Showing posts from January, 2010

7 Quick Takes: Vol. 3

1. I read a beautiful post this week from Kelly at Student of the Year, a nice reflection on winter. Give yourself a treat and read it. You'll probably find yourself hoping for a little more cold weather so you can snuggle up with blankets, pillows, and people. * * * 2. This is sort of reverse book review. As in, I'm looking for people who have read NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children , by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, since I have not...yet. I admit that all I know of it so far is the blurb I read that goes like this: "[The] central premise is that many of modern society’s strategies for nurturing children, from toddlers to teens, are backfiring – because key twists in the science have been overlooked ." I hope to get the book soon and give it a read. Just that blurb alone seems to match many of my recent thoughts about raising kids. I've become increasingly convinced that much of what we do in the name of our kids is a load of crap. My

Hallelujah, She's Learning

My 3 year old has taken awhile to get used to the whole "Mass behavior" thing. By this, I mean that we go to Mass every most Sundays, and while I would hope she would be used to the routine by now, she seems to be stuck with the idea that the pews are her personal jungle gym and the high ceilings are her personal echo chamber. The climbing is one thing, a nuisance to believers in our immediate vicinity. The loudness, however, well, she shares that with everyone from the slackers in the back to the cantor to the altar servers. But this week, I finally saw some progress. She still tried to climb, although maybe not quite so much. But the beauty part? As she sat in my lap, squirming away and trying to charm the folks behind us, she kept coming in close to my face, taking my face in both of her hands, and then leaning up to my ear to whisper, mercifully, "Yo-wuh breath smells so gwoss." Approximately 8 or 9 times. It's true: I ran out of the house witho

7 Quick Takes: Vol. 2

* * * 1. I had a rather nice idea last night, as my daughter was having difficulty going to sleep. I thought it would be nice to give her some ways to help herself to get to sleep, instead of falling back on my usual " GO TO SLEEP NOW !" refrain. I, in my most encouraging voice, said " Why don't you make up stories in your head? Or think about things you want to do? Or think about people you love ?" Nice, right? Well, she picked the story idea, and then came out of her room every few minutes to tell me another story she had made up. All of them involved a princess and her dog. Sometimes the dog was named "Ruff." Sometimes the dog was named "Ruff Ruff." It sort of backfired on me, and kept her up for more than two hours past her bedtime. It ended with me losing my patience. It was not pretty. Note to self: Do not encourage creativity past bedtime . * * * 2. My son went on a two day trip with his 5th grade class to the Marin

Teach Your Children Well

Here is a question. To smuggle, or not to smuggle? Do you take snacks into the movie theater? I did, yesterday. I was taking 5 kids to a movie, and seriously, the total cost of providing movie concession snacks and drinks to five mouths might have landed me in Chapter 11. So my choices were: (a) take them and do not let them have anything to eat or drink; (b) take them, and smuggle; or (c) don't take them. I went with Option B. This is against the rules . A more obedient member of society would have paid through the nose or disallowed snacks all together for her young charges. Come to think of it, "through the nose" is an apt phrase, since I'm guessing the price of cocaine might rival the concessions prices at the Century Hilltop Theater. Just a guess, of course. You know how Parents Are Their Kids' First Teachers ? Apparently, that includes being the first to teach them how to get away with something. Good thing the weather was bad, because we

Ice Cream: An Essay in Pictures

All while wearing big girl underwear. * * *

7 Quick Takes

Today, I am joining in the fun of 7 Quick Takes Friday , hosted by Jen at Conversion Diary . I've always enjoyed these on her blog and on Suburban Correspondent's , so I thought I'd give it a whirl. 1. We have nothing to fear . These words were spoken to me on Tuesday evening and have stayed with me all week, reverberating like a bell inside my heard. Think about it for awhile. Given that I usually behave as if the opposite is true, this, for me, is a revolutionary thought. We have nothing to fear. Try that on for size and walk around with it for a few days. * * * 2. I am within weeks of not having to change diapers anymore. I did the math on how many diapers I have likely changed in the past 11.5 years, and it's definitely hovering around 18,000. Don't think about that one for very long. It doesn't lead anywhere nice. * * * 3. Bonfires make everyone happy. We had another one in the backyard last night, and I swear it was good for the soul

Where Enthusiasm Gets Scary

My youngest helped me make dinner tonight. I started to wisk the eggs, but she got all excited that she wanted to do it. "ME ME ME ME, Mommy, I DO IT !" Sure honey, you can do it! Here you go, here's the wisk, here's how you do it. Good girl! "GOODY GOODY GOODY! I GET TO KILL THE BABY CHICKS." She is truly terrifying. * * *

Where Stubborn Meets Ridiculous

First of all, I kind of can't believe I haven't already told this story, but I searched my blog this morning and couldn't find it. If I somehow missed it, and I'm repeating myself, please have mercy and remember that I've lost more and more brain cells and memory space with each child and I'm lucky I remember my own name half the time. Caveat issued. * * * A few months ago, I was manning the controls of a routine school-night at our house. This involves making pasta, scaring up a vegetable, and keeping the little kids somehow occupied while helping the older kids do their homework. It's quite a juggling act. At one particular moment, I was chopping carrots, correcting 4th grade math and helping my oldest figure out his science homework, when a blood curdling shriek interrupted the proceedings. I turned around to see my youngest, standing absolutely rigid, with a look beyond terror on her face, and a sound from the depths of hell spewing forth from

Give. And Pray.

Haiti needs us. I cannot fathom what I am seeing on the television and on the internet. We are so incredibly fortunate here in the United States. We experienced our own tragedy back in 1989, so we can relate somewhat. But our earthquake then was bigger than the one in Haiti yesterday, and the devastation there is immeasurably worse. Haiti needs us. The pictures speak volumes of the suffering. We can't do anything at all except give money. So if you can, give to Doctors Without Borders , a trustworthy non-governmental organization with a proven track record for providing real help and real relief to people who are suffering. And pray. And keep these people in your minds and hearts. Let them know that the people of the United States are with them. * * *

It's All A Big Joke To Her

Two toddlers walk into a bar... ... and proceed to compare stories of the ridiculous things their parents do in the name of potty training. The ridiculous things I'VE done are paying off, I guess, sort of. The crazy bargains and the stupid songs I am ordered to sing while we are sitting, just sitting, waiting for something to happen. The time I spend sitting on the edge of the bathtub. The wierd way I end up talking about just how fabulous voiding is, and how wonderful life will be when she voids appropriately. The fact that we now visit the public bathroom everywhere we go, just to keep the conversation going and to prove that she truly can go anywhere she happens to be. This is day three of The Great Underwear Campaign. A few accidents. A few successes. Quite a bit of time sucked up and away and out of my life, never to return. She thinks the entire proceedings are hilarious. She thinks it's quite funny to tell me she has to go pee, and then sit there for 10, 15,

De-Lurk, Early and Often

Today is National Delurking Day. So get with the program, peeps. Comment. Early, often, politely or not. There's a reason why Nike makes more money than God: Just do it . Scroll through my posts; I'm sure you'll find something to say. It need not be something nice, although nice is...nice. The important thing is to join the party and add your voice to the mix. Thanks ever so much! * * *

And There Was this Girl Named Rosa

Breathe. On a day like today, I need to remind myself to breathe. On a day like today, I will repeatedly need to tether myself back to earth, to prevent myself from completely flipping out over the competing interests pinging around in my head. On a day like today, I should keep a picture of my five treasures close at hand, to remind me what all this craziness is all about. Because today, here is what life looks like: To baseball or not to baseball? Competitive soccer? Which level? Which kid? Our 7 year old is making her first confession tonight. I love this first sacrament -- I think its lovely and holy and, well, sacred. It's a big moment for her, and for us. She's not even nervous about it, or so she says. I'm nervous for her, so we've got the nerves thing covered. Oh, and " parents are encouraged to show their children a good example and go to confession as well ." So maybe I'm not really so much nervous for her as for myself. To Avat

Question to Ponder for Today

Why is it that commercials that advertise household cleaning and kitchen products frequently feature men with British accents? Are British men the best domestic role model for American housewives? Do British men really hit that target demographic? * * *

I Can Only Enforce the Rules If I'm Awake

We have been trying to rid our bed of little people. By early every morning, we've got a minimum of two extra people in our bed, people who stretch, kick, move blankets, and enjoy lodging knees and elbows in inconvenient spaces. It's super annoying. But then, there's the cuddling, which I admit, I am a complete sucker for. Because I (and my spouse) are conflicted about the cuddling, the situation has gone on way too long. One of the downsides to this state of affairs is that we don't get good sleep. We are always half-awake and half-aware of which elbow might get away from its owner and whack us in the head. We hit our limit recently, and laid down the law with the girls: "Starting tonight, if (and when) you come up to our bed, one of us will bring you back downstairs and put you back in your own bed." There were questions. "What if I can't get back to sleep?" "Why can't I stay in your bed?" "What if my sister comes

I Can't Believe I Fell for This

No, not a "Dear Sir or Madam" email from a Nigerian who politely seeks my assistance. Here's what I fell for: " Hey mom, say the initials of International House of Pancakes, and then say 'ness.' " Much hilarity ensued. Gotcha, mom. * * *

Time for a Stretch

Thank you Viv for this award! In return, I am charged with being grateful. Wow. Isn't that kind of antithetical to all the bitching and complaining I usually do? Only some of it ends up on this blog, but the rest of my dissatisfaction with life is strewn liberally across my kitchen, where I spend so much of my time, and I'll have a job clearing it all to the side to find those gems of gratitude buried around here somewhere. It is a well documented truth that the only motivation strong enough to make me clean my house is the threat of visitors. Now it seems the same is true of my head and heart: the only thing motivating me to clean them up today is the prospect of visitors to this blog. That plus the gauntlet thrown down by this Happy 101 Award . So, thanks to Viv , I will now search my head and heart to find 10 things that I am grateful for, that make me happy. (I considered using spots 1-5 for each of my five kids. But that's a little bit of cheating right

House Devils and Street Angels

I am pleased to say that I hear many wonderful reports about how well behaved my children are. Teachers, friends, random strangers smile and tell me what a beautiful family I have, how good they are, how pleasant. They have never been in trouble at school for behavior-related problems. They are polite, respectful, kind and fun to talk to. Or so I've been told. At home, there is another reality. At home, they are evil to each other, and sometimes to me. Take today, for example. Since we got home, 34 minutes ago, I've heard yelling, screaming, crying, howling, door-slamming, stomping, whining, accusations and insults. And there are multiple fronts: two are going at it in the dining room, one is running back and forth spewing venom and slamming doors, and one or two seem to be loudly proclaiming some injustice that the universe is guilty of. If I could isolate the problem, I might be able to do something about it. Instead, I sit here blogging because I cannot be in

She's Good

The other day, my 3-year old daughter catapulted herself through the kitchen and collided with the doorjamb. Her head, her shoulder, her hip all hit, and hit hard. I held my breath. I waited. She teetered, stunned, for a minute. Time stood still. Then she turned to me, flashed a 1000-kilowatt smile, put her hands up, palms forward and said: "I'm good!" She then dashed off to resume the catapulting. Thank you, Pepsi Max. Apparently, 3-year old girls can take anything too. * * *

I Can See the Finish Line. I Just Can't Get There.

I have been a mother for 4,111 days. That's how many days I have been changing diapers. I would do the math to figure out how many diapers that translates into but (a) I would cry and (b) I would give all those environmentally-minded, population control people way too much ammo. ( Just an aside: the water required to launder cloth diapers cancels out the landfill impact of disposables. Did you know that?) My youngest is over 3, and there is no nice way to put this so I'll say it with asterisks: she is f***ing with me. She knows what she needs to do. She just refuses. She's got the physical control. She knows where the job needs to be done. She'll even sit there every so often. She claims to be a "big girl." She claims that she uses the potty. She is a great big huge flaming liar. Yeah, yeah, yeah, she won't go to college in diapers, yadda yadda yadda. I don't even want her to go to the grocery store in diapers, and we're leaving


1. He teaches us soccer moves. • 2. He read Little Women to me. • 3. He takes us to Fenton’s for ice cream. • 4. He’s the milkshake parent. • 5. He creates beautiful gardens. • 6. He takes us to In-n-Out. • 7. He makes us warm fires in the winter. • 8. He finds stuff for us at Thrift Town. • 9. He tells mommy she is beautiful. • 10. He wrestles with us. 11. He gave us Bob Dylan. • 12. He brings me ribs from T-Rex. • 13. Two words: Top Dog. • 14. He draws pictures with us when we are doing art and on the menus at Fatapples. • 15. He read Shakespeare to me when I was really little. • 16. He says sorry. • 17. He tells us he loves us every day. • 18. He carried all of us kids in the backpack when we were little and let us all drool down his back. • 19. He loves to take naps with us. • 20. He reads Always Room for One More and One Morning in Maine to us. 21. He likes to make us laugh. • 22. He read The Phantom Tollbooth and The Hobbit to us in the evenings on mom and dad’s bed. • 2


My son was invited to a friend's house earlier this week to play. He was reluctant to go. It wasn't that he didn't like the kid or the family -- he loves them. But he is my home-body, my stay-in-pajamas kid, my "I prefer my family" guy. I am happy to give him plenty of time and space to just "hang" on vacation, but I really wanted him to go because I knew he would have fun and because I thought it would be good for him to get out of the house after several lounge lizard days in a row. I forced him. He was unhappy with me, and called me the meanest. Nothing I said could convince him that he would have a good time, not the possibility of a hike with a dog, nor the possibility of a visit to the California Academy of Sciences. Nothing. But then, he found his own motivation: "OH YEAH! Last time I was with "Joey," we were trying to figure out the DNA of a booger! We can do that today, too!" And just like that, he was chomping