Showing posts from August, 2011

Little T's Bedtime Send Off

Little T has been in bed for a bit, but she just stumbled down to ask us this: "How do people die when they don't even hurt themselves?" I told her that that can happen when people are very, very, very old, and after they have lived a long time and had a great life.  Lame. Rick told her that "it just happens sometimes," and that she didn't need to worry about it. She seemed happy with both answers. Then, Rick took her onto his lap, cuddled with her for a minute, and said: "Will you take care of me when I am old?" She said no. After a little back and forth, she flitted back up to bed.  From her room, she fired down the final salvo: "I BET YOU'RE OLD RIGHT NOW!" So she's thinking: "I'm four, and he's asking ME to take care of HIM.  He must be bonkers." Plus, we all know how she feels about old   people . She's not the only game in town.  I think he'd better put his money on a differe

You know you have a big family when... end up with the song Everything Is Broken , by Bob Dylan, running on an endless loop through your head when you (a) need to find something, (b) need to put something away, or (c) simply walk through your house. It's either the big family thing or your house is actually a FEMA zone. * * *

So Close

Day 29. Each day in August, I have posted on this blog. It hasn't been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I guess I hadn't considered the endless fodder that my family generates on a daily basis. But tonight, with 19 minutes left on the 29th day, I am absolutely wrenching myself away from my book in order to put this post up, so that on Thursday morning, I can say that I did it, I posted every day for one month. I'm reading Unbroken , by Laura Hillenbrand . I only have a handful of pages left. Unable to put the book down, I've lost sleep and as a result, lost patience with my children. I've neglected my laundry, my house, my offspring. I told my 4 year old I would not read to her tonight, so intent on this book have I been. It has all been worth it. A fabulous book. And I leave you with that. * * *


So one son came downstairs and announced that the other son, who was in the shower, was spitting on the ceiling. What? WHAT? I went upstairs to investigate (because his father would probably have come on a little too strong, if you know what I mean) and the kid actually said to me: " I didn't do it on purpose! " OK. I'm a listener. I'd like to listen to this. So I said to the bathroom door: " How, please tell me, do you spit on the ceiling by accident ." And the bathroom door said: " Well, I was just in here showering, and I'm bored, so I was spitting up into the air and seeing if I could catch it with my mouth! " So I told the bathroom door. " OK, that's just gross, so don't do that, and if you're bored in the shower, that's a sign that it's time to get out. Now. " My walk back down the stairs and into the living room was full of questions. Well, one question really. Will this child actua


There has been an update to The Cake . " Mommy, I forgot, I also want a tree, and a monkey in the tree, swinging around with a banana in his mouth ." I thought I was off the hook when we were in The Despised New Safeway the other day and she said: "Oooo, mommy, I want THIS cake for my birthday!" I quickly agreed to that, since I thought it would save me some work, but then I heard her telling her sister about her two birthday cakes. Silly me, I thought she wanted to replace her girl-on-the-park-bench, monkey-in-the-tree cake, but really, she was just trying to get more cake. Yeah, I can't make that girl-monkey cake happen. But I will give it a shot. I will make a reasonable facsimile thereof, and maybe my efforts will ensure that Little T will grow up to be a happy, contributing citizen and not an ax murderer. Why else would I go to the trouble? * * *

7 Quick Takes: Volume 36

Another Friday's come around, We've made it here both safe and sound. Glad you're here with me and mine, Would you like a glass of wine? I've had several, so up you catch! And help me with a plan to hatch. Find a way (or find some elves) To make the children raise themselves. So I can spend my days and nights On silly fun and fancy flights. On making life an endless game-- Oh wait--my kids already do the same! Pull up a chair and share a toast And visit our 7 Quick Takes host . Visit the others playing along, And may your weekend be a song. ~1~ Soccer season starts this weekend with a bang: three kids are in tournaments, which means we have 9 games minimum, and 12 if their teams all do well. I think I will encourage Little T to take up knitting as a sport. ~2~ I just started a great new book: Unbroken , by Laura Hillenbrand. She also wrote Seabiscuit, although I have not read that. I'm only on page 25 and I am really enjoying it. The subtitle

The Worst Kind

I am the worst kind of homemaker. There are three kinds, you know. There's the kind that is very good at organizing her (usually her) house, who knows how to arrange furniture for maximum visual appeal and comfort, and knows how to keep things running smoothly. This person places a high value on what she provides to her family and does it well. There's the kind that isn't good at any of it, and doesn't care. She is able to live her life quite happily without the burden of paying attention to domestic issues. Either someone else does it for her, or it all goes undone, and that's just fine. Then there's me. I place a very high value on having a well organized, efficient and comfortable household...and I can't for the life of me make it happen. I live in chaos while dreaming of order. I wade through laundry while hoping for tidy drawers. I step over shoes while wishing for empty floors. Dreaming, hoping, and wishing do not a happy household mak

It Is Not Right

Family life is hard. This post could go in about 100 different directions from that opening line, but today, at 10pm, when I am finally sitting down and everyone (almost) else is lying down, and I've got just enough Lagunitas Censored Rich Copper Ale down my throat, and just enough energy left to ponder the extremes of the day, the post will go here: It's hard to follow children down all the different paths and into all the different choices and through all the different things that happen to them. • One kid dealt with jerks today, real assholes , to tell the truth. I don't usually curse on this blog, but tonight, there's no other way to describe the people my child had to deal with. All I could do was tell him how proud I am to have a kid who is not a jerk, not the kind of person other kids have to talk to their parents about. • One kid dealt with mosquito bites. No biggee, you say? Well, the kid in question has an extreme reaction to them, so when a child h

Summer Showers

The other day while I was taking a shower, I heard Little T screaming and crying, and carrying on to beat the band. All the other kids were home, but they all -- to a kid -- ignored her. Alarmed, I rushed out of the shower, wrapped myself in a towel, and ran still dripping into her room, where I discovered the problem. She had been reaching into her Elmo suitcase, when somehow, she fell over on top of it, onto her bed, with her arm still in it. The weight of her body made it impossible for her to pull her arm out of the suitcase, and the zipper was biting into her arm painfully. Trying to push herself up off of the suitcase and the bed made the pressure on the zipper-trapped part of her arm hurt worse. She was stuck. And pissed. I extricated her. * * * Today, Lady E had a friend over, and while the two of them and Little T played in their room, I took a shower. The playdate friend's mom arrived before I got out, and here's what greeted her: My 12 year old son b

Where I Learn That My Cakes Have Created a Problem

Little T's 5th birthday is comin' up fast. She's seen the cakes I've made for other occasions . She came to me this morning with this: "Mommy, you know what my cake wants to look like? It wants to be grassy, with bushes, and flowers, and there’s a bench, with flowers and bushes next to it, and a little girl is sitting on the bench playing guitar, and her pants have flowers, and her shoes have flowers and her shirt says “ Yeah, I play like a monkey, jealous ? ” And did I tell you about the sun part? I want the sun up in the sky. Oh, and a rainbow. OK mommy? Can my cake look like that?" Ru-roh. * * *

Lady E Makes Her Choice

Well, we survived the birthday sleepover, if surviving means being so tired you cannot lift your arms without hoping someone, somewhere feels really really sorry for you. Even writing this post is costing me precious energy I can scarcely afford. But here's a recap. They made forts. They played elaborate make believe games involving pretend pets. They made friendship bracelets. They ate an impressive amount of food. They watched a movie. They giggled. They danced to Train. They had flip-flop cake and watched the Birthday Girl open presents. They said please and thank you. They sort of sometimes included the little sisters. They made new friends. They were fabulous. And when they left, most of my kids sort of kind of fell apart. At one point, after too many slamming doors and too many screeches and bellows, Rick went into the living room where the fighting was happening and said wearily: " That's it. We're putting you all up for adoption ."

Flip This

Flip-flop birthday cake for an end-of-summer birthday party sleepover: K, so I've got 9 little girls (11 if you count the little sisters, which you really have to do) draped all over my living room, watching The Parent Trap, the first one. These are the cutest, funniest, most polite, quirkiest, kindest girls ever. My daughter is one lucky, blessed little girl. And her mother is one weary lady. One down, four to go. Eight weeks from now, I will have pulled off birthday celebrations for all five kids. Just in time to gear up for the holidays. * * *

7 Quick Takes: Volume 35

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Dickens must have been talking about Fridays with small children. Here are my Quick Takes for today. Please visit the original 7 Quick Takes and visit the links to other people participating today. ~1~ Sissi (pronounced See-See) came to my daughter's soccer camp today and ran the morning session. She was wonderful: playful and energetic with the girls on the field, and generous with her time afterwards, as they asked her to pose for endless pictures and sign an endless parade of jerseys, back packs, soccer balls, cleats, and even ipods. What a treat! That's how we roll. We hob nob with International Soccer Stars. ~2~ I have up to now avoided one of the true milestones of parenting: the sleepover . My kids have gone on many of them, but I've never hosted one. I'm a slacker. Tomorrow night, all of that will change, as I welcome 8 or 9 little girls into my home for fun and frivoli

Little T Has a Little Fun

* * * Hmmm...Lotsa Little T posts lately. I might have to change the name of this blog to And I'll Raise Little T . All her siblings have gotten to the point where they say "DON'T PUT THIS ON YOUR BLOG" if they do anything even remotely blog-able. She hasn't started doing that yet. So. Lotsa Little T posts. Maybe it's time to have another kid. * * *

The Tiger Must Be Appeased

I am trying to be better about getting exercise. We have a stationary bike in our garage, and I've been pretty good about riding it most days lately. My challenge is getting my kids to leave me alone while I'm huffing and puffing my way through the routine. They're supposed to leave me alone, but -- surprise, surprise -- they don't always. Today while I was riding, and during the most difficult, steepest part of the program, Tallulah wandered in. Yes, even though I had told them not to bother me unless 911 needed to be summoned. Again, such a surprise. " Mommy, where's the paint face? " (That's her way of saying face paints.) I breathlessly tried to tell her I didn't know and I would find them when I was done. She didn't like that answer, so she hung on the handle bars and commenced begging. Gasping and straining, I told her again that I couldn't help her right at the moment, that she would have to wait. She was having none

Raising Kids Takes Common Sense

As my kids get older, I am having to negotiate the world of popular culture more and more, and no one issued me a road map back when the kids were born. I get all these questions like "Can I buy a song by Eminem? The Lonely Island? The Black Eyed Peas? Lil Wayne?" I am forced to give some thought to artists (and I use the term loosely) upon whom I'd really rather not expend brain cells. Take Lil Wayne, for example. I do not live under a rock, but I spend a lot of time moving mountains of them, and thus, I have not been able to keep up on exactly who Lil Wayne is, or whether or not I should or would object to his music. And I use that term loosely too. So today, when I received a text from my boys, asking if they could purchase the song How To Love, by Mr. Lil Wayne, or Mr. Wayne, or however one formally addresses this person, I really wasn't sure how to respond. On my own, I am ill-equipped to answer questions like this from my kids; who has the time or

Recent Conversations

My son very much wishes we would join the ranks of, well, everyone else on the planet (according to him) and buy a flat screen TV. I'm sure we will at some point, but not fast enough for him. He told me today that my dad has promised to buy him a flat screen TV...just as soon as "they" find Amelia Earhart's body. Poor kid. He told me this while flipping through a New Yorker magazine in the car on the way to soccer practice, and he happened on a cartoon of a family in their living room. Indignant, he exclaimed: " SEE? Even cartoon people have flat screen TVs !" Poor, deprived kid. * * * Little T: "Mommy, I decided that when I'm a grown up, and I have a baby, and I have the baby in my hand, I am going to give the baby my blankey." Lady E: "I feel sorry for that baby." Little T: "Why??" Lady E: "Because that skanky blankey has had a sucked-on thumb all over it." * * * Little T: "Mommy,

You know you have a big family when... one ever invites you over for dinner. * * * Except someone did! And they didn't even know we would only bring two of our kids! We had dinner with some friends this past Friday night, sans three of our kids who had other things going on. It was so enjoyable, and it made us wonder why we never do that anymore, like we used to, when we only had two-- Oh. Never mind. We get it. * * *

Watch, Travel, and Learn

This weekend, I began putting on paper some of my ideas for homeschooling this year. I will be attempting to balance a little bit of structure with a little bit of freedom. We shall see how this goes. I vacillate between being quite hopeful and googling "boarding schools in remote mountainous villages with no internet connection." I am planning to make two things happen each week: watch a great movie together and take a day trip somewhere together. So today I sat down with my pen and paper and started coming up with lists, of movies and destinations. Anyone else out there interested in helping build these lists? Let's get started. Movies Some of these I will have to review before deciding whether to show my kids and which kids to include; I'm really looking for great movies everyone can watch together. I think I am a teensy bit more permissive than the norm when it comes to what I let my kids watch. Any and all suggestions welcome! The Miracle Worker To K

Bring It On

I have an almost, practically, might-as-well-be teenager. It seems like just yesterday, he was a curly-headed, tow-headed little blob, cuter than hell and the most miraculous child ever. Yesterday, I realized how radically things have changed for me. We were driving (of course we were driving) somewhere on a perfectly fine and normal morning, when it became clear to me that every word I uttered and my every gesture were annoying, disgusting, embarrassing and horrifying to my son. Wow, I thought. He thinks I truly am the stupidest person on the planet. Beginning this year, I will have a teenager or two or three living in my house for the next 13 years. It's like the toddler years all over again, except this time, the kids are the hormone-ravaged ones. It's like month after endless month of hazing. It's like running a marathon, but no one is standing on the side of the road holding out a cup of water or cheering us on. Actually, it's JUST like that: The Lon

7 Quick Takes: Volume 34

Friday, Friday. Here you are, coming in on little pig's feet, looking all cute and innocent. You're actually getting ready to pounce, aren't you? ~1~ I have the privilege today of watching my first born child as Lucentio in a production of The Taming of the Shrew. He watched the film version with Elizabeth Taylor the other day and said: "Now that shrew was impossible to tame!" Oh, is he in for a world of hurt. ~2~ There is very little that goes wrong in life that cannot be made better by a cup of hot Irish breakfast tea, with just the right amount of whole milk and sugar. It may not work for everything, but it works for many, many bad days. Give it a try. ~3~ Recommended reading: Nicholas Schmidle's article in the August 8, 2011 issue of The New Yorker magazine, entitled Getting bin Laden . American citizens should read this account so that, collectively, we understand what we as a nation did on May 1, 2011. You can support what our

The Freedom to Fail

image credit: Impulse Magazine Yesterday, the Library of Congress announced the appointment of Philip Levine as the new Poet Laureate of the United States. The job of the Poet Laureate is "to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry." (Taken from the website of the Library of Congress .) Prior to that announcement , I knew little to nothing about Philip Levine, although his name was familiar. But the news came to me yesterday while I was lamenting the quality of my children's exposure to arts and culture, at least any arts and culture that doesn't make my ears bleed. So when, on our way to Shakespeare camp this morning ( yes, I do see the irony there ), our local public radio station, KQED, aired an interview with Levine, I turned it up. I wanted my kids to hear this guy talking about poetry. I'm sure my intended audience was more attentive to his/her electronic devices, but I turned it up anyway. I p

Go To Sleep, Girls

Daughters do not go gentle into that good night. Young girls do burn and rave at close of day, And rage, rage against the mother every night. Though wise-ass girls in the end know mom is right, Because their shouts have sparked great lightning, they Do not go gentle into that good night. Strong girls, the last heads down, trying so hard Their wild deeds to keep on spinning in a dark room, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Willful girls who catch the sun when its most bright, And learn, too late, they should not grieve their mum tonight, Do not go gentle into that good night. Tired girls, near sleep, whose eyes will not shut tight, (Those eyes do blaze like meteors while I sigh), Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, their father, there on the sad couch, Curse them, force them now with your fierce words, I pray. Make them go into that good night. Rage, rage against the striving of the sprites. * * * with gratitude and apologies to Dylan Thomas

The Last 20 Minutes

Got home from the grocery store. Trying to make dinner. Girl doing laps through the house on heelies. Girl playing "volleyball" with a rubber glove balloon. Boy playing a loud video game. Boy putting clean dishes away loudly. Girl riding unicorn hobby horse throughout the house, yelling random things. Girl opening freezer door forcefully and straight into her sister's forehead. Boy doing his best imitation of Eminem. Girl crying about something and yelling "HEY GIVE ME MY PONY BACK!" Girl repeatedly kicking a soccer ball against the kitchen door. Girl hiding Biscuit the dog from other girl. Girl crying and yelling "WHERE'S BISCUIT???" Kids ignoring orders to put stuff away. Girl making tent in living room. This is the part where I go on record to say that I hate tents. Children asking to watch a movie like they're entitled. Boy singing Hey Jude. * * * Mom drinking beer. * * *

My New Mantra

Mine was not an athletic childhood. I played a little basketball, and my most vivid memory of that experience is that there were not enough black uniforms for all the girls on the team, so I wore a black leotard instead. That was fine with me. I played a little soccer, and have no vivid memories of that whatsoever. I played some Little League baseball, and I remember two things. First, my sister and I were on the team with our two best buddies, twins Jennifer and Heather. The four of us had a great time, mostly centered around eating as much candy as possible without getting caught. And second, I remember my hit. Yes, my one hit. It was near the end of the season, might even have been the very last game, and I was sick and tired of striking out. My skinny little 8 year old self decided I was hittin' that ball, no matter what. At my next at bat, I stood there thinking about all the batting advice I'd ever heard, about watching and waiting for the right pitch,


Last night, I sat down with a new book, Sarah's Key . Six and half hours later, at 3:30am, I finished it. At about page 25, I wasn't sure I wanted to keep reading. It was already brutal. By page 50, I couldn't put it down, and knew that I'd read it in one sitting. I am bleary-eyed, exhausted, and inhabiting another world today, suspended in the pages of Sarah's story, so beautifully written by Tatiana de Rosnay. Reading that book makes me want to be better, a better mother, a better wife, a better friend, daughter, sister. I can't say why or how. It makes me want to be stronger and braver. I stayed awake for another hour, not thinking coherently, but acutely aware of the yearning the book had stirred in me, and wondering about it. Today, with the daily tasks of motherhood and family life ahead of me, with all of the chores I loathe needing to be done, and with not nearly enough sleep, I will strive to be better. * * *

Go Cowboys!

My son took me to the movies today. Sure, he didn't pay for the ticket, but if not for him wanting to go see Cowboys and Aliens , I wouldn't have gone. He had a lousy start to a tough week this past Monday, and he was pitifully miserable that night. I tried everything I could think of to make him feel better and nothing worked. If anything, all my encouraging words made him feel worse. Why is that? Why, when we are offering our children pure gold to chew on, are they most annoyed with us? Anyway, I changed tactics. I did what we've all done. I bribed him. "If you'll stop that incessant whining, I'll take you to the movies on Saturday." Maybe I didn't put it quite that way, but you get the idea. However I put it, it worked, and he finally saw that life wasn't quite so dismal as he feared. Nothing like a little mass media to soothe the soul. So off to the movies we went today, he, his buddy, and I. How was it? Well, it's a litt

7 Quick Takes: Volume 33

I spent way too much time writing my quick takes post this morning and lost the entire thing. Will attempt to recreate it now, double time. First, let me wipe away tears of internet-induced frustration. Aaaand, here we go: (1) Cringe. I am an idiot. I just figured out yesterday that I've been mis-singing a lyric in my all time favorite Beatles song. I thought the Hey Jude line was "the moment you need is on your shoulder," but actually it's "the movement you need is on your shoulder." I've even used this line, or my version of it, in two blog posts. I stand corrected. Sheepishly corrected. I fixed one of the posts, but left the other as is, to keep myself humble. Please feel free to make me feel better by telling me your own most embarrassing Lyric Fail. (2) Wisdom. After a particularly awesome soccer practice last night, Lola Berry said: "When you play hard and do well, you have more fun." Perhaps this would be good to re

There Oughta Be A Law

You know how there ought to be a law against mothers getting sick? Yeah, well, there isn't one yet, and I went and got sick yesterday, and the house...well...not that it was the picture of efficiency before I took to my bed, but let's just say the chaos took its best opportunity to get the upper hand and is now doing victory laps all over the property. Things I learned when I emerged from my bed this morning: Laundry piles breed like rabbits. Yesterday's breakfast dishes had a camp out on my kitchen counter, later joined by the lunch and dinner dishes, and the party is still going on. I've heard talk of s'mores. Shoes are magnetically attracted to my living room floor. I just counted 17 of them in there. When I am sick, the dog seems to shed 3x as much as usual. I think she worries about me. Or perhaps she worries who will feed her if I am down for the count. Suffice it to say, that even though I am not quite fully recovered from whatever bug was buggin' m