Boy Was Her Face Red

Posted on 4/29/2012 07:00:00 PM
Something tells me that when The Shortlings are given the opportunity to paint with watercolors, they might need a tiny bit more adult supervision.  

Why was that, again?

Oh yes.



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Nature Reclaims its Space

Posted on 4/28/2012 08:04:00 PM In:
We were driving around southern Pennsylvania last week and spotted this wagon by the side of the road.  So I made everyone turn around and stop for a photo op.  Because that's how I roll, yo.


I want something like this in my yard so desperately, I'd be willing to purchase an old wagon, take it apart, and put it back together around the tree. 


Probably a good thing we don't have an HOA.

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Stick Pulling

Posted on 4/26/2012 12:30:00 PM In:
At church, they encourage everyone to have a family night once weekly.  While I agree with this in principle, I find it very difficult to work in a structured family home evening where there's a lesson and a song and someone makes refreshments.  We don't even shoot for that most weeks. We generally try to do something together, but it doesn't always look like a traditional family night.  It ends up looking more like this:  

Adults: "OK, what are we going to do for family night?  Who wants to choose?"

Children: "MOVIE!!"

Adults:  "How about something else?"

Children:  "NO!! MOVIE!!"

Adults: *sigh* "Fine, whatever. What movie?"

Children then proceed to fight about which movie to watch until both are screaming at each other and at least one is crying. Adults try to get them to come to a consensus.  Children do not listen.  Adults threaten children with No Movie At All if they continue to fight about it.  Fighting continues.  Both children are sent to respective rooms and slam doors.  End scene.

Family nights would be a whole lot more fun without the family part.


The Dormouse picked up an idea from a Sunday School lesson at church and wanted to do it together for family night last week.  Here's how she introduced it:

Dormouse: "Back in the olden days, like the 1800s, when they didn't have TV, or video games, or computers, or telephones or books..."

Us: "Wait, they didn't have BOOKS?"

DM: "Well, maybe they had books."

Us: "They had books."

DM: "OK.  Well, either way, children had to entertain themselves.  All they had was a broom to do it.  So they just made up stupid games with a broom. Like this one."

If that's not a selling point, I don't know what is.  I'm hoping she goes into advertising for the Parker Brothers Corporation one day.

Basically, you sit on the floor with your feet together, both grabbing a broomstick:


and try to pull the other person over.


What was hilarious was watching the over-confident Dormouse set up this game with her four year old sister and be ready to win hands down with little or no effort. What she wasn't prepared for was The Caterpillar immediately picking her up off her butt and throwing her over her shoulder onto her head.

That Caterpillar is strong.

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Passing on the OCD Trait

Posted on 4/25/2012 02:24:00 PM
We were down at one of the Smithsonian museums a couple of weeks ago and The KingofHearts called a time out to go look for a book in one of their ridiculously priced gift shops.  This meant that we were left to fend for ourselves in the gift shop for eons while he looked at Every. Single. Book. That was ever printed about the American Revolution. 

We exhausted all of the entertainment possibilities and I tired of keeping them from breaking things in the shop rather quickly.  Finally I found a giant bin of marbles in the back and just let them stand there and play in it for the better part of an hour.  Marbles are not easily breakable, they were contained in a big bin, and the Shortlings we endlessly amused by them while I surfed the web on my phone.  It was brilliant.  When The KoH was finally ready to go, I looked over to shoo them away from the marbles.  Pretty sure they weren't like this when we found it.  But then again maybe Smithsonian gift shop employees are just really, really organized.




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Fancy Ladies

Posted on 4/24/2012 10:15:00 AM In:
These photos have been on my hard drive for a month now, waiting for me to become inspired to write something thoughtful, witty or insightful about them.  Clearly, that's not going to happen.  You get what you pay for, folks.

A friend emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if my girls wanted to go with her girls to attend a Pretty Pretty Princess Makeup Party And Dinner Out To Firmly Link Self-Esteem To Clothes And Physical Alterations. 

Pretty sure she didn't actually call it that.  

And that she used a little bit less sarcasm.

I'm never sure how I feel about these Club Libby Lu-type parties. On one hand, I think it's fine for little girls to have fun and pretend and play dress up.  On the other hand I can't stand the message they send.  Not that I sit around being a feminazi all the time.  I shave my legs.  I wear dresses when the occasion warrants. But I was never your basic girly-girl either.  I didn't really like dolls as a kid, much to my mother's chagrin.  I put up with them because my friends had Barbies, but truthfully, the only dolls I was really interested in were green army men.  Barbies just sit around looking pretty and don't do much of anything, but green army men can be tied to a rock and sunk to the bottom of a pool, they can be buried in the sand box and get lost in the jungle, and you can even set them on fire and watch them melt, which is pretty darn cool.

Perhaps there should have been fewer dolls and more psychological evaluations in my past.

I think it's fine to be interested in Disney Princesses and lacy dresses and makeup... it's never been me, per se, but I also don't think my girls need to grow up as a carbon copy of me either. The Shortlings like the Disney princess thing and although I personally hate it, parenthood is full of a lot of things I hate but that come with the territory:  toys that make noise, going to parks with playgrounds, changing diapers on the tail gate of a station wagon...  Acknowledging the influence of the princess franchise on my girls is one of those things.  Making sure it isn't the all-encompassing focus in their lives is another.  I'll make my peace with a happy medium.  I guess that's why, when my friend invited us to her dinner out with several of my girls' friends from church, I said we'd go even though it wasn't going to be my favorite day out ever. They'd get to spend some time with other kids and providing opportunities like that is one of my weaknesses as a parent.

The evening started out with hair and makeup at someone's home and then was supposed to move on to dinner at The Cheescake Factory, where you cannot make a reservation, where the organizers of this night out learned as they approached the door that there is a five hour wait for a table of twelve to fifteen on Saturdays, where I lost The Caterpillar in the chaos for a good fifteen minutes and briefly considered calling the cops before I finally found her, where I recovered from my minor heart attack and guilt trip, and where everyone sat around trying to find a good restaurant alternative and the best thing they could come up with was the Olive Garden.  Imma leave those details out because they are too painful and just share the photos with you.


Love this one. I call it: Abject Envy
She finally got her chance, however, and couldn't have been happier.
Something tells me this one will see her share of spa days in her lifetime.
The Caterpillar was a little more reticent about the whole experience.
But could never be left out of something her big sister does.
This one is a PSA about blue eye shadow: just don't let this happen to you.
I was put on lip gloss duty.  It was really the only thing I was qualified to do.
The Caterpillar and her friend.  I love them both with all my heart, but they look like dolls in a Chucky film.
Those two on the left remind me of the twins from The Shining:
"Come and play with us... for ever, and ever, and ever."

They had a nice time despite all the issues, which, if I'm being honest, were mostly my issues. I'm glad I let them be a part of it.  But I'm also glad that things like this aren't the only things my girls are interested in doing.  The Dormouse is currently taking karate lessons and couldn't be any more excited about that than she was about this evening.  She is thrilled to learn new things at school.  When we ask her what she wants to be when she grows up she changes her mind a lot.  She no longer says she wants to become a toothpaste engineer, but "marry a prince and become a princess" is never one of them either, despite recent fairy tale weddings.  The Caterpillar is a little more abstract with her career aspirations, "I want to be a ladybug doctor."

I want my girls to grow up developing their interests, to have varied talents and abilities.  I want them to have fun and fall in love and enjoy being girls and dance all night but I also want them to value themselves for what they do and who they are, not what they look like.  I want them to take charge of their own lives and not wait around for someone to hand them happiness.  I want them to make their own happiness. Mostly, I want them to do what Clementine Paddleford said,

"Never grow a wishbone, Daughter, where your backbone ought to be."





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Leavings

Posted on 4/21/2012 08:35:00 AM
My next door neighbor has a Bradford Pear tree in his front yard.  It's his tree but it's big enough and overhangs my driveway enough that it might as well be my tree.  I've pruned it more than him, anyway, and the sap marks on my car from all the seeds it drops should at least entitle me to a say.  While it's one of those famous flowering trees and quite beautiful in the early spring, it is pretty much dropping something on my car, petals, fuzzballs, leaves, seeds, fruit... Throughout. The. Entire. Year.  So there's a con no one thought about



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Orator of the Town*

Posted on 4/17/2012 03:56:00 PM
I've mentioned before (but am too lazy to go back and look where) about how my house is one of language.  There is someone talking pretty much All. The. Time.  We're a communicative family; I take my own part in the responsibility for that.  I am probably a bit less of a talker than my other three roommates and maybe even one cat we've owned, but I do my fair share of chatterboxing too.  It just doesn't hold a candle to the amount of words that can get thrown around by my family members.

There both are blessings and curses that come, however.  I love that my girls feel comfortable expressing themselves.  I know this is a good thing for their development.  Hell, each of my kids probably has a larger vocabulary than your average American citizen.  This trait will serve them well in high school and college.  But sometimes, what with all the talking, my ears just need a rest, yo. 

Oh I know.  You're all: Don't feel pregnant, you're not alone. Or: All kids do that, dummy.  But believe me, this is different.  Everyone who's spent any real time with either of my children will back me up on this one.  A few weeks ago, I brought The Caterpillar to work with me and she was in another room where there was a part time person in the office working on a project for us.  From the hallway, I heard her talking to another co-worker, "If that little girl lived in my house, I wouldn't need a television.  I'd just listen to her talk to herself all day for my entertainment."

For those of you who aren't around them all the time, first, I envy you.  Second, I decided to take The Caterpillar on a walk to the local convenience store today to get some Diet Coke and she went on one of her breathless, rambling diatribes.  I pulled out my phone, hit the record button and stuck it in my pocket.  Then when we got home, I transcribed everything she said. This is only about a two minute peak into what my ears have to endure every day of my life.  And let's all remember, I have two three** of them like this in the house.

You'll see that she asks a lot of questions and you'll also see that, mean mom that I am, I don't often answer.  But that's largely because she's either answered it herself or moved on to the next thought before I can get a sentence out.  The best thing to do, I've learned, is just to shut up and enjoy the ride.  Or don't.  It doesn't matter, because whatever you do, whatever you think, she will still be talking throughout the entirety of that ride.

"Wow, what a beautiful day for a walk. Hey mom! There’s a big truck, HEY MOM!! There’s a big garbage bag. Look at this helicopter seed. I want to get it and put it in my pocket. I think I will name her Piña Colada. Aw, you're a cute little Piña Colada, aren't you?

*sings and rocks seed in her arms* "Rockabye, rockabye.

"LOOK! A can of cat food. Someone must have taken their cat on a walk like we’re having. Hey! There’s a big hole. Well, not a very big hole. Well, it’s kind of a big hole but not a really big hole. Sometimes I’m like a big girl, like a big person, something like that. Why do dandelion flowers turn into those white puffy wishing flowers? Oh! I know! Because they probably get tired of being yellow. HEY! There’s a hole in the road! *runs back to peer inside* It’s a hole! In. The. Road.

*sings*  "Bicycle bicycle bicycle, I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride my bike I want to ride my bicycle.***

"Why do I always ask questions? Oh! Because I keep saying stuff and I want to tell you that. 

*sings* "Rockabye, rockabye, rockabye little baby. 

"Where’s our car? Oh, that’s right, we’re walking.

*sings* "Bicycle bicycle bicycle, I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle  I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride my bike I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle, I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride my bike I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle bicycle bicycle bicycle bicycle

"Momma, when I get home I’m gonna do something funny and you have to watch me while I do it. *hears siren* I thought that was a cat going Rowr! Rowr! But it was a fire truck. They do that too. Sometimes. Why are the pieces of the sidewalk like that? Look at that dog. Is that a female dog? Because it looks like the cat from Tom and Jerry. Only it’s not a cat. And it’s a different color. One dog plus one cat equals two animals. One plus one is two. Two plus one is three. I need to walk right by you. I will hold your elbow because you are carrying your coke."

This is only a bit of recording I made while we walked a block.  I finally turned it off, fearing my phone storage was getting low.  And then she broke out this little gem:

"Wow, I sure am a girl who speaks a lot."

Indeed.


*If I could post a song as a blog post title, it would be this one.  You'll have to settle for one of the more obscure lyrics from that song.

**Because, let's be honest, they get this from their father.

***These are the lyrics to that Queen song.  Not that I have a problem with my kids knowing and appreciating classic rock, but if you notice, she never quite gets to the part where it says, "I want to ride it where I like" and resolves the phrase.  AAAAaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!

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Smart Alec, but Funny

Posted on 4/14/2012 04:21:00 AM In: ,
"I need help with my math homework."

"What up?"  The KingofHearts strolls over and looks over her shoulder at the paper.

"This one."

"Okay, well, think first. What else can you divide ten by?"

"One?"

"Well, you can divide any number by one.  What's another number that ten can be divided by?"

"Zero?"

"No you can't divide by zero.  You'll get infinity.  That's an illegal operation."

"Ooooo!  You go to numbers jail if you do that!"

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Preschool Confessions

Posted on 4/13/2012 11:53:00 AM
Yesterday, I dropped The Caterpillar off at pre-school and there was a note in her cubby addressed to me.  I picked it up and jokingly wagged my finger at The Caterpillar with a smile on my face.

"Is this a note from your teacher about you?"

She froze like a deer in the middle of the road as you barrel toward it at midnight with headlights blaring and horn honking. 

"Am I gonna open this up and find out you've done something bad?"


I was about to laugh and hug her goodbye when every bad thing she'd ever done in her four years on Earth started spilling out of her mouth in a Faulkner-like diatribe.   

"I sneaked some food when the teacher wasn't looking and I told my friend to go away and I said I didn't want to play to Sheila when I really did want to play, I just didn't want to play with Sheila and I called Jasper mean and...."

I had to stop her because as much as I would have loved to have heard the rest of her confession, it was getting late and I wanted to get to work before the sun set.  Plus I wanted to get my application in at the police department.

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Fifty, Or Was it Fifteen?

Posted on 4/12/2012 01:19:00 PM In:
Fifteen is...
  • the number of cubits upwards that Noah's ark was borne by the Flood in Genesis
  • the number of tiles in a typical sliding puzzle
  • a triangular number, a hexagonal number, a pentatope number and the 4th Bell number
  • the number of measures in this piece of music
  • the atomic number of phosphorus
  • the number of minutes of fame everyone gets, according to Andy Warhol
  • the number of players on a rugby team
  • the number of days in each of the twenty-four cycles of the Chinese calendar
  • a double factorial of five
  • the number of minutes after nine o'clock my dentist's appointment was supposed to be this morning, only I heard "fifty" and showed up late

It's also the number of years I have been married as of today.

I'm not the institution of marriage's biggest proponent, if you haven't noticed.  But I will say this.  Of all the people available to put up with fifteen years of working and paying and living and dying in this lifetime,  I probably couldn't have found a better companion to laugh at it all with than The KingofHearts.  So happy anniversary to us. Fifteen years and we're still speaking to one another... but only on alternate days.


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Happy Easter: Hunger Games Edition

Posted on 4/08/2012 04:10:00 PM

Word to the wise: planning ahead for Easter and hiding chocolate bunnies in your car to keep children from finding them before Easter don't mix.  The more you know.

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Bewildering Conversations in the Kitchen, vol. iii

Posted on 4/05/2012 07:00:00 PM In:
KoH: "I'm hungry."

Caterpillar: "WE CAN MAKE DINNER!"

Dormouse:  "Yes! We'll make sandwiches."

KoH: "No. No. No. No. No! Every time you two try and make dinner it ends up being way more work for me.  The kitchen is destroyed and I gotta end up eating a ketchup sandwich.  No."

Me: "You didn't have to eat a ketchup sandwich.  I had to eat a ketchup sandwich."

KoH: "It doesn't matter, they used a whole loaf of bread.  That's $2.87 cent wortha bread!"

Caterpillar: "I won't make you a ketchup sandwich."  *runs around corner, comes back with bottle of mustard in hand* "I'll make YOU a mustard sandwich!"

Me: "Problem solved."

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Mean Mom

Posted on 4/03/2012 09:30:00 AM
We spent part of the weekend at Monica's house for a barn deck raising. Inviting a couple of Mormons to a deck raising is just like inviting some Amish to a barn raising - except just one guy shows up with a car trunk full of tools and he expects to be fed immediately before work begins. Also, that deck isn't finished by nightfall... or even within the month... and may not be up to code.

Three little maids at play

While Monica and The KingofHearts worked outside, I took on the job of avoiding physical labor keeping the kids out of their hair. It involved having the children make their own lunch and color their own Easter eggs.  So I'm sure we left the house in much better shape than when we arrived... not.


I've mentioned before that our friend Marielle wears hearing aids.  Or at least she did.  Now, Mari has a hearing aid on one side and a cochlear implant (CI for short) on the other.  She'd recently gotten new ear molds (pink!) and was showing them off to The Shortlings, who looked on with appropriate envy.  Later that night, I had this conversation with The Caterpillar:

Caterpillar:  "Mom. I need a CI."

Me: "No, you don't."

C:  "But I WANT one."

Me:  "Well, honey, you don't need one.  CIs are for people who need them."

C: "Well, I need a CI."

Me: "CIs are for people who need them to hear better. Like Mari. You can hear fine."

C:  *pointing* "Well, I can't hear very well out of this ear."

I forgot about this conversation until the next day when we were invited to our neighbor's house for one of his family get-togethers.  There were about a dozen adults in the room and the kids were all running around the house like rhesus monkeys.  After we'd been there for awhile, our neighbor's son and daughter in law approached me.  

"What's wrong with The Caterpillar?  I didn't know about it."

Me:  "Huh?"

"You know.  Her hearing."

Me: "Huh?"

"Well, why won't you get her a hearing aid?"

Me:  "Wait, what?"

"She says she can't hear and she needs hearing aids but you won't buy them for her because you don't want to spend the money on her."


So glad I taught these children to talk.

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Underground Fools

Posted on 4/01/2012 09:04:00 AM
Happy April 1st, everyone. It should prove to be an interesting day around here.


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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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