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Showing posts from 2009

Is That Too Much to Ask?

or How You Know When You Are Laying It on a Bit ThickObsessed. Supremely focused. Singularly occupied. Wholly devoted.

All phrases that describe my 11-year old's love affair with the Wii. He has wanted one thing, and one thing only this week: playing time. When not playing the Wii, he has been looking up new games on the internet (scary) and making endless lists of the games he wants to buy when he comes into some money. It's all he talks about. It's all he thinks about. It is his crack.

(We have always been an anti-game system family. We somehow convinced ourselves that a Wii would be different, and got one for the kids for Christmas. We may well regret this decision; the verdict is still very much out.)

It's been a little bumpy for us, but not surprising. This is how he gets: he's been this way about the World Cup and about Shakespeare, so it's par for the course for him. He comes by it honestly -- his own father can have a similarly tenacious hold on a subject …

Health Care Reform

It was the strangest thing, but I was just walking along, minding my own business, when I fell off the edge of the internet! Thus explains my extended hiatus from blogging: it's taken me awhile to claw my way back up to my keyboard. I'm still a little tired from the effort, so my first foray back into blogging is borrowed.

Yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle printed a letter to the editor written by my father, a wise man indeed. I am reprinting it here. Without further ado...

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Health Care Reform
How history will judge usSoon Congress will pass a watered-down version of a health care bill that falls far short of what most governments see as routine and responsible.

Historians of the future will look back on this time and wonder why Uncle Sam could not manage to provide easily accessible health care to his citizens. They will wonder at our unwillingness, unlike every other industrialized nation of the 2000s, to offer government-provided medicine to those unable to afford …

Creative Christmas Carols

We've been singing lots of Christmas songs around here. My kids sometimes hear the words a little creatively. OR...

I've got a little capitalist on my hands:

"Go, sell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; Go, sell it on the mountain: Jesus Christ is born."

And apparently, we've got a little work to do regarding the Reason for the Season:

"Glory to the new born thing!"

Can't wait to hear what they do with Silent Night.

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Reflections on a Christmas Program

Is my kid the only kindergartner with a big smudge of green ink on her face?

Is my 2nd grader the only one with a huge clump of hair hanging down in her face? It appears that all those other girls are perfectly coiffed.

Why does my 4th grader look like he is being choked by his tie, which is pulling strangely up and to the left?

Is my 5th grader really that bored by the proceedings, or is his arm injured in a such a way that he physically cannot hold his sparkly star any higher than his elbow, rendering it at least 6 inches lower than the stars of all of his classmates?

Are we the only parents who yelled at their kids in the 15 minutes prior to the festivities?

Are we the only family to arrive at this Celebration of the Season with more than 50% of us grumpy?

Is my three-year old really going to throw herself around like a rag doll and shriek like the monkey she wishes she were for the entire program, causing lots of people to toss sympathetic smiles and delighted giggles my way, people who…

"Just Give Me A Big Push!" and other things I am trying to ignore

Rainy afternoons are...interesting. The kids a gettin' a little stir crazy around here, and with soccer practice canceled, and screen time maxed out, and not much homework to do in these waning days before vacation, I'm hearing the words "I'm bored" a little more than I care to.

Not tonight though! They've discovered a new activity: they are sledding down the stairway. I am trying my level best to ignore the things I am hearing, such as "Cenzo, I just need you to give me one really big push!" and "Hey, are you laughing or crying?" and "We need more padding!" and "If we could just get this to be more slippery!"

There is total chaos in my stairwell. They've got the Brian Setzer band blasting from the boys' room and they are taking turns seeing who can catapault themselves down the stairs the fastest.

If they can manage to leave me out of it, they might get away with it for another 20 minutes.

One thing for sur…

Oh, They Crack Me Up

Kids do.

Today, the kids got their class pictures. These are different from when I was a kid. Gone are the days of lining up 30 squirmy kids on makeshift bleachers and trying to keep the kid third from the end from picking his nose during the shoot. Now the photographer takes the individual shots of each kid and the class picture consists of an 8.5 x 11 sheet with the individual pictures of each student, the teachers, and the principal. The children are arranged alphabetically, except that the one your child comes home with features your child larger than all the rest, front and center.

My daughter was showing another mom the class picture and said: "I'm the huge one." Yup, she thought all of her classmates got a HUGE picture of her, surrounded by little ones of everyone else. That child has zilch-o self-esteem issues. She's got self-esteem to spare. She's got loads of extra self-esteem just laying around in her bedroom, going to waste in a world filled wit…

It's the Most Discombobulating Time of the Year

Things that seem impossible today: getting my daughter dressed...brushing my hair...finding socks...being peaceful...organizing my desk...finishing one damn cup of coffee...interacting with others without channeling my inner bitch...putting the laundry away...locating the mute button on my three year old...and preparing for Christmas.

Questions I am pondering today:

Is a muzzle an appropriate Christmas gift for a toddler? How about a straightjacket?

Can Santa bring me a martini? Can he come NOW?

Do I really need to get new tires and brakes right now, in December of all times of the year? If so, do you think the kids will be happy to find some Michelins and brake pads wrapped up under the tree on Christmas morn?

Where are my keys, my blue tooth, my cell phone, my nerves, and my tylenol?

If I abscond with the box of Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's, which will the children miss more: their mother or the cookies?

In the absence of matching socks, can I dress her in mis-matched so…

My Foodie

What do you want to serve your friends at your birthday party, Lola?

Lola: "STEAK!"!

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The family reminisces: "Remember when we all went to the Exploratorium? Remember the shadow room? Remember the human brain?"

Lola: "Remember the steak?"

* * *

The Buddy Club performer: "So what are your favorite foods, kids?"
Kid #1: "Pesto pasta!"
Kid #2: "Pizza"


Lola: "Steak!" (with slightly maniacal look in her eye and big crazy grin)

* * *

She also loves: brussels sprouts...garlic, as in she snacks on whole cloves...broccoli stalks...salmon...cayenne pepper...spicy guacamole...spicy salsa...spicy ribs...paella. Her palette is truly amazing. She is headed for an exciting and varied eating life.

Just think: someday, she might be cooking all those wonderful foods for me! Now that's what I would call a great return on an investment -- here's hoping it pays off, preferably before I have no teeth and all she can do is wipe th…

You know you have a big family when...

...you split the family into two cars for the ride home and both vehicles qualify for the car pool lane.

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Because I Can

I served brussel sprouts tonight.

This was received with a level of resistance that would impress most revolutionaries. I, however, am the Supreme Dictator, and the sprouts went down. Not before I uttered some interesting sentences, including:

"You cannot stand there with your mouth full of food! That's not how we roll! You have to swallow!"

"This is so good for you: learning to eat stuff you don't like! I'm so proud of you!"

"Not fair that she has two and you have three? You're right. I'll give her three."

They hate me. This gives me the glowing feeling of being sure I am doing something right.

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And the new normal is...

On the way home from school today, the girls asked me if we could go to a local bakery. I said no, we weren't going to stop anywhere, we were going to go home and have a nice normal evening.

A few minutes later, I told them what we were going to have for dinner and I mentioned that maybe we would even sit down…

I've Been To Hell, and There's a Big Mouse There

I just spent three hours at Chuck E. Cheese. I can't even quite describe the horror show I witnessed. It was hell. And it was just a normal day for the Mouse and his friends.

I can't help thinking that there is something deeply, deeply wrong about a culture that can produce such a place.

I need a quiet, dark room with carrots, water, and Judy's Breadsticks.

When -- or IF -- I recover, I might try exorcising the demons I brought home with me by writing about it. Or maybe I'll just let the whole day die away and never let its memory touch the light of day.

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For My Father

Tonight, we are engaging in the holiday family tradition of decorating our Christmas tree. This is such a nostalgic activity...it reminds me of when I was a kid, decorating the family tree surrounded by my mom, dad, sister and brother.

And tonight, dad, I just want you to know, I am not using hooks.

Lovingly,

your daughter

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Christmas Lists...Morons...and Pee

Three vignettes from my day:

"Dear Santa, I want new siblings for Christmas. Ones that will not be mean to me. Love, Elizabeth."

I asked her what we will do with the old ones, and she replied, "We'll just have a whole bunch more kids!"

* * *

"Dear Dad, I'm sorry I was such a moron this morning. I love you.
Love, {name withheld to protect the guilty}"

* * *

As for the pee: all you parents of boys, let's talk about taking aim, shall we? Who among us has a boy-child that hits the target? I confront so much bodily fluid on a daily basis that I often feel like I'm in training for some high-level hazardous waste assignment. Between the daytime carelessness and the nighttime groggy-ness, my bathroom (of which I have ONE for a family of 7) tends to be a sea of pee. I go through many, many bottles of Simple Green in my Epic Pee Battles, and there is no end in sight.

We get our boys up at night to go to the bathroom. Let me just say that standing…

Something Not So Beautiful

The paella is beautiful.

So is the roaring fire in the fireplace, also made by my spouse.

What kind of woman yells at a man like that? My kind, unfortunately. Me? Not so beautiful today.

Good thing we all get second chances. And thirds, fourths, fifths, and seven times seventies.

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Something Beautiful

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This paella is beautiful, as is my spouse who made it.



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Discoveries

For your entertainment, here is a list of things I discovered around my house yesterday:

One milk-sogged kitchen towel, left in a drippy heap on my kitchen floor, after a child "cleaned up" the milk he spilled in the living room.
Two strawberries mashed into my nice black jacket.
Approximately 35 dead crickets, in their cricket house, which is a plastic case that sits on a shelf in my kitchen. Just purchased to feed our fire-bellied toads, but attacked and eliminated by hundreds of ants. Oh yeah, and I also discovered the ants.
An unidentifiable hard-but-still-sticky substance encrusted in my three year old's hair.
After getting the three year old out of the bathtub and getting her into her pajamas, I further discovered that in the time between rinsing the shampoo out of her hair and going to check dinner on the stove, the seven year old had dumped a large amount of shampoo on the three-year old's head.
Two sippy cups full of three-day old milk, under the toddler's b…

My Favorite Gravy of Thanksgiving Weekend 2009

I spend a surprising amount of time thinking about the things I need to teach my kids. Ya' know, the big and little things that make a life, like how to do laundry, how to clean your ears, how the crusty bits of homemade mac-n-cheese are the best, and how to fold socks.

Today, I read a blog that I just adored about exactly this: the things you want and must teach your children well.

Read this now. You'll love it. You might even, as I did, learn something about vagisil that you did not know. You will likely find a new blog to follow as well.

Thanks Momo!

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Love Sticks

Elizabeth (she's 5) called me in to her room last night in a panic: "I need another kiss, mama, because I accidentally wiped off the one you gave me!"

Lola (she's 7) reassured her: "That's OK, Elizabeth: love sticks!"

* * *

I gave them both about a hundred extra kisses anyway.

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Jumping on the Bohemian Bandwagon

This is viral on the internet, so you've probably already seen it. If not, sit back, get out your bell bottoms, and enjoy.



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And that's how a girl gets to 28 posts in 28 days. Don't hate me because I'm a cheater.

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Wherein I Share My Super Secret Apple Pie Recipe

That title might be a little misleading. There is nothing secret about this recipe whatsoever. I got it from an ancient Betty Crocker cookbook that used to be my mom’s (I think I stole it from her) and now it lives on my bookshelf all year long except when I make pie. The pages of this book are yellowed, frayed and ripped, and turning them requires delicacy and grace. This is where, once a year, I seek and find The Mystery of the Pie.

But then, pie isn’t much, is it? Just crust, fruit, and sugar. The only mystery to pie is making it yourself and the big secret is that making a pie is ridiculously easy. The hardest ingredient to find is the time, which, of course, is ridiculously difficult for most moms these days.

You can always do what I did this year: make your pie at 2 in the morning.

OK, on to the making part. The best part of making pie is making the crust. Many people think I am nutso for making homemade crust when there are perfectly nice ones to be had at the grocery…

To Ad or Not To Ad

I am trying to decide whether or not to join Blogher, or Adsense, or one of those types of networks and start posting ads on this site. I haven't so far, because I figure that my five or so faithful readers (a) wouldn't like it and (b) wouldn't really be a very effective target market for any advertisers.

Oh, and (c) because I'm lazy and haven't really bothered to investigate or think very much about this issue.

What are the pros and cons? Would I have more readers? Would the ads annoy people, including me?

So much to think about. I think I'll go have a piece of pie instead.

If you have any thoughts one way or the other, if you have ads on your own blog or not, please share your experiences.

Coming next: I will post my apple pie recipe. It's not rocket science people, it's sugar and apples. And pears.

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Post Thanksgiving Musings

Here's what I've been thinking about today. A brain dump, if you will.
I hate that shopping is considered news.
I love having leftovers in the house.
I dread the Holidays.
I love Christmas.
Multi-tasking is overrated. I made an apple pie at 2 in the morning on Thanksgiving. It was bliss. I didn't have to divide my attention between the apples and the computer and the dirty diaper and the feeding of people and the cleaning up after them and the fighting and the whining and the questions and the explanations and the people I love. It was me and the apples. And the pears, because I always put pears in my apple pie. I was surprised by how enjoyable a task can be when it's the only task at hand and the only thing being expected of me at that moment.
I just might survive the Holidays this year if I can find more ways to monotask. I might even -- gasp -- enjoy myself!

So I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving yesterday; let's tackle December, shall we?

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In Between

Today, I went Thanksgiving grocery shopping with my oldest, who is 11-years old. He is such a great kid: sensitive, smart, articulate, kind. He spends his days with one foot in the world of a little kid and one foot in the world of a teenager. There are many ways in which he yearns to be older, to have more freedom and to experience life on his own. There are also many ways that he is happy to stay "little." He still plays imagination games all the time, watches G-rated movies, and likes to cuddle.

He knows the truth about Santa Claus, but is happy to pretend otherwise to help out his mom and dad. Sometimes he pretends so well that I have to wonder if the pretense is for his younger siblings' sake or his own.

Today while we were walking from one store to the next, we headed towards a crowd of teenagers hanging out and being goofballs. He immediately slowed down so that he could walk behind me and not be so close to mom. His posture changed, his pace changed, his en…

What Can Happen When a Parent is Tired

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Take one tired daddy.

Add one creative 5-year old.

Mix in a handful of markers. Hope they are non-toxic.

And voila! Here is what you get:


The world--including daddy's feet--is her canvas.

Overheard

Three and five year olds running madly around the house, doing the lap from kitchen, to dining room, to living room, to hallway, to kitchen. Five year old, screaming at the top of her lungs:

"RUN LIKE HEAVEN! RUN LIKE HEAVEN! RUN LIKE HEAVEN!"

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My Brain is Mush, My Girls are Awesome

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Ten soccer games in two days will do that to a brain.

Three of my kids were each in a soccer tourney this weekend, which meant the following:

Saturday
9:00am Monarchs Game
9:00am Rockets Game
9:00am Dolphins Game

Noon Monarchs Game
Noon Rockets Game
1:00 Rockets End-of-Season Party
1:30 Dolphins Game

Sunday
9:00am Rockets Game
10:00am Monarchs Game
10:30am Dolphins Game
3:00pm Dolphins Game

The soccer was great, the teams are amazing, the other families are so much fun to be with, but the real trophy of the weekend goes to my 3 and 5 year old girls, for being such troopers about being hauled from one game to the next to the next and getting into a minimum of trouble the entire weekend. They are total rock stars.

Some day, it will be their turn. For now, they know how to party in the park, charm the socks off of people, scam the snack mom for hand outs, jump up and down to keep warm in the frigid wind, make a game out of throwing bark all over the place, and cheer for their older siblings. Hats off…

The Latest in a Long List of Things I Do Not Understand

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Am I the only person who is completely baffled by the Snuggie?


I cannot believe these things are catching on, that anyone would actually wear one. I saw a commercial the other night that excitedly proclaimed that the Snuggie is now available in fashionable patterns. Aside from the fact that Snuggie commercials look like they're spoofs of real commercials, the patterns featured were hideous, as in ugly drapery hideous. But then, I would imagine it's difficult to make any pattern look good when there is so MUCH of it to see.

Understand that I hate being cold. My poor husband has to hear me bitch and complain about being cold for the entire winter. I think I utter the words "I hate being cold!" about 53,000 times each year. I am always tucking blankets around my ankles and shoulders, and searching for the warmest socks, and going to bed wearing a hat. I put a high value on being warm and comfortable.

Even with all of that, I just can't get my brain around the…

In the Interest of Fairness

One of my posts a few days ago featured an email that has been making the rounds about how men could never survive if they had to do all the things we moms have to do on a daily basis. Well, apparently, it's not so easy to be a man either! Who would have thunk it???

One guy who saw that post responded by sending my dad (who had directed him to this blog) the following list:

How to make a woman happyIt's not difficult to make a woman happy. A man only needs to be:

1. a friend
2. a companion
3. a lover
4. a brother
5. a father
6. a master
7. a chef
8. an electrician
9. a carpenter
10. a plumber
11. a mechanic
12. a decorator
13. a stylist
14. a sexologist
15. a gynecologist
16. a psychologist
17. a pest exterminator
18. a psychiatrist
19. a healer
20. a good listener
21. an organizer
22. a good father
23. very clean
24. sympathetic
25. athletic
26. warm
27. attentive
28. gallant
29. intelligent
30. funny
31. creative
32. tender
33. strong
34. understanding
35. tolerant
36. prudent
37. ambitious
38. capable
39. c…

You Know You Are an NPR Family When...

...your 5-year old suddenly asks, after two months of being in school instead of with mom during the daytime hours: "Mom! We never hear Terry Gross talk anymore! Why???"

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Working With--Yes, that tiara looks great--My Kids Underfoot

Dear Carol,

Thanks for your--no, you can't have a cookie!--email. Rick would love to--yes, you can have 15 minutes of computer time if you are finished with your homework.--meet with you about your--no, 5X9 does not equal 50.--garden.

Oh, hang it all.

I would
Tallulah, stop spitting at Elizabeth.
really love to
I'm sorry you got scratched up in the thorny bushes, I'm sure that hurt.
go for two minutes in
Tallulah! Stop! You will go in another time-out if you cannot leave her alone!
a row without
No, you cannot have a cookie!"
being interrupted.
Am I the only one who can hear that infernal timer going off?!?!?!?!

It just might be
You can have a turn after her.
physically impossible for
I'm sorry honey, your time is up. No, you don't get extra computer time. They don't get extra time either. They get the same amount of time. No, you don't get extra time. Please unclench your fists from around my arms and remove your stomping, crying, tantruming self from my pres…

NaBloPoMo Failure, Sleep Deprivation Chronicles, and Pitfalls of Having a Large Family

First the failure: I couldn't do it. Couldn't do 30 posts in 30 days. Between Friday and Monday, we had two soccer games, one basketball game, two end of season soccer parties, Mass (yes, we really made it!), and one large work day for Rick, helping to plant the new El Cerrito Community Center garden. I guess I just couldn't keep up with all of that, feeding the family, doing the laundry, AND blogging. Very sad, very disappointing. Perhaps I will sneak back in through the back door, and post multiple times in a day in order to get to November 30th and have a (30) next to the month. We shall see. For now, I will retreat and promise to do better next time...if I ever agree to such foolishness again.

* * *

Second, the sleep deprivation: I was just leaving a phone message for someone, and I couldn't remember my cell phone number. I felt like an idiot. The nice lady taking the message thought I was looney. How embarrassing. I need some sleep, BAD.

* * *

Third, the …

The Book is Out!

I got the coolest birthday present from my brother today. He has self-published a book of his comics, from his syndicated strip It's All About You, and I got a copy from him in the mail today. THANK YOU TONY! I love it, love it, love it.

I have a link over there at the right that goes to his daily strip, so perhaps you have clicked on that and seen his funny stuff. Now YOU TOO can own the book.

Corrected on 11/17/09, to include HOW TO BUY THE BOOK! Click here to buy the It's All About You Book, the perfect Christmas present for anyone on your list who has a sense of humor. Let's hope, for your sake, that that's most of the people on your list.

Congrats, Tony. I hope you sell gobs of books and get famous. I want to see IAAY characters on mugs!

Everyone else, visit the link above to check out his comic strip.

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I Hate Yellow Day

Argh! It's freaking Yellow Day! That totally sucks.

Why the antipathy towards the color of the sun?

Because last night, in preparation for "free dress" day at the kids' school, I asked every single one of my school-going offspring what they wanted to wear to school instead of a uniform and they all brought me their choices, and I did the freaking' laundry, down to underwear and socks and was totally prepared for the morning and went to bed under the illusion of being ready, for once. THEN, at 5am this morning, my brain finally decided to WORK for one damn time, and reminded me that when it's free dress day, it's a COLOR DAY for Kindergarten, and I had forgotten that and didn't check the Kindergarten calendar and was therefore most definitely NOT prepared.

And now, it's Yellow Day. WE DON'T HAVE YELLOW! At least not clean yellow.

Just once, I would like a morning with no surprises. Just once, when I go to the effort to be prepared in adva…

I'm Pretty Sure This is Considered Cheating, but I'm Proceeding Anyway

For my 11th post in as many days, I am going to steal shamelessly, because I got a very funny email forwarded to me today. I did a bit of searching around the net to see if I could find someone to credit for this bit of genius...no luck. So whoever you are, hats off to you!

Enjoy some funniness, people.

* * *
THE NEXT SURVIVOR SERIESSix married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 4 kids each for six weeks.

Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes.

Each child will need a wrapped birthday gift for 2 parties during the six weeks, to which the men will r.s.v.p., drop off and pick up.

There is no fast food.

Each man must take care of his 4 kids, keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of "pretend" bills with not enough money.

Each man will have to make an Indian hut model with six toothpicks, a tortilla, and one marker & get a 4 year old to eat a serving of peas.

One pet …

To Yell or Not To Yell

30 posts in 30 days...or as my husband calls it: An Invitation to Mediocrity.

Boy, do I feel myself accepting that invitation.

In an attempt to stave off mediocrity, let's wade into a parenting issue, shall we?

Here's the question: "Is it OK to yell at your kids?" This is a question posed today by a local parenting blog. It quotes some crazy statistic that says that 88% of the parents questioned admitted to yelling at their kids sometime in the past year.

Only 88%? Seems a little low to me.

I don't know a single parent (or a married one, for that matter) who does not yell at their children. And I live near Berkeley, the granola-eating, consciousness-raising, teach-your-kids-to-express-their-feelings, space-for-everyone-at-the-table center of the universe!

Face it, we ALL yell at the kids. Sometimes we regret it, because we should; sometimes we don't regret it, because the situation called for it.

Neither do I know a single parent that doesn't worry about th…

Why I Don't Need Trendy Clothing Stores

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Thanks to mom and dad for the classic, perfect-for-me birthday card. (And for the New Yorker subscription renewal that came with it.)

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cartoon credit: Dave Coverly

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I am not a happier Californian.

Chase Bank took over WaMu, and screwed up my life.

We own a small business; I go to the bank frequently. We've also got the five small children; they come with me everywhere.

So the kids are quite familiar with the refrain: "I have to stop at the bank," and they moan and groan, but WaMu used to be an easy place to stop with the kids. So many things have changed since Chase took over that what used to be an easy errand now amounts to a trip to hell. Here are the stupid things Chase has done that make my day more difficult:
Took out the kid area of my local branch, which had books, toys, a kids' table and chairs set, and a couple of small video games. Replaced it with (yawn) a boring chair.
Removed their deposit drop box -- so now I have to actually stand in line.
Removed the Express Line -- so now I have to stand in a longer line.
Reduced the amount of time the Business Line is open -- so I can't rely on being able to use this line anymore either.Other things about Chas…

Remember Her?

Note: I originally wrote this post back in April, but never posted it. Now, with this NaBloPoMo craziness, I'm pulling it out of its holding pattern. The time references don't make sense; everything else does.

I received one of the greatest gifts on Friday: a visit with an old friend I have not seen in over 10 years. It was truly fantastic to see her, and it's had me thinking about what happens over time.

Kathy and I went to high school together, and there are few people in my life that I've ever had as much fun with or shared as much of myself with. She was intelligent, funny, sweet, and slightly geeky (sorry kath!), and I was at least two of those things as well, and we hit it off. We weren't in the "party crowd" but we sure enjoyed our wine and 7-up mixers, served on multi-colored square-patterned carpet of her older brothers' room (who was away at college) because his room was detached from the house and we had more freedom out there. We wer…

Life With Lullah

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The other day, my three year old told me that I am "smokin' hot."

Yesterday, I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up, and she said "Hannah Montana."

Today at a restaurant, every time I turned around, she was doing her "Pink Panther" walk, wherein she imitates Steve Martin strutting around New York City.

Tonight on the way home, she shrieked for at least three miles: "Get off this stupid street, you dummy!" We were on the freeway. Apparently, she doesn't like freeways.

I am trying to potty train her. She is ready. She often wakes up in the morning and from her naps dry -- a good sign. She can tell me when she has to pee. She can run around dry, in underwear, for 2, 3, 4 hours. She can sit on the potty when she has to go. But she WILL NOT PEE IN THE POT. Given our busy lives, I have not had time to just sit with her until she goes. Inevitably, she tells me she has to go pee about 30 minutes before we need to be somewhere..…

Book Circuit, Here I Come

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, I'm writing with some good news! I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I know, I know, it took me awhile. But here I am, about to turn 41, and I finally know what I want to be: a writer. More specifically, a published memoir author.

I have noticed, on the NPR interview circuit, that all of today's most interesting books are memoirs, so I am going to write one.

This is where you come in. See, I have noticed that most of these memoir author people have some pretty intense family stuff to write about, wacky parents and bumpy childhoods, drugs, alcohol, mental disorders, etc. So I need you to give me a list of all the stuff you've kept from me over the years, all the really sordid details of our family's lore. Feel free to embellish.

Perhaps you could use some "prompts" or ideas. Think of these categories: Violence...substance abuse...craziness...scandals...shameful events...big family secrets, etc.

Mary Karr, …

Another Halloween. . .

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. . .has come and gone.

I try to love Halloween, really I do, but it's hard. As in "I'm tryin' Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard." (Name that movie!)
I like the idea of dressing up and I like helping my kids assemble costumes. But I'm a dreadful procrastinator, and I'm usually stressed out about some key element of a costume right down to the last minute. I hate that.

This year, the pirate was easy and fun and ready ahead of time. Ditto for Cleopatra. The monkey, thanks to my extended village, turned out to be extremely easy, if a little down to the wire. The Grim Reaper -- easy...but I couldn't let go of the nagging voice in my head that kept saying: "Really?That'swhat you want to be? You can't think of something more fun? And less...deathly?"

I know, I know, 9-year old boys like that stuff. I'm not a 9-year old boy, though. I think I was sufficiently supportive of his choice that he did not suffer any ill effects from a disapprov…

I Miss My Pillow

I read a short article in the New York Times today about sleep deprivation. Nothing new, just depressing. Here's a quote:

In a study at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in 2003...scientists examined the cognitive effects of a week of poor sleep, followed by three days of sleeping at least eight hours a night. The scientists found that the "recovery" sleep did not fully reverse declines in performance on a test of reaction times and other psychomotor tasks, especially for subjects who had been forced to sleep only three or five hours a night.
Read the article here.

This is bad news for someone who routinely gets about 5 hours of sleep at night, often less, sometimes a little more. Rarely do I ever get more than 7 hours of sleep. Rarely do I sleep without interruption. My kids do not keep my up for long periods of time at night anymore, but they do wake me up to crawl into bed beside me. Or someone is coughing. Or someone wants a drink of water. Or someone is snorin…

Simple, Right?

So all I have to do right now is this:Deal with a pair of poopy underwear, and the body wearing them.
Help 7-year old with daily homework first, then project due tomorrow.
Make dinner: healthy, delicious, for seven people.
Get the 11-year old to take out the piles and piles of recycling that have been waiting for the empty bin.
Supervise homework for resistant 9- and 11-year olds.
Staighten up living room -- so people can sit down.
Straighten up dining toom -- so people can eat and do homework.
Find some clean utensils.
Give 3-year old a bath. If nothing else happens, this better.
Look at a couple of projects that people will actually be paying me for.
Prepare end of October paperwork for various business and home related projects.
Stay cheerful, hopeful, patient, and POSITIVE! After all, I'm creating people here, right?In other words, all I really need are three more sets of hands, arms like ElastiGirl, ten times the energy I currently have, a personal chef, fewer children, and a wife.

Aft…

Gifts

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It's my birthday this month. And my kids, who by the way are the most excellent offspring on the planet, decided to start early and celebrate from Day One of November. I think they had some encouragement from daddy.

I went to the grocery store and came home to my first gift. Grapes and flowers, harvested from our very own garden. Sweet, sweet.


I am loved. Life is good.

For a practiced complainer, glass-is-half-empty kind of a person like myself, this is saying something.

Thank you children and husband.

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Post Pediatrician Ramblings

I took some kids to the doctor today. One had a well-visit. Three had to get flu shots. One had to be checked for wheezing, a follow-up to a visit two weeks ago. That's a lot of stuff, right? Well, that's nothing compared to the to-do list I left with. Check this out:

-- Get eye exam for one kid. (Poor thing bombed her in-office eye exam...just like her momma!)
-- Get chest xray for one kid.
-- Get KUB xray for one kid.
-- Fill prescription -- two different meds -- for one kid
-- Get over the counter meds for one kid.
-- Bring one back in a month.

In the next 5 weeks, four of my kids will have their regular well-visits. Some people think of November and December as the Holiday Season. I think of those months as "Time to Reconnect with My Pediatrician Season." Which is nice, because I have a wonderful pediatrician, and love chatting with her. How many of you are facebook friends with your pediatrician? See, she's just that awesome. In fact, she's so awes…

Hook and Eye

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Not very many people use hook and eye latches anymore. They're a bit outdated, I suppose. But there are two in my mom and dad's house, and I love them.

Lest you think I have some strange attachment to bits of metal, let me tell you the story of how they came to be on the doors of the two bathrooms in my childhood home, and then you will know why I love them.

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My mom and dad hosted my wedding reception in their backyard. It was a gorgeous June day. Early that morning, the preparations began, with family, friends and workers carting tables and chairs, spreading linens, and readying the BBQ. It was a lively, crowded scene.

Two of our guests, our friends Margaret and Lola, arrived to dress, having driven up early in the morning in more comfortable clothes. Both were in the category of our "older" guests, and because of this, I was especially concerned about their comfort. They were also extremely honored guests; they have both had a profound, wonderful impact o…

Raising Environmentalists

While I admire your commitment to the creed of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle," I would much rather have you toss your empty Capri Sun pouch instead of saving it to use as a whoopie cushion.He does get 10 points for creativity, though.

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Rain on the Roof

I have learned my appreciation of poetry from my husband.

Being a lover of books and literature in general, I've always liked poetry well enough, but have never really delved into the genre with enthusiasm. That is, until meeting and marrying the father of my children.

He loves poetry. He loves the art, the craft, and maybe most of all, the marriage of sound and meaning. I had never really thought about the sounds of poetry before hearing him wax eloquently about the repetition of consonants or the rhythym of iambic pentameter. I just thought poetry was nice and rhyme-y. Except for the stuff that didn't rhyme, which I admit baffled me a bit.

But Rick has introduced me, and our offspring, to the pleasure of sounds -- and really, sounds do take us places, don't they? I think of the deep delight I take in the sound of rain on the roof while I am cozy beneath blankets...or the rush of the creek next to my girlhood home after a big rain...or the crunch of car wheels pullin…

Don't Report Me

Although I am definitely guilty of Blog Neglect, I am throwing myself at your mercy and begging you not to call BPS on me. Blog Protective Services. Those people could revoke my blog-ental rights and possibly even remove my blog from my home!

Look, I know I can do better, be better. Give me another chance. Send me to some classes or training or something. Don't make me talk to a judge, who sees too many cases of Blog Neglect to give bloggers like me a fair shake.

I am better than this. Please let me prove it.

Signed,

A blogger with the firm resolve to, you know, actually blog. Sometime soon. When work slows down. Or the kids grow up and move out. Or the earth moves under my feet. Or I just make the damn time.

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Support the Public Option

Another cut and paste from MoveOn.org; please join me!

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After months of delay, the full Senate is about to debate and vote on landmark health care legislation. But first, Senator Harry Reid and Democratic leaders have a big decision to make:

Will the Senate consider real health care reform with a public health insurance option, or a watered-down compromise full of giveaways to Big Insurance?

I just signed a petition asking Sen. Reid to include a strong public health insurance option in the Senate's health care bill. Will you join me at the link below?

Click here to sign the petition!

Thanks!

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It Must Be So Easy to Raise French Children

Today, I asked my three year old to put away her bowl and spoon.

"No" is what I got in return. That and these gems: "I'm not gonna." "La la-la la-la la, you can't make me." "I hate you." Lots of these responses came from an upside-down mouth, as she repeatedly stood on her head (on the couch cushions), and bounced up and down like a crazed squirrel.

There must be very few vocations that require as much on your feet creativity as parenting does: I had to work hard to come up with new and effective ways to get her to carry her bowl and spoon into the kitchen that did not involve using a choke hold, damaging my vocal chords, or promising her a pony.

It was not easy. 15 minutes of my life are now a foggy, misty blur because I sacrificed them to the intense concentration necessary to get what I wanted from her while avoiding the aforementioned prohibitions.

The bowl and spoon ended up where they belong, and I lost minutes off of my total …

Not My Path to Sainthood

Judging by the intense resentment I feel for every single one of my offspring today, laundry-as-devotion will never be my entre into beatification.

But then again, how is it that I can have so little gumption, so little courage, that when I face a day determined to conquer the laundry and the dustbunnies that I last until just after lunch before giving up completely?

At least I lasted until 3:47 before I cracked open a cold one. That has to count for something. Probably not towards spiritual enlightment, but maybe towards being a more bearable mother?

I'll take it.

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Unlikely Blessings

I have a friend who once told me that she sees laundry as a spiritual exercise.

Yes, you read that correctly.

This comes from a mother of four young boys, who most certainly has a larger-than-most-families laundry case load. And she's not some rose-colored glasses, put-a-happy-face-on-everything mom. She's real, she's gritty, she yells as much as I do, she loses patience like we all do, and she loves her kids truly, madly, deeply.

I think about her laundry prayer often when I am faced by incomprehensible piles of clothes, colassal mountains of dirty dishes, and family life detritus on every conceivable surface. Keeping up with this household feels so burdensome at times.

But I aspire to my friend's brand of devotion to taking care of the things that take care of everyone else. The tasks are truly thankless and never-ending. And yet, they are vital to everyone in the family. If I can do them with some semblance of grace, patience, devotion, presence...maybe they can c…