Showing posts from April, 2008

How Old Are You, Anyway?

At the park yesterday, the older brother was giving the 3 year old a hard time. She, having none of it, was ignoring him and playing with another girl, about her size, whom she had just "met." Sam: "Why are you playing with that little girl?" Ellie, to Sam: "She's not little!" Ellie, to new girl: "How old are you, anyway?" ------- Sometimes, I hafta check her birth certificate to confirm that she is really only 3.5.

A Good Night's Sleep

I haven't slept in 9.5 years. I do not remember what it feels like to have enough sleep. I am tired all of the time. I used to have a reputation for being an impressive napper; I reveled in a lazy afternoon nap, the kind that you fall slowly into and rise slowly from, the kind that leaves you warm and relaxed and the purest kind of happy. I have a very vivid memory of walking into my room as a kid -- I was probably around 10 -- and seeing a pile of folded blankets on the floor. They looked so comfy, so inviting, just like that. I sat down and put my head down on them. Not bothering to unfold them and cover myself up, I simply drifted off to sleep sitting against them. The most vivid part of the memory is of waking up, of piece by piece returning to the waking world and being utterly delighted by my unexpected trip to dreamland. I miss those days. Over the past few years, I've heard more in the news about the effects of sleep deprivation, specifically on memory. I am

Free Range in Baby Steps

We are inching closer to having Free Range Kids. Clap now. We are dog-sitting our favorite (living) dog in the world, a beautiful, sweet Golden Retriever named Silka. She is awesome. She's exactly like our own beloved Chelsea, who passed on to Dog Heaven 3.5 years ago, and Silka fits right in with our family. And she needs to be walked. So we are now letting our two boys take her for walks around the block with the following guidelines: Around the block only. No street crossing -- which is for Silka's safety more than for their own, actually. If you come across anything or anyone who makes you nervous or uncomfortable, RUN HOME FAST. And because Silka is with them: bring a plastic bag and clean up after your pet. Do not put the bag in anyone else's garbage can but our own (that last bit was added out of necessity after the first walk). It's worked out great. They go around, they check in, they go around again... And the world has not stopped spinning. Th

Questions of the Day

"Mom, how come your weiny feels so weird when you drive down a hill?" -------- "Mom, can you get expelled for saying all the curse words in alphabetical order in the talent show?" -------- Mom's answers: "Well, sweetie, I'm a girl, so having never experienced that particular sensation, I can't really tell you the reason." And this: "I don't think they'd approve that act in the first place!"

Author! Author!

Lola has written her first book. I asked the kids last week to draw pictures for my aunt, whose birthday is today. Because Carol likes cats, Lola decided to draw one for her. One drawing became two, became three, and then she added a...well...narrative might be stretching it a little, but a lovely little five-year-old story. Here it is: The Little Cat, by Lola It got sunny and the cat ate grass and the cat was thirsty. The cat went to drink milk and then it started to rain. And the proud author. Happy Birthday Carol!

Life is Funny That Way

"Mom, you know what's so funny about life?" "It's funny when parents try so hard to get their babies to talk, and then six years later, they're trying so hard to get them to sit down and shut up."

Sisyphus Had It Easy

What a wuss. One boulder. One boulder, folks. That's all he had to contend with. Ha! I should be so lucky! One boulder vs: • My laundry pile: THIS could put Sisyphus to shame all by itself. But wait, there's more. • One toddler: ...who removes her shoes and her socks over and over and over and over. Add 3.5 minutes to any outing to (a) find where she threw them in the car and (b) put them back on while she giggles wildly. At least one of us is having fun. • Three squares a day: I push food down their throats each and every day, only to wake up the next day needing to do it again. • 50 fingernails and 50 toenails...I finish clipping the last of the 100 nails and it's time to start over. And that's not counting my own. • The toilet paper roll: Makes me wonder if Sisyphys ever grumbled to himself: "Am I the only one in this family who even SEES that this boulder needs to go back up the hill? Am I the only one in this family whose LEGS aren't broken?&q

Looking for a Little Confidence

And Talk of the Nation has me blogging again today. This time, the guest was Lenore Skenazy, an op-ed columnist at The New York Sun. She wrote a column, also on her blog, called Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone . You may remember my post on my own family’s struggle with this urge to let our children “out to play” and our fears for their safety; you can read it here . The interview with Skenazy has me brooding on the topic again, as do my son’s more frequent pleadings for permission to ride his bike down to the local park to play soccer. The link to Skenazy’s article above also takes you to her website, Free Range Kids, which looks like a meeting place for parents who are, or who want to be, raising kids who are safe but not overprotected, healthy but not sanitized. I have a friend who has a now-adult daughter, whom I first met when she was around 12. Even at that age, the girl was confident, poised, gracious with new people…an all around impressive young person t

Numbers: 4012 and 70

Talk of the Nation today was fantastic. Both hours had me riveted to my radio – too bad I had to run errands and visit a doctor in the middle of the program. This is one broadcast I will be tuning into at its later time tonight. The first hour featured an interview with Chris Jones, a writer who followed a soldier's body from Baghdad to its final resting place in the soldier's hometown of Scottsburg, Ind. Jones discusses the long journey in " The Things That Carried Him " a detailed article in Esquire magazine about the transfer of remains. (Edited on 4/11/08 to add a link to the article...) If you know the incredible book The Things They Carried , by Tim O'Brien, the title of Jones’ article has even more resonance. Jones talked about the very personal homecoming of one soldier who was killed in Iraq and who returned to a small town in Indiana. As it happened, as he was telling parts of the story to Neil Conan, I was driving my daughters to their doctor


Sometimes when childless people ask me how my sick child is, I can tell that they do not really care what the answer is. Or at least that they are completely unaware of what it's like to have a sick child. They are just being polite. I guess that's OK...I mean, they have no experience to inform them. But it's a strange sort of empty conversation. Only sometimes. Not all childless people. Sometimes when I drop my daughters off at daycare I feel bad about leaving them there. I feel bad because as I hand them over to the extremely capable Peruvian grandmother who loves and cares for them, I feel like she is better at this motherhood thing than I am. And I feel guilty as a wave of relief rushes over me because someone else will be attending to their needs for a little while. And I feel bad because being productive while they are at daycare would justify their being there and yet I have a extraordinarily difficult time achieving that productiveness. Sometimes when I g

Seeing Stars

Setting sunlight is streaming through the living room window. Elizabeth, in a fever induced haze, is mesmerized by the dust motes floating lazily in the air. "Mom, are these stars, or just stuff from my socks?" Pause. She thinks about it, and then: "I think we should call them stars." Stars they are, then. Much more appealing than stuff from socks.

I'm No Martha Stewart, But I Get By

So Lola has been sick all week. She was feeling better on Wednesday, and REALLY wanted to go to school. I was wavering about whether or not to let her, but her cough was still bad, her fever had JUST gone away, and she still had that pale waif look. So I said no. What does one do when one has a semi-sick child who wants to be more active than I want her to be? Make something sugary of course! Maybe not the most responsible idea I've ever had, but she was so disappointed about having to stay home again that I decided to delve into her new cook book. She got this at the school book sale recently, and we had not yet made anything from it: So she made a selection, and we luckily had most of the ingredients. We ran to the store to get the rest, and then tried our hands at this: I learned some things. I learned that milk, sugar, and cornstarch are extremely sticky when combined. I learned that Elizabeth LOVES electric mixers. This recipe did not require me to use mine, a

Ingratitude, Thou Marble Hearted Fiend

Here's how I spent Easter vacation with my children. First of all, we planned a delightful little Easter Day, complete with friends over for dinner...a fabulous Easter egg hunt in the garden...chocolates aplenty...cute baskets with thoughtful gifts for each child...Rick took the older ones to the three days of Easter evening services, and culminated the experience with a late night trip to Barnes and Noble's cafe for hot chocolates. And the activities! One day, I took the three older kids to the park so they could ride bicycles. Another day, I took all five of them to a BBQ at a park next to the Beach, again with bicycles. I took the boys to the Zoo. I let them go to a Cal baseball game with a friend. We had movie nights almost every night -- and introduced them to the Wizard of Oz. We had ice cream cones. We made home-made lemonade. I actually took them to McDonald's, and if you know me, you know that this is a big deal. The last time Rick or I took the kids