Motherhood by a Nose


I’ve always had a sensitive nose. It runs in my family. My aunt’s sense of smell is legendary. One time, many years ago, she almost divorced my uncle after he had the audacity to use a bathroom cleaner with bleach to remove some mildew on the ceiling. Another time she slept with her nose out the first floor bedroom window after he used an oil-based deck paint somewhere in the basement.

When I became a mother, my overly sensitive nose was bombarded by all kinds of scents, most of which were awful. However, I was surprised to discover that there are a few that aren’t awful at all. In fact, some of them are nothing short of sublime, and being a scent connoisseur of sorts, I sniff them out every chance I get.

For example, my youngest child, who is six, scraped his elbow the other day and I was rummaging around in our bathroom for some Neosporin to apply but instead found an old crusty tube of A&D. For anyone who doesn’t know what A&D is, it is an ointment used to prevent diaper rash. And it smells like heaven, but with a distinct medicinal finishing note.

When I found it, I felt a rush of excitement, quickly unscrewed the cap, and breathed in memory after memory of tiny babies cooing and blowing raspberries while lying naked upon a terrycloth changing pad. That smell was with me 10 to 12 times a day for too many years than I care to count, but now it’s gone, and the sadness is almost too much to bear (which is why I went out and bought a fresh, new tube).

Here are a few other non-awful smells that define motherhood:

Baby’s Breath

There is nothing on this earth that smells better than the breath of a baby. When my babies wailed from hunger or exhaustion, my ears bled, my eyes leaked, but my nose could not have been happier. This is perhaps the part of my children growing up that I regret the most, because they won’t let me bury my nose in their mouths anymore–they think it’s weird. Not sure why?


This laundry detergent, specially formulated to smell like puppies, rainbows and unicorns, is a close second to baby’s breath for the most wonderful smell in the world. I know it’s not the smartest choice to have your baby’s sensitive skin exposed to clothes washed in such a powerful, artificial scent, but taking care of a baby is really hard and sometimes you just need some aromatherapy to get you through the day. I should buy some Dreft just for old time’s sake, like I did with the A&D, but I’m pretty sure my husband does not want to smell like puppies, rainbows or unicorns at his next Little League board meeting.

Anything from Johnson & Johnson

The links to cancer notwithstanding, anything from Johnson & Johnson (e.g., the baby shampoo, the powder, and the bubblegum pink lotion) lulls me into an intoxicated state of euphoria even when the daily rigors of parenting are killing me. I’m pretty sure Johnson & Johnson is the reason why I accidentally had a third child.

Baked Goods

I am not and have never identified myself as a baker, but something happened when I became a mother that compelled me to think that maybe if I combined all-purpose flour with a few other white and powdery ingredients something resembling a muffin or a cake might magically emerge from my oven. And sometimes this actually happens but mostly, it doesn’t. Still, though, even if my muffins taste like paper and my cake sticks to the pan with a ferocity typically seen only with white on rice, they fill my house with a fragrance that can only be described as joy, hope, and beautiful dreams all coming true at the same time.


Most parents I know drink a lot of coffee. It’s how we cope with everything from colic to college. If you are a parent and you don’t drink coffee, I am suspicious. As a result, the rich, seductive aroma of coffee has become an integral part of parenting–as omnipresent as sippy cups and umbrella strollers. One time, I even confused the smell of coffee for the smell of a dirty diaper, the two are so intertwined. I recognize that I am probably the only one who ever did that, but that’s what happens when you’re a Mom with a nose on overdrive.




New Tech Policy

I am recovering from Spring Break Barfapalooza 2015 so I’m not going to post anything until next week, but until then, here is our new tech policy for your enjoyment:


Too much time is spent on technology. Also, there are too many fights, and the fights are getting really bad.


A new policy that limits the time spent on technology and prevents fights.


  • There will be no more playing together.
  • You may play one hour a day by yourself. Use your iPhone, iPod, iPad to track your time.
  • You may pause the stopwatch to eat a meal, go to practice, bathroom, shower, etc.
  • If you have gone to practice, it is OK for someone to jump in and play while you are gone. If you are eating a meal, bathroom, etc., it is not OK.
  • When someone is already playing, you cannot demand that they stop playing so that you can play. Instead, ask them how long they have left.
  • In Minecraft, you have to stay in your own world.
  • Grace has permission to delete dumb worlds. If she isn’t sure whether or not it is dumb, she will leave it.
  • If you don’t want Grace to delete your world, you should name it something other than FJEIRUSLAKDJGKFHGAKSKROEMTK. Try Greg1DND, Gavin1DND, etc. (DND = Do Not Delete)
  • NO MORE SCREAMING. If you scream, the game is over and your hour for the day is up.


The time spent on laptops with headphones is getting out of control. You can’t sit in your bed for five or five hours on the Internet. You are going to stunt your brain’s development. One hour a day on your laptop is plenty. Use your iPhone or iPod to track your time. If you are sick, you might be able to spend more time on your laptop but you have to get this approved in advance by me.


No technology is allowed in the bathroom or at dinner. It is OK at breakfast and lunch.


Start reading more books and going outside more. Now that the weather is getting nicer, I expect you to walk the dog more often, go for a walk around the block, go to the park, get on your bike, go to town with your friends. No more sitting at home on the Xbox and the Internet.

Here is a way for you to track your non-tech time:




Play Outside

Walk Dog


Every Sunday, you can give me your chart for me to sign and if I am happy with it, I will give you some $$$.


If you are not following the rules and you are spending more than an hour a day on the Xbox and your laptop (for two hours/day total), or if there are fights, or screaming, the Xbox controllers will be taken away again.







The Great Minecraft Fight of 2015. So far.

Screenshot 2015-04-02 at 8.57.33 AM

Like any Mom with multiple children, I watch my children interact on a daily basis and wonder what they are going to be like as adults. Will they be close? Will they nurture the sibling bonds I have tried my best to instill? Will they share holidays and encourage each other through all of life’s challenges?

Sadly, if the last few months of Minecraft on the XBox are any indication, the answer is no.

My kids are not new to Minecraft. They used to play it years ago on the iPad and I almost lost my mind. They played it feverishly for months but then their interest waned and I was never so grateful.

For Christmas, I don’t know what he was thinking, but Santa gave my kids an XBox and threw in a $19.99 Minecraft game at the last minute. Because it’s been so cold and awful here in New Jersey this winter they can’t–and won’t–stop playing. And when they play, they fight. And it’s bad.

Here is how the last fight unfolded:

My youngest, who is six and can’t even make himself a sandwich in real life, finally found a fire aspect book somewhere in the nether and was looking forward to enchanting both a sword and an anvil when his sister went downstairs, joined the game, and caused a catastrophic glitch. The glitch caused him to lose all of his stuff, including his map, and in his fury, he grabbed his virtual sword and started virtually hitting her with it.

She started to virtually lose her health, and began “lightly flicking her wrist” in real life against his chest but according to him it was a sudden and violent slap in the face. In response, he let out a fierce battle cry and began savagely beating her in real life with the XBox controller.

She collapsed in a heap on the floor, which caused my other son to briefly look away from whatever he was doing in his world to glance in her general direction since he was obviously very concerned about her. He returned his full attention to the game, but not before calling out to me for help.

I was trying to ignore the battle since I had just made myself a nice salad but felt guilty after my son called out for me so I went down to the basement, where the XBox is located. Once I got down there, I found my 5-foot 6-inch tall 12-year-old daughter curled up in a ball convulsing and sobbing in pain while my 40 lb three-foot-tall six-year-old son stood above her with flames coming out of his ears.

She is usually very dramatic and he is usually very angry so there was a chance that all of this was just business as usual, but I had to assume the worst. I silently grabbed my son (also known as “The Spawn of Satan”), and led him into his bedroom for a time out while my daughter (also known as Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind) retreated to her bedroom, slamming the door behind her. I returned to the basement, gathered up the controllers, and hid them in a secret place for an undetermined length of time.

And that is when I FINALLY enjoyed my salad.