Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Catch up

I had a whole great entry written and ready to go and now I can't find it. Those of you who know me are shocked, I know. So here it is 11 p.m. and I have this urge to write, because I also drank way too much coffee this afternoon and am going to be up for quite awhile. The Keurig is now neck and neck with the slow cooker for Appliances I Love Just A Little Too Much. I'm pretty sure eventually I'm going to find a way to mainline caffeine and then I will be unstoppable.

Anyway, right. My missing entry. I have no idea what happened to it and the computer isn't that big, folks. So bang, bang, here come the bullets.

*Today was an absolutely gorgeous day out. We spent it inside because the girls were not quite well enough to go out. They were, however, well enough to bounce off the walls and make each other crazy, which in turn made me crazy, which lead to a downward spiral of Wonderpets, copious amounts of coffee and the desire to forgo the "24 hours fever/puke free!" rule and just send her to preschool already.

*Lest you think Mary was totally the problem in the above scenario, she wasn't. It wasn't about getting her out of the house, it was about separating the Danger Twins so the madness would end. How you can be too sick to want to eat anything more than dry cornflakes and yet well enough to run around the house screaming like a banshee is beyond me.

*I can run a 5k in just about 30 minutes. I cannot, however, do 32 traditional situps at all, never mind in less than a minute, and this bothers me. I am contemplating sitting the civil service exam in August for my city and in order to pass the physical test, it's 32 hardcore, hands behind your head-elbows to the knees-your spine is going to have its own out of body experience situps. In 60 seconds or less. I am trying to accomplish this and I am going to die.

*I am resolving to find one local, fun, cheap thing each week to do with the girls. In theory we will be exploring lots of exciting places, but knowing me I'm going to forget I wrote this and call it good if we make it to Open Gym without someone losing a limb.

*My neighbors asked if I wouldn't mind signing for a package they were expecting. So around noon a bassinet arrived. Mary and Anna eyed it. I explained it was for Auntie Jess, that it was a present for (the soon to be arriving) Baby Ginny. Mary squealed asked if the baby would be cute. I assured her she would be. Anna eyed the box. "That's Baby Ginny?" Birds and the Bees fail.

*I thought Lily was going to love baby food but I've tried a couple of kinds with her and she acts like I'm trying to poison her. Lest you think she's not ready, she grins when she sees the spoon, she opens her mouth for said spoon...and then she looks at me with what I can only describe as disappointment. "Really, mother?" What baby doesn't like sweet potatoes?

*I did our taxes last night. We're getting a decent return. It's immediately going to bills. I got a Target gift card as a tip after a party I ran and spent some of it on toothpaste and  kids' body wash.

Being a grown up is so exciting.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Moms don't get sick days

The older girls are sick. I had hoped the stomach bug that every other kid in our area has would pass us by, but this morning started with me throwing sheets into the washing machine on "Sanitary" and Lysol-ing the bathroom, so I am guessing we're the lucky new ones. I keep telling myself that relatively close by, there's a town dealing with a whooping cough resurgence (and really? That's an entirely different post) and I should count my blessings, but when you're doing laundry before dawn, that's a hard perspective to keep.

That's all the particulars I'll give. No one wants a standing record of sickness in detail. I will say, however, that sickness has an interesting way of completely inverting personality. For instance, Mary, who doesn't know the meaning of "slow down" or "quiet time" stayed in bed until almost 10 a.m. I offered to set her up on the couch with a blanket and a movie (Anna was already deep into Toy Story 3 at that point) but she quietly (!) said "No thank you, I'll stay here" and did, for several hours past normal wake time.

Anna was also physically subdued, a combination of feeling gross and not eating much as a result, but was oddly chatty with me. Mostly, we re-capped the early morning grossness until she was done talking about it, but she also wanted to have elaborate dialogues with Little People as the medium and play with all of Lily's toys (which I was loathe to let her do. I am clinging to a faint hope that somehow, Lily will not be next on the list).

I was queasy but holding on well. Which was good, because the littlest member of the household was not willing to tow the party line and sit quietly. Lily is teething, so today was round after round of hand chewing, sniffling and power-napping. Not much downtime in there for me, so I did our taxes (I know, I know, you can't stand the excitement).

That was this afternoon. By the end of the day, I was feeling much woozier but Mary and Anna were perking up. Tim gave them chicken noodle soup. Mary asked for seconds cheerfully, but we opted to hold off and see how things went. I was optimistic. There was no stomach bug, just something they ate. Maybe it was that garlic bread. Maybe they just ate too much the night before. Maybe it was some 24 hour thing. Maybe -

"Daddy, my tummy hurts."

The last time she said that to me, I made the mistake of asking "What do you mean? How does it hurt?" and the results were disgusting. Parenting 101: Don't ask why, reach for a bowl and pray.

The long journey past bedtime has just begun.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pancakes and lions and cars, oh my!

I wasn't sure I was going to have a blog this weekend as the older girls are with my parents until tomorrow, but I should have known better. I spent today catching up on sleep as the baby would allow, running and working a party that wound up involving some situations far above my pay grade. And I get to go back tomorrow!

When I left the girls last night they were so excited they could barely say goodbye to me. The prospect of new pajamas, pizza for dinner and Ring Pops (candy and jewelry and food dye!) was far more interesting than anything I had to offer. (Leftovers! No TV! The same old bedtime!)

Today they apparently woke up bright and early and ate their blueberry pancakes with gusto. Then Mom tells me they went to the playground, where Anna made short work of a rock climbing wall and then wandered off to drive the big pretend car on the other end of the playground. Mom looked over and saw Anna with one hand on the wheel, looking over her shoulder to the empty backseat and shaking her little right index finger.

"Quiet! Quiet back there!"

Mother of the year? Why thank you! All the while Skipper the deaf West Highland Terrier was following Mary around the playscape, climbing stuff after her and apparently getting stuck on platforms. I have no comment.

From there it was a hike in the woods and home for a snack and a nap. By this time it was well past normal nap time and Mary was handling that perfectly, which of course means not at all. She wanted to take a collective six million toys and books to bed with her, which was a big negative from Mimi. Which Mary handled about as well as you'd expect.

"My MUDDER lets me take toys and books to bed!" (Yeah, no.)

"So if I called your mommy right now she would tell me that?" Mary decided to split the odds.

"Well, maybe," she sniffled.

"Let's just go to bed, Mary."

"MAYBE YOU SHOULD CALL MY MUDDER!" And with that she flipped herself under the sheet, refused to come out and fell asleep for the next two hours. Anna, who generally seems to run on no sleep, sugar and daydreams, was also out cold.

When I called after work they were just settling down for The Lion King (optimistically called "theatre night" at Casa Mimi) and popcorn. They'll probably be up until 9 p.m. at this rate.

Well, what are grandparents for?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trot trot to Boston

Yesterday Tim had about six different appointments in Boston and decided to take Mary with him. She was totally jazzed to have "a date with daddy," and meet up for lunch with Uncle Brian.

I dressed Mary that morning in a cute but comfortable outfit, knowing she was going to be seeing some of Tim's former employers and other important people, and braided her hair in a "daddy proof" style (Tim has many fine talents but he'll never be a hairdresser). I reminded Tim of the basics: "You are seeing your doctor, don't give her anything sticky or messy that you can't clean up before!" and sent a gleeful preschooler out into the freezing January morning.

By about 1 p.m., Homegirl had wized up to the fact that a "date" consisting of driving around in the car and visiting various universities, schools and doctors was, in fact, a pretty dull time. She was behaving well but Tim could see the end of her rope was coming soon. So she went back home with Uncle Brian (who lives about a half an hour outside Boston, much easier than driving all the way home) until Tim was done with his remaining appointments.

The phone rang around 3:30. My brother in law.

"So, um, I have a question," he said.

"Yes?" I'm concerned, my mind jumping from possibility to possibility. Mary fell down and got seriously injured. Mary had an accident (and though I know I should, I hardly ever remember spare clothes anymore because she's been good with the bathroom for more than two years at this point). Mary managed to "love" Nana's sweet but neurotic greyhound into a nervous breakdown. Mary bit the mailman. Who the heck knows?

"Mary got Play Doh in her sleeve and I'm not sure how to get it out."


"I told Mary you were probably going to kill me," he said. My neuroses with my kids' clothes are well known at this point, but really, if you were trying to make one Gymboree outfit last through three sisters, you'd be a nut, too. But really? I was just happy she was having fun and that I wasn't getting an overtired preschooler back after another couple of hours in the car. So, $10 shirt vs. crying child.

"You know, it should just wash out when I do the laundry," I said. "Don't worry about it."

Meanwhile, Anna and Lily were home with me and Anna especially was reveling in the one on one attention. She even took a decent nap for me, which is getting harder and harder to accomplish lately. Mary came home right around dinner time, happy but exhausted, and slept until 7 a.m. today instead of her usual cheery 5:45.

She needs to go with Daddy more often.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sno' more

Last Friday, we got some snow. On Saturday, we got a lot more. Mary woke up, saw the snow on the ground and immediately wanted to go outside. Which meant it was time to bite the bullet and get serious about finding her some snow boots.

I called the kids' consignment store nearby and asked if they had any snow boots in size 11 or 12 toddler (my kid has big feet), for either gender.

"We have size 1," the woman on the other end of the line said. For those of you not familiar, toddler shoe sizes go up to a 13, kid starts at 1, so we're talking boots three sizes too big. I decline politely and decide to head to the Target 20 minutes away in hopes that that store has something left in her size.

The second I got on the road I realized nothing was plowed and that the Target five minutes away was going to take about 20 minutes to reach, so I went there, praying I had missed something the day before. The boot aisle was almost empty. There were, however, tons and tons of toddler boots in size 7 and 8. I grabbed a pair for Anna because for $4, who wanted to chance the ones at home didn't fit. I was almost plowed over by a woman with a kid easily in third grade who was insisting he check out the boots.

"Go, Joey, go!" she urged him, giving me a suspicious look as if I might have the only boots not elfin sized stashed under my coat.

"Mommy, these are all way too small for me," I heard him say as I left.

"Just keep looking!" Well, points for determination, you crazy woman. The snow was falling faster and I gave up, went to the consignment store and bought the huge boots. They're actually really nice, which is good, since Mary will be wearing them until she's my age.

Return home, present children with boots, Mary screams in delight and drags Tim outside. Anna stares at me.

"Do you want to try on your boots, honey?"

"No fanks."

"You need them to play in the snow. Don't you want to go play with Daddy and Mary in the snow?"

"No fanks," she said, climbing up on the couch. I should have known. Last year we tried to get her to play in the snow at my parents' and she cried until my mother picked her up. I joined her on the couch and we watched Mary flail around in the falling snow like a Weeble. Anna got into my lap. "I just wanna watch."

That's my girl. Sunday, Mary once again pulled Tim out the front door, determined to make "a snow girl." (Snow girls, I am told, have eyelashes.) Anna once again refused to go outside, preferring to launch a running commentary from the front window. ("I see them! Dey throwin' snowballs!" "Do you want to go out, too?" "No fanks.") Today it was almost 60 degrees out and I thought she would be thrilled. Instead, she got really upset the snow was gone. Now that she couldn't have it, she wanted it.

Yeah, that's my girl.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Miss Anna Beans

Anna, aka Anna Beans, has been a classic "middle child" since before she knew she was going to be a big sister, that is, completely unpredictable and lovably wild. If I had one parenting-related ability, I think I would choose the opportunity to spend some time inside her head, because she's only two and change and she cracks me up on a regular basis.

For one, she'd have a heck of a future as a litigator. She tries her hardest to convince me to do her bidding, sometimes with success (who can resist that face?), but more often than not in vain. A few days ago, we dropped Mary off at school and I asked Anna if she wanted to go to Target.

"First we get a donut," she said confidently.

"No, no donut today," I said.

"But why? Just one," she wheedled.

"No donut, hon," I said.

"..." she paused. "...Don't you want coffee?"

Or today, naptime. Mary is fast asleep after insisting that there was no way she could ever nap, ever, and Anna is playing quietly on her bed, determined to outlast everyone.

"Mama, is it time to get up now?"


"You sure?"

"Goodnight, Anna."

Two minutes goes by.

"Mama, is it timeta get upnow?"

"No, Anna."

"Say yes. If you say yes, we'll have fun! Yes?"

"Goodnight, Anna."

Eventually I gave up - Tim came home early today and there's no keeping her calm when Daddy's around so it became a moot point.

Usually, no nap for Mary or Anna means I have a crying, freaking out mess of a kid on my hands by dinnthe overtime, but so far, Anna's outlasted her fatigue and has resorted to out and out randomness. She walked up to the coffee table and plunked down no less than five Little People animals (we have Little People issues in this house. We have the zoo, and Noah's Ark, and just about every vehicle they make, so we wind up with situations like there being crocodiles in the nativity and flamingos in the doll house). Two were jaguars. She quietly made them walk up and down the table next to each other, talking to herself quietly, making one animal speak to the other. I listened harder.

"I going to eat you up. I going to eat you up. Ahaha, I going to eat. you. up!"

When she caught me looking at her she grinned and moved her animals, now including a zebra (dessert?) to the piano, where they began what I assumed was another death march. This time she began singing.

"Dear Jesus, I love you, I love you so much." Touching, though given her pretend play last week it was hard to tell if she was referring to our actual Lord and Savior or herself. Neither would surprise me. (As an aside, today "Baby Jesus" did all this and more while wearing a bright striped shirt and a pair of bright purple overalls with donuts embroidered on them which she insists on calling her "donut pants."

And now all of her animals are on the couch, in the Christmas train, fast tracking it away from "da ghost!" and probably ruining my slipcover somehow.

If she ever writes a play, I want to read it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Last night Anna had a night terror. She's had them before, but this was by far the worst and longest lasting and I felt awful for her.

For the link-phobic, a night terror essentially happens when a child doesn't stay asleep between sleep stages, but also doesn't wake fully. They can scream, thrash, and appear awake, but aren't really conscious and will have no memory of what happened when they come out of it. The worst part from a parental perspective is there is literally nothing you can do to stop a sleep terror once it starts. If you hold them, they push away from you and try to throw themselves out of your arms. If you try to talk to them, they might scream more, or ignore you, or perceive the sound as a threat and holler "no! no!" You can also prolong the incident by doing this.

Normally, Anna's "terrors" are mild - she wakes up fussing and crying but it passes in a couple of minutes, you can give her a sip of water or milk and put her back to bed. Last night she started crying and when it became apparent she wasn't just fussing we said "okay, she's having a night terror, let her alone and she'll come out of it" like we usually do. This time, she thrashed and flipped herself over the bedrail, landing on the floor before anyone could catch her.

I tried to hold her but it became obvious that wasn't going to help anything. My mother in law was still in the house and she couldn't believe it. Really, you can't believe what's going on unless you see it. I wound up moving the coffee table out of the way and laying her on the living room floor (where she couldn't hurt herself) until she woke up, at which point she sat up, held up her arms, called "mama" and asked for a drink. A few sips of milk and she said she wanted to go to bed, where she slept peacefully until 7.  She was genuinely perplexed to fully wake and find herself in the living room with three adults standing around her.

The worst feeling in the world is seeing your child scared or in pain and knowing there's nothing you can do to make it better. At one point I was literally sitting on my hands because I wanted so badly to hold her and comfort her, but every time I tried it just made things worse. I prayed. I sang to her. I put on music. Because even though at that point I knew nothing was going to stop until her body physically stopped itself, I couldn't just do nothing. I unloaded the dishwasher. I helped put Mary and Lily back to bed, both of whom woke up over the course of events. I pulled out my sleep books to confirm I was, in fact, not being a horrible parent by doing what I knew I had to do. And I still felt bad about it. Some days, it's never enough.

The book says kids will eventually outgrow sleep terrors and won't be traumatized by it. Until then, we're to give her a consistent, relaxing bedtime routine and avoid disruptions to her sleep cycle. But it's still a crapshoot. Too tired? Not tired enough? Stressed? (What stresses a two and a half year old, anyway?) Genetic link? There are a million ways to wonder what you're doing wrong, why your toddler isn't sleeping properly.

True to the book, Anna woke up this morning sunny and cheerful, the only reminder of her night a slightly hoarse voice. She jumped on my bed and snuggled with me, her ice cold feet (child will. not. wear. socks.) a somewhat unwelcome "good morning!" but I was so glad to see her back to her happy self.

So far it's been a good day. I'm hoping for an equally peaceful night.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rummage Sale

Mary did not get boots in time for the snow but that turned out to be okay because despite her really wanting to get out and play, between a play date this morning, ballet class in the afternoon and a pretty decent meltdown after that, there wasn't time. We also only got a couple of inches - not enough to make a snowman, but enough to necessitate clearing the driveway. As I type this, my husband is trying to get the snow blower started for the first time this season and to his credit, I am hearing the machine sputter, cough and refuse to start but am not hearing loud, violent cursing (which, ladies and gentlemen, is why he is generally in charge of outdoor work. The neighbors already think I'm crazy without adding my trade mark "curse at appliances/computers/grills that don't work" schtick).

My job is to make sure the baby doesn't do acrobatics right out of her bouncy seat and get dinner started. Well, one out of two isn't bad. AND the snow blower is now running, which means my mother in law will not break her neck this evening, so bonus for us!

I have also just been informed we are low on oil. Really?!

Mary is sitting on the chair watching her father drag the snow blower up and down the driveway in the dark and thinking it's better than television. Anna is playing with her dollhouse and feeding the dollies dinner. She was passing out imaginary forks, and for a brief moment I thought she was dropping the f bomb over and over, but no, "forks." I have to say, I'm relieved. If any of my kids is going to whip out a four-letter beauty in the middle of the store or a worship service, it will be her, I promise you. Mary knows better. One time, just once, Anna started repeating one of my "frustration phrases" (I don't curse all the time, I promise, but you know how sometimes one slips out?) and before could correct her, Mary jumped in.

"Anna, we don't say that. That's a grown up word. Mommy can say that all the time but not little girls."


From the family room I can hear Mary tracking Tim's movements with the behemoth like a sportscaster. "He's coming up the driveway, folks!" Anna has moved on to entertaining Lily in her bouncer. I'm now typing with half an eye on the screen and the rest of my attention on the baby, lest Anna's "bounce! bounce!" get any more, um, enthusiastic.

In unrelated news, good news, people are reading this blog! I'm up to ten different countries (not counting the referrals from Russian sites that appear to be spambots) and over 1500 hits, which, really? I know it's nothing but I never, ever expected anyone to want to continue reading my ramblings so I'm pretty honored by that. AND my former editor wants me to post entries on the company's web site. Look at me, I'm syndicated! No, but seriously, the new(er) blog posts will have a bit more of a localized slant, so if you're reading and you're from my area, you can check it out in a few days at www.eastbayri.com. It should be under "opinion" under either staff or reader blogs, but I can put more information up about that as it gets underway. Of course, I'll still be here, too, without the hometown references.

I may never make a dime writing again but the fact that people still think my writing is interesting is humbling, to say the least. It's what I miss most when I think about the career I used to have, so I am so, so happy to continue to have an outlet.

Right. Serious stuff over. Mostly because, and this is no lie, the snow blower has stopped, Mary has gone quiet and I can smell something burning and I haven't started dinner yet.

Time to check on the husband...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Trick or Treat!

Tonight it is supposed to snow. This being New England, the weather has been completely unpredictable so far, with the only major snow being over Halloween weekend. It went from fifty something degrees one day to my parents' steps being buried in snow and me driving along back roads at 10 miles an hour because people around here freak the heck out when it starts to snow.

Somewhere there is a math equation that will explain how the Northeast Lifers seem to forget how to drive every time some kind of precipitation falls from the sky, but until I find that graph you'll just have to take my word for it.

Anyway, snow. The girls overheard me talking about it and are psyched. We've had a dusting or two but it's always gone by about 9 a.m. so they are thrilled at the prospect of some snow to play in. And I am kind of panicked because like a good mommy, I have no snow boots for Mary. Anna only has some because we have Mary's outgrown ones kicking around. Points for me.

The hidden advantage to waiting until Zero Hour to buy snow boots: Fifty percent off at Target, folks!

The sobering reality: There are NONE in Mary's size. None. Not even if I go up a size and double up her socks. Not even if I buy her the "boy" blue or black ones and fight her into something that isn't pink or purple and doesn't look like Tinkerbell exploded all over it. There were literally NO boots in Mary's size in Target. If rehearsal gets out early tonight, I'm going to brave WalMart, but that was just not happening with Anna and Lily today. I know, I know, "scary WalMart" is a stereotype, but sometimes stereotypes are true and our local WallyWorld scares the Bejesus out of me.

I am not so excited for the snow. The girls get their outdoor love from their father, entirely. For me, snow is best enjoyed from the other side of a picture window, while I sip hot cocoa and read a book and the children nap blissfully somewhere on the other side of the house. (My dream, my absence from reality. Deal with it.)

As I typed the above paragraphs, Tim asked what I was writing about.

"The snow," I said, making a mental note to also hit the supermarket after rehearsal, when the little old ladies would all be home and not shanking the locals over two percent milk and white bread anymore.

"Outside!" Mary said. Anna paused. She mumbled something. Tim asked her to repeat it. She mumbled again, eying all of us.

"Let's. Go. Trick. Or. Treating." We paused. She repeated her request, with vigor.

"Uh, no, honey, it's not time for that," Tim said, hiding a smile.


"Well, it's not Hallow-" he began.

"WHEN? When's it gonna be Halloween?" Mary started, and the endless refrain began, punctuated with "why not? Why not? Haddoween! Why not?" from Anna, the short, and indignant.

Tim's going to have a fun evening.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


"Anna, come here," I said sweetly. It was morning and Anna is great for cuddles in the morning.

"I not Anna," she said, already in pretend-mode. "I Jesus."


It should be noted here that through no fault of my upbringing (I have to write that because the following makes my mother absolutely nuts) I have been sporadic at best with my kids' religious education. I was the child who went to church twice a week, for several hours on Sundays, until the week I went off to college. Most of my daughters' church time is logged when we visit my in laws. It's not that I don't want to go to church, it's that I'm still looking for the right one for our family and that's easier said than done. At home, we pray at bedtime and read some Bible stories and watch some Christian-themed DVDs (Veggie Tales, anyone?) and I tell myself I have time before they look at me like I'm nuts when I suggest attending a house of worship.

All that back story is to say that while Mary and Anna are enthusiastic about church and the Bible and all (they know Easter is more than candy to us and Christmas is more than Santa and presents)...sometimes they don't get all the facts right. Like the time Mary told me she was going to send her Christmas list to Baby Jesus, for instance.

Back to this morning. "Anna is Baby Jesus and I am Baby Jesus' Mommy," Mary began, "And this dolly is Baby Jesus' older sister." (You see what I mean?)

"...and we all live in a stable and Baby Jesus was BORN IN A STABLE, and we were ALL BORN IN THE STABLE..." at this point "Baby Jesus" is trying to do somersaults on the chair and Mary is reaching Lear Jet decibel levels and it's not even 8 a.m.

"Wow," I say, cutting off the flow of non-canonical Gospel According to Mary. "Can Jesus make me some wine?" (WHAT?)

"Mo-om," Mary said, as though explaining to a complete moron. "She's BABY Jesus."

Right. Of course. That's what's illogical about this whole thing.

"So I'll go ask Joseph to do it. JOOOOOOOOOOSEPH!" Mary runs off into the other room and returns with a plastic cup. "You still want some wine?" I am the world's worst mother.

What, Joe, no loaves n' fishes? I mean, we could probably get lunch all set if we put our minds to it. And this COULD just be a blemish but maybe it's leprosy. You can't be too careful with lepro-


"Yes Anna?" (I can't actually address her as Jesus. It seems blasphemous. As if asking your two year old to miracle you up a nice Sauvignon Blanc isn't putting your butt firmly in the handbasket.)


Fine, can you make me wine?

(As an aside - or "stuff that doesn't really merit its own post but that's okay" : Lily turned five months old today, we had Breakfast for Dinner again and I "surprised" Tim by making the girls Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes and making him some decidedly not-safe-for-work shapes that may question his heterosexuality. Just another day in paradise.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Let's play house

Lately I feel like my life could be summed up in a Venn diagram, with the two sides being "Things I do because I am cheap" (shop at the slightly sketchy grocery stores) and "Things I do because I am lazy" (hate pants).  And most of my mothering decisions would fit neatly in the intersection.

"Things I do because I am both cheap and lazy":

*Cloth diaper. Diapers are expensive, yo. I do use disposables when we go on trips or to the respective grandparents' homes because it's easier (see: "lazy") but I wince whenever I ring up. Even the Target cheapies are about $8 for the small bag. That's a lot of produce at the sketchy grocery store! Also, I am too lazy to be willing to run into Target with all three kids and knowing me (third life subset: "forgetful") that would happen every third day, somehow.

*Breastfeeding. Formula is even more expensive. And thanks to the drug dealers who have figured out Enfamil is the perfect thing with which to cut their cocaine, you also have to wait in line at Customer Service at some stores around here to purchase it. Yes, I know nursing has health benefits and those are important to me, but I'm three kids in and if someone were delivering it for free and washing the bottles afterwards, I have a feeling it would be an entirely different story.

*Ignore the walls. Yesterday I wrote about CrayonGate, or Why My Children Are Bereft of Crafts Outside of Art Class. Therefore, there is a buildup of crayon and pencil marks on the walls. The washable stuff comes right off and I've mostly made the kids take care of that in hopes they will stop sneaking off and coloring. But pencil? Pencil does not come off paint by using the pencil's eraser (useless thing!) and is immune to Magic Eraser. I know! What do I want to do even less than go to Target with all the kids? Go to Sherman Williams and try to remember what shade I used in the hallway and then shell out for some more paint. So the next time you stop by, please feel free to appreciate the modern art mural I have going on.

Today Mary and Anna were playing "mommy and baby." Anna was the mommy and I was pleased to note that her interpretation of Mommy did not involve many doors slamming or references to drinking before lunchtime. Nor did the desire for Valium come up. She did say that as a mommy her job was to "talk and talk" but she wasn't trying to surgically attach my phone to her hand, so overall, I'd say I'm not damaging them too badly.

Mary was the baby and when she is "baby Mary" she likes to sit on my lap and hear stories of when she was actually tiny.

"When Baby Mary went to New Hampshire," I began, as vacations are a popular topic with her, "She climbed all the stairs and laughed when Daddy would chase her."

Mary smiled.

"What else?"

"She loved to eat scrambled eggs." Another smile.

"And what else?" I paused. Bad Mommy On My Shoulder resurfaced.

"She loved to go and clean her room all the time!" Mary eyed me.

"How did I do that?"

"You'd just go right in there and clean it all up! You love to clean!"

"How did baby Mary clean her room?"

"She just DID! She DID!"

Reverse psychology fail. Mary eyed me again and wandered away, willing to break character by walking more than she was willing to clean under the bed.

Okay, maybe I'm damaging them a little bit.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Baby it's cold outside

There was no blog post yesterday because I think I saw my children awake for about two hours total. I had to work in the morning and then came home for about half an hour, fed the baby and left for the show's first dance rehearsal which was three straight hours of dancing. I thought I was in pretty good shape from the Couch to 5k training (which is almost done!) but that would be a great big negative. My legs hate me today. Actually, they hate my choreographer, as I'm not the one who decided to tell them to do those dance steps.

It's just as well I have a new physical activity to do as winter has officially arrived and it is freezing. It's a balmy 24 degrees right now and I'm actually considering going out to run now because this is the warmest it's going to get and it's not snowing or raining. The other challenge is keeping my kids from going stir crazy in this weather. It's one thing if there's snow on the ground to play with, but my kids are like me and no way are they going to stand around in weather cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey without some kind of incentive.

Fortunately, my kids are kind of like puppies. I can bring home the most ridiculously simple stuff and they act like it's Christmas, the Sequel. Today's big hit is a Mylar balloon yesterday's birthday kid left behind. Of course, there's only one, so they'll be entertained but they may also fight to the death over it. I'll be taking bets after nap time. They're also suckers for craft projects, especially since I put a general embargo on crayons after they once again released their inner muralists when I was putting the baby down for a nap, and they like to help me bake, though that happens less often than they'd like. The day I built them a kitchen chair and sheet fort, their reaction was like I had parted the Red Sea. I have to take advantage of this now: There's only so long before they stop thinking I'm Wonder Woman and realize I'm just crazy.

After naps today there's about a four hour stretch before I have to leave for work and I'm clueless. It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day so going anywhere is absolutely out of the question. I love my kids, I'd jump in front of a train for them, but my love does not extend to Monkey Joe's or Chuck E. Cheese or any other Migraine Factory when the general population is out of school. Heck, it doesn't even extend to the Children's Museum. Patience, I have it not.

But first they have to nap. Mary is fighting it and managed to roll herself out of bed. Anna is talking to her toys. Mommy is morphing from Good Mommy to Bad Mommy and my threats about what will happen if they wake the baby are getting more and more creative. Ship you to the North Pole to work in indentured servitude with Santa Claus? I think maybe so.

So maybe we'll bust out the Play Doh for awhile. Maybe it will be Movie Day. I see Gnomeo and Juliet is on Netflix streaming. Maybe I'll hand one of them a bowl of pudding, the other the balloon and put them in a small room and see who comes out the victor.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Granny Smith

Last night my mom called me up and informed me that she would be less than an hour away from my house for a church event and did I mind if she stopped by after the meeting to see "my grandbabies." I said of course not, and we had a nice afternoon going to lunch and then sending Tim home with the girls so we could go shopping. I had tap shoes to buy, and then we stopped in at Marshalls where I proceeded to pose inappropriately with large plastic apples (see pic), because I'm actually twelve years old. I swear, when I'm around people I grew up with, I regress something awful. Just ask my friend, Meg. She has learned not to go with me to Target, or at least to bring a camera if she does.

I was always kind of an off the wall kid. I was dramatic, too, especially when I was mad. I didn't do it maliciously, though sometimes the results weren't great (tip, kids: Even if you're really, really ticked at your parents, three-year-old you should never scream "Help! You're not my mommy! Put me down!" in an international airport). Just in case you were wondering where my kids get their "creative" behaviors from when I write about them here, the apple (heh) didn't fall far from a certain tree. It's especially evident with Mary as she's older and talks the most.

I was the kid who would dress up in sunglasses and snow pants and go swing on the swings at the top of my lungs.Mary knows all the words to a lot of show tunes and finds stores and waiting rooms to have perfect acoustics for belting and awesome floors for dancing.

I was the kid who managed to fall asleep in the bathroom the night before school started, bang my face into the counter and walk into nursery school with a literal shiner. We're talking a dark blue ring around the entire eye. I've seen the pictures. I look like a DCYF ad. Anna and Mary were playing "race" in their new light up sneakers and Anna decided to put her hands over her eyes and run straight into a wall at full speed before I could stop her. No bruises, thank goodness.

This is a recipe for disaster...
I had the journalist bug in me early: If I knew something interesting, I thought the world needed to know. This led to announcements about where babies came from, tales of incarcerated relatives and scaring the crap out of the other kids in Sunday School with tales out of the book of Revelation or the news. More than once my mom had to come to me after church and say something like, "Now, hon, I know your dad lets you read Reader's Digest and that's fine, but little so-and-so was very upset when you talked about the kid who got impaled on a pipe and had to have surgery. That's not something to bring up in Sunday School." Mary's preschool teacher came up to me and informed me that Mary told the entire class her cat had gotten hit by a car and had "gone to Jesus." Said cat had died over a year before that but a new audience is hard to resist, I guess.

I used to rope my poor little brother into being in my plays in the backyard. There's one picture that exists of me in one of my mom's old disco dresses, and him (probably three years old) in an old dragon Halloween costume, clipped to the dog's run. Mary taught most of the girls in her preschool class to "fetch" when she threw a ball. Anna has been playing "puppy dog" since before she could say "puppy dog."

And today, while I was getting dressed, I hear Mary and Anna playing down the hall and this from the mouth of my eldest, in a Dramatic Voice:

"O wizards! There are monkeys on my lawn! Please get rid of them and all the horses!"

How do ya like THEM apples? 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lullaby of Broadway

So I'm doing this show. I knew it was a dance heavy show with lots of tapping, which I haven't done in probably 20 years, but the audition notice specifically said "tapping experience helpful but not necessary" for choral parts. So I went for a choral part, and ta dah!, here I am today. I knew I would have to do some basic tapping. No problem, I tell myself. I can still shuffle-ball-change and pull off a basic time step with some refreshing.

Imagine my surprise when the choreographer starts throwing around words like "original Broadway choreography" . I stared at my feet, both of them "left."

"You're going to hate me," I tell him after the first read-through. "I..don't really tap dance."

"You will," he said simply. Tap scares the heck out of me because you really can't fake it. If you're off on the count, it's like being off on a note in a choral piece: Everyone is going to hear it. And point and laugh at you. (Okay, maybe not the last part.) At the last rehearsal he reminded us to bring our tap shoes to the first dance rehearsal.

I don't think the ones I wore when I was eight will still fit.

So tomorrow morning it's off to the local dance shop but until then I am watching YouTube videos about basic tap steps and trying to force muscle memory in a pair of character-like shoes. And of course, I have my very own chorus line to help me out.

Lesson 1: Very basic, toe-heel stepping. Mary recognizes this from her beginner dance class. (I am so ashamed.) She decides to dance with me. By that I mean making huge swooping motions with her arms and whirling like a dervish. Okay, maybe that one's for after bedtime then. Moving on to...

Lesson 2: The stamp vs. the stomp. I become concerned I am going to break Anna's foot as she insists on standing next to me and then jumping out directly in front of me just as my foot is coming down. Well, maybe I don't need to practice that one. How about...

Lesson 3: The baby realizes I am not paying her any attention and she has been left at the mercies of her father. The baby decides this is not at all acceptable. Anna is still playing chicken with my feet. Mary is still redefining "jazz hands" with her entire body. I give up. I get the baby. I decide instead to practice my music. After all, I can't dance, but I certainly can sing.

"We're in the mon-"


Of course.

Mary clumps in wearing my pink heels. Toe heel, toe heel, you never liked those totally adorable shoes anyway, did you?

"I can do it too!"

Kid, you can probably do it better at this point.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

There's a monster at the end of this post

The day began before the sun rose, when Lily woke up at 5:30 and I checked the bank account only to find that my car payment had been taken twice. Since I am independently wealthy and have not a financial care in the world, this didn't send me into a stressful tailspin at all.
So by 7 a.m. I  (and by "I," I mean "Tim, while I huddled on the couch muttering 'I'm going to throw up, I'm going to throw up' and Mary yelled down the hall 'you want a bucket or somethin' to throw up in?!'") had worked out a passable solution to the problem but that was far too early a start to an already busy day. We wound up spending most of it in the car and while my kids are pretty good on road trips, there's only so much you can ask of the under-five set.

By mid day we had covered every possible topic of conversation. Talking to Mary is like reaching blind into a bag of Magnetic Poetry tiles: the discussion is completely random and changes at a moment's notice. She told me about her dreams. She told me about her doll's dreams. She told me about her castle in Africa where I could have my very own pet lion. She asked about road signs and truck signs and asked what zombies ate. She asked what a brain was. She connected the dots and looked at me in abject horror. We had a long, meandering discussion about real vs. pretend. Again. And again.

By 2:45 Anna was a monster. That's not a euphemism. She was literally pretending to be a monster (a blue one) and communicating mostly in growls, complete with "monster faces." I picked up my sheet music (like a genius, I had left it at my voice lessons the night before and oh yeah, I have rehearsal tonight. Way to go) and realized the kids were on the brink. So I started in on the random conversation.

"Look at that mailbox!" I cried. "It looks like a truck!"

"It does look like a truck," Mary said in wonderment. Anna stared. She paused. She made eye contact in the rear view mirror.

"Can I play with it?" At this point the mailbox was several blocks behind us and still, you know, a mailbox stuck in the ground.

"Erm, no," I said.

"But me love it!" Sensing a meltdown on the horizon, I switched topics.

"Butthat'sokay because we're going to OPEN GYM!" I exclaimed.

"Yay!" Anna cried. "Gym!"

"Yay!" Mary yelled at the top. of. her. lungs. "GYM! WE'RE GOING TO OPEN GYM!" Lily remained quiet. Anna eyed Mary.

"No you're not" she said in a quiet, deadpan voice. Mary looked at me in the rear view mirror, deciding whether this was worthy of a freak out. I smiled and made my best 'isn't your baby sister so silly?' face. Anna grew impatient with the lack of reaction.

"No. You're. Not. Only me. Only me, only me, only me..." and on and on until Mary couldn't take it anymore. She started singing in a high pitched voice.

"Iiiiiiiii'm going to Gyyyyyyyyymmmmmmm..."

"No you're not." Mary went up an octave.

"Iiiiiiiiii'm going to Gyyyyyymmmmmm."

"No. You're. Not."

"Iiiiiiiiii'm-" at this point only dogs can hear her, "goiiiinnnnng....." After several iterations, Anna realized she was not telekinetic and could not bend the car to her will or, alternately, teleport her sisters out of it so she alone could attend open gym. And she started to scream. Mary and I ignored her. Lily slept on. Anna quieted down.

Mary started full out tweaking.

"So I can go to open Gym, Anna?"


"Mary," I said, my eyes feeling far too heavy. "Stop. Anna. Stop. Just stop."

"You gonna boss me, Anna?"

"Yep." It would get quiet, then one of them would start up. I just kept staring right ahead. At this point, forgoing open gym would be more of a punishment to myself. As we got nearer, the girls reconciled silently. They looked for the building, got happy together when they saw it, hugged each other, and after we got our shoes off, Mary ran off to play "Tangled" on the equipment and Anna grabbed a ball and ran around, making her pretend faces.

Well, even monsters need to play.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dear Kim, circa 2006

'Cause you never. will. again.

Over the past few days this awesome video (opens in new window) has been circulating Facebook. Essentially, the producers of the video asked moms what they would say to their pre-children selves if they could go back for a moment. Of course I want to tell former me to enjoy my comparatively thin physique. I want to say that I won't know what love is until I see Mary, and then Anna, and then Lily. But those sentiments are already in the video. Here are some that may not have made the cut but are just as important. ;)

So without further delay (crappy photos are a result of my lack of time intentional):

That's a meal, right?

She *so* does, too!

"Here, hon, hold this and don't look at it."


"You never liked that sofa anyway."

What are yours?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

No short stacks here

Around 2 p.m. I realized that I had neglected to take out any meat to thaw the night before and it was also too late to put anything in the crock pot. Yep, you still have ADHD. So I went to the old standby: Breakfast for dinner, aka pancakes and scrambled eggs.

I love pancakes. My dad taught me to make them when I was in elementary school, possibly in a bid to get to sleep later on Saturday mornings, and some of my earliest memories are making them with him on weekends. There's just one little problem. Unlike my father, I can't really cook pancakes well.

Sometimes I put them on too early and have to wait for the pan to warm up, while the batter congeals and does strange things in the meantime. Other times the pan gets too hot and burns the outsides of the pancakes and I proudly announce "tonight it's Cajun pancakes, kids!" Once, in what I can only describe as a Ramona Quimby book moment, my husband told me he didn't think the pancakes were done in the middle. I was pregnant with Lily, tired, and I hollered he had no idea what he was talking about. He cut one. Batter oozed from the crack. I picked it up and threw it against the wall (spoiler: unlike spaghetti, if your pancake sticks to the wall, it's not done yet). Almost a year later and I swear I still see a tiny bit of batter on the neutral colored wallpaper, sticking like spackle and mocking my culinary skills.

 Today stared out well. The first ones were beautiful.  Perfectly golden, cooked through, and the spatula glided under them like a figure skater on ice. (Oh, I also can't seem to get a decent spatula. All of them wind up getting caught on the pancakes eventually.) The pan got momentarily too hot, but I recognized disaster and only some of the pancakes are "Cajun." I give those to Tim because he's learned not to care, or at least not to say anything. It was a Christmas miracle come late. And then, like a culinary Icarus, I flew too close to the sun.

I looked at the stack of pancakes. It seemed kind of...small. I mean, it would probably be fine. But what if Tim came home from work hungry? What if the kids were growth spurting and I didn't know it until one of them wanted to consume her weight in dinner? So I went to mix another batch. The box used to have measurements for just a few pancakes, but they took those away. Being far too tired to do math, I just started mixing, and wound up with about 40 little cakes.

I don't think anyone is going hungry in my house tonight.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Four going on fourteen

There were lots of things no one told me about parenting. Sure, everyone warns you about the sleepless nights, the infant crying jags, diaper changes. No one tells you that toddler girls whine like teenage girls, or that there will be days you swear your four year old is suffering from PMS.

Mary loves her hair. She loves that it's blonde and, ever since seeing "Tangled," she loves that it's long. My rule is that she can grow it as long as she wants as long as she lets me take care of it. The minute she fights me about washing, brushing or tying back, we go in for a stylish reverse bob just like the yuppie preschoolers around town. The more her hair grows, the more creative I have to get with keeping it out of her face.

Today Mary patiently let me work on French braids, and in the mid afternoon I attempted a fancier style, a braid that started over her right ear and went across the top of her head. It was really good for keeping her growing-out bangs out of her eyes and it was beautiful.

"Mary, you look so pretty," I gushed, quite proud of my handiwork. "You have princess hair! We can do this for school tomorrow! Go see in the mirror!"

Mary crumpled into a ball on the sofa beside me.


"Mary, what's wrong? Is it pulling?"


Oh dear lord, okay, five minutes ago we were chattering animatedly about princesses and toys and all kinds of happy things. She dramatically flung herself down the hall and into her room, where she proceeded to sob and sob about her hair. Why she didn't just take the elastic out is beyond me, but we had surpassed logic long ago. She came out of her room.

"Mary, are you done now? It really does look pretty." Cousin Sarah concurred.

"I HATE IT!" Back to her room. Flounce, holler, sob. Repeat several times. Back out of the room. She paused at the living room, waiting for me to talk. The Bad Mother On My Shoulder overcame me.

"Mary, your hair looks horrible," I said. "You'd better go take that braid out, it looks awful."


"Well, okay, I guess, if it's what you really want."


"I guess so..."

"Yay!" She's all smiles now. "Want to play princesses?"

Sure, hon, right after Mommy makes herself a coffee and then "makes it Irish."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

SingleBeigeRanch seeks Colonial...

Being a stay at home mother can make you crazy, if you let it. It can be seriously easy to stay in pajamas all day, go nowhere, talk to no one over three feet tall, but then it becomes just as easy to be a basket case at the end of the day. That's why God invented the play date.

Tomorrow morning, a friend of mine is coming to my house for the first time, and I am trying not to freak out. She's a very nice person, I've known her for more than a year and our kids love playing together. Until now, all play dates have been at her house as said friend also watches her nephew during the day. And then I got The Text.

"Hey, I'm [nephew] free so let's play date next week!!'

Cue mild panic.

See, play dates are a lot like real dates, except with your house. She already knows what I look like in scrubby clothes with no makeup on (see "fresh hell," "a hot mess," "overtired") but she's never been inside the homestead before. So despite the fact that I know she's coming over so our kids can play and not to judge my housekeeping, I am running a mental inventory tonight. Are the toys clean? Does the cat box smell? Did the kids get out of bed and pull out every stuffed animal and article of clothing before finally falling asleep? Do I have anything to feed these people? I know the yard looks awful, maybe it will snow and cover it all up. And so on.

My living room, which I am procrastinating cleaning. You are so not seeing the kitchen. Or the toy room. Or the bathroom. Someone hold me...

It's a crazy double standard. I don't notice these things when I go to others' homes, but I assume that if the mantle is dusty someone's going to think I'm an unfit parent. And believe me, there are plenty of things that make me an unfit parent, but the dust on the fireplace isn't one of them.

"You need to relax," I'm told. Big surprise, I'm told that about a lot of things. Usually those who know me best learn to stop saying it, 'cause it's probably never going to happen. At least not until I can afford my own housekeeper.

But like I said, parenthood can make you crazy if you let it, and I love adult company, so even if tomorrow morning I wake up and Anna decides to paint the floor with her oatmeal, bring on the play date.

After all, we all need grown up company, for better or worse.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Unseasonably warm

"Anna's got the butter!"

My eyes opened to the dulcet notes of a tattletale four year old, though she was talking to her father, not me. It was morning, and Lily was curled up in the crook of my arm, still sleeping. The other side of the bed was empty.

Mentally, I steeled myself for the visage of Anna, applying butter like stage makeup, bits sticking in her hair and oozing out between her fingers. Tim is really great about letting me get a little extra sleep on the weekends but the Type A in me fights against criticizing the differences in our routine. That is, Monday through Friday I get to basically run the house my way, and Satuday and Sunday I must admit that while I might not agree with the sticky children, toys everywhere, TV blaring approach, I love sleep more and Tim is an excellent father, so who cares if Anna has somehow managed to make off with a stick of butter?

I hear Tim talking and slip away from Lily, into the kitchen, where I find this:
Tim was teaching the girls how to make French toast. Of course, they were loving it. Mary was actually helping and Anna was "helping" and both were very excited about the whole prospect. Not wanting to leave Lily alone when she was sure to be waking up, I slipped back to bed and sure enough, within a few minutes she turned her head and gave me a huge, delighted grin. In the dining room the girls were exclaiming over their good fortune. Breakfast during the week is usually corn flakes and milk, with a banana on the side. Foods that could serve as a vehicle for syrup were, of course, far superior.

A few minutes after that Tim appeared in our room with a plate of French toast, already cut up, and scrambled eggs.

"We wanted to give you a nice morning," he said.


That afternoon it was almost 60 degrees and the girls were absolutely not napping, so I took the older two to the playground, which was swarming with kids, all enjoying a reprieve before winter set back in.

The rest is really better told with pictures.

A woman was at the playground with a duck in some kind of walker for its "balance issues." Mary's expression pretty much mirrors my initial reaction to the whole scene.

But we had fun:

And, well, I don't know exactly what Tim and Lily got up to, but she apparently also had a fun afternoon, because she is worn.out.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Your presence is formally requested...

Last night at 9:45 p.m. my phone alerted me to an incoming text message.It was a text asking if Mary and Anna were going to be at art class in the morning, and that's when I realized once and for all that my children have a better social life than I do.

It's not just that someone wanted to know if they would be in class. It's that I had to respond back with their regrets: "Sorry, Mary and Anna have a play date with the neighbors in the morning." My kids had a prior engagement at 9:30 a.m. on a weekday. I've had years to make friends in this state and I don't even have firm plans for Saturday night that don't involve an insomniac four month old.

We headed out early this morning, the girls in their finest casual wear sweat suits, spent a couple of hours playing with little people of both the toddler and Fisher Price variety, then left to meet Tim at work for lunch. Then Mary had to go inside and say hello to the principal of the school, the man who puts the fear of God in his his high schoolers but with whom my four year old is on a first-name basis. Leave work, make it to ballet with a few minutes to spare, then head home for late power naps and eventually dinner.  Monday  it's another whirlwind of play dates, play and learn classes and a visit from Tim's cousin, who adores my daughters about as much as they love getting attention from a super cool 20 year old in college.

Mary is cool. It boggles my mind. Where did they get the genetics to be so socially adept? I have many memories of my school years, and not many of them depict me being suave, particularly popular or anything but a music and theater geek long before shows like Glee made such a thing cool. But no one makes friends faster than a preschooler. Mary walks in to any situation and immediately has a new best friend. They hug goodbye after a five minute interaction, ask for play dates. Mary, like every other four year old out there, automatically assumes everyone thinks she's fabulous.

And she is. She might not always be the coolest kid on the block. In fact, given her parentage, that's pretty much a certainty. But that's not what it's about. She's self assured. Sure, she talks too loud, and too much sometimes (mommy's girl!) and is blunt and sarcastic (again, those genes are powerful). Someone once informed me that I had to be careful."Those traits she has today will only be magnified when she's a teenager."

Probably. But if they stay that way into adulthood, she'll also be incredibly confident, and you can't put a price on that.

Hang onto it, kid. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned...

It has been seven days since my last confession. Okay, this is a total cop out entry because my mind is not working in short, witty paragraphs at the moment. So instead you get bullets.

I confess...

  • I know darn well that it is going to be impossible to go from my dark brown natural color to Marcia Cross red outside of an expensive salon trip, but that doesn't stop me from trying via Loreal. Every attempt that doesn't burn my scalp or cause my hair to fall out only serves as encouragement. (Bonus confession: the noxious fumes emitting from my head as I type this may be why I can't write in paragraphs. That, and I'm working on a 25 minute timeline before it's time to cool rinse! Ah, the glamour.)
  • That while the pic to your right looks adorable and sweet, Anna had been walking around with that pacifier in her mouth all afternoon and I still allowed her to do it. Anna hasn't had a pacifier since she was under a year old.
  • That this morning, lacking a nutritious snack and any kind of motivation to load three kids into the car for a 15 minute trip to Shaw's in freezing weather, I let the older girls eat dry Marshmallow Mateys (that's Lucky Charms for the poor budget conscious) like popcorn.
  • That I have totally convinced Mary that carrots are a dessert. I don't even have to buy the expensive little baby carrots because she latched on to the word "baby" and insists on "big girl carrots" now, which are about $2 a bag cheaper.
  • That even though I have a Keurig, when my friend offered to drop me off a coffee from Dunkin Donuts, my immediate response was "absolutely!" Because I have problems. But so does everyone else in the state, as evidenced by the fact that there are forty-six locations within a five mile radius of my ZIP code. Eight of them are open 24 hours.
  • That some days, I start counting the hours until bedtime right after nap time ends.
  • That I am ridiculously excited to start rehearsals for a musical next week. It's going to be tough, and time consuming, and the last time I did a show was five years ago and I turned into a zombie and I CAN'T WAIT.
  • That I play "if I had a million dollars" whenever the Pottery Barn catalog comes in the mail. If it's wrong to want themed tablecloths for every holiday, I don't want to be right. Then Tim reminds me it's borderline insane to want to spend $60 on a tablecloth when I make him take an extra trip to the corner store after a supermarket run in order to save $1.50 a gallon on milk, but I don't see how the two are related at all.
What do you have to confess?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Zombies on the braaaaaain

I consider myself lucky that my kids will be teenagers in nine years at the earliest, and therefore we should be able to avoid the literary abomination that is “Twilight” and its accompanying hysteria.* However, a new supernatural obsession has taken our household by storm.


I have no idea how it started, exactly. Perhaps it was our friends suggesting that babies already make zombie-like noises, which prompted us to try and teach an infant Mary to growl “braaaaains” at unsuspecting people (it didn’t take). Maybe it was my brief but all encompassing video game love affair with Plants vs. Zombies, which started on the PC but quickly moved to Xbox format for ease of play. I have no idea, but suddenly, Anna was chasing Figaro down the hall with her arms raised, calling for him in a zombie voice. Except she wasn’t saying “brains.”


It got to the point where Figaro, already Cat of A Thousand Nickname (Figs and Wigs, Fatty, Pavarotti, Hey Stupid, etc.) was being called Pudding more often than his given name, and in true Pavlovian response would immediately bolt down the hall when you started. That was about six months ago, and after that Zombie Fever slowly died down.

In October, I got my iPhone. By November, I was completely in love with the stupid thing. I had had a smart phone before, but it was a Palm Pre, and less than a year in I was so frustrated with it (which, if we are talking smarts, was decidedly stupid) that I switched back to a regular phone and the only thing I missed was a QWERTY keyboard.  But the iPhone! I swear, Apple isn’t paying me a dime but oh my word do I love my phone. I love free apps. I love the fact that phone allowed me to download a Couch to 5K program which got me off my butt and running for the first time in, well, ever, and I love the fact that my music and my phone and my GPS are suddenly wrapped up in a neat purple Otterbox. 

And then two days ago I discovered Zombie Farm. It’s a free download and it’s basically Farmville but in addition to crops, you get to grow zombies and attack neighboring farms for the chance to win money, decorations and of course, brains. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it but I haven’t let my kids see it because if I let one of them so much as touch my phone, the dam’s going to break and I’ll never get a chance to hold it pester-free again.

Today the kids were napping and I was harvesting virtual tomatoes and potato head zombies (I know!!) and waiting for the kids’ snack to set in the fridge so I could sneak some before they woke up. We all love some chocolate pudding in this house. I heard her stirring so I went in to give her a quick cuddle before she was running at 85 miles an hour again.

“Mary, do you want to wake up?”

“No, Mama.” (I am only ever “Mama” anymore when she is very sleepy.)

“Are you sure? Do you want to get up and have some chocolate pudding for a snack?”

Through half-closed eyes she smiled up at me.


*It could have been a really good story. But when it’s written by a woman who informs everyone in the DVD bonus footage that she couldn’t wait for the film because movies can show things that books can’t describe, well, there aren’t enough desks upon which I can hit my head. I can’t find the quote online but if you’re in possession of the DVD you can find it for yourself. I can’t make stuff like this up.
** I should note that none of the girls know what a zombie is in the undead sense of the word but they still think they are hilarious.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sixteen tons

I am probably going to take a break from complaining that my husband doesn't seem to do much around the house because he went back to work today and I realized exactly how much he had done over the past week. My lord, I am exhausted and it's not even 7:30 p.m.

Today was spent cleaning up after the holidays: Dismantling the tree, taking down garland and Christmas cards, putting up holiday scented candles and moving furniture (okay, a hope chest) back into the living room. It was spent cooking food - and realizing that this evening I must get myself to the supermarket as we are basically down to condiments - and cleaning - and realizing for the umpteenth time that my floors must manufacture dust when I am not looking because no matter how much I sweep, by the time I'm done it's pretty much time to do it again.

This afternoon, though, we ventured out into the freezing weather (and yes, I know this is New England and the fun is just beginning!) for Open Gym at Mary's preschool. This happens twice a week, from 3 to 5 p.m., and I rely on it like I rely on coffee and the Internet: Some days, it's the only thing that keeps my kids off of eBay. Today was going really well, except for some drama because Mary only wanted to wear her pink coat, and naturally The World's Best Mommy had left that in Connecticut when we visited my parents this past weekend, and that, my friends, is a fate worse than death. (I have no idea where she got the sparkly princess gene. Past photographs suggest I was more the sunglasses-shorts-wool winter hat type.)

I produced last year's pretty black wool dress coat and slipped it on Mary, who recoiled from the non-pink article of clothing as if it were riddled with pestilence. I cajoled. I shouted. I pulled out my trump card: "Anna is getting a treat because she used the potty (oh ho, I am so that mother) and if you don't wear that coat to the car and then keep it on your lap, you are not going to get to share it with her."

Guess what didn't happen? There were tears and shouts but I held firm and Anna, tiny little pot stirrer that she is, kept asking me "But I get a treat, right, mama? I used the potty!"


Some days, Open Gym is quiet, other times, a hierarchy akin to Lord of the Flies develops, with Mary, aka the Cruise Director, at the top of the heap trying to play with everyone and talking nonstop to anyone over the age of 20 who will stand still and listen, and Lily somewhere at the bottom, lolling on her blanket while I try to gently encourage and yet fend off curious two year olds (middle of the pack, noisy, somewhat sticky, ever so cute). This time Mary ensconced herself in the office, watching cartoons with Harry, son of Marsha, the saint who runs Open Gym, Anna commenced running around with no less than two sound making animals and half a dozen stacked mini traffic cones and Lily lolled on various objects and protested not being able to eat animal crackers, walk or crawl. We chatted with the nannies and moms, and I secretly envied those who had gone the "screw it, I'm wearing yoga pants" route. Lily ate and ate and hollered and grinned. Mary eventually got over her hatred of the black coat when she realized it was kind of twirly. Anna stole Mary's animal crackers and somehow, a war didn't break out.

And we came home, and made dinner, and I read lots of books in loud voices because that seemed to be the only thing that made Lily happy, and when Tim walked in at 6:30 and offered me a break before the kids' bedtime at 7, I made a beeline for the dark, welcoming bedroom, yanked up at least two blankets and buried myself in the first real quiet I'd had all day. Sure, I could hear the ruckus down the hall but they had their dad, who hadn't seen them all day and therefore reveled in their nonstop attention, whereas I was officially running on empty.

The baby came in around 7, the kids went to sleep, Lily drifted off and my husband and I finished putting away Christmas. The house is relatively still as I finish this up and cozy up to the Keurig, another day done (more or less).