Showing posts from February, 2011


Kids come with a lot of questions. Most of them, I cannot answer, or at least not without research. Here are all the things to which I said "I don't know" this weekend: How far does a bullet fly? Why are white people called Caucasian? Why does it sound so much like Asian? What does the 'A' stand for in double A batteries? Is Hosni Mubarak a good person? Would you wear a burka if it was part of your religion and you lived in a country where the president made it illegal to wear one? What is the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian? Yeah, I thought I knew that one until I utterly failed to explain it coherently and ended up with an IDK. When was the last time a volcano erupted? Is Justin Timberlake nervous right now? Why can African American people use the n-word but no one else can, and why would they want to? How are you going to fix your computer? ( This after the power cord prong thingy snapped off inside my laptop, rendering it un-power-up-able. ) C

Words Do Indeed Make a Difference

Little T and I went to visit a friend today who just gave birth to a new baby. On the way, she asked me if a mommy has to be cut up to get a baby out of her belly. During the conversation that ensued, I discovered that the word opening is much nicer than the word hole . * * *

Google This

While working on a garden design this morning, I googled the spelling of "Deschampsia caespitosa." I took a quick look at the results, got what I needed, and said " Yes! Thank you, Google! " My 6 year old: " Mom (patronizing voice). Just because Google says it, doesn't necessarily mean it's true. You should really be more careful." We raise 'em savvy around here. * * *

Blender Blunders

or How I Know I Am Not Alone Our afternoon snack today was a fruit smoothie, a favorite around here. Lola and I happily blended together OJ, yogurt, pineapple, bananas and blueberries. Frustratingly, I couldn't find the cover to the blender anywhere. No matter, I grabbed a small plate and put it over the top, and noisily blended away. At a certain point, I decided the shake needed a little more pineapple, so I took the plate off, reached for the pineapple, and then watched in slow motion disbelief as my 10 year old stuck his finger out at that precise moment and pressed the 'on' button. A fruit shake tsunami hit my kitchen. And my son. " Why on earth did you do that ?" I gasped, incredulous. My spouse decided to pick that moment to channel me, in my sanctimonious moments: "Well I'm sure he didn't wake up this morning and decide he wanted to spray fruit shake all over the kitchen." Thanks for that bit of wisdom; in the future, when I wa

Native Time

Each year, Rick and I participate in a tour of local native plant gardens: Rick showcases some of his work, usually including our own garden, and I exercise my design muscles by producing the booklet that each tour-goer receives. The tour is in early May, which means that our February, March and April are...nuts. We are weeding. We are planting. We are ripping out whole sections of the garden because we have been inspired with some new fantastic vision that just has to be implemented. We are cursing ourselves for taking on too much. We are designing booklet pages. We are designing ads for the booklet. We are thinking of how to make Rick's gardens stand out. We are devising strategies to market our business to the 6000+ folks who register for the tour. We are handling ongoing garden projects that have nothing to do with the tour, for the sake of paying the bills. Other things we are theoretically supposed to be doing during February, March, and April: Feeding children,

And the castle, it is the best castle...

A little over a year ago, I wrote in this post about how a bedtime plan backfired on me. Thirteen months later, that same plan finally bore fruit! Little T was tough to put to bed last night, crying and carrying on, and claiming she could only sleep cuddled next to me. I was trying to think of a nice way to keep her butt in her bed, or barring that, at least in her own room. Lady E saved me. Tallulah, one time, I had a hard time going to sleep, and Mommy told me I could just make up stories right in my own mind! And I did, and the stories were about princesses and stuff, and I can help you do the same thing! Exit Mommy, fist pumping the air. Enter Mommy an hour later to find two sleeping girls and the following story on the pillow next to one of them: We lived in a castle, a very big castle. We loved it. It was very awesome and it was covered with flowers. It had a very pretty garden, very very beautiful. I loved the garden. And the castle, it is the best castle I have

A Terrible Discovery

My children, with my unwitting help and to my horror, made a terrible discovery this week. They discovered that stuffed animals are washable . I provided them with all the proof they needed. When a particularly special stuffed animal got drenched in dog slobber, without thinking, the words just popped out of my mouth: "This will probably come clean in the wash!" Before the words had faded away, I could see the light bulb flicking on in the girls' brains and wished in an instant I could grab those words and stuff them far, far down into the dark depths of never having been uttered. These little critters? Were this close to the landfill Goodwill truck. Look how clean and fun they look now? And no faking out the young ones for me! I had three pairs of eyes watching me like hawks, almost as if they know that I am capable of bold-faced lying to them and saying that I tried to wash them and they just didn't come out as well as Froggy had. Of the big pile they h

7 Quick Sick Takes: Volume 28

I'm sick. My Friday sucks. Hope yours is better. ~1~ It's much easier to be sick if everyone in the house has clean socks in their dresser drawers. Which we do not. ~2~ I remember when getting a cold slowed me down for like a day. It's hard to deny my advancing years when a simple cold takes me entirely out of the game for 3 days and cuts into my otherwise mad mothering skilz for another 2 or 3. ~3~ If you need to get more sleep, and you put it off for too many nights in a row, your own body will stage a mutiny and make it impossible for you to do anything except sleep, even to blow your own nose, for 24 hours. If you try to do anything else, like raise your head from your pillow, the resulting pain will squash you like a bug and make you weep like a baby. ~4~ My children are kind and compassionate when mommy is sick. They give me little kisses, rub my hot forehead with their nice cool (sometimes sticky) hands, they check in on me every so often to see if I&#

Let's See... here's what I've got today: Cramps. Big and bad. A head cold. Not enough sleep, after going to bed at 1:30am. Two kids with nasty head colds. A body that is aching both from PMS and from tripping over a hula hoop and slamming down onto a slab of flagstone the other day. Wow. Even I'm impressed by that list. If there were ever a day to be sequestered , this is it. Failing that, and in an attempt to ignore everything that could have me weeping in a corner this morning, I will here list an equal number of things I am grateful for. The Monarch team families. I love the families of my 8 year old daughter's soccer/futsal team. We all watched them get their butts handed to them on a silver platter last night...but the other parents make every game a playdate for me. My husband and his flexible work schedule, because he will be taking the three healthy children to their dentist appointments this morning, relieving my crampy, snotty self from having to do it with

Fire as Metaphor

Dad! The fire looks like a bad marriage! My six year old's way of telling dad he needs to tend to the fire in the fireplace. * * *

Seeking Instructor for Impulse Control 101

How do we teach our kids a little self-control? How do we teach them to corral their less-than-wonderful impulses? Like the impulse that tells my son that it's a perfectly fine idea to attempt to choke his little sister for sticking her tongue out at him. Like the one that tells my daughter that flinging shoes at me from her car seat is fun or that hurtling pencils across the living room is just what the situation calls for. Like the force compelling them all to simply get louder in order to be heard above the din of other people who are being as loud as they can in order to be heard. Like the urge to get my response right now to a critical question such as I-know-I-just-bought-an-Ipod-game-and-you-said-I-could-buy-a-song-in-a-few-days-but-can-I-buy-it-now-instead-cuz-i-really-really-want-it , even though, as you can clearly see, I am engaged in conversation with another adult and will (a) not respond in your favor if you interrupt me and (b) not respond in your favor beca

Love and Math

I posted the following on Facebook this morning: ‎♥ ♥ ♥ ... another gift homeschooling has given me: I love Valentine's Day again. I had the energy to do something nice for my own kids instead of coming up with 100+ cheapie valentines for them to give their classmates . ♥ ♥ ♥ It's true. Early this morning, I got up and cut out five big red and pink construction paper hearts. I wrote little love notes to each of my kids, attached a small box of chocolates and a small box of conversation hearts to each one, and put them on the dining room table. I did not spend a minute of the past weekend helping five kids produce 20-30 valentines each for their classmates. I did not waste a bit of money on cheaply made crap. I did not have to purchase a single Disney product or participate in cross-promoting the latest drivel passing for children's entertainment. I did not waste an ounce of energy trying to convince two pre-teen boys to write the names of their friends on each ca

Saturday Morning

The day is before me. The sun is clear and bright. I haven't yet hit the wall...but it's only 9am. This weekend holds the following for us: Lola-berry-ding-dong has a soccer clinic today. Sam is serving at a Funeral Mass today. We need to buy shoes for Sam before the Funeral Mass. Sam is serving at 7:30am Mass tomorrow. Lola is going to an overnight with Grandma and Poppa. Sam and I will go to his end of the season soccer party tomorrow. Rick gets to go watch the Gaels beat the Dons in San Francisco tonight. Sam wants to go a footy-soccer (soccer tennis) clinic tomorrow. Vincenzo has a futsal game tomorrow. Notably, Little T and Lady E are missing from that long list of activities. Apparently, they have no plans for the weekend. However, I have plans for them . Big plans. They. Will. Bathe. That way, while they are being carted hither and non, along for the ride while other people go to various functions, our minivan will not be attended by two little Pig Pen clouds

Good News!

Ah, NPR! You have enriched my life beyond measure. You have expanded my horizons, Neal Conan; you have kindled my intellect, Michele Norris. You, Nina Totenberg, you have demystified the mighty Judicial Branch for me; and Ira Glass, your stories have touched my heart. ( And yes, I am a member of local KQED, so do not call me. Peter Sagal, you can call me if you want .) But Robert Siegel, you have outdone yourself this time. This past Monday on All Things Considered, you answered a prayer. Here's an excerpt from an interview I heard on ATC between Mr. Siegel and Ralph Keyes, author of Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms . It's well-known that some people who suffer certain kinds of stroke lose their ability to speak, but they don't lose their ability to curse. And this has led linguistic researchers to conclude that swearing comes from a very primitive part of our brain and almost as not language at all. This is good news , people. This means that my inabi

Evidence That I Am Ineffectual

I just told Little T to go in her room and find her pink stripped shorts to wear under her black velvet party dress: she's going to a 5-year old's birthday party and there will be jump-house jumping. Shorts are standard issue for little girls who try to reach the ceiling of the Jumpy House. So how do I know she is ignoring me? Because as I type I can hear her bed squeaking rapidly and repeatedly under the weight of her jumping up and down. She must be getting warmed up for the party. Further evidence? I just reminded her to find her shorts. Now I'm listening to the bed springs catapulting her up and down AND a harmonica she is blowing with abandon. She knows how to have a good time, and it doesn't involve listening to mom in the least. ( Also? When she selected a filthy dress to wear today, and I said we would find something clean, she p-shawed me away with her hand and said: "Mom, just go with it." ) * * * An unrelated photo that captures the atti

7 Quick Takes: Volume 27

The problem with Fridays is that you can't say "Well, it's Friday somewhere!" the way you can with 5 o'clock. That's unfortunate. But for today, at least and thank God, it is Friday, in many, many places. And so, without futher ado, I give you 7 Quick Takes on Parenting. ~1~ If there is one thing to say 'never' about, with respect to parenting, it is this: Never compare yourself to any other parent. No two families are alike. Wishing you did things like so-and-so may start innocently enough, but will lead you down a dark, dark road from which it is very difficult to return. Just don't do it. Know what you want for your family and stick with that. You can get all kinds of good ideas from other parents; just don't assume anyone else has it all together, or is better at parenting than you are, based on the view from your own eyeballs. Take the good ideas and leave the comparisons at the curb. ~2~ Your children will not truly appre

Where Socks Go to Die

I realized today that I do not have a household. I have a house hole . A hole. A pit. A cavity especially useful for burying things. That's what I've got. Today is not my most positive day of domesticity. Maybe tomorrow will be better. On the bright side, I am creating a treasure trove for future anthropologists. There is real cultural study to be gleaned around here, rife as we are with tools, papers, toys, clothing, books, and art projects. Based on this one test case, however, generations from now might believe that early 21st century people worshipped shoes and suffered from a phobia of closets and dresser drawers. Time to tame the savages. Time to turn the nomads into agriculturalists. It's time to clean the house. * * *