Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Freakin' Christmas

“Why didn’t you wash my white sweater? It was dirty!” 8 year old yells at me.

“Because it wasn’t in the dirty clothes when I did the wash.”

“It’s in the dirty clothes now!”

“Yes, but I did the wash on Monday. On Monday, it was not in the dirty clothes.”

“But it was dirty then!”

“Ah, but was it in the dirty clothes bin?”

Stomp, stomp, stomp. She huffs her way downstairs, complaining loudly, of course.

I head down to my computer to tell you all how wonderful post-Christmas break is.

I hear Rule-Making Oldest Daughter screaming at Youngest Daughter. “You can’t play your DS right now! Put it away immediately!”

Youngest Daughter cannot possibly withstand the wrath of 11-year-old. She’s crying, and trying valiantly to finish the game on the DS so she can put it away before her beloved sister turns into Medusa.

I step in. “Oldest Child, why can’t she play her DS?” I ask.

“Because we’re not allowed to do that right now!”

I look at her and tell her the same thing I’ve been saying for years, and which, to my knowledge, has had no quantifiable impact on her actions. “It is not your job. It is my job.”

She huffs her way into her bedroom, complaining loudly, of course.

2 children down, 2 to go.

I love Christmas break pre-December 25. This year, I’ve done my best to improve the post-Christmas I-Hate-Your-Guts phase. Monday, we went swimming, with Oldest Daughter taking Weird Friend Number 4 to pacify her. Tuesday, Youngest Daughter had 2 playdates, one of which took her to McDonald’s and the park, and both of which took her out of the my-older-sisters-won’t-play-with-me blues. Middle Daughter had a friend over for 3 1/2 hours. Oldest Daughter spent the day re-grouping, reading, lying in bed. No pressure, no requirements for good behavior. Today, after a last-minutes sleep over at our house with Oldest Daughter’s Weird Friend Number 6, Oldest Daughter, Middle Daughter and Youngest Daughter are all going ice skating. With me. Oldest Daughter is taking a friend. Middle Daughter is taking a friend. I’m taking Valium. I hate ice skating. I hate going around and around a frozen rink with 25 other stupid people, none of us being able to do more than hang onto the wall and pray that our tender bottoms don’t fall on our skates. Except, there’s always that one show-off who wanted to be a professional skater but wasn’t quite cut out for it. You know who I’m talking about. It’s the female equivalent of the gym jocks in High School. Not good enough for the team, but too good for you, losers.

So, I’m just looking for a reason to cancel the whole thing and ground everyone to her room. Me included. I would love to crawl back into my flannel jammies and spend the day snuggling Too Busy Son while he tries to pull everything out of the cupboards.

But that isn’t to be. Another day spent staring at each other in the house may actually ignite the flames which are already threatening. Instead, we’ll go get sore and tired and come home to leftover for dinner, which makes me happy but will cause more “you’re the worst mom ever” moments. That’s alright. Eventually, they’ll go away to college and then they’ll be someone else’s problem.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Letter to Shelly, or Why Chickens Are Not Animals

Dearest Shelly,

Thank you for your thoughtful comment re: Random List of Vital Facts. It has given me pause and allowed me to delve further into the deep psychosis that forms my barely-functioning mind. It was a scary journey, and I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but the following is my thesis on why I don’t want animals but do want chickens.

I agree that there seems to be a disconnect between a person wanting to raise hens and not wanting any animals in the family. But hens are not animals. They are livestock. And while some members of a family may resemble livestock, true livestock does not count as “family.”

For example, if I were herding cattle, which I occasionally feel compelled to do, I would herd them straight to the barn for milking or to the meat market for processing. I would not lavish adoration on them. I would not let them sleep in my bed. I would not buy special toys for them to rip apart, special bones for them to bury or special sweaters for them to wear. They are cows. Their job is to produce food for me and mine. And unless you are a fruitarian, I think you will understand. If you are a fruitarian, please do not comment on my blog since you’ll only make me giggle and my bladder is not always strong enough to take the abuse.

Now, to chickens. I have raised chickens before. They are stupid. Not in the “oh, isn’t that cute!” way, but in the “how do you manage to reproduce” way. Lots of stupid people manage to reproduce, as evidenced by the continuing popularity of Leonardo DiCaprio, but stupid animals don’t usually make it past the “predator bait” phase of evolution. Chickens, in spite of all the odds, not only made it far enough to reproduce once, but their sole purpose seems to be reproduction. This, as far as I’m concerned, is the main reason to have chickens.

The other reason is to scare off solicitors.

Chickens are mean, and when you unwittingly approach a door with your roofing samples or your gourmet meat products, they will charge at you and try to nest in your hair. They also poop a lot, which is good for getting rid of solicitors and good for my garden.

Now, Hal’s reasons for not wanting chickens are pretty lame, if you’ll excuse me for saying so. First, he’s convinced he will be expected to participate in the hen raising. I do not expect him to participate in the hen raising. I expect him to participate, solely and by himself, in the hen killing and plucking. I don’t think this is too much to ask, but apparently Hal doesn’t feel in touch with his Neanderthal man. I’m working on it.

The other reason Hal doesn’t want chickens is his fear that they will hurt him. They probably will. Not only are they mean and stupid, but they have no loyalty and will not hesitate to poop on dress clothes. I think this would be funny, but Hal doesn’t like Charlie Chaplin the way I do.

I feel better, lighter and more carefree. Because of Shelly’s insight and verbalization, I have grown as a human being. So, thank you, Shelly, and Merry Christmas to you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Random List of Vital Facts

About Us in 2010

Underwear: what the baby likes to wear on his head.

Lint: the baby’s favorite toy.

Chocolate: the baby’s favorite food. Also, Mama’s best friend.

220: number of pounds I’ve gained since graduating High School.

220: number of pounds I’ve lost since graduating High School.

1: number of gay boyfriends I had in High School.

1: number of friends I knew in High School whom I still see regularly. Note: the friend and the gay boyfriend are not the same person.

Babysitting: what Oldest Daughter is currently doing.

Avoiding Chores: what Youngest Daughter is currently doing.

Eating Rolos: what Mama is currently doing.

Hens: what I’m trying to convince Hal we need in our suburban yard-scape.

*@$@ NO!: Hal’s response to my brilliant idea of raising hens.

GoatHerder: what Hal would really like to be.

Heiress: what I would really like to be.

Sting: the only concert I would give up my children’s college education for.

$5.78: the amount of money set aside for my children’s college education.

Serengeti: what I’d like to see before I die.

Her own cell phone: what my oldest daughter will see over my dead body.

3: current number of irreplaceable, must-have-to-sleep stuffed bunnies in our house.

1: number of real bunnies owned by members of our house.

0: number of animals I would like to have in our family.

1: number of dead pets buried in our yard that I know about.

Sleep: what I would really like to have right now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Angels and Demons On High

I love all things Annie Lennox. If she sang a Vioxx commercial, I’d download it from Itunes. There has never been anything Annie that I didn’t think was the greatest creation to come out of a woman’s mouth.

Until now.

At first, I was all excited that Annie had finally done a Christmas CD. And then I listened to it. And it’s sort of like the Devil singing hymns of praise. Or like Godiva giving modesty advice. Or Yogi Berra teaching public speaking. Or any football player saying anything at all. Should I go on? This is sort of fun.

Sting did the same thing to me last year. He has a “winter” CD which made me want to pour acid in my ears the first time I listened to it. There were exactly 2 songs that didn’t make me want to commit suicide, and even those, if you listen to the words, could send a normal person into fits of depression. This year, I’m finding that except for one or two songs, I’m actually enjoying it. You may call it maturity. I call it fatalism.

But Annie? You’ll have to sample it from Itunes--start with Lullay Lullay (Coventry Carol) and work your way down.

Now, doesn’t it sound like the Anti-Christmas? Dean Martin, he does Christmas. Barry Manilow even does Christmas. But Annie? She should stick to Halloween.

Tori Amos does Christmas, too, and while her voice is sweet and ethereal and made my High School boyfriend have visions, she can’t stick to one time signature, which makes the mostly-simple Christmas melodies hard to listen to for more than 10 minutes. But that’s okay, because most of her songs are only about 6 minutes long.

Two of my favorite new songs are free on Amazon. Fleet Foxes does one called “White Winter Hymnal” and Little & Ashley sing “Winter Night”. If I were more computer savvy, or if I cared more, I’d figure out how to post them here so you could be lazy and listen to them without doing much. As it is, you have to actually click. Don’t worry. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Put On Your Red Shoes

If you’re ever in a bad mood, come over to my house. I’ll make some cocoa, we’ll sit on the couch and watch my children play Just Dance on the WII. I swanney, it’s enough to make you believe in human nature again.

First, there’s something delightful about 4 children doing anything together that doesn’t involve bloodshed, tears or Disney. Second, my children are not exactly the most coordinated of bodies, and the dance moves on the game are not exactly easy. Okay, some of them are, but then the game combines them with other moves, and pretty soon, if you were born with my genetic code, you find yourself pretzel-like and 3 steps behind. The point is, it isn’t like watching Baryshnikov (yum). More like watching a slow-motion train wreck, Charlie Chaplin style. Third, and this may be the most important point, we can sit on the couch. That means we’re not actually doing the work. See the beauty of this mood-improver?

I do, in fact, dance with my children when other adults aren’t present. The first time we played, over Thanksgiving weekend, we laughed so hard my stomach muscles hurt the next day. Now, it’s the favorite play-date activity for Oldest Child. They make rock candy and dance.

We also play Twister together, which also makes us laugh, especially when Toddler Son joins us. Try moving your left hand to red when Boy is lying underneath you, kicking his feet at your face. He also likes to grab the corner of the mat and roll, pulling it around him as he goes. This makes it a bit difficult to play.

He, too, dances when we turn on JD. And if you give him a remote, he’ll usually score pretty high, until he runs off to hide the remote in the toilet, that is.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

To England, Please

They’re getting married in April?!? This April? They clearly have no idea how long it will take to have my dress made, several hats ordered (the British wear a lot of hats), plane tickets reserved, accommodations set up (Buckingham might be a bit full, so we’ll opt for a more private place to unpack our bags). I have to line up babysitters, and April is too soon to have lost the Christmas pudding weight. How rude. And how does one dress for a wedding in April? It may be too cold for short sleeves, but oh, the horror, if it’s too warm for long sleeves. Arm pit stains are so 17th century.

I fully expect to be invited to the Royal Wedding. I want to see if she goes Grace Kelly ball gown or if she’s not afraid of public opinion and chooses to show off her will-never-be-the-same-after-childbirth 20-something body.

When the last British Royal wedding was aired, I watched the whole thing. I couldn’t understand why she would marry him (I was all of 9 years old.) Charles looked so old to me. Well, he still does. Pictures of him at the time seem so old-man.

But this blog is not about that wedding. Nor is it about Kate and William. It’s about me, waiting for my invitation, and wondering if I should do my hair up or let it hang down? I also need to decide whether or not Hal is invited to go with me. Harry is still single, and that isn’t creepy at all.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Letter to St. Nick

Dear Santa Claus,

Every year for Christmas, I ask for world peace, or at least peace in my home. I ask for everyone to have enough to eat, or at least that my children will eat the food I put in front of them. I ask for shelter from the cold and rain, or at least that I might appreciate the cold and rain if I have to be outside in them. I ask for patience without going through the trials that produce patience. I ask for a sense of well-being, or at least a false sense of well-being. I ask to be 4 inches taller.

Every year, you fail miserably.

So, this year, I say, “Screw it. Let me win the lottery.”

If I win the lottery, I promise not to spend a dime promoting any of the good values I’ve tried to foster in my children. I promise, instead, to get a boob job, a second home somewhere coastal and foreign, and a nanny.

Oh, please, let me get a nanny.

With bigger boobs, a hide-away in the Mediterranean, and a nanny, I think the peace, food, patience, shelter and well-being will take care of themselves. And if not, I’ll have enough money left over to self-medicate in any way I choose.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas,


Friday, December 3, 2010

Bone Yard

Eeeew. I just found a bone in the Healthy Choice, frozen and never-natural meatloaf I was stuffing in my face as fast as I could. (It’s better if you don’t actually taste it.) I do not like being reminded that what I’m eating once chewed its cud. I do not like remembering that it once had organs and ligaments and pooped. I prefer to think that meat, like Republican talking points, comes pre-packaged and cleaned-up-for-the-consumer. If I wanted beef with bones, I would go chew on a cow, thank you.

I’ll tell you the best pre-packaged single-serving food item I’ve tried. Kashi Mayan Harvest. This yummy goodness has a bit of spice, a bit of grain, sweet potatoes and plantains. That’s right, bananas. How can you go wrong with caramelized bananas? If I lived in Miami, I’d be fat and constipated from all the fried plantains I’d eat. But one serving of Kashi’s version won’t do that to you. If you ate several in a row, as I am often tempted to do, that might be a different story. Unless, of course, you follow it up with a few dozen mango lassis. Ooooh, mango lassi. I would marry a mango lassi if it weren’t for that whole Proposition 99 thing, which excludes marriage of women and drinks.

Speaking of propositions, do you find it weird that San Francisco is trying to ban the Happy Meal but is also in the process of legalizing marijuana?

In honor of California’s soon-to-be laws, I’ve come up with a great marketing idea. Marijuana with the Happy Meal. They could call it The Mother’s Happy Meal. Instead of Disney toys, it could come with a pipe, or papers, or, better yet, the pot could be baked into the new McDonald’s dessert: Brownies.

Or, how about this: frozen Happy Meals? That way, I could stock my freezer and not have to go the trouble of moving my butt out to the car to go through the drive-thru. You don’t want people driving in California, anyway. Who knows how many of them will be medicinally doped?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Minty Fresh

Yesterday morning, I stumble into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I pull out the toothbrush. I put on a sizable dollop of toothpaste. I begin to brush. And I think, “Hmm. This isn’t lathering well.” I brush a bit more. “Hmm. I don’t feel that minty tingle.”

I look at myself in the mirror. There is white stuff all over my teeth, but it isn’t the foamy goodness that says “Goodbye Dragon Breath.” I look at the tube on the bathroom counter.


That’s right. I have successfully eradicated diaper rash from my mouth.

And just in case this happens to you, I’ll tell you now how to get the stuff off your teeth. It takes a new toothbrush, and copious amounts of Sensodyne With Whitening Power. You’ll have to scrub, then rinse with Crest Pro-Health, then throw that new toothbrush away. That’s two toothbrushes down, in case you’re not keeping track. One because you put bum ointment on it, and the second because you scrubbed bum ointment off of your teeth with it. Or, if your husband went in early to work, you could just use his toothbrush as the second toothbrush. He’ll never know.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Do They Drink KoolAid in Britain?

KoolAid is my Kryptonite. If you walk around my house, you’ll notice little pink polkadots on almost every carpet. How did they get there when the clear household rule is: KoolAid in the kitchen or outside. Is KoolAid allowed in front of the TV? Nope. And yet, somehow, those insidious pink dots made their way there this week. Now, I haven’t posted pictures of my TV room. But I bet you’ve already figured out that Never Seen in the Natural World Pink doesn’t work with my color scheme. In fact, when you walk into the tranquil (if the kids are gone) room, your senses will be jarred by the sudden flash of Barbie Pink and you’ll think to yourself, “Gee, I would have stuck with the greens and browns if I were decorating this room.”

And it makes me weak. Not weak in the “love that man” sense or in the “gotta good deal at the mall” sense, but weak in the “why can’t I have just one room without kid markings?” sense.

Now, I know there are bigger trials in life. I’ve thought of some: being married to a balding Prince and living in a cold, dark castle. Having Charles as a father-in-law. Never, ever being able to live up to the memory of your mother-in-law. All of those things would be worse. But when I look at those pink dots cluttering the otherwise pure landscape of my TV room carpet, I think I’d almost rather go through the prenuptial rigamarole Kate is facing, including the pressure to conceive a healthy male on her wedding night.

On that note, you remember that when Diana and Charles got engaged, the Royal Doctors did a, uh-hum, purity test, right? So, Kate and William have been dating for a long, long time. Longer than many marriages. I’m just sayin’, this might be the time to get rid of that tradition. Because, honey, if they do a test and it comes back ‘thumbs up’, I’ll laugh myself silly.

I know why there hasn’t been a joyful royal marriage since Victoria and Albert. KoolAid. It’s littered the plush carpets of castles world-wide and driven otherwise sane women to the brink. Bad, bad KoolAid.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Boots, A Prequel

The story behind the reason I bought the black over-the-knee socks that turned out to be such a successful purchase:

I didn’t need a new pair of black boots. I have a pair of perfectly sensible black boots that have proven themselves in the snowiest, iciest days. They look acceptable, if not stunning, with skirts and work well with pants. I did not need a new pair of black boots.

But then I saw them. In a weak moment, I saw a pair of boots. These were not the low-heel, made-to-be-worn boots that sat in my mostly-beige closet. These were man-fantasy, spank-me boots, with 4 inch spike heels and buckles and zippers and an aura of clubby nights I hadn’t seen since, oh, wait, since never. I knew I should walk right by them. But I didn’t. I touched them. I looked at the brand. BCBG. I hadn’t even walked into that store since pre-children, and even then, I never bought anything. Nice girls do not shop at BCBG. I looked at my current outfit. Tommy Hilfiger Boyfriend jeans, cable knit blue sweater, loafers. I was one step away from Talbots. I grabbed the boots.

It took me awhile to figure out how to put them on. With my baby pulling other shoes off the racks, and customers giving me nasty looks when I failed to stop him, I zipped the last zipper and looked at my legs in the boots in the mirror. “These are not me,” I thought. And even as I pulled them off, I found myself grinning in a slightly lewd way.

I told myself to put them away, to not even think about buying them. And even as I told myself that, I saw myself walking toward the register, boots and baby in hand. As I waited my turn, I thought, “Put them down. You can’t carry a baby wearing those boots. How are you going to shlep groceries into the house? How are you going to drive to piano, Mad Science, playdates, in those boots? They’re totally wrong for suburban soccer moms.” After I had them in the sack, I thought, “I’ll just return them. They might work for Rihanna, but, honey, you’re no Rihanna.” These are not the boots of a woman who has had 4 children and truly enjoys bath time. They are the boots of a woman who has nothing saggy. They are the boots of a woman who knows how to dance to Ludacris, who may even know Ludacris. And yet, they are mine.

I haven’t worn them. I thought about wearing them to church and laughed and laughed and laughed. I showed them to my sisters and step-mum. They smiled politely. I know what they were thinking. “They’ll look great under your ratty old bathrobe.”

But I have a plan. Once a year I socialize with people who work with my husband. Every year, I wear conservative black pants and a festive-yet-understated sweater. This year? Oh, this year, I’m wearing boots.

Monday, November 15, 2010

She's Got Legs (Just Short Ones)

So, I buy this pair of socks from DSW. They say “Over the Knee Socks” and I think, ‘Great. A pair of socks that will go over my knee.” When I get home, I start to put one of the socks on. It’s got this cute little lace, black, at the top and I’m picturing how adorable they’ll be sitting over my knee, on top of some black boots, below my skirt. You can picture it, right? I’m thinking how stylish I’ll be, how non-soccer mom. And as I pull the sock up to my knee, I realize that it’s not done. So I pull it up to my thigh. And it keeps going. And going. And going. It’s like the Energizer Bunny. Pretty soon, it’s at the point where my leg stops and the sock still has material left to pull. Over the Knee translation: Over Iman’s knee and then some.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tooth Fairy and Other Mistakes

Santa Claus never forgets. The Easter Bunny never forgets. But that darn Tooth Fairy? How many times has she missed one of my children’s teeth? She always makes up for it, but, shoot, it’s not a fun adventure, wondering if she’ll come tonight, or wait a week.

We have friends who don’t get money from the tooth fairy if the tooth had a cavity. If I were a kid, I’d want the tooth back. You can’t have the tooth and the money, too, honey.

My kids get to choose: cash or a surprise. For Middle Daughter, that usually means candy. So far, no cavities, but we’re working on it. Her teeth are growing in so funky, she deserves all the solace she can get from other sources. One tooth is growing from the bottom of her gums in the back. She’s got big teeth and the first to come in took all the available real estate. I blame her father. She might have inherited her personality from me, but the mouth thing is all in her dad’s gene pool.

Youngest Child also has big teeth. With 8 teeth, his mouth is about full. On the good side, no one will beat him in a biting contest.

Youngest daughter swears she has 5 loose teeth. She does not have large teeth. Nor are they loose. Not any of them. That doesn’t stop her from walking around to each member of the family, making us try to wiggle her teeth. How do you tell her the truth when she’s staring at you with those hopeful brown eyes? “Keep wiggling it,” I tell her. I mean, eventually it will be loose, right? In a couple of years. Who knows? With enough candy, her teeth might come out earlier than expected.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

First Snow

It’s First Snow today. That’s one of the best days of my year. We still have yellow leaves on the ground because I’m morally opposed to raking (or morally opposed to getting my tookus into Ace to buy that leaf rake or morally opposed to actually making the effort to move the rake along the ground to put the leaves in a pile and then, even more work, to load them into a paper bag, take your pick.) But this year, I feel more prepared for winter. I have jars and jars of lovely apple things, all preserved and waiting for Winter Doldrums to set in. I have quilts upon beds, books upon shelves and outdoor projects mostly caught up. I even tore down the garden this year, leaving the soil bare with its drip hose coiling around itself, looking for something to water and finding, sigh, not even a snake or mouse in sight. I think the mice have moved indoors, but I’m waiting for Hal to set the traps. I could do it, but I don’t want to dirty my dainty hands.

The garage hasn’t been Winterized yet. That means I’ve got so much crud all over the ground that my car won’t fit. I could look at it as an opportunity to build my character by scraping the snow off the car, or I could look at it as God’s way of telling me to make cocoa and stay inside.

I’m inventing indoor projects to keep me occupied while the world outside hibernates. I have 3 years worth of pictures to 1) download 2) label 3) put in albums. That could take the better part of my remaining life span. Or, I could bequeath it to my children after my death with a poignant note about how busy they kept me and how I documented their lives but didn’t have time to organize the story. That way, I could make them cry with memories AND guilt. That gives me extra credit in Mommy School.

Most importantly, I’ve slipped nicely into Bulky Sweater Zone. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that Christmas Food coincides with Cable Knit. Then, comes January and Resolution Time, which means I have to fight for a parking spot at the gym, but it also allows for a few months to lose the extra bulge before Bikini season, which is not actually Bikini season for me, but more like 1930’s Swim Costume season. Still, it’s nice to be thinner before I put on the black tights and wool skirt.

Happy Snow to you and may all your Novembers be White.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


7 year old is now 8 year old. She’s never been a dainty thing, and she chose a Pirate theme for her party. It went along with her pirate costume for Halloween and, honestly, her pirate-y nature. Argh.

See the volcano cake? It was a problem-solving cake. Several of her friends don’t like chocolate, but Birthday Party Girl loves chocolate (can’t figure where she gets that from). So, the top half is all chocolate and the bottom half is nothing like chocolate. Of course it had real smoke, a la dry ice, spewing from the top. A pirate broke into our house, left a treasure map, and disappeared. The 10 giggling girls followed the clues to a treasure chest full of gold coins, jewels (silly bands) and skull-n-crossbones suckers.

We divided the loot evenly because that’s the way this pirate rolls. And then came the problem. We’d done all the stuff. Every single thing I had planned. And we still had 20 minutes. 20 minutes of sugar loaded girls with nothing to do sounds like a recipe for mayhem. So we turned off all the lights and I told the story of the Dread Pirate Roberts who stole the gold and jewels and then, in turn, had it stolen from him. It involved audience participation. It was made up on the spot (thank you, Princess Bride, for giving us the Dread Pirate Roberts.) Toward the end of the story, I thought, “Gee, how am I going to get out of this plot line?” Luckily, the doorbell rang, I wrapped the story up in a very cheap, non-scary way, and the girls skee-daddled.

And now, I’m done with parties for a few months. I always love them when they’re done. We’ve been doing on-the-cheap parties this year, and while I love the convenience of making a phone call to, say, Jungle Time, and having that be the total extent of my involvement in the party, there’s something rewarding about making plans, buying craft supplies, and inventing a story on the spot. And, since all the guests were older and well-known to our family, none of the parents stayed. I hate it when parents stay. Deeply, traumatically hate it. If you ever come to a kid party at my house, please just drop the child off. I promise they’ll be safe and I promise they’ll have more fun if you aren’t here. I’ll have more fun if you aren’t here. I love being with kids. It’s the parents I sometimes can’t stand.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tackling the Beast

Did you hear me roar? I am Woman, with a capital “W”. That’s after being a Dunce, with a capital “D”.

Somehow, a lovely black pen exploded in the dryer. When Oldest Daughter returned from a week long adventure in the mountains (will blog about that on a different day), I immediately, being the get-it-done sort of girl I am, threw every stitch of winter clothing she owned into the washer, then the dryer. Which means that every pair of jeans, every long-sleeved shirt, her fleece, her pillow case, every thing, had lovely black spots, which did not happen to match the clothing very well. And the dryer? Holy Dalmatian. You know those time-elapsed pictures of the stars? It was that, in miniature, all over the inside of the dryer.

I went online to find out how to remove the spots. All the information said, “Remove ink immediately. Do not dry first.”

Um, it was the drying that did it, Occum.

The clothes spent 2 days in a constant soak/rinse cycle with my new best friend, Biz (thank you, PWC for that tip). All but 3 shirts and one pair of pants came out of the last cycle looking a bit damp but non-inky. Then, I thought it was time to pull out the big guns.

First, I tackled the dryer. I found a great tip online: soak 2 white towels in a bleach/water mix and run them through the dryer. Repeat. This removed about 98% of the ink. The rest I scrubbed off with nail polish remover. Then, I threw the same towels, this time soaked only in water, into the dryer to clean up any residual bleach/nail polish remover. Except for a few lingering stains, you’d never know a ball point threw up in my dryer.

Then, the clothes. Again, I pulled out the nail polish remover, which I had to buy since I don’t actually paint my nails much. On Sunday, I spent about 2 hours dab-dab-dabbing. Luckily, House Hunters International was on. I daydreamed about my house in Fiji (I’d pick the Balinese style with 3 outbuildings) while getting high on legal fumes. The pants and one shirt didn’t fare so well. I think they dipped themselves in bleach while I wasn’t looking. I call that a small price to pay for the salvation of the rest of the clothes.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Spumoni, spumoni,

My one and only.

Pistachio and cherry

from my ice cream fairy.

Chocolate to top it all

You’re better than the Great Wall

of China

Nothing is finah.

I would eat you any time.

I honor you with this rhyme.

With or without the rum flavoring

To you, my frozen yummy, I sing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Becoming Irritated

I watched Becoming Jane last night. Hal was out of town and I thought I’d watch a good, sappy love story.

I hate that movie.

In my head, I knew Jane Austen never married. In my head, I knew the whole Pride and Prejudice ending wouldn’t work for her. And yet. And yet, Hollywood takes so many liberties, why not just one more? Why not add a note at the end, “And Tom’s wife died, so he ran back to Jane and they lived together in love and irony for the rest of their lives, which were long and happy?” I don’t watch movies for reality. If I wanted reality, I’d pay attention to my family. I watch movies for escapism, and my escapism demands a happy ending. And, no, the fact that he named his oldest daughter Jane doesn’t make it better. It makes him creepy. Don’t name your children after ex-loves. That’s rude.

Here’s another thing about movies. The whole “sultry man look”, you know, where he glares appealingly into the camera, looking dangerous, sensual and masculine, yeah, well, that doesn’t work in real life. If Hal tried to give me one of those looks, I think I’d laugh until I peed.

One more complaint about the movie. Where were the bad teeth? I like English people. Some of my best friends are British (that’s a joke for Sean), but they have notoriously bad dental hygiene. And yet, this movie that insisted on tearing my heart out and stomping on it because that’s what happened in “real life”, that same movie had Crest smiles on every single person, including Random Old People. If you’re gonna be real, be real, ya know?

On a good note, I did not find Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy) attractive. I kept thinking “Hobbit”. He’s the guy who played Tumnus in Narnia, and I think he would have made a good Bilbo Baggins. Although, in all fairness, this does NOT go on my list of “Ugly Naked Man” movies. Naked, yes. But not enough hair, not enough fat, not enough ugly to be on the list. I should write to the two naked butt men from the movie to let them know that. That will make them happy, I think.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jay-Z and Me

I’m listening to Jay-Z’s Forever Young feat. Mr. Hudson. I’m doing laundry--the 7th batch this week. Toddler One helps by pulling the recently dried clothes out of the hamper and putting them in the garbage. It’s Autumn and I’m feeling melancholy today. I’m thinking about the olden days, back before Wii and DVDs. Forever Young is a song of my youth. Both songs with that title are, although I never was in favor of Rod Stewart.

It isn’t that I want to even know any of the people from my High School. I’d like to know that they’re doing well, mostly, and that Serious Boyfriend did not, in fact, become gay. I think it would be yet another affront on my feminine charms to know that an ex-love-of-my-life chose men over me.

I’m not feeling old. I’m just not feeling young. I huff, now, when I bend over to pick something up. When did I start huffing? I don’t recall huffing when I was 20.

Forever young? I’d be happy to be forever-not-so-creaky. I wonder if Jay-Z would sample that? He’d have to change the lyrics a bit.

“...and the Kool-Aid is always cold

and the music is always Wiggles

And the soccer moms just happen to stop by in the hood

And they hop their saggy butts up on the seat of that minivan.

With lots of wrinkles in today cuz there’s no tomorrow

just a picture perfect day that last a whole lifetime and it never ends...”

I love my life. Wouldn’t go back to being (shudder) 17 for anything in the world. I wouldn’t change places with any 20-something, no matter how Sex and the City her life may be. But Autumn makes me remember not only the past year, but all the past years (which are many), and with Jay-Z playing illicitly on my computer, you’ll have to forgive me for being a bit droopy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

After Apple Pickiing

When we lived in Massachusetts, we had a ritual. On the first Saturday of October, we would bundle up in cable knit sweaters and thick socks and go apple picking. Our oldest daughter, only a baby at the time, would sit in her backpack and gnaw on apples as Hal and I filled a bushel of different varieties. We'd top it off with apple donuts and fresh, hot, apple cider before heading home to make sauce, butter, pie and chips. I miss those times. Fall is, by far, my favorite season. I would give two summers for one good Autumn. I love the smell of winter closing in, leaves mulching on the garden and moist earth preparing to sleep for a few months. In honor of the season, I'm posting a poem by that quintessential New Englander, Robert Frost.

After Apple Picking

by Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still.
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples; I am drowsing off.
I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the water-trough,
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and reappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
That rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking; I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall,
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised, or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Girl Quit Playing

We’ve entered a new phase. It’s the “hang out” phase.

“What do 11 year olds do when they get together?” a very astute friend asked me. My answer? “I have no idea. I guess we’re about to find out.”

I’m trying to encourage my sweet 11 year old to open her circle of friends. She has playdates with a group of 4 other girls, and they are, except one, weird. One is so painfully shy that, when she finally answered a question I asked, after I’d known her for 9 months, had her at our house, taken her to the Butterfly Pavilion and Percy Jackson, all this, and when she finally answered a question directly, without whispering the answer to Oldest Daughter, I felt like Superman after he turned the world back. Successful, but oh, so tired. Another is the Magical Creatures Queen. She and 11 year old are sorceresses, demi-gods, witches, etc, all with an elaborate set of rules that I’ve stopped trying to understand. And what happens if you use a magical word wrong around Friend #2? She corrects you. With a very long, detailed explanation. A third friend hasn’t bathed since 3rd grade. The fourth friend, who never was weird, recently dropped the group in favor of “hanging out” with girls who bathe, do not play the 6th grade version of D&D, and who actually use their verbal skills. I don’t care much for some of the words I’ve heard that group use (example: 11 year old girl to 11 year boy, “I’m a girl and I can prove it!”) So, it isn’t that I really want her to move to those friends. I’d just like to see her extend her friendship to girls who speak loudly enough that I can hear, use words I understand, and don’t grease up my house just by walking through it.

So today, New 11 Year Old Friend has come over. And the answer to the Sphinx’s riddle?

11 year olds give each other makeovers, cook rock candy, and microwave frozen spring rolls when they get hungry.

And they don’t need me around.

Except to clean up, because now there’s peppermint candy all over my floor and the blender is being filled with what I think will become a peppermint chocolate chip shake, assuming they remember to put the lid on.

And kudos to me for not reminding them to put the lid on.

Because I do remember being 11, and one thing is very clear. 11 Year Olds may need Mother Figure to buy the food, but they do not need Mother Figure to speak unless spoken to. She must not make jokes, use slang, listen to music or talk about people 11 year olds know.

Ooops. Hope 11 year old doesn’t read this.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Death Knell

I’m letting all of you know in case you’re the one to make the decision. You can call this my “living will” or my “directive to health care providers” or you can call it a painful topic you’d rather not read about. Since you are my dearest, closest friends, and may be called upon to determine how my life ends, I’m letting you know now.

First of all, I do not want any song from any Andrew Lloyd Weber production to be played at my funeral. Now, I’m a sucker for Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, but I do not want “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” or “Close Every Door” or “Jellicle Cats” sung to my cold dead body. I want my grandpa to sing, but since he’s already dead, I’d rather have Maori dancers. I love Maori dancers. In my next life, I want to be a Maori dancer.

Second, I do not want ham or funeral potatoes. I know people going through an emotionally charged event need sustenance. So make spring rolls together, or press grapes with your feet, or do some other communal food making project, but don’t serve pig and spuds. Ham and funeral potatoes sounds alternately cannibalistic and like you’re trying to hurry my friends to heaven through heart disease.

Third, I’d prefer to be buried without the titanium crypt, thank you very much. The thought of having my body stuck underground in a metal box makes me want to join an ashram in India. I like the thought of my body providing nutrients to other living things. Like grass that feeds cows who then provide milk for the President. But if you can’t get around the whole box thing, make it as biodegradable as you can. Even if it means you have to hold a secret burial in Montana. Stupid government safety regulations.

Fourth, and final, I do not want my fingernails painted. And leave the garden dirt under my nails. Seriously, maggots grow out of a dead body so soon, it seems silly to clean me up too much just to pile dirt on me.

One last note, and this is serious. If I have a month to live, let me know. And I’ll choose not to have the radiation. If I have one month, I don’t want to spend it in the hospital. Give me drugs to help with pain and let me die at home. Or, better yet, on a mountain top. I really, really love mountains.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

She Works Hard For It, Honey

My life is so harrowing. I actually had to listen to men work on the roof of my house today. I was terrified, I tell you, hearing them walk around like they weren’t 3 stories up without a safety net. I thought about asking them to walk quieter, but then I realized that would involve me actually getting my rump off the couch, and I just couldn’t do it. I thought loudly to the worker men, although they don’t seem to be tuned in to my thought waves.

We’re getting a new roof. It’s lighter than the old one--not in weight, because how would I know that, honestly? In color. All things being equal, I probably would have chosen the black roof because that’s how I feel on the inside, ha ha, but it turns out that a lighter roof lasts a few years longer. A few years longer than the 30-40 years this new one should last, anyway.

I have a long list of things I ought to do today. Fold kid underwear is among them. But I just can’t be bothered. Instead, I did valuable things like downloading books from Itunes and soaking my gym-sore muscles in a hot bath. I haven’t even bothered to brush my hair, not that anyone would notice, anyway, because I sort of have that fried-at-the-end look going. And roots. Nice, brown roots. Well, brown except for the increasingly large percentage of white roots.

Know what I’d really like to do today? Lay on a blanket in the backyard, soaking up the perfect 70 degree weather. Except, we’re getting a new roof. And it feels a bit creepy to lay out, even fully dressed, when we have 5 men in steel-toed boots climbing up and down ladders. Sort of Misery-creepy. Sort of old-white-lady-looking-for-a-hoochie-man creepy.

Besides, I’d have to move my body, and I really, really don’t feel like moving again.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Give Me The Beet, Boy

What do you do with 40 lbs. of potatoes and 30 lbs. of beets? Fry them, of course. Being as how we don’t have a root cellar, we opted for grease. Once upon a time, we had a good friend and pseudo-relative who worked for Frito-Lay. He said that once you tasted a chip fresh from the fryer, you’d never eat them from a bag again. I don’t know if that jingle would work for advertising, but I think he’s right. I’m imagining fresh chips with barbecue seasoning, ranch seasoning, rosemary, chipotle, maple... I may need a Fry Daddy. 70 lbs. total, you know.

Here’s what we had for lunch. Remember, I had to match the potato and beet chips. We had hot dogs and M&M’s. I’m calling it “protein” and “little chocolate pills of joy”. My sister hates M&M’s (plain). How can you hate M&M’s? They’re candy coated yumminess. I usually eat one at a time, but today I was downing them by the handfuls. I’m not sure how that fits into the “lose last 3 lbs. of baby fat” regimen, but maybe it’ll all go to muscle. If it does, if this sneaky new diet gives me abs that can crush walnuts, I’ll get M&M tattooed on my tummy. It’ll be so rock-solid that I might even wear a bikini to show off the tattoo. Although probably not, because no amount of muscle hides the pasty-whiteness of my constantly-covered-regions.

What would you do with 30 lbs. of beets?

Sunday, September 26, 2010


The 11 year old is making up poetry as she washes dishes. “They went to sea in sieve, sieve, sieve. And so you see, my dear, they did not live, live, live.” Hooray for the poetry. I apologize now if my child becomes a writer. Who needs another Anne Rice?

I have not got on board with the whole Twilight thing. Partly because the books hit while I was still mourning Harry Potter and I didn’t feel like rushing into a new relationship. Partly, now, out of rebellion. I want to be the only woman on earth who is not in love with a vampire. Or a werewolf.

The baby’s first word was “book”. He also barks, but I don’t think he’s a werewolf. He’s not hairy enough. He brings us books, sits on our lap and points. He also says, “Bob,” whenever he sees anything furry. Thanks, Sandra Boynton.

I’ve been reading very depressing books lately and I need to stop. Maybe I should switch over to Twilight. I’ve read Little Bee, which begins horrifically and then declines. It’s well written, which makes it even harder to sleep at night. I’m reading Tales of a Female Nomad, which isn’t horrible, but it also doesn’t make me happy. It’s a true story of a woman who, funny enough, becomes a nomad. I actually hate the woman herself. She leaves her newly-adult children and her aging parents to travel among indigenous people. Maybe I’m just jealous. I did re-read Princess Bride, but it wasn’t as funny as I remember it being. Maybe it’s just been too long since I’ve seen Cary Elwes.

What I need is a smart, well-written, not-trying-to-teach-you-anything book. Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stuff You Missed

I’ve been painting. That’s why I haven’t answered the phone, the door or the voices in my head. I’m too busy. I’ve painted walls, ceilings and trim. I hate ceilings. In my next house, we’re going to have glass ceilings with automatic cleaners. Of course, if you walked into my house, you wouldn’t notice. No one notices but me. Does this make me crazy? All this painting so that I can feel better about my circa ’70’s house? If it doesn’t make me nuts, then the paint that has dripped into my eyeballs from the ceiling will certainly make me blind. Blind and nuts. Alms, anyone?

While I’ve been soaking up paint fumes, I’ve discovered a new favorite podcast. Stuff You Missed In History Class, from Free to those of us with the ability to click “subscribe.” At first, I thought, “Wow, who knew I was such a history buff? Who knew I had this latent cool streak in me?” Then I realized that it isn’t about the histories. It’s about the stories. I love stories. So, I’m not so cool. But I do know a lot about the Medici, the molasses spill in Boston, the Romanovs, Oscar Wilde, the caning of Charles Sumner... Oh, I’m so well-rounded. There’s one episode I suggest you skip, though. I’m telling you this as friend who’s been there. Don’t listen to the real story of Bluebeard. I thought he was a pirate. Nope, not a pirate. Not even close. Don’t listen to it. You’ll cry and you’ll be miserable and you’ll hate all men by association. And you’ll hug your sweet little babies until they roll their eyes at you and ask if they can please move to another, less needy family. Seriously.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Product Placement

I’m sure you’re as outraged as I am. You know what I’m talking about. The new Gatorade ads. If you are, as I am, forced to watch various sports on TV, you will have probably seen them. For those of you with eyes too tender for football, I’ll explain. The commercials start off with black and white clips of sports in days of yore. (What does ‘yore’ mean? I mean, I know what it means, but what’s the OED on it?) The voice over describes how Gatorade revolutionized Sport by allowing athletes to go longer, harder, faster.
Yes, that’s right. Gatorade is claiming credit for improving athlete performance.
Please. Everyone knows that steroids deserve that Hall of Fame spot.
I need Mother Steroids. Today, Just Started Kindergarten refused to a walk to school. I couldn’t drive them because Naps in the Morning had just fallen asleep, and you know the saying, “Let sleeping dogs and babies lie.” I heard her outside for 7 minutes, crying and refusing to walk, because she couldn’t find her bag of chocolate Cheerios I’d given her for a snack today. It’s Field Day, so all rules are off. Instead of chocolate, she had to take an emergency bag of plain oat and sugar Cheerios. And she was mad. I’d told her to focus on the joyful things of the day: playing outside all day, lunch out with Mom and older Sister, popsicles after Field Day...
But we’re still in the throes of First Month, and this has been a monster for her. I don’t think she’s used her normally sweet voice once since school began. She has, however, thrown things, bitten, scratched and clawed. Yesterday, Oldest Responsible One slammed in the door and said, “I’m never walking her home from school again. She clawed my arm because I tried to hold her hand.” Apparently, Out of Control decided she didn’t need to move her feet.
I understand tired. I know this time will end. But, if Gatorade really wanted to help the world, it would create First Month of School Fuel. For kids and moms.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite new products. (And if anyone would like to send me a freebie for giving away valuable advertising like this, I won’t turn it down.)

  1. Cleaner: Pledge Multisurface. I cleaned my stainless steel finger-print decorated appliances, granite countertops, wood cabinet faces, computer and TV in less time than it took my kids to re-decorate the fridge with their cherubic prints. Spray, wipe, done. And, the one I have is Lavender Fresh, which means you can no longer smell the nasty old potatoes I’m culturing in the pantry.
  2. Fixer: Old English scratch cover for dark woods. Some youngster, who will remain nameless, carved his name in our piano. I know he did it because who else in the world would graffiti a piano by writing Wyatt? A bit of Old English and you can’t see it. Not to mention that portion of the room now smells like a dark sitting room with wood paneling and heirloom lace.
  3. Just For Me: Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus and Spearmint sugar scrub. I’ve been sniffing my elbows all day, plus also, my skin is now soft-as-a-baby’s-bottom. Thank you, Santa, and all the lotions you gave me. After returning them to the store, they magically turned into this luscious treat.
  4. After school snack: 10 minutes to make, I call it a protein, and I’m a hero. I believe the phrase I heard was, “Wow, you’re the best mom in the whole wide universe!” Here’s the recipe:


1 C sugar

1 C Karo Syrup

1 1/2 C peanut butter

5 C chocolate Cheerios

Melt first 3 ingredients, add Cheerios, and lick the pan.

I’m also updating with pictures of my favorite place. Coming soon: pictures of my favorite park. I could seriously spend all day here. With or without kids. Which would make me creepy if I were a man but because I’m a woman it makes me a “naturalist.”

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Library Lovin

All Boy and I went to baby story time at the library. Story time, as in “oh, the stories we have to tell if we go.” Once upon a time in Arlington, I met a dear friend at story time. Our two sweet girls would sing choo-choo songs, apple picking songs, teeth brushing songs, (but not Twinkle Star songs because her daughter had some issues with that particular lullaby.) We’d nurse, or sing, or roll our arms to Wheels on the Bus, and, in general, a grand time was had by all.

I have a feeling I will not meet any kindred spirits at this story time.

First, my son greets other babies by smacking them on the face. For some reason, this causes concern in the other mothers and they whisk their precious First Born children off to be protected and petted. Rather than being offended by this, my Last Born sees it as the perfect way to make sure that the basket of musical instruments and cuddly disease ridden stuffed animals remains all his.

Second, I’m rather tired of asking people what their precocious and brilliant babies are doing. I’m afraid my nasty side will bust out and I’ll say something like, “Really? Only sleeping 12 hours at night? I heard about that syndrome on NPR...” Also, I hate little babies who have things stuck on their heads. If they’ve got hair, great, do something to get it out of their eyes if you’re so inclined. But if they’re bald, leave the stupid headband off the poor kid. (Hal calls them baby garters.) Any day now, my opinion on this vital issue is likely to come spewing out of my mouth so I’m trying to keep my mouth shut very tight. Besides the hair thing, I’ve seen babies in low rise and straight leg jeans. Really? You think that’s a good look for diapered butts? And exactly what is your clothing budget for that child? Because I could do a whole lotta good with that money. You can see why I need to clamp my mouth, right?

Friday, September 3, 2010

I Have a Picture

Growing Up Too Fast now has a vocabulary. He barks when he sees anything furry, he says ‘boo’, ‘Mama’, ‘book’ and ‘uh-oh.’ I’m waiting for him to say, “Yes, Queen of the World, most beautiful mother, I would truly love to weed the garden for you.”

I’ve had a subtle request from a distant friend to post new pictures. I thought the stunning neighbors were enough to do for awhile, but apparently not. I’ve tried to find the snake, but it’s camera shy. So, I’m posting before and after shots. Not of me. No one needs to see me before or after. I’m posting some pictures of my true love, my child who never argues, although it is often headstrong and willful. My garden. The before is in January, my “don’t clean up for the season” method of gardening. I’m going to say that the dead plants add structural interest in an otherwise grey monotony. The other picture is the living garden. I did have a tomato spring up voluntarily. Which may be my new method of gardening. The “close your eyes and hope the good plants pop back up” method.

My neighbor is German. She rakes her yard every week. When the snow falls, she spreads it in an even layer over her yard. She can’t help herself. She loves me, but I’m also the bane of her existence. I’m striving for an English garden look to the front yard, which currently means that the daisies bloom like mad for a month and then the dandelions take over. I figure, eventually one or the other will win without my interference. The other day, my German friend said, “That’s right, Mama, just keep pulling out the weeds. You’ll get an English garden that way.” That’s her gentle way of saying, “Pull the stupid weeds, you lazy butt.”