?-- Just kidding I never thought that. Ok. Yes I did.

Around the same time I developed a weird burning feeling in my left breast, so of course in addition to Simon's woes, I was now dying of mastitis or breast cancer. One of the two. My house was falling apart and I assumed we had made some mighty god very angry because he was smoting the hell out of us.

Then, today, I saw that Simon has a little tooth coming in on the bottom. Hmmmmmm. That sort of explains the searing pain and the sleep issue and the seriously assholery he's been dabbling in during meal time. I can't believe I didn't think of it. I mean, I think maybe I did, but I was too hysterical to look closely enough into his mouth. In my defense, he's not really one to sit quietly while I paw around in this sore mouth.

So, it reminds me of the saying in the medical field: if you see a footprint, look for a horse not a zebra. I take that to mean that the most common answer is usually the right one. Which means that I must have breast cancer and Simon has a new tooth. Right?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Suiting up and showing up

Here's Mr. Handsome all dressed up on a Tuesday morning in November. He looks like he is sitting in the lobby of a nice boutique hotel waiting for me to come so we can stroll through the streets of some charming European capital.

Doesn't that sound quaint?

But this Tuesday did not find us in Europe or even in a hotel. Jeff is sitting at the B school on the University of Chicago campus because we are thinking I might enroll in the MBA program.

Just kidding.

Actually, we were down in Hyde Park for an interview with the University of Chicago Lab Schools. It was a stressful morning trying to get out the door and down to the south side in rush hour traffic. My jaw was clenched and I was blaming everyone for making us late, even before we had missed our appointment time. We literally walked into the office at 9:00 on the button and the administrative assistant looked at us, puzzled, and when we told her who we were, she said we were on the schedule for 10:00 a.m.


Well, we certainly weren't late. With an extra hour on our hands and a beautiful morning unfolding all around us, we strolled through southern Hyde Park and thought about what a life for us down there could look like. It sure has changed a lot since I lived down there. I saw a few Starbucks and heard there was a Dominick's down there. There were some gorgeous houses around the campus on Woodlawn and Kimbark. It's hard not to fantasize about the great life we would have when we were handed a stunning autumn morning with nothing to do except daydream. Then, I had to pee so we ducked into the B school, which is a simply amazing atrium building filled with all these bright minds thinking of ways to solve complex financial woes.

It was a great morning.

It's pretty weird to interview for your 2 year old to go to school. I actually had so much fun. The interviewer asked us probing questions about our family time, our relationship to technology and all about Sadie. There are 20 slots for 200 applicants so it's a long shot and we aren't even sure we want to go to school there. I am sure that I am determined that my kids get an amazing education. I will work my ass off so they can have a play-based pre-school to prepare them for experiential middle school and independent study high schools. I feel so happy that's where Jeff and I have our priorities. We may never set foot as a family in Europe, but that's ok, because I hope I am giving my kids an education that will allow them to take me and Jeff before we are old and feeble. I am willing to buy my clothes at Costco (especially since they have been carrying Joe's Jeans there) or go back to work in a less than perfect job so these two little kids can have the keys to all paths in the future.

Monday, November 14, 2011


  • Has 7 teeth at age 9 months
  • Took a poop on the bathroom rug last week (picture NOT shown. You're welcome.)
  • Will not be attending Penn State for anything, ever.
  • Will probably not be allowed to play sports. Ever. (I kid.)
  • Loves to grab Sadie's hair.
  • Loves to thrust his head backwards into mommy's nose.
  • Can't sleep past 6:05 a.m. unless he has had a flu shot and only 1 nap in the past 23 hours.
  • Laughs more than he sleeps, talks or crawls
  • Second to laughing, this kid loves to wave. Always the waving with Simon.
  • Looks like mommy but is all Daddy. (See the part where he loves to laugh.)

Starting to see myself

Hmmmm. Where does she get it? Where does my baby girl get her enthusiasm for the phone? It's going to be hard to pin this one on Jeff. I think it's pretty much me. I love watching Sadie play on the phone, and now that she has more verbal skills, it's a lot funnier to hear her get on the phone, pretending, of course, and say, "Um, hi. Yes, I'll be right there. Goodbye." I think we can all blame Steve Jobs for this.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Jeff just returned from his longest stint away from home: 3 nights. I know some families do this all the time, but I am still finding my sea legs on solo parenting when Jeff is gone. It's actually not really solo parenting, because I still discuss things with Jeff and keep him updated on all the developments, but the morning routine and the nighttime routine, well, that's been all me for 3 nights.

Could you hear Sadie's glee when Jeff walked through the door? She was so excited and yelling so loudly that I think she burst my eardrums, which is fine, because I can just start taking Simon's earache medication.
Aside: If Jeff was not bald, would his hair be this curly? I need to check out a web program that will let me put Sadie's hair on Jeff's head. You know, in all my spare time.

Anyway, we all survived the big business trip of November 2011. I only cried once and that was last night. Ok, twice, but once was for a totally, objectively, bona fide appropriate reason. First, I cried because I sometimes think Simon doesn't like me. It's a weird, mean trick my brain plays on me, but when I get especially tired or overwhelmed, I sometimes hear a voice telling me that Simon doesn't like me that much and that we are not close.

And, then I fucking hit the roof.

It's so upsetting and I can't exactly explain why I can't brush the thoughts aside. I tried. They wouldn't budge; they had taken root in my brain and flourished into full-blown shade trees that barely swayed when I tried to get rid of them. Part of it is that Simon is such a smiley, laid back baby, the likes of which I have never known. He smiles at me, he smiles at the lady in the elevator on the way to the pediatrician, he smiles at Sadie. I kept hearing for months that little boys love their mamas like no one else in the world. So far, Simon has lots of love for pretty much everyone. There is nothing I can see that is special about me. Can you imagine that a grown woman is chasing her infant son around trying to light a spark between us based on my random fantasy about what it "should" feel like to have a baby son?

If you can't imagine it, let me just inform you that it's painful. In addition to feeling like I have done something wrong or that I haven't been available enough to Simon so that he could adore me like "all other sons" adore their mothers, I also feel heaps of shame about the whole subject. Who does this? Who obsesses that her son doesn't love her? Is the subtext of this some implicit criticism of Simon for not taking care of my feelings or fixing my need to have him demonstrate his attachment in some way? Am I so determined to find something deeply and irrevocably wrong with my mothering that I have to invent something that is at once totally pedestrian and also totally devastating-- this "problem" that Simon doesn't adore me?

So, yes, there were tears last night when I finally opened my mouth and told my friend Trish all about my fears about my relationship with Simon. Actually, I started crying in the living room in front of both of the children: Sadie came running over to me and cried a little herself because she's a sympathetic crier like that; Simon looked over his shoulder at me, flashed his $1 million smile and went on playing with the blocks he was engrossed in.

And there it is. They are so different. Sadie and Simon are so fucking different. I can't think of two more different people. I haven't really heard anyone talk about this subject, which I would define as "reconciling the different personalities that your children have and embracing all possibilities therein." I guess I got used to Sadie's ways and memorized them and decided that "her" way was how it was: Babies cry when their mothers leave the room. I thought this because that's what Sadie did. Simon is not one to cry when I leave the room. So, my fear-based brain thinks there is a problem. I assume that if Simon came first and didn't cry when I left the room, I would have confronted a crying Sadie and wondered, with foreboding, "is she insecurely attached? What the hell is with all the crying?"

I have to let go and it gets harder and harder to do in parenting. I have to let go of all the fantasies I had about who my children would be and how they would make me feel and what it would look like. I had a great pregnancy book that talked about how some mothers had to mourn their fantasy baby in order to embrace the baby they actually brought home from the hospital. I feel like I have to do that dozens of times every week. I still can't believe that my children -- both of them-- don't want to just climb in my lap and snuggle with me for hours at a time. I can't believe they don't want to curl up under a blanket and watch The Rosie Show with me. Who are these children that want to run and play and explore and pour yogurt into their spaghetti sauce? Freaks. They are both freaks. They are our freaks. I pray-- honestly, and not just a phrase, I am praying to a higher power-- that I can love them and meet them where they are continue to let go of fantasies and projections that have nothing to do with these two remarkable little beings.

That, and I will keep contributing to their therapy funds. It's the least I can do.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Daily Tip

For my law students, during every class we meet, I give them a "real world" tip for surviving in a law firm. I have no idea if they are even helpful tips or if they will be dated and quaint by the time they graduate in 3 years, but I do it anyway, because it's good for my soul to share what I have learned.

Initially, each tip I shared was about the mechanics of surviving at a big law firm. I imparted such gems as 1) never give an original document to someone senior to you; give senior people copies of originals and give the actual original to your paralegal. I based this tip on my personal experience that the more senior someone is in the law firm, the LESS likely (exponentially so) he or she is to keep track of "very important" documents, such as, say, a signed contract or an original deed. Do I really need to explain why that could be disasterous for a lawsuit? By the same token, the paralegals I worked with were well trained on this same theory, so they knew not to give me (or any other attorney) an original unless we had a really good reason as to why we needed it. I never got any originals from a paralegal; I am led to believe that I would have had to explain that Justice Souter wanted it for my oral argument in D.C. if I wanted an original.

I also told my law students to get to know their professors. Any of them. Why? Because inevitably somewhere down the road law students (or former law students) need reference letters and or recommendations from law professors. While they may be bogged down in final exam preparation or making outlines, they should be warned that they will be very sad if they miss this chance to get to know professors who will be the only ones who can help them get judicial clerkships, fellowships or scholarships down the road.

On and on, I have regaled them with advice and little mini-war stories (don't save your angsty love letters on the firm computer system AND do not close the door and throw your stapler when you are angry if your next door neighbor is a psychopath who hates other women). But, there is one thing I want to tell the 5 women in my class that I haven't found the words for. (I actually don't know if I am allowed to give advice just to the women of the class, but I am DYING to give them a semi-precious gem).

Here's what I want to tell my female students:

Look. I know you may not like volunteering to talk in my class. You think I can't see you hiding behind your computer screen, staring intently, hoping that I will call on someone else. You know, you are only about 4 feet away from me. You can't really hide. I know you don't want to tell me the facts of the CBS case or explain the reasoning of Tumbarella. I get it. You want to just sit and listen to me and your classmates for 2 hours a week and then go home, write a great paper for me, and earn an A to match all the A's you made when you were in undergrad at UCLA or University of Michigan. I see your body language, and it says to me: "Don't call on me. Don't look at me. Let me just sit here, take my notes and not have to speak. Please. Call on her over there. If we all wait long enough, John will say something because he is in the National Guard and speaking in a law school class is nothing to someone who leads 30 soldiers in his spare time away from Con law."

I know. I was there too.

And, then I found myself at a Big Law firm and on a daily basis my superiors (the partners, the senior associates) were asking me what I thought about our case, or what I thought about the SEC's latest letter to our client, or what the documents suggested about our next strategy. Mr. McPartner looked at me during every team meeting (which, in the heat of an SEC investigation occurred on a thrice weekly basis) and said, "Christie, what do you think?" There was no hiding. I couldn't possibly hid behind my computer screen, especially since my computer was in my office, which was down the hall from McPartner's office.

I had to think and then I had to speak. I had to tell him and my team what I had found in the documents I was reviewing. For 18 months, three times per week I would sit in a room with McPartner (male) and 5 other male associates and 1 other senior female counsel member and use my voice to explain to them all 1) what I had been doing, 2) what I was seeing, 3) how 1 and 2 fit in with our overall case strategy and 4) what I thought the SEC's next move would be.

No one else could speak up for me because no one else was doing what I was doing. No one cared that I was scared of speaking up or that I felt unprepared because I didn't know I would be on the spot. By month 3, there is no way I could pretend that McPartner surprised me when he put me on the spot by asking for an update from me.

I wished that I had taken the very cushy 3 years in law school to practice speaking up and talking about my ideas and legal theories in front of my peers. I want to tell my students that if you are too scared (or bored or lazy or indifferent) to speak up during your 2-credit writing class, then you better find a way to get over it before you practice because people paying your salary 3 years from now won't care if they are boring you or keeping you from your riveting Angry Birds game (is Angry Birds a game? I have no idea. whatever it is, I suspect some of my students do it during my insightful lectures) or your IM session with your long distance boyfriend who is studying public policy in Boston.

Here's the real dirty secret: If you don't speak up, someone else will. It will probably be a man. There's lots of research out there about gender and class participation. Let's just talk about this little corner of the legal landscape. The men talk about 10 times more than the women in this class. Guess who my best writers are? Yep. The women. My top 4 writers are women. My 2 worst writers are men. By far. This is including the young man for whom English is not a first language.

There are only 10 people in my class.

The men aren't talking because they know more about writing. Because, after grading 5 papers, I can tell you that they categorically do not know more about legal writing. They also are not talking because they are kissing up to me, because class participation is not part of the grade. Now, granted, I am a very hot teacher, but that hasn't provided an incentive for the men to write better papers, so I can't conclude that winning my affections motivates class participation.
I can't say exactly whey they talk so much more than you women do. I assume there is a cultural expectation or social pressure or plain old habit that contributes to the dynamic. The reasons why are not as important to me as how simple it is to alter this reality.

Ladies, you need to start talking. You need to practice speaking authoritatively, even if you think you haven't prepared enough. Listen, it hasn't stopped the men. They speak even when they are not prepared. I can tell. Can't you? Stop waiting to be perfect to open your mouth. Stop expecting the fear to go away before you can speak. Build that muscle. Jump to the edge of the limb and see what happens. I know there are invisible, potent forces that make it seem impossible to open your mouth and contribute to the discussion. Guess what? Too bad. Talk anyway.

I am coming for you. Next semester I am going to call on you one by one, over and over again, because now I am mother and I can't inflict things on you in the name of "your own good." I am going to get you talking even if it's to say, "I don't know." That's better than hiding behind your stupid laptop or staring at your Tory Burch sandals. Yes, they are cute, but look at them on the train home, not during my class.

Don't miss this chance because the stakes get higher from here.

More Halloween Snaps

Here is the first of many, many looks that our children will give to one another with the subtext: "WTF is up with these weirdo parents of ours?" Thank god they have each other.

You can see here that it's not easy to wrangle two children into the Halloween spirit and keep them steady and smiling on command. That didn't stop us from trying for about 30 minutes.

Awwwwwwwwwww. Look at our little moo cow drinking a bottle. Is there any cuter? I discussed the irony of a little baby cow drinking human milk with both of the kids and neither of them felt like it warranted the amount of discussion and analysis that I did.

Sometimes it's lonely being a mom who went to graduate school in English.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our Shadow Selves

On days like today, when it's gray and rainy and about 50 degrees, I crave sunshine like I craved edible food when I was in St. Petersburg. I was perusing some pictures from our glorious fall to remind me that the sun, indeed, has shone before and it will shine again.

Patience, Grasshopper.

Simon went in for his 9-month doctor's appointment and the doctor informed us that Simon has a double ear infection. Of course Simon was smiling through all of it, so I felt terrible when the doctor gave us the news. He's on antibiotics and even more smiley so I think we caught it early. I did not know that cold and flu season started right after Labor Day. Next year I will plan ahead.

Sadie has taken to potty training herself, which is a marvel to me. She spends some QT each night sans diaper running around and playing, and then suddenly she will ask to go to the potty. Luckily, we have a growing collection of porta-potties in the house so she's never too far from them. She hasn't had one accident. While I have, on occasion, invited her to take her business to the potty, she has always declined and I have never pressed her. As with just about every other thing, it works best if Sadie gets to direct the pace and timing.

In the meantime, when not scrapbooking or looking for lost items that invariably end up in Sadie's play kitchen, I am really working up a mental sweat over the upcoming time change. I mean, if I have to get up everyday at 5 am again, I think I am going to need more than sunshine. A lot more. And it will need to be an over-the-counter dosage. I won't lie: I am nervous about the winter with its bitter chills and unflattering layering of clothes. It's hard enough to get two kids out the door during summer when no one really needs shoes and socks. What am I going to do with two unwilling snow suit wearers? Oh my god, I shudder to think. I keep reminding myself that it will only be about 4 months and some of those days may actually be nice, or balmy, or not more than 10 degrees below freezing. It will be ok. Millions of families do this every year. I think I need an Alaskan pen pal to give me a good dose of schaedenfraude for the winter. Nothing perks me up like a comparison wherein I come out on top.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Switch Witch

We had a very delightful, if a tiny bit brisk, Halloween. It felt like we lived in the suburbs for several brief moments as our court yard was swarmed with dozens of kids dressed as Woody from Toy Story, lady bugs, gnomes, lions, giraffes, and the cast of Harry Potter. I bought 4 huge bags of candy thinking I would have to donate the leftovers to my law students, but we ran out by 6:15 p.m. I will say it was a little disconcerting to hand out candy to very large 16-year-old "children" who were NOT in costume and who shoved their backpacks onto our porch to ask for candy. Honestly, I was too scared to refuse them. I also had a moment when an extremely obese 3 year old Batman asked for some candy and I wanted to scream that what he really needed was a good night's sleep and some real food.

I held back. Since, I am just a neighbor and not the surgeon general.


Simon held up well considering he didn't know what the hell was going on. I just put him in the baby Ergo in his little cow costume and paraded him around. Sadie, too, was in great form. We didn't have a bag for her to trick-or-treat with so Jeff gave her a piece of Swiss Army carry-on luggage. Every single person we encountered commented on her giant bag. I told everyone she was taking a plane to Mexico as soon as she got enough candy. She really got the hang of it by the 5 house. By the 6th house, we were done. She and I handed out candy to all our little neighbors and friends, which was great fun. She sat imperiously on the porch next to me and held out the candy whenever someone walked up. It was funny, because she wasn't willing to lean forward or stand up or move at all. She held out her little 2 foot arm and if the person wanted the candy, he would have to move his back to her arm because she wasn't going to put forth any more effort.

By about 6:15, I noticed that my candy stash was diminishing at an exponentially greater pace. Turns out that when we got a rush of customers, Sadie, seeing I was distracted, would siphon off the Tootsie Rolls into her luggage. She didn't appreciate it when I tried to get it back. When it was all over, our very last customer gave me the greatest gift of the season: She told me about the Switch Witch.

What's that, you say?

The Switch Witch comes to your house the day after Halloween (All Saints Day for the Catholics out there) and takes all of your candy and leaves you with a toy you have really been wanting. When my neighbor Ashley told me about the Switch Witch I told her I was going to write her a check for 1,000.00, because that's brilliant. Oh my god, such a great idea.

I tried to talk that up to Sadie, but she's a little young to grasp the concept (of her parents totally trying to manipulate her with some freaky fantasy) so we may just resort to hiding the candy and emphasizing life's other great pleasures: reading books, listening to Mother Goose songs, screaming at the top of your lungs. You know, the little things.

Either way, I am passing along this idea to people whose children may be in the perfect strike zone for the magic of the Switch Witch.