Sunday, September 30, 2007

I don't think I can count chocolate as the 5th food group

OK, my consumption of chocolate is veering on the totally out of control side of the issue. Yes, I'm afraid it is an issue. Of major proportions. After all, having chocolate instead of meals is just not all that healthy. Some chocolate is good. Very good. I'm not talking about the taste. That is always good. No, I'm talking about the volume. Some chocolate is good. For you. For ME. It's good psychologically, physically...well, maybe that's a slight stretch, but I do get that flush/rush that races through my skin. Something akin to an ... Yes, I'm afraid so. I know. I've got serious problems. Hey at least I'm admitting to them.

I admitted I was powerless over chocolate and I ... Sorry, Bill. Not ready to give up the ol' chocolat, yet. Chocolate helps. Chocolate helps a lot. When I'm stressed. When I'm just not willing to face things. When I'm happy. Hell, it helps in any circumstance. Some have their wine, their shot of tequila. I have my chocolate. Which brings me back to the original point which is... I'm eating too much of it. My pants are starting to hug my legs a bit too tightly and the tummy ain't what it used to be baby. Nope. I used to have built in exercise with BOY. Sprinting after him all day long plus the constant lifting of both BOY and GIRL gave me awesome arms and kept me in good shape. Well decent. But, alas, they are a bit older now (the kids! well, yes my arms, too) and less impulsive and well...the chocolate is showing. And my appetite for IT seems to be growing. And GROWING. And, truthfully, I think that chocolate is actually stalking me. Not the other way around. Yes, stalking ME. I mean, how can you explain how it finds me every time? Every time. I call that stalking.

I don't always succeed in hiding it.

No, you cannot have this chocolate, BOY. This is Mommy's chocolate.

But, I want chalkolot. I NEED chalkolot.

It appears that the need for chalkolot is contagious. I'm going to have to work on my needs. I don't think I can count chocolate as the 5th food group, but I'm sure going to try. I better polish off this Symphony bar right here and now. I sure don't want it stalking BOY in the morning. I need to protect him from the chalkolot stalker.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

I love school!!

I've never seen someone love school as much as GIRL. She is crazy about it.

GIRL, do you like school?


When we pick her up at the end of the day she is covered in paint splatters and always races over with a huge hug and smile. She comes home with stacks of art projects, probably 6-8 paintings/drawings a week. It is fabulous and abundant. So abundant that only after less than a month of school we have paintings on the bulletin board, paintings set aside to make note cards and a stack of art work that is starting to topple over. I predict in the next two months that we will have enough to paper the walls in the living room. Forget repainting everything- which we desperately need to do. We'll just paper! It will be a lot easier to cover up those little bits of dried food flung with tiny fists from highchairs that are now freeze dried and stuck on the walls from... 2 years ago. Cleaning the walls. Just not high on the priority list. But, that is something to think about...

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Friday, September 28, 2007

How did they get here? Little people.

Tonight I saw BOY & GIRL through a wall of glass. Outside looking in. They were finishing up their dessert and I was coming in from feeding the dogs their dinner. I looked at BOY, his hand guiding the spoon back and forth between his mouth and the bowl of yogurt. And GIRL, who is messier, was using both fingers and spoon and still managed to have half of the bowl on her face and shirt. I looked at them and saw... little people. How did they get here? Little people. They were just babies and now we have little ... people. As I watched them I was full, replete, nourished, complete - just totaled . These small children. These little people are teaching me about life. Maybe life in a bowling alley at times - after all, my pins are known to go down. Yet, they teach me about small moments. And about love and my capacity for it. An endless capacity. Being their mommy is for today the role of a lifetime. And it is a blessed one. And the best part? Right now. Because after I type the last word here, I get to go whisper good night and kiss their impossibly soft cheeks. And that is enough.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

The closest one can come to Mommy Dearest without a hanger

And so it is that I've finally lost my mind. WHAT WAS I THINKING to get bunk beds???!!! A bit PREMATURE you might ask? That would be CORRECT. Last night was quite the nightmare. Somehow the idea of sleeping on the top bunk elicited fears on a scale of well... a major earthquake in Southern California. Happening... NOW. No middle ground. Just PANIC off the chart. And how did I handle it? Poorly at best. In fact, I handled it so poorly that it might have been my worst night yet as a mother. I know...don't say that - I could be jinxing myself into many, many bad nights of pain. But, it's true. Last night I was awarded The Closest One Can Come to Mommy Dearest without a hanger. I screeched. I yelled. I was the poster child for Bad Mommy.

BOY shrieked. He quivered. He practically levitated off the bed. And I, well... I was incredibly tired and incredibly impatient. After things finally settled down and there was no more screeching from either of us, we figured it out. The mattress on top, must come down. And so, I moved the mattress to the bottom bunk and this simple gesture, resulted in a much calmer BOY. Of course, it would have been brilliant if I had thought of doing this, well... 45 minutes earlier. What followed were additional requests for water, resorting of various stuffed animals, pat pats on the back and getting the "special blanket" just right. Where was GIRL during all this? Lying contentedly in her little toddler bed, so glad that she didn't have to make the difficult choice of an upper or lower roost to perch on. What was I thinking! And so it seems that we'll have a clutter of furniture for a while in their room. One toddler bed that prevents the closet door from opening, and a bunk bed that is a fun adventure/place to stash the goods (various toys, blocks, dolls and bits of crumbled food) by day and a bit of a howler by night. Not unlike a werewolf. Can an almost 4 year old be a werewolf? I think it might be possible.

And did I mention the 4am call? The usual pad, pad, pad down the hall and BOY in the doorway of our room.

Mommy, I'm scaaared. Can I get in your bed?

Then after five minutes of sheet rustling and a general feeling of a washer on the spin cycle, the request changes:

Mommy, I want you to come back with me to my bunk bed.

And so I followed a little BOY back to his bunk bed and fell asleep to the rise and fall of his small shoulders and the nearby snores of GIRL, oblivious to it all. Hey, the bunk bed seemed pretty groovy to me at the time!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Increasing BOY's fine motor skills

So, it has been suggested by BOY's teacher that we work with him on his fine motor skills. She emphasized that these activities should be fun for him and non stressful. Some of the things she suggested are: working with modeling clay that he can pound, squish, and stretch - which strengthens his fingers and hands, using tongs in the bathtub to pick up bath toys and put them in a bucket, and tearing newspaper. All of this sounds great, and I am actually quite happy that BOY has a teacher who is taking such care and interest in him as an individual. However, I must point out that BOY appears to have quite a finesse when it comes to having fine motor skills at home. After all, there is the way he can jab his finger in your eye at 4am, the way he can push a chair into the kitchen, slide it up to the counter and open up a box of crackers right before dinner, and of course the way he can curl his fingers around our cat's tail and drag him several paces (happens rarely now, but still when done is artfully, executed.) All of these require high levels of fine motor skills. Oh, and lest I forget... the fine art of jabbering in my ear & simultaneously using his elbow to jab me between the ribs. These skills use an infinite number of small muscles and certainly do an amazing job of disabling my muscles - what I have left. Of course, these skills will probably not help him to hold a pencil and write his name by the time he enters Kindergarten in 2 years, but ... you never know. And I'm all for the non stress. But, I wish she had some suggestions to lessen parental stress when subjected to the aforementioned early AM jabbing and strategic kicks to the crotch area. I guess it will be a learning curve for all of us...

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Recipes for Half-time Chili Con Carne & Vegetarian Cincinnati Chili

Since the fabulous fundraiser for BOY & GIRL's school back in August, I have been deluged with requests for the chili recipes. are both the recipe for Chili Con Carne & Vegetarian Chili. Just leave me alone now, will ya!

A winner in the Bon Appétit Recipes Sweepstakes, a reader poll conducted in honor of our 50th anniversary.

Halftime Chili
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
8 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 pounds ground chuck
5 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
1 14 1/2-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
1 12-ounce bottle beer
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 15- to 16-ounce can prepared chili beans

Preparation: Heat oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add chuck and sauté until brown, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano and thyme. Stir 2 minutes. Mix in crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, beer and tomato paste. Simmer until thickened to desired consistency, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Mix in beans. Simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Refrigerate until cold, then cover. Rewarm over low heat before serving.)
Bon Appétit, January 1996 Richard Snyder: Santa Monica, California

And a friend's recipe for Vegetarian Chili:

Vegetarian Cincinnati Chili
(serves 6-8)

16 oz can red beans
16 oz can chickpeas
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
4 cups water
6 oz can tomato paste mixed with 1 cup water
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbls chili powder, or to taste
1/2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
2 Tbls red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 Tbls vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a large, heavy stock pot. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
2. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until thick enough to mound on a spoon, about 1 hour. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. (Note from JCK: I found that I had to cook this for 2 hours. Don't forget to cook uncovered!)

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Bunk beds are up, not quite ready to go

So, we're taking the plunge (hopefully not!) and have set up the bunk beds. Now we just need to get the mattresses... BOY helped E a bit with using the screw driver and the little tool - you know that L shaped tool... I have NO idea what it is called. I'm sure BOY and E know, that's the important thing. Personally, I'm not really into hand tools. I adore watching E work with hand tools, though.

BOY is very excited. However, the beds are not ready to sleep mattresses. So, when E put together the Bunk beds, but it wasn't ready to sleep in yet we had this discussion:


I'm sorry, BOY, but the bunk beds aren't ready yet.


I know you do, but we have to get mattresses first. Tonight will be your last night in your toddler bed (hopefully we can find mattresses in 24 hrs!) So, it will be special. You can say...bye, bye toddler bed.


And from GIRL... Mommy, why do we HAVE to have bunk beds. I LIKE my little toddler bed.

Well, you can't please everyone.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Scoring bunk beds on Craig's list

Well, we got bunk beds! Gotta love that Craig's List! They were brand new in the box, never used. And they are spindle beds. Really cool.

E opened up the boxes today to lay everything on the floor, check to make sure all the parts were there, etc. Thank GOD for a husband who can put things together and build. Man, can he build. At least he does that for other people. To be fair, it is not like he has a lot of extra time to be building for us. He does have a life of building...for other people.

So, he's opening up the boxes:

He said: Loo it...loOK it, LOUk ...GOD, I can't even talk. I've got Alzheimer's.

She said: You don't have Alzheimer's, E. You have OLD TIMERS. (Guffaw. Belly laugh. HAHAHA.)

He said: You think you're funny?

She said: Yes, I do actually. Best joke I've ever told sadly enough.

Later, after examining all the pieces:

He says: You know, I'm just not sure BOY is ready for a bunk bed.

(She says to herself; You're going to express your reservations, now??? !!)

He says: You know the way he gets up at night. He could fall on the hard floor.

She says: It has a rail all around, E. It's just open at the ladder.

He says: Up and down the ladder? During the night. I'm just not sure.

Great, just great. Apparently I'm inciting danger.

He says: Do you know anyone else who has a 4 year old in a bunk bed?

She says: No. BUT, I did talk to my friends about it and they don't think I'm crazy. (At least, not crazier than usual.)

I think E found that not too reassuring. It didn't help that there's a WARNING in booming letters stating: never let a child under 6 years old up on the top bunk. I did know about that warning. When I was researching twin beds, I found that warning pretty much everywhere. I'm really hoping that they have to put that warning on in this age of political correctness and going overboard on child safety. After all, how did we survive as children with danger lurking everywhere... play pens with bars, bunk beds without rails, see saws, jungle gyms, walking to school...all considered horrifying today. Oh, I hope I'm right....

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

E celebrates the big 5 OH replete with Cinderella decorations

Today we had multiple celebrations. A birthday party for GIRL with friends and family and today was E's 50th birthday. He decided to go for a Cinderella theme. Well, not really, but he was overruled by GIRL. After all she is 3.

It was a pretty good day considering the rainy season made its debut. E slept in until about 6:30am. BOY was up and raring to go around 5:30am and while GIRL continued to snooze, the rain poured down and poured and kept pouring. It was a friggin' monsoon. We were expecting a big crowd at 11am. We have a small house. OK, not much you can do about it, let's just roll with it. Around 6:45am the roof started to leak in the playroom. Furniture was moved, towels thrown on the floor, and the rain continued to pound down; the dripping water pinging into pots set strategically under the steady streams of water. There's been a drought. We needed the rain. But, do we need it TODAY? Apparently we do. The rain started to settle down to a steady drizzle and then about 9am, the sun burst through the clouds and it looked like we could do an indoor/outdoor party once again. Yeah!

And we did and it was a blast. A zillion children, cake everywhere and contented tummies. Great friends, family from out of town, all gathered. I put a photo collage up representing different milestones along the road to 50 for E. And then after everyone left I gave him a book of letters that had been written to him from friends and family. We capped the evening off by going out to dinner just the two of us, childcare provided by a dear friend. We lingered over salad with sauteed shrimp, buffalo mozzarella & tomatoes drizzled with vinaigrette and fresh basil, and 2 steak au poivre dinners. The Cinderella decorations might now be droopy, but we're holding up pretty damn well. Happy Birthday, E! You've still got that certain THANG.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

We declare September 21st as Big Brother Day

BOY is the only one whose birthday does not fall in September, let alone in the same week. I'm the 19th, GIRL is the 20th & E is the 22nd. I know and believe that it is important for children to have challenges in their lives. That is helps strengthen them for life ahead and gives them a reality check. However, how normal or usual is it for everyone in the entire family to have birthdays within 4 days of each other - except for one child, who does not?It is not normal. And so with great discussion and excitement, E and I have reached a conclusion. We are declaring September 21st as Big Brother Day! Starting next year we shall toast BOY on Big Brother Day, have a candle for him to blow out, a gift and celebrate him. And this shall be our new tradition. Special thanks for sparking this idea goes to his Aunt P and Uncle M who have given him a Big Brother gift for the last 2 years. You are the BEST, Aunt P & Uncle M!!! Happy Big Brother's Day, BOY!!! Of course, now we may have to do a Little Sister's Day....

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

GIRL turns 3!

There are silver glitter sparkles everywhere one looks. On the couch, the living room rug, on books, clothes and on our GIRL's cheeks - a magic dusting of silver. GIRL had a good day. She was very excited about her birthday as soon as she awoke. She ran out of her room naked, tossed her night time pull-up in the kitchen garbage can and shot back in her room. She had to dress for her day. And it was full. We had a morning present opening before Daddy went to work. Then tonight we had chocolate cupcakes to celebrate. In between there was much running about in princess costumes and fancy shoes as well as the reading of new books.

She is 3 and I don't know where the time has gone. I remember so well the day she was born. I will never forget pushing her out (12 1/2 minutes!) and touching her for the first time. And watching E hold her in his arms. Her huge eyes open and observing. From the beginning.

Boy said today, GIRL, now you are 3 and I am 3!

And then they laughed. And I laughed. And then I thought ... this is a little wild - to have 2 children the same age, who are not twins. Yet, here they are. And we adore them. And they adore each other. Two 3 year olds. My, my, my... can I earn extra points upstairs for this?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I did manage to have a pretty good birthday

WHOOP DEEE DOOO! Well, another birthday has passed and I'm that much more brilliant, witty and all around ageless. Yeah, and I've got a load of ... to sell you. Hey, I'm trying here! I did manage to have a pretty good birthday at least on the tail end. GIRL's birthday being tomorrow, it is all about HER. And I didn't realize having children meant it is not all about me anymore. Silly Me.

It is actually fun having birthdays so close together. Today me, tomorrow GIRL and Saturday is E's 50th. GIRL is really excited about her birthday this year. We made cupcakes for her class yesterday afternoon and it was really fun to bring them today. Somehow the simple act of making cupcakes for her class birthday celebration was one of those moments where I was SO conscious of being a Mommy. I was in the moment and feeling the mommy vibes. It was lovely.

The only tough part is trying to explain to a little BOY why all of us have birthdays this week except him. Now, that is a reasonable thing to explain to a 3 year old! Yeah. He's hanging in there. I did let him "help" me unwrap my presents.

Mommy, can I help?

Is this one for ME?

Is this one for ME?

Is this one for ME? - You get the picture.

After GIRL was in bed, we set BOY up with a movie and E cooked me dinner. It was awesome. Big ol' Ribeye with new potatoes and acorn squash topped with marmalade and cinnamon. Yummy! We sat down with some red wine and actually had a dinner together. And a conversation. For 30 minutes! Whooaaa Nelly!

And so it is 9ish and I'm dropping these bones creak, creak into bed; nourished by the ones I love and the ones who love me. I am blessed and oldER.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm a skunk hunter!

Last night after BOY and GIRL had their bath and had gotten into their PJs, BOY emerged from their room in his cowboy hat and riding his hobby horse, Ernie. GIRL soon brought up the rear in her cowboy - er, cowgirl hat.

BOY, what are you doing?

I'm a skunk hunter!

A skunk hunter?


skunk hunter?

Ernie and I are skunk hunters. Girl, too. We're going skunk hunting.

Apparently skunk hunting is all the rage. At least around here.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Aging Americans Requesting Pampers

Some days this would strike me as funny. Today it does NOT. I have been contacted by AARP to register with them. They even sent me a card. THE AARP FOR GOD'S SAKE! Excuse me for shouting, but I am far from AMUSED. Our records show that you haven't yet registered for the benefits of AARP membership, even though you are fully eligible. FULLY ELIGIBLE!! They are only 4 years TOO EARLY. OK, perhaps I'm being a bit oversensitive. I turn 46 on Wednesday and was feeling, really, not bad at all about it. Now however, I'm having to actually reflect on my age. I looked AARP up on the free dictionary online - as I didn't know what it stood for - other than - you're really friggin' old! And look at the picture above! The picture is from the free online dictionary, too - under their definition of AARP. Let's face it, the couple looks feeble at best. AARP...mmmm, Aging Americans Requesting Pampers? Nope. It is officially the American Association For Retired Persons. I guess that sounds better. Maybe. It still shouts YOU'RE OLD! Just when I was feeling pretty good about not feeling old... Oh, well...there goes THAT. What goes around comes around and I was just teasing E the other day about his receiving the same letter from AARP, except it seemed much funnier. And not quite a stretch - chronologically speaking, as he turns the big 50 on Saturday! Go, E Go! I will NEVER make fun of him AGAIN...grumble, grumble. Well, never say never. Last time I said never it was about driving a minivan...and there you go. Looks like this day is going to be full of humble pie eatin'.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

A rare evening out

Tonight E and I actually escaped to go to a friend's 40th birthday party, a mere babe. We left our babes at home. It was great! We had a fabulous time, sitting under the setting sun on a terrace, with the subtle scent of lemons in the air. Sipping a chilled raspberry beer, [apparently made by sober monks - go figure!], I caught up with old friends and met new. Of course, I talked about the kids. I try not to, but the conversation just creeps in. Before I know it, I'm describing something the kids are up to or blah, blah, blah... Apparently the woman I was talking to was actually listening as I didn't get the eyes glaze over look. It was good to be out without someone pulling on my skirt (GIRL) or flipping it up (BOY). So, we inhaled both good conversation and moments on the hill and headed home. When we returned, aforementioned children were still awake, and the reception we received was not unlike we had returned from a year long journey to the moon. Aaahhh children... you can't pay for cheerleaders like them. They had had quite the evening themselves. Apparently regaling the babysitter with stories of school, and a lecture on the proper placement of car seats in great detail. GIRL strikes again!

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fears stalking our BOY

Fears. Fears. We're ALL about fears these days. Fear of the dark, fear of the shadows on the wall, fear of the closet doors, fear of monsters, fear of flashing lights outside the window, fear of mysterious thumps that only a small boy can hear, fear of bathing suits - whoops, that's mine. Fears. We've got the whole catalogue going here, and we haven't even started talking about Halloween. Yet. BOY is convinced that monsters are out to get him. Right now. What by day is ordinary is by night extraordinary and the soft mane of the hobby horse becomes a jagged shadow enhanced by the light of the air conditioner. (Yes, we're still running it.)

Since I am a big believer in things that go bump in the night, it is hard to not take his fears seriously. And I do. Except that the interrupted sleep is starting to get to me. What is it about when your children are babies and you get up 2, 3, 4 times a night and you take it in stride. Well, usually. And then you get through that and think... By GOD, I've earned my right to get a good night's sleep again. Uninterrupted. HA! And so, when a small boy comes to find you in the middle of the night - sometimes 2 or 3 times, and you exhaustively walk him back to his little toddler bed, which you can hardly perch on to pat his back as the cold wind of the a/c slams into your back - well, you start to get just a wee bit resentful of this child. Shame. Shame. Especially resentful, when one long night you are too tired to make this journey back and forth and so you grab a sleeping bag and curl up on the HARD, hardwood floor next to his bed and dream of daggers stabbing you in the back.

And you really try everything. You reassure at bedtime. You sing the usual required songs - which are in order of importance: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star - then a Silly, Silly Soul Man story (a new, imaginary tale about our 2 dogs and cat), and finally a Lullaby sung to BOY, and to all 11 of his animals clustered lovingly around his head. And you blow kisses and walk out and maybe 2 minutes (tops!) goes by and then it is much BANGING upon his bedroom door and cries of MOMMY! I'M SCAA RRR ED!! (What is normally a 2 syllable word is now a streeetched 3 syllable word.)

I open the door:
Boy, get back in your bed.
What are you scared of, sweetie?
I heard some thing.
You heard something?
What did it sound like?
Like some thing. Some thing LOUD.
Sweetie, I think it was probably the air conditioner.
No, I don't think so. I want some pat pats.
OK, I'll give you a few pat pats. And then you need to go to sleep.
OK! (He might as well be striking up a brass band, he's SO thrilled. Mmmm ...maybe that is a clue that I shouldn't be going through this exercise. Thought for the future when I'm the Queen of Wise.) Thank you, Mommy.

And we start again. Maybe he goes to sleep this time. Maybe not. When he does finally fall asleep it is usually about 20 minutes before I drop like a sack of worn-out woman on my bed. The light is out and E and I fall into the deep slumber of whipped parents of young, too clever for us, children.
2am..the pad, pad, pad of small feet and we have a visitor. An I'm SCAAARED little BOY. I walk him back.

2:20am..pad, pad, pad. I'M STILL SCAARED. Walk him back.

3am....pad, pad, pad. Mommy, can I get in bed with you and Daddy? And so it ends. With a small BOY all cozy in our bed, all of us asleep, until his small and unintentionally well aimed foot slams perfectly into E's tender area, shall we call it? And a high pitched YELP is heard from the formerly deeper voiced Daddy. By now it is close to 5am and we're all awake. Good Morning!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

The tiny red scar

The tiny red scar on the rounded curve of her forehead is all that is left. All that is left of that afternoon when we were rushing out the door to go swimming and suddenly there was blood everywhere.

She remembers the blood gushing down her face.

Mommy, there was lots of blood.

Yes, Girl, there was.

Boy remembers sticking his finger in the pool of blood quickly forming on the hardwood floor.

I touched it! .... I touched the blood. Girl went to the emergency room. I don't want Girl to go to the emergency room.

It's O.K., Boy. I know it was scary. Hopefully she won't have to go again.


I know you don't, sweetie.

I remember the urgency. I remember my body as an automaton, because that is what you have to do. I remember not feeling much, because I couldn't. I remember the fear in E's eyes.

Someday I trust that someone Girl loves will softly trace the scar with a gentle fingertip and ask her how she got it. And I hope that she will say, well my parents said I tripped..... I don't remember it.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

I have this habit, let's call it a little quirk

I have this habit, let's call it a little quirk of claiming my children when they are doing something well... good. For example, we got some very big news today. Apparently MY son led his pre-K class in the Pledge of Allegiance. MY son. Led the class. (My GOD, I'm going to HAVE to REVIEW. The only Pledge that is being bantered around our house is for cleaning, and well... you know my stance on that!) Now, did we hear this news from him? No. The news was delivered via another little boy who told his mom, who happens to be a friend of mine, and whom I happened to chat with tonight on the phone. But, what were the chances? That's the thing about Boy. He isn't really into divulging news or even little tidbits. He did it, it was done. Let's move on. But, let's just call him MY son.

When GIRL does something naughty or nice, we're sure to hear about it from her. There's: Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! I put the play dough away all by myself. I am a good helper. That's MY daughter! And then there's: look Mommy I threw my sticky cereal on the floor!! Or, while smeared in jam on hands, face and clothes she runs purposefully into the living room to roll around on the couch laughing hysterically. Look what I'm doing! LOOK WHAT I'M DOING!, said with what is truly maniacal laughter. She then becomes YOUR daughter. As in... E your daughter has just smeared jam all over the couch.

Now, you may think I'm being a bit insensitive putting this onus on E. But, although I come from a long line of characters, shall we say, in my family tree - at least my brothers weren't catching themselves on fire. Ah...yes, food for thought... for another day.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007


About once a month E gets on a cleaning tangent in the kitchen. I am very appreciative. After all, we might as well share the wealth of dirt and grime. Believe me, there is plenty to go around. So... while E was on his cleaning binge, I was monitoring the little hooligans in the bathroom. BOY decided he wanted to take a shower tonight. A shower! Great idea. Much less work for me - basically just stick 'em in it and the dirt rolls off and goes down the drain. I'm in! Then GIRL, decided she wanted a shower, too. This was a first for her. Man, was I getting lucky tonight. Well that's another story, not to be told here. Anyway... kids had fun. They were showered, patted down, and in their PJ's in lightning speed. I'm trying a new technique - having them race each other to get dressed. It is GREAT! It works most of the time. Gotta love that sibling rivalry - especially when the advantage is for MOI.

GIRL was picking out bedtime stories and BOY was thirsty, so he and I went into the kitchen. The sparkle off the stove top was almost blinding. E had been on a rampage.

Look, I said, Daddy has been a white tornado!

Daddy's a WHITE TOMATO! shouted BOY.

And so it goes with children.... your accomplishments, much admired by your wife are reduced to comparisons with garden vegetables. Although I believe that white tomatoes are rather rare and much valued. Now if I could just get E to go on a rampage in the bathroom....

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'm a nice guy

Today, as we honor those who died on this date six years ago and the families who lost them, I feel so blessed to have my children and that they have us.

This evening after dinner, we had Popsicles on the front lawn. Boy and Girl are spending quite a bit of time lately tackling each other and engaging in full body wrestling on the ground. Luckily, they both seem to enjoy the physical body combat... I mean contact.

While we were kicking back, Boy had a few things to say:

I'm a nice guy. I won't ever, ever, ever lock you up in the dungeon.

I locked Girl up in the dungeon!

Boy, I thought you said you wouldn't ever lock Girl up in a dungeon.

But, I DID lock her up - said with GLEE!

I guess boys can reserve the right to change their minds, too.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

It is worth waiting for...

My mother's always right. Well, almost always right. And that's OK, because it usually is about important stuff.

It is worth waiting for .... (fill in the blank with just about anything.) It is not worth pushing it.

I am SO glad that I waited to start Girl in preschool until now. She is ready. She just is. This morning she might as well have said, SEE YA! when I dropped her off. When I picked her up, her face was covered with dirt. She couldn't wait to show me all the stuff on her hook, Look what I did! Look what I made! And of course, she had to describe the snacks they had today.

It fills me with joy to see both of my children loving school and the stimulation it provides. God knows, the stimulation I provide these days is half-baked, at best. Kind of like my cooking come to think of it....

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

This indoor playground? I will never, ever go there again

Today was the first time Girl was invited to a birthday party and Boy got to tag along. It has always been the reverse. A lovely couple who have a little boy in Girl's class included her, which was so nice since Girl is new to the class. The party was at one of those indoor playgrounds.

I've always been a fan of indoor playgrounds. (Check out Amy's!) They offer a terrific alternative on hot days in summer and rainy days in winter. This one however, was akin to riding a rocket to hell or being stuck inside a pinball machine. The NOISE level was out of control and it was mobbed. And mobbed with bad mannered, aggressive children and tuned-out parents. Now, I am not including the parents of the party goers in this. I think we were all in a similar state of shock. One parent was overheard (well...overheard after 3 attempts) shouting, It's places like this that make you want to go to the library!

Usually these indoor facilities have just one private party at a time on the weekends. This particular one is open to the public. Which at first seems like a novel idea, but in actuality creates a new version of chaos. And you thought Chuck E. Cheese was loud?! Many, many children in one large space with noise levels on a scale that is off any chart I've ever experienced. And I'm not just talking about the children screaming. There was that. But, between the computerized keyboards that play a mash of hip-hop/clash (not to be confused with The Clash) and the frequent bursts of compressed air shooting out balls into the air, my children were at first clinging to my legs. Boy, who is noise sensitive, was able to play for periods of time, but would start crying and covering his ears about every 20 minutes. And he is someone who loves new experiences.

Inside the large center space are "guns" that can be loaded with small soft balls. When we arrived, two fathers were pounding each other and their children with volleys of loud shots. For children who enjoy climbing, it looks on the surface like a fabulous, creative crawling space. That's if you take away the noise and the people. The problem was that as you were climbing up with your children, bigger and older children were attempting and succeeding in passing you and I won't even say inadvertently stomping on your children. I had to actually yell at children who were strangers to me. I pulled out my Drill Sergeant Mom voice. When I told them to stop climbing over my children and they didn't, I finally managed to stop them in their tracks with You know, this is VERY BAD manners! That dazed them for a moment before they continued on in their destruction of other innocent children. I could go on for hours about this, but I already have and I won't here.

Since I fail profoundly at the art of few words, I will just say this to summarize. Beward of indoor playgrounds. Especially ones that are beyond OVER THE TOP! If it wasn't for our lovely hosts, we would have been out of there after the first 5 minutes. Enter at your own risk ... I will never, ever go there again.

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Girl's first full day of preschool..a rollercoaster for ...ME!

I haven't been able to write about what should have been Wednesday, until now. Wednesday was Girl's first day of preschool! A milestone. And the emotions are so complicated, I had to take a breather and assimilate.

Tuesday night we packed her backpack together. It was stuffed full of two changes of clothes, a crib sheet for the sleeping cot, a special blanket - retro paper dolls (too cool!), her cozy lion, a bag of pull-ups for nap time, sunblock, hat and topped with her new Hello Kitty lunchbox. The backpack is fire engine red with her name in blue letters. Love that Pottery Barn for Kids!
Wednesday morning after breakfast, she jumped up and down and shouted I'M SO EXCITED!!! She was. She picked out her outfit, got dressed and was at the door before Boy, who was a little anxious about his new classroom. He is now in the Pre-K program.

We arrived at school with plenty of time to walk Boy to his class, sign him in, give him hugs, and ask him to give Girl a hug when he sees her in the play yard. After Boy received hugs and kisses from both Girl and I, we then we moved on to Girl's class right next door. She eagerly snatched her loaded backpack from me and lumbered across the room to find her hook, with a name tag above. Here it is! Here it is! It says GIRL! She was exuberant, to say the least. The teachers greeted her and she, knowing the routine from Boy's year, went into the bathroom to wash her hands. She then came back into the room and sat down at the little table for breakfast with the other children who were there. She asked for kisses and hugs... A hug! A kiss! Another hug! Another kiss! ...we did this about 4 times. Then I went to sign her in and talk to the lead teacher for a minute. When I looked over, Girl looked a bit nervous, but seemed OK. I then waved good-bye and started to walk out and she BURST INTO TEARS. Mommy! Mommy! She cried like a baby animal. It was pure, Mommy Torture. Awful. Gut wrenching. But, I continued to walk out. I got to the parking lot (50 yards!) and called the school. You might want to give it a little more time, they said kindly. OK, I gulped. I made it home in 12 minutes and called again. She's stopped crying and is outside playing. OK, I'll call back during nap time, just to check. I hung up, took a deep breath and called E. Then I cried.

And so... this was the first time in almost 4 years that I've been in my house, alone, for more than 2 or 3 hours. Alone. Quiet. Able to think. Sort of. It was a profoundly exquisite feeling, yet my emotions were very raw. It was surreal and seductive, the beckoning of possibility ahead of what I can do with this time, if I have a chance. So, let's see where all this leads.

And Girl? She was fine. She had a great day. When I picked her up she was playing outside, covered in paint and dirt. Happy grime. A happy girl. Boy raced across the yard and flung himself at me. My stomach, which had stayed clenched for much of the day, unclenched. And I know that this is right. For all of us.

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Personally, I've never forgotten about a chocolate stash in my life

I need Valium and FAST. Buckets of it!!! I have had the worst possible day on earth. Well I guess it could have been worse than dealing with our cell phone company for an hour and having to go exchange a phone that was the wrong phone, and going through piles of paperwork -making a dent - only to spill about a gallon of water all over the desk, papers and keyboard. Oh, yes! My plan to have hours of time to get things done turned into what I get done when my children are at home - with interruptions. OK, deep breath...

I just feel very fragile today. I almost burst into tears at least a half dozen times. I think I need to slooow down. Hence the call for Valium. Any takers, distributers out there? Just kidding! Somehow I don't want to imagine an inebriated, although much more relaxed, self showing up to pick Boy & Girl up at school this afternoon. No, I better take some deep breaths and chill. Easier said than done. Thank GOD I had some chocolate nearby. It was duly needed. And when I was cleaning the piles of paperwork off the desk I came across a secret stash of Hershey's chocolate in a baggie. Well??? It certainly was NOT mine. Which means that hubby is holding out on me. E, the secret chocolate stasher, I never would have guessed. I'm sure it is not as full of intrigue as I make it out to be. Most likely he was eating it a while ago, put it aside and has forgotten about it. Personally, I've never forgotten about a chocolate stash in my life.

It's going to be absolutely divine once I have this office in order. I'll find things that have been missing for years - even, Pre-Kiddos. The only scary part about that is then I'll have to do something with the stuff...

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Talking to stems in preparation for a beautiful show

I don't feel SO odd anymore. That I talk to myself... aloud. No, it appears my children do it more. They blow my mind with their imaginative games. Girl today put two large green stems (E was weeding)on the back of her Radio Flyer tricycle. She then took them off and was talking to them. Yes, talking to stems. And not just a brief mutter. A full dialogue ensued. Brilliant! Mmmm... does that make me brilliant? Probably not. Perhaps, oddly brilliant.

Best dialogue today stated by Girl and answered by Boy:

If you're not going to come to my beautiful show, then GO right now.

I DO want to come to your beautiful show.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

You are the Boss of your Bowl

Today I told Boy that he was the Boss of his Bowl. I was trying a new technique, suggested by a friend.

Mr. Boss. Mr. Boss!

I'm not Mr. Boss. [giggle, giggle]

Yes, you are. You are the Boss of your Bowl.

No, I'm not! [Big smile]

Mr. Boss you are in charge of your bowl. Please take it into the kitchen and put it on the counter.


Yes, Mr. Boss. You are in CHARGE. You are the Boss.

Alas, it did not work...
My previously helpful little Guy has become all about NO!

Girl, however latched on to the idea like a baby on her last bottle.

Mommy, can you call me Mrs. Boss.

O.K., Mrs. Boss, please pick out the clothes you'd like to wear today.

O.K., Mommy.

Thank you, Girl.

No, call me Mrs. Boss.

Oh, yes... Mrs. Boss.
How could I forget? After all she is the Boss. But, don't tell her I said that.

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Monday, September 3, 2007

I threw out the bibs today

I threw out the bibs today. The one with the fat ladybugs, the fire engine red cloth one that brought out the blush in Boy's little chubby cheeks, the starfish... all gone to the deep memories of when my children were babies. I couldn't part with the retro cowgirls bib. It was barely used. I'll put that one away. Boy wore bibs for about the first 9 months? He was a constant drooler and we had to do mop patrol. Girl never liked bibs much during meal time. My babies...such a whirlwind having 2 children in a year. Much of it a blur. Yet, as my fingertips let the bibs go I felt that familiar rush of tears. And the memories of their sweet round faces above the bibs will stay with me forever.

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Let's just call it TLI, Too Little Information

O.K., so my husband would probably say that he suffers from me delivering TMI. Now, I don't see this at all. I merely can juggle numerous tasks and vital pieces of information at once. Yes, I am a brilliant multi-tasker, except when really important things seem to fall through the cracks - like not remembering my nephew's birthday, whom I love so... much and now feel like CRAPOLA because I forgot his birthday. But, that aside, I am able to handle quite a bit of material that seems to overwhelm Sir husbando.

Just for an example, his sister calls with the news that one of her daughter's is engaged. I merely ask:

How did he propose?
Where did he propose?
When are they getting married?
Was she surprised?
Did she cry?

This delicate assortment of questions appears to him to be a barrage of questions and brings about a kind of stricken deer-caught-in-the-headlights look upon my husband's face. And his answer is always the same:

I don't know. I didn't ask her that, he says.

Well, what the hell did you talk about anyway? I mean, your sister calls to tell you that your niece is engaged and what?... you talk about something else!

Now, if it had been me, I would have had the answers to all of those questions and more. I would have waxed eloquently on and on, probably losing ol' hubby mid-stream. We, as women, perhaps offer up a bit of TMI, but I think it is about time that we agreed that there is a far more serious problem. And I'm naming it TLI. Too Little Information. It is rampant, all around us. We are surrounded by men bearing little more than ...she's getting married. If we get that much. Sometimes, important news like that is not even delivered and I find out about it ...well, 3 months later. I'm always the last to know and it is all due to TLI. We might as well be playing telephone without a receiver.

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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Maybe this is why we get so little respect.

What have we lost? We were at the Gene Autry museum for a birthday party and the question seemed to surface repeatedly. As the men stood and watched their children ride faux, life size horses, they looked around discussing the elaborate get-up of the long, lost cowboy. We've lost so much, one man said to me. We looked around and saw how our clothes have changed -spurs on the boots, pistols with inlay, and the hats. Maybe this is why we get so little respect. It was not said with any kind of rancor or bitterness, but with a matter-of-factness, which surprised me. Do men feel this way? Have we lost respect for men?

And what were the women talking about? How they have so little time with their children. How they feel that the mornings are all about the scramble before school - getting dressed, bolting down food, packing the backpacks and lunches - and then having a brief blip of conversation with their children. As one woman talked the other nodded, vehemently agreeing with her every word. In another conversation, a woman blurted out that she was going to stay at home this year with her two children. The woman by her side told her how lucky she was. It seems that we value, secretly or not, the ability and/or desire to stay at home with our children.

And so, what have we lost? It is easy to find the loss. It is here, in the words spoken today. Yet, I like to reflect on what we've gained. We have boys who can see that their dads are capable of gentleness. Boys who are, at 3 and 4, allowed to cry and are not shushed for expressing their feelings. Boys who hug each other. And the girls? We have girls who have many role models - some moms who work jobs outside of the home and some moms who work by staying at home with their children. They have choices. Choices that weren't there for us before.

Maybe we as women and men can reach out to each other and acknowledge the loss of our elusive masculine and feminine selves. But, also face down our animus, and embrace our true souls that have stretched and grown into who we are today. The long lost cowboy is still inside us, as is that prairie woman. Both a bit trail weary, but still innate inside of us.

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