According to an article in The New York Times this week, our nation’s pediatricians are suddenly seeing a rash of children with kidney stones. That’s a kidney stone there, on the left. Not the BB, the pearl, or the dime, but the other, more spiky thing. (Thanks to for that picture, as informative as it is horrifying.)

Apparently, kidney stones are caused primarily by 1) too much salt and 2) not enough water in the diet, two things that I can certainly say have been true for the children in my household. Cooper is a picky eater so I let him put salt on BACON, for heaven’s sake, just so he’ll eat it. And I never offer my kids drinks unless it’s mealtime, or unless they ask for them.

So here’s the new Worry of the Week, parents. If your children suddenly crumple over with incredible abdominal pain, it will be all your fault. Push the water, pull the salt.

we’re back, and none too soon

We are back home at last, after two weeks of what was supposed to be a “relaxing” “vacation,” and there definitely were moments that could qualify, but I think the most relaxing part of the last fortnight was when I dropped off the boys at school this morning. Thank you, sweet Jesus. You may find that a little cruel-sounding, but I assure you that Cooper and Fergus were just as happy to be away from me as I from them, and heaven knows, happy to be away from each other.

We were all driving each other a little nuts. Being together 24/7 with no particular place to go can grate on the nerves after ten days or so, and I know we’ll all be sorry when Daddy starts working a hundred hours a week again, but right now I think he feels pretty ready to go.

I’m sure I don’t need to lay out all the nerve-fraying greatest hits that the boys have been playing as we traveled across this great nation, such as He’s Touching Me/No I’m Not, and I Already Told You That Mommy A Hundred Times, but my greatest annoyance, the one who sent me into paroxysms of nausea and talking through my gritted teeth so I would not lose it entirely, was this young man. Perhaps you’re familiar with him?

Caillou. Freaking CAILLOU. I hate Caillou SO. MUCH, as Madeline Kahn said in Clue, that… flames… flames. And I think that perhaps I am transferring some of my pent-up frustration with my loved ones onto this whiny, annoying, bald, annoying, brat of a four year old, but not so very much.

We don’t watch Caillou when we are home, because I am all about the DVR and choosing very carefully what shows I want my kids watching. And my main criterion is that the show not be annoying. So my kids know nothing of Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney, Sesame Street post-1990, It’s a Big Big World, or Caillou, because I find all of those shows completely insufferable. My kids mostly watch Mister Rogers and Animal Atlas, because those are shows I can bear as background noise.

But when one is traveling, one is more or less subject to what is on TV, particularly if one lost one’s enormous folder of children’s DVD’s at some point last year, and one continues to delude oneself that if one looks in the minivan just ONE MORE TIME, that they just might be under one of the seats after all.

And I would say that Cooper and Fergus’ favorite part of our trip, more than whitewater rafting down the Colorado River, more than meeting Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdom, was the fact that before bed they usually got to watch about 45 minutes of Sprout.

We don’t get Sprout in New York City, but apparently, everyone else in America does. Sprout is a PBS channel that is for some reason, loaded with ads, and I don’t even mean for toys, that would actually be OK with me, but for really weird shit like the Shamwow! and PureSleep. (If anyone wants to hear about the virtues of PureSleep’s “Stop Snoring Solution,” including their iron-clad money-back guarantee, Cooper can recite it for you chapter and verse.)

But the worst thing about Sprout is that it gathers together all, and I mean ALL, of the world’s most annoying children’s television programming. I mean, they even feature Jay Jay the Jet Plane, which features giant trippy crudely-computer-animated faces that haunt my dreams, and I’m a grownup.

But none of Sprout’s programming captures my children’s fancy, and my ire, quite like Caillou. Can someone please tell me what is up with him? He is FOUR, completely bald, and talks in a whine so incessant that it puts my shoulders up around my ears to be in the same household as the television. His own parents, on the other hand, are unfailing sweet and pleasant, which is even more annoying, and they’re all pudgy, and his dad wears a green sweatshirt with what seems to be a red mock turtleneck underneath it, and every episode is like “Dadddyyy! I lost my sailboat!!” “That’s OK, I’ll get it for you, Caillou.” “Thank you Daddy! You got my sailboat!” and that’s all that HAPPENS, there is no conflict of any sort, and their family is just sooo perfect and flames, flames, and IF YOU DON’T STOP WHINING CAILLOU I WILL MAKE YOU STOP AHGGHGHHGHGHGHH.

So that’s how my vacation was. Thank you for listening. I feel much better now.

my new Oscar-winning-Brad-Pitt-arm-candy frenemy

OK, Gwyneth is so yesterday. As Aunt Mollie pointed out after my last post , Gwyneth really has gone off the deep end. She has actually created her own lifestyle website, which will positively make you throw up in your mouth, but since criticism of said website has already been exhaustively and hiariously handled by others, I am going to leave it. As Tina Turner once put it, This is Time for Letting Go.

Especially when W Magazine has this on the cover!

I so love Angelina. Love love. And I think this picture will do wonders for the breastfeeding cause. Look at the little hand, could you die?

I did read a comment somewhere that “wow, she even looks amazing without makeup.” And I said, hold it there. I mean, Angelina is Amazing. But come on, she used up an entire kohl pencil on her eyes before she let Brad pull out the camera. For Angelina there is no normal. No pumping gas, no taking out the trash. When she heads out to mommy and me class, this is how she rocks it:

Check it, world: I am gorgeous and famous and absolutely NOTHING LIKE YOU. I have a 20,000 square foot house in Germany, and another one in France. This hat is utterly without practical application, or at least I hope not, since my baby’s bare head is square in the sun. I never wear my hair in a ponytail, never, and I have SIX CHILDREN. I know nothing of your petty lives. I am La Angelina.

That’s what she’s saying in this picture, at least that’s what she’s saying to me, and doggone it I love her for it. She is the anti-Sarah Palin, or Gwyneth, for that matter. She is a famous person who gets how abnormal she is. She doesn’t try to act all “I make mac and cheese for my kids too.” And I don’t have to feel bad for not looking like her as I breastfed my newborn, because no one, especially her, thinks I was supposed to. Viva Angelina! You are the Elizabeth Taylor of our times. OK you make me feel bad about myself too. But only a little bit.

how I have missed these bons mots

Greetings from Aspen! After not seeing the boys for two weeks, I’m having a lot of fun hanging out with them and enjoying the great outdoors. Aspen is great in the fall- OK, there’s no snow, but that also means there’s no one here, and so we have the hotel and the restaurants, and the mountains, to ourselves.

So we’ve had lots of time to catch up, and oh how I have missed Cooper’s words of wisdom, like this morning:

“Mommy. You want to know what’s really weird? The Wonder Pets ARE animals. But they SAVE animals. And they can talk? But the other animals can’t. THAT’S what’s really weird.”

My God, he’s right. That always bothered me about Maisy, that she was a mouse who like went to petting zoos and milked cows, and rode horses, and held dominion over other animals, when she was a MOUSE. An overall-wearing mouse, but still.

But as I lie awake tonight, letting Maddie cry it out– oh yes, we’re STILL not there– I’m going to be puzzling out this Wonder Pets universe. That really is a trip.

I am so over her

My god y’all, we have so much to discuss. SO MUCH. It has been a crazy few weeks launching the Mother Load tour, but launched it now is, so I hope you will excuse the paucity of my recent postings. I promise to step it back up.

When we were last together, I was telling you that I am now, like, kind of friends with Gwyneth Paltrow.

But I am so completely over her you guys, ever since since she went on Oprah last month and said that her favorite kitchen timesaver, as a totally normal mom who cooks every night, was this Gaggenau steamer:

“It is the easiest thing ever! It makes the most gorgeous poached salmon with whatever fresh herbs you happen to have around!” she crowed. And I, imagining myself turning over a new leaf and serving things like poached salmon with herbs, providing it really was the “easiest thing ever,” made a mental note to Buy That Steamer.

The Oprah website didn’t have details, so I Googled “Gwyneth Oprah steamer,” whereupon I found out that it retails for EIGHTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS.

Gwynie. I am only telling you this because we’re kind of friends a little bit. The next time you want to look like Josephine Six-Pack, check the price tag on the swag you got for free before you breezily suggest it as a must for every woman’s kitchen. I would not call myself a spendthrift, but my God, there are children in India without enough to eat. If there is really someone out there with $1800 to blow on a kitchen appliance, buy the Black and Decker steamer for $23.12, and give the other $1776.88 to charity. Or a failing Wall Street investment bank.