Saturday, November 30, 2013

This entry not kosher

This is still not the "I have been sweeping up the same Cinderella head for a year" entry (though I have. And recently did again. Her body resides in the doll house awaiting the fates to align and the head and the tube of super glue to materialize at the same time and it never happens). Actually if you read the aside there, that's pretty much the whole entry. Hi, I suck at housekeeping, toy maintenance and keeping track of dangerous substances like super glue. And I'm a nanny!

Ahem. Sidestepping the myriad of issues I just left laying around and moving on to the real entry! Last night Tim and I took advantage of the fact that the older kids were out of the house and set up the Christmas tree and lights, nativity, stockings and various other little holiday knick knacks. Despite having a smallish house with little available surface space, I love Christmas and decorate accordingly. Then I stuck Sprinkles (the Elf on the Shelf) on top of the undecorated tree and eagerly anticipated the girls' arrival home. 

I missed the girls' arrival home. I was at the grocery store. Tim tells me there was much squealing, dancing and clapping, especially when Sprinkles was noticed. 

"I wonder what tricks she'll get up to this year!" Mary exclaimed.

Heh. So does Mommy, kiddo. 

Of course the rest of the day was mayhem as I tried to keep the kids from undecorating the little tabletop white tree. They managed to find a couple of stray ornaments - we were keeping the big box for later - and put them on the tree. And take them off. And try to crawl under the tree. And take the ornaments off. And on. And off.

"Don't touch the tree! Stop! No! Leave the ornaments, don't knock into it, stop trying to pull on the lights..." - insert a kid's name here, because they all took turns. I began to wonder if we could wrap presents that night, convince them Sunday was Christmas and take the whole thing down Monday while they were in school. Finally, by dinnertime, Anna was out and out not listening and messing with the tree. Tim called her over.

"Anna. Anna listen to me. You need to stop touching the tree. Do you want it to fall over and hurt you?"

"Would it hurt Sprinkles if it fell?" Tim sighed.

"She could fall over, yes. You could get hurt. The ornaments could break. You need to stop touching the tree. No one should touch the tree."

"Mama touches the tree."

"Okay, only grownups. We're going to decorate the tree soon but ornaments are for looking. Messing with the tree is a big person's job."

"When I'm bigger...?"

"When you're older you can touch the tree," Tim promised.

"Will ham make me older?" I almost choked. Tim was silent for a moment.

"Will - what, honey?"

"Will ham make you older? If I eat ham will I be older?" Anna fiddled with the hem of the Christmas dress she had insisted on wearing.

"Well, ham is good food and it will make you bigger and stronger..." Tim started, maintaining his composure far better than his wife, who was biting back hysterical laughter.

"Because," Anna kept on importantly, "last year I ate some ham on my pizza and now...well anyway can we have some pizza with ham on it?"

"Sure, Anna," Tim said, giving up.


"No, honey, we already had dinner. But sometime between now and Christmas we will eat ham." She brightened.

"But you still can't touch the tree," he finished.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Riddle me this

Just so you are all aware, I have an entry percolating right now that includes the phrase "I have been sweeping up the same Cinderella head for about a year now" but surprisingly, as true as that statement is, constructing a post around that is going to take some thought. And after this morning, I want to write about Mary anyway.

My kids are all approximately two years apart. Mary is only 21 months older than Anna. I love that - they compete for my attention like any other siblings do but there has never been a time when Mary remembers being an only child. As far back as she can remember, Anna has been part of her life and, as much as they fight sometimes, Mary still calls Anna her best friend. (Anna will say the same, unless she's trying to get Mary's goat, in which case she will smirk and announce LILY is her best friend and SHE ONLY HAS ONE, but I digress.)

On the other hand, being the oldest and having two younger sisters right behind her, Mary is in some respects young for her age. She's bright and ridiculously articulate, but, for instance, last Christmas she still wanted a Little People set. She had no idea who "Justin Beaver" (yes, really) was until sometime late in the school year. (For the record, I am totally fine with this, especially now that the young man has decided to become Canada's Most Humiliating Export.) The concepts of One Direction, Bratz and even Barbie were totally foreign to her until she started kindergarten at almost six. Again, this doesn't bother me in the slightest - her infancy and toddlerhood seemed to go by at the speed of light and I know it's not going to slow down any time soon. But it does provide me ample opportunity to be surprised by her. 

I took this shot before a ballet class a couple of weeks ago. It was chilly in the studio and she'd asked to wear my coat. I took a number of silly pictures of her - posing, mugging for the camera, goofing off with her sisters - but I also got this shot and my heart skipped a beat. There is no "baby" in this picture, no chubby preschooler, barely even a kindergartener. Suddenly I could see the young lady my oldest is becoming and it was breathtaking. 

She is six. Sometimes she acts so grown up and other times she acts, well, like she's six, with all the glorious moods and FEELINGS the age implies. It's unpredictable and sometimes frustrating but often, often, leads to little moments you never would have seen coming. This morning, in the car, she piped up. 

"Mommy I made up a joke!"

I have to admit, I cringed a little inside. The "jokes" Mary and Anna usually come up with are of the totally age appropriate but awful "knock knock! who's there? MACARONI!" variety, which wouldn't be so bad except they will repeat them constantly, expecting uproarious laughter every time.

"Oh yeah?" I asked, carefully backing out into the preschool parking lot. Small lot, lots and lots of giant SUVs, a million parents who's schedules are all the most important things in the world - stress! 

She paused. I could see the anticipation bright in her eyes.

"What kind of flowers can blow bubbles?" she asked, barely containing her excitement.

"I don't know, honey, what kind?"

"TULIPS!" she crowed, dissolving into giggles. I joined her. 

"Mary, that's really funny!" I said. "Did you just make that up?"

"Yeah!" she said, and I could hear the pride in her voice. She knew she had gotten it right, that what she had come up with was truly funny. She told the joke again, and I laughed, again. We drove off to Dunkin Donuts to get a caffeine (me) and donut (them) fix before I had to take her to school and she laughed the entire way. 

"Welcome to Dunkin Donuts what can I get for you today?"

"TULIPS!" Mary screamed happily from her booster. 

"Hi I'll have a medium iced caramel swirl -"


"-skim milk no sugar and -"

"TWOOYIPS!" Lily screeched, getting in on the action. 

"- one-"

"Tulips," Mary said happily to herself, grinning. 

"-no, two, old fashioned donuts."

What can I say? It was a celebration.
Just don't grow up too fast, kid. Mommy won't be able to take it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Planes, trains and Tinkerbell

I don't want to think about how long it's been since I've blogged. It's not that I think anyone is waiting with bated breath to see what shenanigans my kids have got up to (though I think my mother might be, but that's more out of a sense of karmic justice than anything else). Mostly I like writing so I can look back on the days with my kids, but then the day ends and I'm tired and vegging out in front of Netflix with a Sam Adams seems like a much more appealing activity.

But I digress. 

We live close enough to the school that we can walk Mary to kindergarten every day. It's worked out pretty well so far. The kids race to the next stop sign or crosswalk, look out for seasonal decorations, walk on rock walls. I've met more neighbors in the past two months than I think I have in seven years of residency. And hey, free exercise!

This morning was crisp but still above freezing. The light was beautiful and golden. I put kids in hats and coats and we strolled off. Anna was enjoying a day off from preschool because we had a play date planned with a friend she hadn't seen in awhile and you're only four once. (Although, mothers of other four year olds? It's kind of a long age, am I right? I feel very, very tired some days.)

We walked to the end of the block and found our first "regular" - the absolutely terrifying large dog that seems barely contained by a mishmash of fence pieces and possesses a menacing bark. Mary and Anna shied away to the inside of the sidewalk, as far away from the yard across the street as possible. Lily leaned forward in her stroller and shook her hand towards the fence.

"SHH DOGGIE!" she admonished. "BE QUIET! SHHH DOGGIE! Doggie yowed (loud)," she informed me sagely, shrugging her hands and facing forward once more. 

We turned the corner and Anna found a giant puddle left over from yesterday's rain.

"No," I said quickly, seeing the glint in her eye. We already have a pair of sneakers drying out from yesterday's adventure, thanks. The girls raced ahead to the next stop sign, announcing loudly that they had both won. Lily sat in her stroller, content to wake the dead by announcing every vehicle that drove by.


If the neighbors aren't morning people I apologize. 

Finally we got to the school, where the crossing guard greeted us warmly. No, seriously - she is the nicest person I think I've met in a long time and she's cheerful despite standing in the middle of the street in some pretty lousy weather. 

"Hiiiii!" Lily called from her stroller, waving like the Queen. 

"Good morning cutie," she replied. 

"Mommy how come she's wearing GLOVES today?" Mary asked me, referring to the guard's bright green gloves in the same shade of "see you coming" green as her (uniform?) jacket.

"Because it gets chilly standing outside for a long time," I said.

"Why do they match her coat?"

"Well see how she's waving at the traffic? It's probably so the drivers can see-"

"MAYBE SHE LIKES GREEN A LOT JUST LIKE TINKERBELL, MARY!" Anna shouted, loud enough that several teachers turned around. 

"Oh, okay," Mary said complacently, walking ahead and greeting approximately 3,000 Kindergarten friends as Lily continued her traffic narration and Anna continued waxing poetic about Tinkerbell. The bell rang, the kids filed in, and we left the school yard.

We went home, had a nice play date and a lovely morning and afternoon. When we left to pick up Mary, Anna was wearing her pink coat, a blue cardigan, jeans and floor-length Cinderella costume. For the fourth time this week. Except this time she had also added a magic wand to the getup.

And I'm surprised the crossing guard remembers us.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Let's get a dog and name him Turtle

  A few nights ago I went into the kitchen to start dishing out dinner and found Tim in there, chuckling to himself.

"You're raising Ramona," he said.

"Excuse me?" I asked, because first of all, awesome, and second of all, awesome. (I cannot hyperlink from the app I use to blog at the moment so if you do not know Ramona Quimby, I suggest a quick trip to Wikipedia and then hie thee to a library or Amazon, like, yesterday. You're welcome.)

"I came in and saw Lily sitting on the floor, holding the strawberry container like a bear, taking one bite out of each berry and carefully putting it back." I looked in the little plastic supermarket container and saw the half masticated berries, thanked my lucky stars I had already assembled the salad for which they were purchased and laughed too. Of course one of my kids would do that. Of course it was Lily, because if any of my kids are going to draw on the walls, or find the train whistle I SWEAR I HID ON TOP OF THE FRIDGE, or take one bite out of a hundred pieces of fruit that she doesn't really like, well, it's going to be Lily. I thought Anna was my master of hijinks and odd situations, and then Lily hit toddlerhood and I realized how wrong I was.

That is until the other day. I was in my room folding laundry/cleaning/hiding out and surfing Facebook (two lies and a truth, who wants to play a game?) when I heard Anna start crying down the hall. It wasn't her hurt cry, but it wasn't her "someone took my toys and the balance of my universe is forever shattered" battle wail either. I was making my way for her when she burst into the room, wailing louder and louder.

"Anna what is it?"


There are few things that will put a cold grip around my stomach but a sentence like that is one of them. 

"Okay," I said, forcing myself to sound calm and breathe deeply. "What did you swallow?"

"ONE OF THESE!" she wailed, holding out an entire popsicle stick, a remnant from the kids' snack earlier. My eyes went wide.

"You ate a popsicle stick?" I asked incredulously. My lizard brain was informing me "no way did she swallow a whole popsicle stick" but the emotional brain was looking at Anna, who has done and said some pretty weird stuff in her four years on earth. "A WHOLE POPSICLE STICK?"


"You mean you put it in your mouth and chewed it up-" here comes the pantomime, and I realize I am raising Fudge as well. (Wikipedia. Fictional turtle death mentioned.) "-like this?"


I looked at the clock. 4:30. Pediatrician closed until tomorrow. Nearest walk in a bit of a drive and a nightmare with three kids. This doesn't seem 911 worthy but...

"Poison control," the woman answered, sounding entirely too calm.

"Hi. I'm not sure if you can help me. I mean, you probably can but I don't know if I'm calling the right place but the doctor is closed and this doesn't SEEM like a 911 thing but of course if it is I can call 911, I mean, I don't mind, but okay, my four year old ate a popsicle stick. She says the whole thing. I think she ate a piece of it or something but regardless, MY CHILD ATE WOOD. SPLINTERY WOOD."

"Okay," the woman said. I know they're paid to be calm in all circumstances but this is a woman who will never die of a heart attack. "I can help you with that. What city are you calling from?"

I hate giving my city. I don't know why. I don't mind now because this time, unlike when Mary sucked on a tube of medicated skin cream or ate - okay, I don't remember what but I know I've had to call twice before and yes I AM A GOOD MOTHER DAMMIT - this one is not my fault. 

Long story short, amid Anna's wails and Mary's now loud assertions that Anna only ate a little piece, she just broke it off and ATE IT, Mommy, and ISN'T THAT SILLY?, I am told that as long as my child isn't choking or having trouble using the bathroom she's probably fine, but take her in if she starts acting like she can't breathe or digest things properly. 

I get off the phone and lean against the wall. Anna has stopped crying after multiple reassurances that Mary is not a doctor and the popsicle stick will not be maintaining permanent residency in her abdominal cavity. Lily and Mary have moved on to trying to coax the cat out from under my bed. And I have a mountain of chores left and dinner to make.

"Mama?" Anna asks brightly. "Can I have another popsicle?"

"No, Anna. No more popsicles."

"But I bet it would make that stick I ate just pop right out!"

"You know what kid? Sure. Have a popsicle."

Because Mommy's having a drink.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Friends, Bostonians, Countrymen, lend me your ears

This morning Tim took a personal day to take Anna to a specialist's appointment in Boston and I was a basket case.

To start this off and not cause a lot of worry, I want to stress that Anna is FINE. We weren't ruling out any horrible illnesses or anything. And the procedure/test the nurse had said she was to undergo was not some horrible thing, either, in the grand scheme of the medical world, but for her privacy that's all I'm going to say about the specifics of the matter. 

I knew she wasn't going to like the procedure. It's one I had done as a kid and I remember freaking the hell out over it, and I was older than she was. I remember my mother almost in tears. I am told that when it was over, a nurse comfortingly tried to say "now that wasn't so bad was it?" and I sat up on the gurney, looked at her and tearfully said "HOW could you do that to a LITTLE GIRL?"

She left the room in tears and my parents began thinking about putting me in the performing arts. Hi, Mom!

So I knew Anna would be fine regardless. But I also knew she was going to be frightened, and cry, and it was going to be tough and I was almost in tears as she and Tim embarked on their drive to the train station. (Lest anyone think I am a horrible mother for abandoning my daughter on the brink of medical trauma, she had the choice and picked her daddy for a companion.)

"Bye Anna, be good and Daddy will get you an ice cream after."

"I only gonna cry at the hurting parts," she said solemnly, then smiled, and I almost sobbed.

The test was scheduled for 10:30. At 10 I tried to call to talk to her but couldn't get through. The phone rang before 11.

"How'd it go?" I asked with no preamble whatsoever. I didn't hear screaming in the background, or tearful requests for Mommy or anything. Did they drug her?

"She did great," Tim enthused.

"Really??" I was stunned. Literally stunned. This is the kid who sobbed like I was boiling her when she had to lay on her back for an XRAY and I was standing right there. 

"It wasn't the test they said," he clarified. "This was some other type of ultrasound stuff. She didn't make a peep."

"Let me talk to her."

"Hi Mama!" Anna sounded like she could have been anywhere. She certainly seemed unscathed.

"Anna, you had pictures taken again?"

"Yeah, I did! It tickled! So soft..." I thought I heard, and then she started mumbling so Tim recovered the phone.

"Did you get all that?" he asked.

"Only that it tickled and then...something else? What happened?"

"Oh. She was patting my arm hair and saying it was soft. She's changed subjects."

Of course she had.

"Well, anyway, it went fine and we're just waiting for the doctor to see us so I'll let you know how it goes!"

An hour or so went by and I hadn't heard anything. I needed to know what train my two would be on, so I called back. This time I heard screaming. Rampant, loud, soul-shattering screaming. Tortured screaming. Wails.

"Tim WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" I asked, possibly slightly hysterically.

A pause.


More wails. More tortured screams.

"She won't pee in the cup so we can see the doctor," he said, trying to maintain a level tone of voice.

And there's another one destined for community theater.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Duck weather

Today was the first day all week I woke up and wasn't immediately wishing for (Sunday and Monday) or turning on (Tuesday and Wednesday, thank God we finally got it installed) the air conditioner. The weather was nice, not too humid, and I hustled the kids outside to play.

Of course, it had rained the night before and no one wanted to play on the grass. Yesterday when it was boiling and I was worried about them being in the heat too long they were DYING to play in the sprinkler and dump the wading pool and roll around the lawn, but I guess it's not as fun if it doesn't result in a dramatic spike in the water bill. When the mosquitos started in, I asked who wanted to go inside.

"Me!" Mary said, abandoning her attempts at making a "fairy garden" out of sticks and clover in my as yet unplanted corner garden. (Tomatoes. Someday. Maybe.)

"I go inside" Lily babbled, heading for the gate. "I go inside. SHOES! SHOES! SHOES!" 

"I want to stay out here," Anna said. Now, our yard is totally fenced and Anna can't work the gate on her own, so I gave my consent, reminding her that the door to the house was open and I'd be watching her through the window (so for the love of God, leave the hose alone). 

We weren't in the house five minutes before I heard Anna come in, stop, and then open the door again.

"Anna! Enough with the door!"

"I gotta get Ducky!" she called from the yard. "Ducky needs to get warm!"

"Ducky is a stick she found," Mary informed me. "A little stick."

Fine, okay, whatever. You have rooms of toys but you want to play with twigs, go for it. The other day Baby G licked the fireplace. You learn to roll with it. 

I should have seen it coming. Anna came in with Ducky. Mary and Lily then decided all of the toys in the house paled in comparison to Anna's arboreal offering. I was down the hall but I could hear the arguing begin and it wasn't even lunchtime.

In case you were curious, no, we do not in fact live in an area devoid of trees and foliage. Ducky was not the only stick in the yard, but it was THE only stick worth fighting to the death over.

The other two lost interest relatively quickly but Anna ran around for 15 minutes making quacking noises before curiosity finally got the better of me and I wanted a closer look. 

"Anna, come here for a sec," I called. I had already posted on Facebook about Ducky and wanted to take her picture. She came down the hall, proudly holding her twig aloft. 

"Quack quack," she crowed. (That sentence looks like it shouldn't make sense but it's totally what she did.) I looked. And damned if that stick doesn't look like a duck after all.

Sorry, kid. Mommy just thought you were nuts. I know I'll be going nuts when, inevitably, at some point today the wail goes up: "Where's DUCKY?" Because these are my kids and Mary still mourns her missing fava bean from November. 

Quack quack, kid.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Don't call us

"Mommy, can you play with me?"

I looked up from my Very Important iPad Time and regarded Mary, who had just whirled into the living room like a tiny blonde tornado. It wasn't even noon yet and she and her sisters had already been outside for hours, had a snack, destroyed two bedrooms (my God...the toys...I swear they're breeding at night) and gone through the bookshelf.

"Sure, honey, what are we playing?"


I smiled. "Princesses" with Mary still mainly revolves around saying which princess you are, talking about your dress and then forgetting the game entirely in favor of something else. (Goldfish crackers, puzzles, tinfoil...)

"Okay, who am I?"

"You can be Rapunzel! And I will be Ariel. Do you know the Rapunzel movie really, really well?"

No, honey, that was someone else who sat through "Tangled" seventy five thousand times before you finally turned your affections to "Brave."

"Sure, Mary," I reply, thinking, well, maybe this time we're actually going to play something. 

"Okay, because you have to do the right things, just like in the movie." Okay then!

"In the movie, Rapunzel's hair glows," Anna said, eyeing me critically from her position at the other end of the living room, where the Little People princesses were sitting around a toy table, upon which several of the Seven Dwarves were perched in a bizarre tableau. 

"Her hair. It glows." I could see her assessing my shoulder length red hair for long, blonde or glowing qualities and it coming up lacking.

"It's okay, Mommy, you don't have to do EVERYTHING like the movie," Mary assured me, tilting her head and smiling sympathetically. Lily and Gigi continued playing with the toy house, ignoring this casting session gone awry. 

"Thanks Mary," I said, as she skipped off. "Um...where are you going?"

"I'm gonna go play Hi-Lo Hamsters," she said brightly.

Game over. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cake Wars

Real talk here: I'm not about to start calling myself Betty Crocker by any stretch of the imagination, but in general, I'm pretty decent in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking. I'm not the world's most intuitive cook, but give me a recipe or some basic directions and what comes out of the oven is probably going to look and taste basically like it's supposed to.

I'm in a play right now and have rehearsal three nights a week. One of those nights - tonight - is Tim's birthday. So I planned an early dinner at a place he really enjoys but that we rarely visit because it's out of the way and not really my cup of tea, but the problem remained with the cake. I had planned to bake it with the girls this morning, but then realized that we were probably going to have to do the whole cake singing extravaganza after lunch in order to get to dinner on time. Plus, I have Baby G today. I decided to make the cake after rehearsal on Tuesday and make the frosting with the girls in the morning.

I got home around 10:30. By the time I had straightened up a little, assembled my ingredients and said goodnight to Tim, it was 11. I pulled out the recipe and realized that I had very little cake flour.

Now HERE is where I should have stopped, decided that I could hit the supermarket in the morning and just called it good. But no. That would imply a degree of reason and forethought that I just don't possess. Well, no, to be honest, I did consider that possibility, I just rejected it outright because I had decided to bake that cake right then, dammit. Instead I went online and found a web site that would give me the cake flour to multipurpose flour ratio and converted away.

I should have known something was up when the cake batter seemed too thick. It was almost...gelatinous? I have no idea. "Cake is done when the top is springy and the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan," said Recipes for Dummies. Pulling away? My batter seemed loathe to even touch the sides of the pan. It jiggled and mocked me as I attempted to spread it. SPREAD IT. When was the last time you had to spread cake batter? But it tasted okay and it smelled fine - amazing, even - as it baked and in the proper amount of time it rose and looked just great, so I considered the whole thing a success. I pulled the cakes out of the oven and waited for them to cool a bit so I could pop them out of the pans.

Oh, right, that takes a long time and here it was around midnight. I sat on the couch and surfed the Net. My eyes got heavier and heavier. The pans were still warm. Finally I just covered the pans with Saran Wrap, put them up out of the way and fell asleep.

You can see where this is going, can't you? This morning when I went to pop one cake out of the refused to budge. At all. Even a little. I ran a knife around the edge over and over. Tried again. Nothing. Turned the pan over onto the desired surface and gave it a good hard whack, trying to evenly distribute the pressure over the bottom of the pan.

Three pieces of cake fell out, one big, two small. I glared at it, then at the pan, where a sticky film of cake clung stalwartly to the yes-I-DID-grease-and-flour bottom. I decided that would be the bottom layer. 

The second pan yielded worse results, if that was possible. 

"DAMMIT!" I yelled. A little blonde head peeked around the corner, just up from bed. Tim came into the kitchen behind Mary.

"What happened?"

"YOUR CAKE FELL APART AND I DON'T HAVE TIME OR INGREDIENTS FOR ANOTHER," I ranted, dropping hunk after hunk of cake into a large mixing bowl. "I can't frost it, it's too dense, and I ruined the whole thing."

"It's fine," Tim said, trying to hug me and backing up when he caught the look in my eye. "It's FINE. We're still going to dinner, we can do cake another time..."

"Mommy next time it'll be fine!" Mary chirped. "We can make it again. I can help you! We can try it again and I'll help and then it will be-"

"Mary, don't talk to Mommy right now," Tim advised sagely. 

"Your cake is in a bowl!" I raged.

"Yeah but it still tastes good," he said, helping himself to a small piece, then a larger one. Mary, and now Anna and Lily, eyed the bowl. I gave up and put a small piece on three small plates.

"Cake for breakfast," I sighed. I sensed a trip to the grocery store for an ice cream cake in my near future.

"YAAAAAAAY!" Mary and Anna squealed. 

"I like bowl cake," Tim said, wandering off to get ready for the day. "Let's have it every year."

Friday, June 14, 2013

It takes a village in light up shoes.

Mary's last day of school was last Friday, but thanks to a series of commitments and work, today was the first day I didn't have to be both awake and presentable by 6:45.  (Don't worry, the kids took care of making sure I was up at an eye-blearing 6:15 or so.) I enjoyed a lazy morning - feeding the kids oatmeal in my scrubby pajamas, leisurely cleaning up the kitchen, and eventually making my way to the shower at 8.

At approximately 8:01 I remembered I had a 9:20 appointment on the other side of the highway, which requires at least 40 minutes of driving for what would normally take 15, and therefore I had 29 minutes to shower, dress, get the kids dressed and brush their hair and teeth and somehow wrangle a snack for them (Dunkin' Donuts to the rescue).

I hopped out of the shower at 8:05, which must be some kind of record now that I'm no longer sporting a haircut that would make K.D. Lang look like the feminine one, pulled together presentable outfits for the kids, made sure everyone was brushed, washed and had gone to the bathroom and somehow got out the door by 8:30. They even had matching socks, which is a real accomplishment around here. (If anyone really likes pairing up socks, I have a laundry basket with your name on it and all the coffee you can hold.)

Somewhere around three minutes into the drive, my pulse returned to a somewhat normal rate, despite Anna and Lily in the backseat gleefully kicking the back of the front seats to make their shoes light up. Mary looked at Lily's "new" shoes, hand me downs from Anna?

"Do Lily's shoes have light ups too?" she squealed as only a five year old girl can.

"They do!"

"Oh," she sighed sweetly. "I love those little shoes." I couldn't help but smile. The rain was letting up, the sun was starting to peek through and here was my oldest, acting like a kid from those chapter books I always hated because the little girls were always so much better behaved than I was. 

"Mary, you're a great big sister, you know that?" She beamed at me. "You get so happy for your little sisters, it's so nice!"

"Yeah..." she said reflectively. "But sometimes I get mad at Anna."

"That's okay," I responded, embracing the Teachable Moment. "It's okay to get mad. She gets mad at you, too. And one day, you'll probably get mad at Lily."

Mary paused.

"Mommy...I do get mad at Lily. A lot. You know why?"

"Why, baby?"

"Because she's the littlest and so she's the hardest to control!"

At that point I almost lost control of the car and drove off the road. I bit back laughter and tried to keep a neutral face. It almost worked.

"Who told you that, hon?" The cadence of kicking feet continued in the backseat. The line at Dunkin Donuts was too long and I mentally calculated the amount of time it would take to hit the next one.

"Mom-my," she laughed. "No one had to tell me that! I've been working with Lily for a long time now!"

Kick, kick, kick.

The next Dunkin Donuts had a long line but since traffic had been okay, we waited it out and were rewarded with fresh donuts, which in turn rewarded me with a chocolate covered two year old upon pulling into the parking lot. 

When we got to the doctor's, my blood pressure was a good 20 points higher than normal.

I have no idea why.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Herding cats

Going someplace with four children under the age of six is always an adventure, particularly when two of the kids are alarmingly close in age and infants. Sometimes you get polite comments, sometimes you get stares, very occasionally you get outwardly snide comments. My Facebook friends know how I dealt with the last one - a big dumb smile and a cheerful "Boy, I wish I knew what caused that!" I don't mind the social commentary but regardless, schlepping four kids anywhere is a chore I prefer to avoid at all costs.

Sometimes, though, you have to bite the bullet. Today I realized that despite a run to the grocery story the day before, I had forgotten to buy bread. I also had to get over to the elementary school and pick up a packet of information for incoming Kindergarten students (which - can you believe it? NO). Neither of those could wait until Baby G went home or Tim arrived after work, so away we went.

I considered driving to cut our time out of the house, but it was a mild day and there were two other contributing factors: I had a quarter tank of gas to last me until Friday and the scale has not budged since I closed Sweeney Todd a month and change ago. In fact, it may have crept up a pound or two. How long can I blame that on "just water?" So we started walking.

Walking anywhere with four kids is an exercise in multitasking. Mary wants to run ahead and is built like I was as a kid - tall with all her height in her legs. Anna wants to run ahead and "race" but she's built like a spark plug - tons of energy in this compact little body that doesn't stand a chance against her older sister at this point. So eventually she gets annoyed and walks next to me, or lags behind, or wanders out into the middle of the road before I can frantically call her back, at which point she will turn to me dreamily and start dawdling back to the sidewalk before I grab her arm and yank her to safety.

"Hey, don't pull me!" she snaps indignantly, as though not wanting her to become a cartoon pancake version of herself is an unreasonable goal for motherhood. 

It's true, though - I'm quite unreasonable. Don't walk through the puddles in your light up sneakers. Stay on the sidewalks  - don't walk on people's lawns. Unless there are no sidewalks, then yes, on the very edges of the lawns but DON'T try to balance on the curb (whyyyy?) and stop picking the leaves off of people's trees. Yes, even if you can "really really!" reach them. Don't make eye contact with the man smoking pot in his garage in the middle of the morning. When I pull you off the street for the thousandth time as a BMW goes roaring by at 40 mph, pointing and saying "hey, Mom, look, a car!" is really just stating the obvious, my darling.

So the older girls raced and Mary won 99 percent of the marathons between stop signs and cross streets. Anna only won when I happened to tell them to stop for some reason. She would listen, wait until I was done, and then yell "Go Mary!" and take off before Mary could stop staring at the grass, or her shoes, or the stroller, or absolutely nothing. 

Lily co-operated today and did not protest her clothing, her shoes, her socks or the indignities of being strapped in a stroller. She did sit there like a tiny dictator and mimic me by yelling "STOP" at the girls when they ran ahead and arrived at the next stop sign. The hand wave and finger wagging was a nice addition to the repertoire.

About halfway through the walk, or The Point of No Return, Anna will invariably announce she's sick of walking and demand to get in the "cawwidge." The "cawwidge" is full of babies I wouldn't trust walking down a sidewalk if you gave me a million dollars so I deny her. She sulks for a moment and then will run ahead, legs akimbo, red faced, arms flying free, until the next stop sign, where she will reiterate her desire to not walk, be home, be in the carriage. 

This will last, in quiet fashion, until the grocery shopping is done and we are leaving the store. Then the following happens:

Mary: Where are we going now, Mommy?
- Home, to make lunch.


Mary: Can't we go someplace else?

- No, we need to have lunch now. Come on, hold hands until we get to the sidewalk.



All the way home. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

If you like pina coladas

  I have three small children. (If you are surprised at this you have clearly not been reading this blog well.) My furniture and walls, despite my best efforts, are "loved." So while our living room sofa had decidedly seen better days, I was hesitant to shell out any kind of money for decent furniture, at least until the smallest ankle biter is past the "crayons for all surfaces!" stage. My fear of bedbugs keeps me from buying used unless I know the person already, so I had resigned myself to our living room furniture.

Lucky for me, my parents, having no ankle biters in the house and only well-behaved animals, decided to replace their family room furniture and today my dad drove up, leaving me the proud recipient of two extremely comfortable pieces of seating and making the girls thrilled at the visit from Boppa. In fact, the couches were scarcely in place and lunch had barely been eaten before they were begging my dad to take them for a walk. 

"That sounds fun," I said. "I'll put Lily down for a nap and you guys can have fun." I took the baby into my room to rock her and the girls headed out. 

In no time, Lily was fast asleep and I ventured out into the main part of the house, where I saw a CVS bag on my dining room table. Next to the bag were, in no particular order, a whole coconut, a small awl and a Gymboree coupon my mother had received in the mail. I smiled at the sheer randomness of the items and waited for the kids to return.

"Boppa said he has a treat for us!" the girls squealed as they ran up the front steps. We made our way inside where my dad proceeded to use the little awl to poke holes in the coconut and drain the milk. I actually like drinking coconut milk, but this looked a little cloudy to me. Thinking nothing of it, we made our way outside with a hammer, where my dad proceeded to sit the now-drained coconut on the front step and bash it with the hammer.

Immediately, the outer shell flaked away, the coconut split in half and the white, round coconut slithered out of the shell.

Yes, you read that right.

No, coconuts do not "slither" under normal circumstances, in fact, one of the ways you can justify consuming all those "good fats" is the fact that you have to perform an aerobic workout just to get to the meat normally.

"That doesn't look right," my dad said. He hit it one more time, the rest of the shell flaked (yes, flaked) away, revealing a greenish gray mottling on the white meat.

"Ew," I said.

"COCONUT!" the girls cried, clearly knowing no better but trusting their mother and grandfather would not give them the runs just in time for Easter.

"Sorry," my dad said. "We can't eat this. Boppa wanted to bring you a nice treat but this one is no good. We'll try again another time."

I looked at the dismal faces of my two oldest and decided to play Supermom.

"Dad, watch the kids for two minutes," I said. "I'm going to the grocery store."


I go to the car, drive to the store, fight the Good Friday crowds, remember I needed apples for a baking project, grabbed an on-sale pineapple because I am horribly easily influenced, selected a coconut and got out of Dodge. 

"Homemade pina coladas tonight?" the cashier asked, seeing my purchases. 

I walked into the house and the girls cheered - quietly, because Lily was still somehow asleep.

We went back to the kitchen, Dad cleaned the awl and jabbed at the coconut. 

"That went in awfully easy," he said. He tipped the coconut and a few drops of cloudy liquid dripped into the glass.

"Hm," he said. I sniffed it.

"God, that's pungent," I offered diplomatically.

"Round two," my dad said, and we headed out to the front steps, where by this point the neighbors were glancing at us sideways. My dad struck the coconut.

My dad struck his thumb.

My dad managed not to introduce my kids to any four letter words (I would not have been so controlled) and struck the coconut again, which split easily, cracked easily, and revealed a gray-green fruit.

"Ugh," I said.

"Sorry kids," my dad said. 

"Screw that, I'm returning it," I announced, grabbing the putrid fruit, ignoring the glass of what I was now calling "coconut vodka" and trying to find which plastic Shaw's bag under the sink had my recipet before deciding it didn't matter and heading back to the store.

This time I walked up to customer service.

"Hi," I said to the twelve year old behind the counter (okay, I'm just getting old, she was probably 19 or something obscene like that). "I just bought this, I don't have a recipet, but I need to exchange my coconut," I announced, handing her the bag.

"You...just want a new coconut?" she asked.

"Right, because this one looks like this," I said, yanking back the shell and peforming a Phantom of the Opera-esque reveal. She recoiled.


"Right, I can't cook with that," I said. She told me to get another, and when I returned, a small crowd was gathered around EbolaNut. 

"She just bought it," one whispered.

"Ew," echoed another.

"Have a nice day," the girl said, bagging my new nut.

Return home, Dad finds it harder to get the awl in the coconut, which we find reassuring. We return outside, where Dad has a hell of a time getting the shell to crack, and hey, who'd have thunk it, non-rotten coconuts don't slither.

Back inside with our prize, the girls proceeded to eat it like it was going out of style. 

But I saved enough for a homemade pina colada.

We earned it.