Thursday, May 31, 2012

We got fun and games.

This morning it was 80 degrees at 9 a.m. and like a good mother, I went outside and started filling the pool. I went inside to finish getting ready to take Mary to school, because the kids were inside and I could see the pool, slowly filling, from the bathroom window.

I questioned my sanity as I ran the flat iron over my hair. It looked fantastic. Then the warm humid air blew gently in the window and brought my head back to looking like a shrubbery. I gave up, turned off the iron, loaded the kids into the car and drove Mary to school.

Anna, Lily and I had a pleasant morning visiting a couple of kids' consignment stores (really, stores? You're going to charge me $7 for a used Gymboree knit top from two summers ago when the new ones are on promotion in the mall for under $6? Okay) and then picking up some much needed cleaning supplies and baby food from Target.

It was 11:40 when we got back into the car. Lily was fussing. Anna looked tired. Mary was not due to be picked up until 12:15. I contemplated what to do.

"Okay, Anna," I said. "Let's go look for horses for a little while (this means driving around the area farms) and then we'll go get Mary, have some peanut butter and jelly for lunch and then we'll go in the pool!"

"The pool!"

The. Pool.

The tiny, soft sided kiddie pool which had been merrily filling since 9:30 a.m. because my brain is full of swiss cheese, apparently.

"Crap!" I hollered and immediately dialed the number of my next door neighbor as I peeled out of the parking lot, making a beeline for home, which is 15 minutes away, in the opposite direction from preschool.

"Hi, Jason, it's Kim from next door," I babbled at the sound of the tone. "And I forgot to turn off the backyard hose two hours ago and I'm heading home but HITTING EVERY LIGHT IN TOWN so if you get this and my backyard is flooding could you please turn my hose off? Thanks talk to you later bye!"

"Mommy I don't see horses."


I made it home in record time despite hitting literally every red light that exists between Target and casa Cirque du Trois. I ran out of the car, bolted into the backyard, where I saw water lipping over the top of the pool which holds considerably more water than I could have imagined.

My sandals sank softly into the mud that was my lawn as I turned off the hose and shoved down the side of the pool to let some of the water out and allow the pool to warm. My feet were instantly under water. I slopped back to the car, threw it in reverse and made it back into town in time to get Mary.

My backyard reminds me of the Everglades, minus the alligators, at least for now.

And after all that, where did we spend the afternoon?

The neighbor's house, playing with her kids.

I am going to cringe in a couple of months when we get the water bill, since the city council opted to raise water rates and I'm pretty sure that my last bill reflected an amount that can only indicate a hidden water park I somehow supplied during the winter.

Well, maybe I can rent out airboat rides.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Baby steps

Accountability time.

Lily has been a horrible napper and sleeper lately, mostly because she is trying to pull up all on her own and her crib provides the perfect venue to hone those skills. So she wakes up a little, sees all those inviting bars, scoots over, invariably exhausts and frustrates herself, all the while shouting that despite the obvious late hour, she should be awake and with the family, darn it! (The family who is desperately trying to sleep...okay, the family of which three of the remaining four are sleeping blissfully away while the fourth - guess who - shoves a pillow over her head muttering 'dear God, it's three a.m., go back to sleep, go back to sleep' before having to intervene and pull said baby off the sides of the crib.)

She's also teething.

All work and no sleep make mommy far less inclined to keep her sailor mouth in check.

It's not that I swear with any real meaning behind it. It's just that I wind up using expletives to somehow round out my sentences in all kinds of situations, regardless if that's the coffee maker malfunctioning (please, God, do not let the coffee maker malfunction) or two girls fighting over one of the approximate 7,000 Little People figures that seem to breed whenever my back is turned.

It's not good, especially since Anna is a little myna bird who is far too inclined to follow me around and chirp things like, 'Why you say dat, Mama? Why you say damn?'

Then I have to say 'We don't say that, Anna, that's not a nice word!' and be a great big hypocrite.

I've been trying to stop, but failing, and the lack of sleep isn't helping, so today I decided it was time. I was going to clean up my language once and for all. After all, I can certainly not curse. I manage to hold it together at church, formal family functions, Mommy and Me classes, so holding back in front of my family and close friends would just require a bit more effort.


I forgot about my promise about two minutes into the day. So I set goals for myself. Simple goals.

'It's eleven a.m.,' I told myself, as we pulled away from Play and Music, both Anna and Lily fussing over something and a giant truck parked directly behind me, making leaving frustrating to the max. 'You can not say anything inappropriate for an hour. Go.'

I made it 45 minutes.

The next hour was better. I made it the whole hour, and hour after that. Between 2 and 3 p.m. I believe I let out a 'hell.' Oops.

After 3 p.m. the baby had not napped well, the older girls were being loud and it was still two and a half hours until Tim would walk through the door. It's still raining and the house was beginning to take on that rainy day damp smell, so I lit a candle. I turned my back for one second and turned around to see Mary - who knows better, and the only one tall enough to conceivably even touch the shelf where the candle stood - reaching for the jar.

I - almost - forgot about my goal.


She stopped. She seemed genuinely perplexed that I would not want her to play with a lit candle. And this is mere hours, coincidentally, after our fire safety talk (brought about by a passing fire truck on the way to school).

Well, I'm getting better.

Of course as I type this, Anna came up wailing at the top of her lungs that Mary wasn't sharing (a wooden spoon) and Mary came dancing up to announce 'I HIDED THE SPOON!" in a sing-song voice. And the baby tried to crawl down the only stair we have in the house.


I see a lot more 'HEL-CK's 'DA-amm-i-mean-rn's and possibly a 'f-u-u-PHEASANT' or two as I try to work this out when I can't even send them out to play.

Baby steps.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mostly Lil

Most of my writings here tend to focus on the larger two miniature members of the traveling flea circus I call my life, and that's for good reason: They are the ones who most often make my day resemble some kind of kinetic Salvador Dali painting. Anna wants pig tails because we're going to the petting zoo to see pigs? Of course. Mary wants to know if caterpillars taste good. I say no. Anna asks if butterflies, then, taste good. My answer perplexes her. And on we go.

So I don't write much about Lily because until recently, she didn't do much. She's the world's happiest baby, to be sure, but tomorrow she is going to be nine months old (how did that happen?) and no longer is she content to sit and watch the world (that'd be her sisters) go by.

We started food at six months. Purees from a jar lasted...about six minutes. She looked at her mashed "mixed garden veg," looked at the lasagna the rest of us were scarfing down and gave us her best "to Hell with this!" look. She stole a Saltine out of my father's hand once and was working like mad to get her three teeth to handle it before someone took it away (no one did).

Now, the jars are on hand for the days when we eat something heavy on the seasoning, but on pulled barbecue chicken and rice night?

Not a prayer.

This is the baby who's lack of weight gain in the beginning had the doctors concerned, by the way.

Skinny baby!

"It takes work to make this chub!"

Earlier this month, she learned to properly crawl. Before she was doing this weird army crawl thing and could only go backwards, which led to much wailing and gnashing of (all three) teeth when she'd back herself up to the couch or into a corner and had no way to propel herself forward.

And then today, this happened:

Admittedly it happened with a little maternal guidance, but she was all about it.
She likes the swings.

She likes her sisters.

She is a connoisseur of fine china:

"I don't know if this is real Fiestaware..."

She still doesn't do much of this:

And the other day, she said "hi" for the first time. She says it a lot. Just not when I have a video camera ready. We have hundreds of seconds of me babbling "hi" at her, while she gazes at me in amusement but says nothing. Then I turn off the camcorder, and play it back for her, at which point she beams and starts saying "hey, hey, hey, HI" at the baby on my phone.

So frustrating.

But hey, it's one of my kids, there has to be a(n adorable) catch somewhere.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tu madre

I feel like I ought to write about Mothers' Day since I'm calling this a mommy blog and all, but I'm just going to sum it up here: It was great. I woke up to cards from Mary and Anna. Tim made me a full pancake breakfast and the house just today stopped smelling like an IHOP. There are worse things for a house to smell like than maple bacon and organic blueberry pancakes. We went to a petting zoo, too, where the girls made friends with a whole mess of goats (see right), and then had a quick lunch before returning home. Then for dinner I got some fantastic clam cakes and chowder and probably gained five pounds.

So all in all, fantastic Mothers' Day.

But that was the end to a super busy weekend, because on Saturday, Mary and Anna made their debut as flower girls when our friends Jesse and Meg tied the knot. All in all, they did great, but the day was not without its adventures.

The rehearsal went off without a hitch. One girl was to carry a basket of flowers, the other a blue satin pillow with the wedding rings. I thought it would be fine, since Mary loves flowers so much and Anna'a favorite color is blue, but on Friday Anna took one look at the flower basket and set her jaw.

"I want that," she said. I knew if I asked Mary to switch, she wouldn't, so I just swapped them.

"Mary, you need to carry the rings," I said, as if I were sharing a secret. She eyed me doubtfully.

"Mary, these are princess rings," I whispered. "They're made of gold!"

"Gold?" she repeated in awe.

"Gold," I confirmed. "And if you don't bring them to the bride and groom, they can't get married, and then no one can live happily ever after. These are princess rings!"

Schmaltzy and completely past the point of what a wedding is all about? Absolutely.

And it worked like a charm.

Anna, not feeling the sash. Mary, feeling ALL THE EMOTIONS.
So the day of the wedding I kept the girls rested and happy and we arrived in good spirits. I put on their white dresses and pulled out the blue sashes Meg had made, at which point Anna decided to flip her lid over God knows what and kept trying to take it off. We cajoled. We got stern. We redirected. We pointed out how it matched the bridesmaids' dresses. Nothing doing. And then the "Princess Rings" were brought out.

"Hey, dat pillow matches my sash!"

If there were a wall, I'd have hit my head against it.

And then it was time. They walked down the aisle. Anna more or less stayed in the vicinity of the outdoor wedding. Mary loudly asked if it was "her part" yet during the ceremony. There were vows, and prayers, and generally a lovely ceremony.

And then it was over. They made it through the recessional and pictures before being whisked home by my mother in law, where they proceeded to play "brides" for the rest of the evening in their white dresses.

They behaved beautifully.
Their mother, and the rest of her table, not so much. 

We made sculptures out of the centerpieces. This is what happens when you give parents a child free evening, one of them is an engineer, one has severe ADHD, and all of them are dorks. 

At least the preschoolers acted like adults.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When pigs drive

I was cooking breakfast when I heard the crash, the unmistakable sound of something heavy and prone to breaking doing just that on the living room floor. Instantly I knew what it was, and my entrance to the living room confirmed my suspicions: Anna's ceramic polka dotted piggy bank had been accidentally knocked from the coffee table and was now lying in several jagged pieces on the floor.

The piggy had originally been Mary's, but when a younger Mary accidentally broke Anna's flower print bank, the polka dotted one was given to Anna, and placed in my room for safekeeping until the girls were a little older. Anna found it last week and begged to have it in her room. Then she adopted it as her best friend, tried to take it to bed with her, and carted it all around the house, against my warnings.

"Leave that in your room, Anna," I'd say a hundred times a day. "It could break."

"I will be so careful," she said. "Me love him." And for the most part, she was, until she banged into it, or the table, or some combination thereof, and sent him to a splintery grave. The look on her face when I walked into the room was abject terror as she started at her friend.

I couldn't console her much at first. Lily, who had just learned to crawl, was making a beeline for Ground Zero. I snatched up the three big pieces and bagged them up, then ran for the broom. Anna was sobbing hysterically.

"Mommy, I so sorry I breaked my piggy," she said when I had finished my clean up. "Me love him. I so sorry. Can I have him back?"

I knew I should let the natural consequences lie. I had warned her. I had warned her time and time again. But sometimes, it's not about the life lesson. I hopped on Amazon and searched for a hard vinyl piggy bank and used my mother in law's Prime account to have it here by Wednesday.

Then we got in the car and discovered the check engine light was on again. So instead of sitting home on this rainy Wednesday and waiting for said piggy, I loaded three kids into the car and drove them to the repair shop. The woman behind the counter's eyes got a little bigger when she saw my entourage.

"Oh, you have all of them with you today," she said. "Are you going to wait while we have a look? It could be up to an hour." I stared out the window at the sheets of rain, trapped.

"Yeah, we're going to wait," I said. "We should be fine." I looked longingly at this week's People Magazine on the table. Then I looked at my children, who were trying to get into the garage, and noticed Lily had decided then would be an absolutely perfect time to require a massive diaper change.

Sorry, People.

I changed Lily. I tried to be subtle. Anna thwarted this by yelling "EWWW!" as I did so. We cleaned up, bagged up, and hand sanitized, and then I got the older girls water from the Poland Spring dispenser in the corner.

The girls were enthralled with it. I showed Mary how to work it, gave them a cup and let them drink as much water as they could hold. Customers came in. I distracted Lily. I thought, 'this is going well.'

The water bubbler belched up an air bubble. Mary let out a screech of surprise and splashed her water on the floor.

Game over.

For the next twenty minutes it was a barrage of "Indoor voices, please" and "Leave Miss Ruth alone, she has to work" and "You really don't need to take apart the Providence Business News (or whatever it's called)" and "Sure, FINE, YES, we can make the cake pops on the front of Family Circle if you JUST SIT DOWN FOR FIVE SECONDS."

There were trips to the bathroom. There were attempts to steal the baby's little snacks. Anna was quite alarmed to see someone drive our car into the garage.


But overall, they did well. And we got out unscathed and uncharged, as the light was the computer freaking out over the new gas tank and filter and nothing wrong at all.

And then the phone rang.

"Hi, Kim, it's Ruth from Auto Shop. 'Starry Night, Sleep Tight' is here."

The book Mary brought.

So at some point we'll have to return.

But I won't worry about that right now. The UPS truck just drove away and this is making my day right now:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Leg up

Last night I got to host a bachelorette party. The big SNAFU was that Mary and Anna couldn't figure out why they couldn't go.

"But if it's for girls," Mary said, rather reasonably, "why can't we go?"

"It's for grown up girls," I clarified. "Mostly because we'll be drinking?"

"Drinking what?"

I read in some parenting book that when a child asks you a question, you are supposed to provide complete, clear answers.

"Wine, beer, tequila-"

"Grown up drinks," Tim hastily interjected.

"Juice? I want some juice," Anna piped up from the backseat.

Come to think of it, I think that book was talking about sex, not parties, but live and learn.

Actually, I lied, there were two SNAFUs. That was the second one. The first was when I was heading out to get Tim at the train, dressed for the party that was to happen after I picked him up, and tripped on the wet stairs and fell down three concrete steps, baby in arms, onto the front walk.

The baby started crying. My first fear was that she had smacked her head on the steps. She was not bleeding, so my second, rather real, fear was that I had broken my leg, which hurt like no one's business. Fortunately, my nurse practitioner neighbor (and the corrections officer who lives on the other side, but his particular skill set was less in demand at that moment) heard me fall and rushed into my yard. Both parties proclaimed the baby was fine, just scared. I determined that since I could stand, my leg was not broken. And then Bob, the corrections officer, looked at the ground.

"I blame the heels!" he joked.

And then my third fear became that my gorgeous patent black stilettos were ruined. You don't even understand. They are Via Spigas, something like $300 retail that I had gotten in an incredible deal (I think I paid about $75, maybe less) for a friend's wedding the year before, and I adore them more than one probably should a pair of shoes.

Fortunately, sometimes the adage that you get what you (should) pay for rings true and they are a bit scuffed but still really hot.

I know you care.

For the record, I am really good at heels, so we should blame the rain, not the beautiful shoes.

For the second record, I didn't even think of the shoes until the baby was no longer crying and was happily trying to eat my necklace, so try not to judge me too hard.

Tim dropped me off at the bride to be's house and took the girls home, and we went to dinner in Providence, which was fun and entertaining and we made sure Miss Meg sampled all kinds of non-juice beverages.

A snapshot from dinner:

Meg is poking her salad with a fork. "Why, if salad is so good and so good for you, is it impossible to get on a fork?"

I look over. "It's a lettuce defense mechanism. That's evolution, muthafuggas." (Yeah, I'm classy.)

Meg cracked up. "When I when the lottery, I'm flying you to Texas to meet the bloggess. Because I think you two would have a lot of fun. And there would possibly be explosions."

I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me, Meg.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lights, sirens, action

Over the past year or two, Tim and I have had this recurring discussion.

"Kim, we need a new mattress. This one is getting a dip in it."

"It'll be fine, we can't afford a new mattress." And he would agree, and we'd let the matter lie for awhile, but this year, the "little dip" turned into a canyon and Tim was left clinging to the center of the mattress as the side dipped away at an alarming slope. So we went out this weekend, tested some floor models and came to a decision. Yesterday I took the kids to make the appointed purchase.

I never should have left the house. Mary wasn't feeling well, the baby was teething, it was drizzly and cold and generally just a cruddy day. But I pushed on anyway, loaded the kids up and headed down the highway.

Not two exits down after Providence, my car ran over some debris in the road. I heard a thump, what sounded like some metal, but I couldn't see anything and the car seemed to have taken it in stride, so I continued to the store. I gave the undercarriage a look in the parking lot, but everything seemed fine. I kept insisting I smelled fuel, my mother in law kept telling me I was nuts, if I'd broken the line, I'd have known it long before. I agreed and drove with the windows down.

Well, later that afternoon I bought some gas, enough so that when I returned home I noticed the puddle under the car. Further investigation turned up a big gash in the side of the tank. I called my mechanic.

"We can get you a tank from a salvage yard," the man on the phone said. "Just get it towed here."

Is is bad that until that moment it hadn't registered with me that I couldn't just get in the car when Tim got home and drive it to Warwick?


No one ever called me a car person.

So I called AAA.

"Sure, we can tow it for you," they said. Excellent, I thought. "You just need to call the fire department and have them check the car, it takes like five minutes, but they have to say it's safe to tow."

So I started Step 4 in what was feeling like a very long process and called the dispatch line, who promised to send "someone" out shortly. I figured they'd send a car with a firefighter in it.

And then I heard the siren.

My girls were thrilled as they watched from the door and saw a massive firetruck, complete with whirling lights and siren, roll up in front of the house. And I was thrilled when some of the best looking men I'd ever seen in my life got off that truck. (What? I'm looking at a pricey car repair here, I have to take my cheap thrills where I can get them.)

"I have a gash in the gas tank," I said. Firefighter A took a look.

"I guess you do!" he said. "I can fit four fingers in there! How'd you drive this thing home, anyway?"

"I don't know," I said. "Is it safe to tow?"

"Oh yeah," he said with a laugh. "It's empty. You can have it towed."

And away they went.

AAA arrived...and promptly towed the car to the wrong bodyshop. I spent the morning rectifying that.

With any luck, the car should be back at the same time the mattress is being delivered. I thought I was hot stuff because I'd managed to save about $300 on the bed's purchase price by comparison shopping.

The universe has a funny sense of humor.

Is it socially acceptable to begin drinking at 11 a.m.?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


This is the third time (today!) that I've tried to write an entry about ADHD. That's kind of telling, isn't it? I was diagnosed in middle school but the writing was on the wall long before that - and any parent who has an elementary aged kid with a similar diagnosis will probably recognize the following:

"Mommy," I chirped at bedtime, sometime in elementary school. "Last week in health class we talked about how drugs are BAD!"

"I see," she said, tucking me in.

"And I said I know drugs are bad, because [insert name of distant relative I had never actually ever met] is in jail." And my mother blanched as she realized that is exactly why she was getting the side eye from the teacher at her last parent volunteer day.


"Mrs. R," the second grade teacher said at conferences, "We've never actually had to tell a student to stop reading before. But Kimberly is sneaking novels during math hour and not actually doing any math..."

Or how about the six million fights between my brother and I that were probably my fault (though I maintain he was quite the pot stirrer in his day) but that evolved over absolutely nothing whatsoever, but were the end of the world to me?

Yeah, for me, Ritalin was a godsend. But something happens when you become an adult and learn your own coping mechanisms sometimes, and that something is that every so often, your ADHD becomes a hell of an asset and you don't need the medication anymore. As a reporter? It was great. There was one week where I turned in something like 16 different stories and that was great, because I never, ever got bored. I copy edited things for fun, because spot-the-errors is like a big, fun word puzzle (and when they put me in charge of the interns, it was kind of like shooting fish in a barrel, but I digress). I enjoyed gathering police reports, then going to a school to cover a play, then covering a meeting on budgets until 2 a.m. and writing everything up for 9 the next day (because, much to my editors' annoyance, I write best under the gun and deadline morning is perfect for that kind of pressure cooker).

Then I worked for a bank and had the fastest call time EVER. Of course, I repeatedly got called in for things I would miss in the call (proper goodbye with nine million sales pitches because I hate sales pitches and so do the people calling in, for instance), but still.

And now, as a stay at home mom?

Mixed results.

For instance, I am great at coming up with stuff on the fly and can be flexible. So we planned to go to the zoo but it's raining, let's go see Grandma for lunch! You want to do play doh for six hours? Go for it! Let's build a big fort out of sheets! I can also get really in the groove and have this place spotless in record time (that doesn't happen too often but dammit I am capable).

And then it can be not so great. To wit:

Staying up far too late because it's finally quiet and the book is that good, because something in my brain makes me forget that yes, the kids wake up before seven every day. Every. Day. That book will exist tomorrow. You don't need to read it all  now. (But I do, says the math class dodging girl and the woman who used to surf the Net at work in between interviews.)

Or when I forget to do laundry for far too long and the two year old winds up borrowing the four year old's underwear and walks around hitching them up like a bagman all day.

Or today. Yesterday, we toured a preschool in hopes of finding Mary a more full time place for next fall. It's a great school. I liked it, Mary liked it. Today I called the head teacher and told her we would be dropping off the application packet and deposit check first thing Wednesday morning. And now? Now I can't find the application packet.

It's in a big, red folder.

I just got it 12 hours ago. 

This house is not that big.

The only thing I did upon arriving home was put that packet down and now I can't find it.

They are holding the spot for Mary until Friday only. I know I can just get another packet if I want to, but I don't want to, because then I look like an idiot and also, that's just a guarantee I'll find the first damned packet as soon as I get  home.

I should stop writing and go look for that thing.

I really should.

Ten bucks says I do.

But not before we build a fort and have a snack.

Two out of three ain't bad.