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.