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Showing posts from July, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday: Volume 10

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1. I do believe I now have confirmation that Western Civilization is in a downward spiral. I just saw a commercial for a product called Booty Pop. It's like a padded bra, but for your backside. It promises the wearer more confidence. There are just too many things wrong with Booty Pop to even begin to name. Not that I couldn't use a little confidence myself, but geez, I would really like to find it somewhere besides a two-for-one, $19.95 cable TV advertisement. Somehow, I can't quite believe that the Booty Pop company really has my best interests at heart.

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2. I watch a scootch too much late night television.

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3. I left my house at 11:30 am today, two young girls in tow. Here's what happened next: I went to the gas station to fill up so that I wouldn't run out of gas. Then I drove 25 minutes away to pick up Child #1 at soccer camp. Camp got out 25 minutes late. Drove 35 minutes back in traffic to pick up Child #2 and Child #3 at art camp. Stopp…

A Dog's Life

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"Mom, how come dogs get all happy and excited when they see another dog, but humans don't get that way when they see other people?"

Good question, son. I think part of the reason is that a certain amount of the human population is comprised of teenagers and pre-teens. Whenever I act happy to see you, you respond in equal parts disgust, indifference, and mortification.

I didn't actually say that. I didn't say what I was thinking either, that a dog doesn't carry a bunch of emotional baggage with her. She doesn't get insecure. She doesn't worry if that labrador will think her butt looks big in these pants. She never gives a moment's concern to whether or not her leash is "in" this season. She definitely doesn't hold a grudge. She doesn't compare herself to other dogs, or covet their doggie toys, or wonder why her owner isn't totally cool like Snowball's is. She doesn't need video games or cell phones or fancy refr…

Go Climb a Tree

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You might just end up being this happy:



And, if you learn how to get back down all on your own, your mommy will be happy too!

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Three Cheers for Great Writing

I wanted to share a lovely essay from the Lives series in the New York Times Magazine. Montana Soccer-Mom Moment is written by Laura Munson and captures a beautiful moment between her and her daughter:
This essay literally took my breath away: at the final line I was all at once speechless and teary. Admittedly, there may be some chemical reasons for that. But there is also the very large fact that my kids are catapulting towards their teenage years and I already see glimpses of these moments in my future.
Plus, I googled her, found her website, sent her an email telling her how much I liked her essay, and she wrote back! So she's awesome, right there. Her website led me to another essay of hers that appeared in the NYTimes, which is also a lovely read.
Enjoy!
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It's a Little Crowded in Here Already

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My boys discovered our fire-bellied toads, uh, wrestling the other day. They thought this was hilarious, that the one on the bottom (the "boy" frog named Beans) kept jumping around the entire tank, while the one on the top (the "girl" frog named Bella) just kept right on...holding on, so to speak.
Apparently, our random gender assignments were backwards.
Imagine my not insignificant consternation when I found this on Wikipedia:
Fire Bellied Toads mate several times with the male embracing the female in the pelvic region. The female of the species typically lays 80–300 eggs that can be found hanging off plant stems. The offspring develop in pools or puddles. Their metamorphosis is complete within a few weeks, peaking in July–August.
Later today, I will be making a panicked call to the East Bay Vivarium, from whence came Beans and Bella.
Because this is cute, right?

Well, 1 or 2 of them are cute. 300 of them? Not cute at all.
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Dona Nobis Pacem

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"What is that?" my son asked, scorn and disgust splayed across his face.
We were at Mass this morning, listening to the song playing during the Offertory.
"That's Latin, for 'Give us Your peace.'" I said.
He looked, if possible, more annoyed that he was now aware he was listening to Latin, of all things. I was amused. And grateful. He focused my attention on those three words. If not for his impertinent question, those words would have floated on by, drifted up and away into the big dark wooden beams of the church ceiling.
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It has been anything but peaceful around here. Three barfing babes, one sick husband, summer camps, chores, stress, mess...the usual.
Oh, and my daughter got three bug bites two nights ago. She's allergic, so they swell up dramatically. This time, she had one on each of her hands and one right next to her eye. Both of her hands were so swollen and stiff she couldn't use them; her left eye was completely swollen sh…

Imelda's Got Nothin' on These Girls

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The clothes sorting continues.
I counted 57 pairs of shoes in my girls' closet the other day. 7 pairs of slippers. 11 single shoes missing their mates. Assuming that the missing mates are somewhere in the house, garden or car, that means my daughters own 75 pairs or 150 shoes in total. Because I enjoy public humiliation, I documented the obscene excess and offer it here for your ridicule (and also because I told Nicole I would):

I should say, they did have that many shoes, before the Shoe-Devil visited her wrath upon their dwelling place. Tears were shed. Fingers clutched worn out metallic pink sandals. Bodies dove protectively across Sketchers and Sunglows. Their efforts were in vain.
I have disposed of the excess shoes. They still have loads of them, but then again, there are three of them, and two of them play soccer, and they needed special shoes just for school, and then nice shoes for dressy occasions, plus summer sandals, plus cowgirl boots for dress-up, plus the wat…

7 Quick Takes Friday: Volume 9, the 9 Year Old Edition

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My 7 Quick Takes for today are brought to you by my Quick Nine Year old.

1. The other day, while wearing royal blue sweats and a royal blue t-shirt (one of the ones we kept), he kept saying the most random things and then announcing: "That just came out of the blue."* * *

2. Recently, I told the kids about my dear friend Abby, about how when we were in college we used to call each other Abster and Monster. 9 year old? "Is she funny? Cuz if she's funny you could call her Abstract."* * *3. We went to pick up his older brother the other day. 9 year old walked right past him on the sidewalk, kept looking straight ahead, and quipped. "Dude. You need a haircut." (It's true, he does.)* * *4. Rick was talking to the kids in the car about pursuing the things that are important to them. He talked about how you only get to be young once, and this is the time in their lives to enjoy things they are passionate about. "You only get to be 9 once, …

I Worry

Being a parent is really hard. Who's with me?
Today was a tough day. My 8 year old daughter crawled into bed next to me at about 12:45am, complaining of a tummy ache. This was about an hour after I had finally decided it was time for me to sleep. She slept peacefully next to me for about 15 minutes, and then the barfing began. Six times in the next five hours, she made the dash to the bathroom with a garbled and desperate "Come with me mom!" It was not a restful night of sleep for her, or for us. By the fourth time, I was so groggy I nearly fell backwards into the bathtub.
Another kid succumbed today as well, plus one husband, so we had a regular sick ward around here. I went through ungodly amounts of Lysol and hanitzer.
When people are sick, I get positively turbo about cleanliness. I'm not normally a neat freak, but stick a barfer on my couch, and I turn to the Simple Green, the broom, and the garbage can like I'm a cracked-up, Type A, OCD poster chil…

Snippets

I don't even know why I'm sharing these little gems. All of them are embarrassing or somehow unseemly. Please, please, tell me these are normal. Please. Lie to me, if you must.
OK, so first, my 3 year old is quite a little singer. She is forever making up little songs and boring the rest of us with them. My personal favorite goes something like this: "I love my mommy. She's so pretty. I love my mommy. She's so pretty." Repeat. Seriously, this one has an emotional depth to it that just knocks you off your feet. Or maybe that's my feet. Another popular one features Bob Dylan, her stuffed monkey: "Bob likes pickles, and climbing in trees." At least, I think it's about the monkey; I don't know how in the world she would know if the real Dylan actually likes either of those things. Anyway, the point is, she sings.
And she's the youngest of 5. So she hears a whole lot of stuff that's far more appropriate for kids who are…

Restlessness Passes. Thanks Mom.

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My last post was a little...well...restless, wasn't it? It matched my mood. I suppose the mood makes much more sense in light of the fact that I had gone to a memorial Mass on Friday (the day before The Great Restlessness) for my son's 5th grade teacher. We just left the warm embrace of her classroom last month, and now she is gone. She was a wonderful teacher, a wonderful woman. We will miss her very much.

So I think I was recovering a little bit when that post came pouring out. Too bad I didn't realize this on Saturday; I might have been much easier on myself. But the comments I received helped in that regard, so thank you to everyone who wrote.

Especially lovely was the note I got from my mom, who couldn't get the commenting window to work on my post and sent it in an email instead. (Don't worry mom, it probably wasn't you: the same thing happened to me today when I tried to leave a comment on another blog.) Here's what she said:

Anyway, I just wante…

Untangling Restlessness

I am restless today. Unmotivated. Unsatisfied.

I can't find a way to settle down and be "in the moment," the way we are always told to be.

If I could do something of my own choosing today, I would curl up with a good book: I've been trying to read What is the What for weeks. But I can't do that, now, can I? Of course not. My life is not my own right now. I see people out and about, doing...things. I see them in their yards making progress on home projects. I see them bustling about doing errands and Getting Things Done. I see them spending time with friends. Whatever. Whatever they are doing looks divine, because I can't do any of it.

Two days ago, I spent 45 minutes untangling Toy Story parachuter army men from each other. That night, I found them again tangled in a compromising heap. This morning, I spent 25 minutes untangling a First Communion cross necklace that had four knots in it. So far today, in addition to untangling the necklace, I'v…

Jesus, the Nonviolent Frequent Flyer

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This morning, Little T asked me to tell her the story of when Jesus died. I was a little occupied with 3 or 4 other multi-tasking distractions, so I tapped her 5 year old sister for the job. (Little T told me a few weeks ago that Lady E had told her the story before, so there was precedence.)

Lady E happily complied:

So when Jesus died, there were these people who put nails on his wrists and his feet and put him up on a cross because he wouldn't punch his pilot.
Unfortunately, she never made it to the Resurrection part of the story because her mother was howling too loudly with laughter. The real question here, then, is: WWJF? Which Would Jesus Fly: Coach or First Class??

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My New Domesticity Plan

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I have trouble getting motivated to clean my house. Oh, I do a spit shine nearly every day, and that works decently. But really cleaning it, beyond "good enough," happens once in a dry mattress. We know that having people over is about the only thing that will make us really clean. I like having folks over, because even I prefer being somewhat social to living like a bat, and also because I get to enjoy the benefits of having an orderly home, at least for a short while.

But there's a lot more that goes into hosting people than just cleaning the house. There's the food preparation, the extroverted energy required, the clean-up afterwards, the lost facebooking time, and the list goes on. Maybe there's a more practical way to get myself to clean the house besides having a party every weekend.

I was talking with a friend of mine recently who spent the past couple of years being a foster mom. She was, I'm sure, the best foster mom ever. I can't imagine …

Is That So Wrong?

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We've kept up our reading of Where the Red Fern Grows; we're about half way through. I'm just thrilled with how into it the kids are. We watch a lot of movies around here, so I was especially psyched when, on the way home tonight, one of the kids asked if we could watch a movie, and when I suggested we read instead, they were all way excited and abandoned any thought of a movie. I was happy, since this meant that I would not responsible for the death of a single brain cell under my roof for this night.
One problem. Little T.


She's too young for this reading-a-real-book-out-loud business. She gets too squirrely, needs too much attention. Earlier in the day, when I was thinking about reading later, I remembered how great reading had been the other night when she landed herself in bed early after being a Royal Pain in the Arse. She got her 1st and 2nd warnings, and then got herself a one way ticket to an early bedtime. She crashed and slept hard. The rest of us go…

Sad Today

Today, I learned that a beloved teacher at my kids' school passed away after a long battle against cancer. We are a sad family today, and our community is suffering a great loss.
We have been close to death too many times in the past few weeks: my mother and father will have been to four funerals by this coming Sunday.
My nine year old asked me this morning: "Is it dying season?"
No more than usual, my son. We just seem to be in the midst right now. There is much to learn from this sadness and loss, starting with patience for those we love.
I am awash.
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The Red Fern Gets Me Every Time

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I am reading Where the Red Fern Grows to the kids this week in the evenings. I loved and re-read this book frequently when I was a kid. Reading aloud is such a wonderful activity: I am forced to slow down and savor each word in order to give the kids the best possible experience of listening to it. I've enjoyed it even more than I thought I would.
The two oldest were extremely reluctant participants, complaining bitterly that I turned off a movie about the 2006 World Cup (which they've seen a bazillion times) in order to read to them. I gave them a choice: You can sit in here with us and listen, or you can go to bed. They grumpily shuffled off to bed. A few minutes later, they changed their minds and sullenly trudged back into the living room, with blankets and pillows, and harumphed themselves into comfortable positions. Four chapters later, they didn't want me to stop. Victory is sweet.
I can already tell that I'm going to have a hard time fighting back tear…

Paying it Forward

Picture three daughters sandwiched together on the back row of the minivan (hall of hell, is what I call it). Daughter A is walloping on Daughter B, who is stuck in the middle. Daughter B is getting upset, starting to whimper and protest.
Pan camera to the front of the car, where dad is driving and monitoring the situation through the rear view mirror. Mom is leaning her forehead against her hand, hoping the noise stops soon and knowing that it won't.
The fateful words from dad: "Don't let her do that to you, Daughter B. If you don't like being hit, hit back!"
Mom cringes, waiting for the inevitable epic fail this advice will yield.
Sure enough, a loud wail erupts from the back seat, adding to Daughter B's now continuous cries of distress.
Dad: "Don't hit Daughter C! Daughter A was the one hurting you, why did you slug Daughter C!?!?!?
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I knew it would end badly. I just didn't know it would end up expanding outward to involve ever more family…

Date Night, A La Mom of 5

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Just had a night out with my hubby.
Can't remember the last time that happened.
It was fun pretending to be a care-free chica, out for fun on a Friday night. Reality came crashing home when I leaned back, in ultra-relaxed mode, feeling pretty happy after a mojito and two glasses of wine, put my hands in my jacket pocket and discovered a pair of soiled underwear hastily stashed there a few days ago.
You can take the mom out of the fray, but you can't take the fray out of the mom.
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A couple of days ago, I took Sam to his housesitting job, with Talllulah in tow. She had an accident while we were there. A small one, I swear. Like super small, not much substance, just enough to justify removing her drawers and bringing her home commando-style.
Just enough to be OK with stuffing the contents in my pocket.
With just enough sleep deprivation and just enough other crap happening for me to forget they were there.
Kind of changed the whole "night out" experience for me. …

Memory

A reflection on memory, inspired by a poem by our incoming Poet Laureate, W. S. Merwin. The poem is called A Likeness, and I heard it this morning on NPR's Fresh Air. Click the link, read the poem.
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I have only what I remember, Take One: The only things that last are the fleeting memories I manage to hang on to. Everything passes, and quickly. Nothing gold can stay. Love, people, things, books, the best meal I ever enjoyed: all of these are mere puffs of air, ghosts that vanish when I try to look at them. I cannot catch them, cannot hold them, cannot keep them. Memories are the only things I am left with, and these are themselves fleeting, capricious, unreliable.
I have only what I remember, Take Two: Everything I have is captured in a memory: the muscle memory of our first embrace, of the first time I held my first born child, of watching five children play soccer in the evening light. All of the important joys and tears of my life, the ones that define me, are here, in…