Bring Me Her Head On a Silver Platter

Posted on 9/29/2013 05:53:00 PM
It's such a shame when you break your head off your statue, you know?  How do you fix it? 


Ah, of course. No one suspects a thing.

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You Make Gardening Lots of Fun

Posted on 9/28/2013 05:49:00 PM


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Her Future's So Bright...

Posted on 9/25/2013 04:45:00 PM
...even the stuffed animals gotta wear shades.


This photo reminds me of that scene from E.T.  Hopefully, we'll avoid the teenage alcoholism that other members of the cast of that movie were not lucky enough to avoid.

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An Old Salt

Posted on 9/24/2013 04:17:00 PM
Ohmigosh, you guys. You know what happened this week? 

This:

IS SIX!! 

I am as shocked as you are.

Especially since last year, I gave it explicit directions not to get any older after five. When do they learn to mind?

Funny story about this year's birthday. Many weeks back, we discussed birthday plans and each of The Ankle Biters said they preferred to go on an excursion rather than to have an actual party.  As a parent and social recluse, this is MUSIC TO MY EARS.  No people in my house? SURE! No need to clean the post-party destruction? OF COURSE! No other people's bratty kids to herd around? YES, PLEASE! No need to make small talk with parents I barely know because our kids happen to be the same age? SHOW ME WHERE TO SIGN! 

I don't care how much more a trip for their birthday would cost than throwing a party; I will do it every time. (And usually it costs a lot less.)  And that is why by the end of October this year, we will have made three trips to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair.

The Caterpillar had her special weekend there last week. But we didn't have cake then so the night before her actual birthday, I decided to throw a little impromptu Cake Event.  Nothing special. We invited neighbors to come over for dinner and said we'd have cake for dessert. And then I thought it would be funny to let her think I'd forgotten the cake or her actual birthday at all (because YES, I AM A MONSTER) and have cake and neighbors just be in our house when she came home from dance class that night to surprise her.  And then I thought it'd be nice to have a decoration or two and maybe she could have at least one present to open on her birthday and The KingofHearts decided to make her a treasure map to find her gifts and that's how her Not-Party turned into party number two in five days.

Sigh. I have absolutely no willpower.

In the car on the way from dance class that evening was the first time I think she realized that we actually didn't do anything on her birthday and she got pretty despondent over the whole thing.

"I thought birthdays were supposed to have decorations, and balloons and cake and presents with bows on them."

"But we talked about this and you decided you wanted to go to the Renaissance Fair instead of have a party."

"I know."

"And did you go to the Ren. Fair?"

"Yes."

"And did you have fun?"

*heavy sigh* "Yes."

"So that was your party, right?"

"I know. I just thought today would be different."

"Hmm... well, maybe next year you make a different choice then."

I may have also said something about how no one threw me a party on my birthday as well (see above re: MONSTER); I'm not one hundred percent sure.

Anyway, when she came home, she was greeted by a dark house, so I let her go inside first and six people jumped out to yell "surprise," which scared her half to death and then we laughed and laughed.  Again, MONSTER.

When she recovered from her shock, she found decorations,  


and balloons, 


a new friend I ordered online for Halloween (see above re: no willpower),
 

who was holding a treasure map.



And then she had to go on a treasure hunt to find her presents because Daddy had buried them all in the backyard. 

No seriously.



There was also cake.



Weeks back, when I asked her what kind of cake she wanted, she said, "A pirate ship cake. Like you made before."

Now, I love the pirate-birthday thing. And her pirate cakes are some of my favorite cakes ever. And the day we planned to go to the Renaissance Fair just happened to be pirate weekend.  But I've known for awhile that I wouldn't be able to force my weird obsessions on her forever and I thought that maybe she was over the pirate-themed birthday stuff or at least would like to choose her own theme.  So when she said she wanted a pirate ship cake, I offered, 

"You know you don't always have to have a pirate birthday party. It could be any kind of party you like.  You could have a princess party. Or a kitty-cat party. Or some other kind of party."

She looked at me, then looked at the ground and muttered, 

"But I like pirates."

"Well, pirates it is, then!"

No holds barred now.

I didn't exactly have time to make another pirate ship cake, so I made an eye patch cake.



I know. It's not my best work. I don't want to talk about it.

I also don't want to talk about the after effects of black icing.

*shudder*



Or what happens when you let two six year olds play with pirate action figures near a half-eaten cake.



Or why my six year old appears to be trying to moon me in this photo.



Avast, ye landlubbers!




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God's 1st Church of Hoochie Mama

Posted on 9/22/2013 10:47:00 PM In:
Scene: Renaissance Faire, Pennsylvania. Walking leisurely through vendor row. Nice, wholesome, family activity.

Dormouse: "Mom! Look at that outfit! Wouldn't that make a good church outfit?"

Me: "I don't see the outfit you're talking about."

Dormouse: "There." *points vaguely in that direction*

Me: "Where?"

Dormouse: "There!" *more haphazard pointing*

Me: "I don't see what you're talking about."

Dormouse: "This outfit. HERE!" 

She runs up to the chain mail vendor and points to....

....

....
 
 THIS:



Half a dozen people overhear this discussion and, apparently, the look on my face (because that was pretty loud) when I realize what she thinks is a "good church outfit."

Me: "GOOD HEAVENS. WHAT KIND OF CHURCH ARE YOU GOING TO, KID?"

Same bystanders laugh.

Dormouse:  *sullenly*  "Well, I was gonna wear tights."

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Ellie

Posted on 9/17/2013 04:55:00 PM
This weekend I met an elephant.


A beautiful elephant that The Dormouse and The Caterpillar actually rode -- along with some other kid who takes your money and then apparently if there aren't enough other patrons to fit four-to-an-elephant like he wants, he just hops on with whomever and rides alongside because I guess the elephant has a minimum weight requirement? I don't know.


Where can I get a gig like his?

I didn't ride the elephant myself, but I could have just stood there all day staring into her eyes.


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Bewildering Conversations if You're an Older Sister

Posted on 9/16/2013 06:18:00 PM In:
Caterpillar: "Sister!"

*no response*

Caterpillar: "Sister!"

*still no response*

Caterpillar: *calls down the stairs* "Sister!"

*no response* 

Caterpillar: *yells into the air vent* "Sister!"

*no response*

Caterpillar: *runs into the bathroom* "Sister!"

*no response*

Caterpillar: "Momma, where's Sister?"

Me: "I don't know honey."

Caterpillar: *yells out the front door* "Sister!"

*no response*

Caterpillar: *runs to back door, yells out back door* "Sister!"

*no response*

Caterpillar: *stands in middle of living room, yells at top of lungs* "SIIIIIIIIIIIISSSTEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRR!"

Finally, The Dormouse comes stomping up the stairs from the basement, fit to be tied.  

Dormouse: "I WAS BUSY! CAN'TCHA WAIT JUST A MINUTE? OK, I'm here. NOW. WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT?"

Caterpillar: "I was gonna tell you to give me some privacy for a few minutes."

*no response*

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I'm Sensitive and I'd Like to Stay That Way

Posted on 9/13/2013 04:47:00 PM

This Spring, the Shortlings planted some mimosa pudica seeds. The first time I ever saw this plant was a few years ago at Monticello in Thomas Jefferson's garden.  The Monticello people called it a Sensitive Plant but a neighborhood kid once told me she grew up calling it a Touch Me Not, which I think is also funny.  Wikipedia tells me it's also called a Sleepy Plant.  The KingofHearts told the kids about this plant and they were fascinated, so he ordered some seeds online and they planted them in a pot outside our front door.

Here's why it got its name(s):




What I didn't know about the sensitive plant was that it blooms. Adorable, tiny, purple blooms that are about the size of a marble.  They remind me of Horton Hears a Who and whenever I pass by to go to my car in the morning I subconsciously listen for voices. To date, I have heard none.  

But still, I listen. Because a person's a person, no matter how small.



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Love in a Farmers' Market

Posted on 9/11/2013 05:15:00 PM
Last weekend we happened into a farmers' market and The Dormouse found a heart-shaped tomato.


Today, as I sit in meetings, listen in to conference calls, and try to crunch numbers that were due weeks ago, when those feelings from twelve years ago wash over me in unwanted spurts and before someone says something that jerks me back to reality, I will think of this photo.

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Dishes

Posted on 9/07/2013 09:18:00 AM
I don't have a lot of memories of my grandparents when I was a kid, mostly because I seem to have the ability to forget what happened the day before yesterday quite easily.  One thing I do remember, however, is helping Grandma in the kitchen and her teaching me about how to put meals together.  I'm pretty sure the first time I picked a ripe tomato off the vine, covered it with basil and salt and then ate it like an apple was in Grandma's kitchen. I know the first time I caught a Rainbow Trout on a fishing trip, then brought it home and learned to clean and fry it, it was in Grandma's cast iron pan standing next to that 1950s-era refrigerator with the pull-open handle.  I'm also fairly sure that my ability to look in the kitchen cabinets, see only three unlike ingredients - say, an onion, sardines and a melon - and figure out how to make a meal using all of them came from those summer afternoons with Grandma in the kitchen.  

Grandma had a set of Franciscan Desert Rose dinnerware and every meal was served on it in her house. She wasn't much for the kind of China you'd put in your cabinet and only take out once a year at Christmas (and then spend a good deal of time washing off the dust it had been collecting since last Christmas). As the story goes, they got them in some sort of sweepstakes promotion, or at a gas-station give away in the 50s.  I'm quite sure most of these aren't original pieces. Here and there over the years, something would break and someone would find a replacement at a garage sale or thrift store. Once, years ago, right after I moved to D.C., I saw a whole set of them in a thrift store and I almost bought them but then decided not to because I lived in a small apartment and the guy I was dating convinced me I didn't have room in my kitchen. I could kick myself for that now because I've never seen another piece in a store out here since. 
 
I loved Grandma's dishes because they reminded me of her: simple, useful, practical, classy.





Franciscan Desert Rose was produced in the US from 1941-1984, in England from 1985-2003, and in China and Thailand since 2004. There is a variance in color between these time periods.

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The Demise of Camp Sweatshop

Posted on 9/06/2013 09:57:00 PM In:
Last year our summer was disappointing at best. I had The Shortlings in a combination of stay at home with Momma and Summer Camp at the facility where they want to pre-school.  It seemed like a workable solution, but the kids did only a small percentage of the fun-filled activities and trips that were promised and, much to my consternation, they ended up watching movies a good portion of each day or sitting in a corner watching their friends play hand-held video games they brought because there just wasn't enough to do during the day.  It irritated me because honestly, if I wanted to let Screens babysit my kids for three months, I could have done that in my living room and for a helluvalot less money. Plus, I'd get to monitor what they watch.  

It wasn't much better on the days they were home with me, because as it turns out, I am a pretty crappy Summer Camp Director too.

Every time I brought up the schedule of activities, or lack thereof, with the Center Director, I was promised that this was an unusual circumstance and things would be different just as soon as X happened, or Y fell into place, or Z was hired or whatever. It was week after week of excuses and promises until the end of summer when I, along with several other parents, made it clear to the Director that we were not happy with the value per dollar and wouldn't be back.  It was a hard decision because some of the teachers at that school had known my kids since before they could talk and they were the reasons we kept coming back. But The Dormouse was starting to outgrow the place and with The Caterpillar starting kindergarten last year, we wouldn't be back for preschool anyway.

This is how I feel about you, Last Year's Summer Camp.

So we trudged through the school year, knowing we'd have to come up with a plan for summer, but mostly choosing to think about that tomorrow, Scarlett. And then May came and we were like, "Oh crap! Guess we'd better do something." 

The KingofHearts found the summer camp program we ended up choosing. He happened across the website and I'd heard of it from some friends so it came highly recommended.  It was a bit more money than we'd spent last summer, but the plan looked better and if nothing else, they got to swim every day, which didn't even happen once a week last year.

As it turns out, it was one of the best decisions we've ever made. They were exposed to the most amazing, diverse group of activities and people and I couldn't be more happy with the experience they had.  On the last day, parents were invited to come and watch the group skits and I sat in the back, near tears, because this was over, and because school would start again with all its issues, and because I could have been sending them here all along.  I know they have to go back to school eventually, but I think they probably learned more this summer and had more positive experiences than they'll get in school all the rest of the year combined. So now the issue becomes saving enough money to do this again next summer, because man, was it worth it.

The Caterpillar dancing for her group's skit, but looking more like she's balancing on a beam.


The Dormouse doing her very best Harlem Shake.


This kid was so amazing with my children.  He is truly my favorite of all the teenage counselors and I wanted to take him home with me on the last day so he could live in my basement and entertain me and the girls.

This is maybe my favorite of all the pictures I took on that day. The Caterpillar has her head on the shoulder of her "BFF." She doesn't even know what BFF stands for, but she knows she have three new BFFs.

So long summer, we'll miss you.




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The Game of Awesome

Posted on 9/03/2013 05:41:00 PM
To keep the kids happy in the car while we were driving two hours out of our way to see a severed arm, I invented the Game of Awesome.  The etymology of the Game of Awesome went something like this: We're driving around, somewhere in rural Virginia and Monica sees a llama... or an alpaca... or a llampaca... and begins pointing and screaming at the top of her lungs, "LLAMALLAMALLAMALLAMALLAMA!"

It doesn't take much to amuse her.

Or The Shortlings, in fact, because by the time anyone figured out what Monica was hollering about, we'd passed the location and were unable to confirm the existence of this alleged llama.  They were all so disappointed THEY didn't get to see the llampaca, that there was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Anyway, I declared that Monica deserved an Awesome Point for watching out the window and finding Awesome Things rather than fighting with her seatmates or complaining that it was taking too long to get there because all of that stuff definitely was Not Awesome.  I suggested they also look out the window and try to find Awesome Things and try to get an Awesome Point too. So the Great Awesome Race of 2013 began.  

Some things we found that were Awesome

This spider trap:
Point: Dormouse

This ice cream shop:
Point: Me

The ice cream we bought from this ice cream shop when I told Monica to "just get me something small, I don't care what" and went to the bathroom -- so she bought me a GIANT BANANA SPLIT:
Point: whoever paid for the ice cream

This albino snake about to eat a not-quite-thawed dead mouse and the museum attendant shaking the mouse around with tweezers so the snake would think it was alive:
Point: Caterpillar

The fact that the above albino snake never did eat the mouse and therefore at least one of the Shortlings - who was the most likely to be disturbed by this sad fact of nature and have nightmares later, but who didn't want to be left out when I offered to take her into another room if she didn't want to watch - wasn't likely to have nightmares about it later.

Point: Monica-who-didn't-have-to-stay-up-with-that-child-that-night

The butterfly house at the botanical gardens:
Point: Marielle

Getting a butterfly to land on your finger:
Point: Dormouse
 
This flower:
Point: Me

This sign:
Point: Monica (who also began screaming MYNUTSMYNUTSMYNUTS!)

This sign was also Awesome:
Point: Me

Though when I purchased some nuts at the nut place and the clerk handed me my product in a plastic bag and said, "Here's your little white nut sack," that was definitely Not Awesome:
Point: no one
But perhaps my favorite Awesome Point earned that weekend was when all the Shortlings had tired of being in the car, and traveling, and their mothers, and sitting next to each other, and the Game of Awesome in general. Monica spotted something - a large concrete elephant perhaps? - and awarded herself an Awesome Point in hopes of getting The Shortlings interested in the Game of Awesome once more and, more importantly, in hopes of her and my desire to play our most favoritist game: The Game of Shutting Up in the Car.

The Caterpillar sullenly disagreed with Monica's assessment that the Large Concrete Elephant was worthy of an Awesome Point, saying that it was not, in point of fact, Awesome.

"That's not Awesome. You don't get an Awesome Point."  
*then mumbles under her breath*  "You get a Boring Point."

And that earned her an Awesome Point.

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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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