Monday, June 30, 2008

Outwit, Outlast, Outplay

Pin It Me: "Listen, I'm tired of telling you girls to clean up your room. If you don't clean it up in the next FIVE MINUTES, I'm gonna get a garbage bag and whatever I find on the floor, I'm gonna keep. I'm not kidding."

Sarah: "So what if I put my stuff on the bed?"

Me: "Whatever I find on the floor OR your bed."

Sarah: "So what about my pillow? Are you gonna take my pillow?"

Me: "Whatever I find on your bed that doesn't belong there."

Abby: "What if I leave my piano book on the floor?"

Me: "Anything EXCEPT your piano book."

Sarah: "What about my shoes? What if I don't get them cleaned up in time? You can't take my shoes. I need them for school."

Me: "Ok. Anything but the piano book and the shoes and --"

Abby: "I'm gonna leave my blue shirt on the floor for you Mom. I don't want it. It's itchy."

Me: "No, you need to pick it up --"

Abby: "But I don't want it."

Sarah: "Oh, and Mom, I'm gonna leave Carter's stuff on the floor. 'Cuz we don't want it."

Me, possibly yelling just a tiny bit loudly: "JUST CLEAN IT UP."

Abby, in a quavering voice: "We're just askin' a question."

Sarah, in tears: "You don't have to yell."

(They both collapse in a heap of sobbing, because their mean, mean, mean, borderline abusive mother yelled at them.)



DURFWAD. You know what I mean? Just - slimey hockeypuck freakin' DURFWAD.




(Times like this, I wish I knew how to scrapbook.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Losing It

Pin It I recently took a personality test that indicated that I was, among other things, "easily distracted and prone to losing things."

There are so many things to say about my new label (isn't it pretty?), but right now I just want to talk about how I'm prone to losing things. Because boy howdy, am I ever prone.

PRONE. (That suddenly doesn't look like a real word to me. PRONE.)

My mom used to call me the absent minded professor, and I used to think that was sort of cute. But it's not. It's not cute at all. I'm so tired of losing my stuff.

I'm constantly losing things - my keys, my rollerblades, my daughter's lunchbox, my keys again, my shoes, my shoes again, my shoes again some more, my cell phone, the house cordless phone, my keys again, my purse, my debit card, my debit card, my debit card, my purse - all day long it goes on.

I'm so glad I have this valuable new tool, the personality type, to help me rationalize away all of my personal failings.

"Honey, you've got to start putting your keys in the same place every time you get home so that you can find them easily."

"I can't do that!"


"Because I'm an ENFP!"

"That prevents you from trying to keep track of your stuff?"

"I can't fight science!"

Before I knew about my ENFP illness, I was starting to think I had holes in my brain. Perhaps some flesh eating bacteria had crawled inside and eaten away the part of my brain that knew where I put my shoes. Because I sure couldn't find them.

So it's kind of a relief. (WHEW.)

Maybe I should give it a try though, the whole putting-stuff-back-in-a-place-where-it-would-logically-go-so-that-I-can-find-it-again THING. Yesterday I used my debit card to pay a bill online, set it down next to the computer when I was done and then walked around all day long looking for it, mystified. Where could it be? Where? Where where where where where? I couldn't imagine.

Tonight I looked for my rollerblades for twenty minutes. TWENTY MINUTES. And the house is perfectly clean right now. My closet is even organized. I just couldn't find them.

"They've vanished," I said to my husband. "I think they disapparated."

"Look in the garage," he said.

And there they were.

He always knows where my stuff is. I used to just call him at work all the time to ask him where my stuff was, but now, because of his job, I can't do that. (It's very inconsiderate of him to have a job like that, I think.)

Sometimes I think he's hiding my stuff just to mess with me, except I know it frustrates him too, the fact that I can never keep track of anything, ever. He knows the last five minutes before we go anywhere will involve what he calls the "walk and mutter." (Well. Walk and mutter and rant and rave.)

"I can't find my shoes. Where are my shoes? They were just here. They were just here. Who took my shoes? Who took them? DOG, did you take my shoes? Because I will kill you. I will kill you if you took my shoes. Who took them? Where are they? Where? Where? WHERE?! Oh look, right there in the closet."

Sometimes I even lose stuff inside my purse. That might not sound all that strange except that my purse is small, almost like a wallet, and there isn't much inside of it. And yet, within it's non-depths I can still repeatedly lose my debit card and driver's license. Even though they are, in fact, still right there in my purse. I'll be at the check-out and I'll go to pull out my debit card and - uh oh, it's not there. It's SIMPLY NOT THERE. I'll pull everything out, look at it and put it back in and it's STILL not there. I'm frantic. Where is it? Where could it be? Is it lost? Is it stolen? Is it disapparated? In another dimension?

And then, WHAM, suddenly it's there.

It happens a lot. (Sometimes I think it's some kind of brain magic. Just - not a good kind. But kind of tricky, all the same.)

Before Fathers Day, I hid one of my husband's presents. I remember thinking that I would remember where I put it. I remember very specifically saying to myself, oh, sure, you'll remember putting it there, no problem.



I still can't find it.

Sometimes I'll hide treats from the kids, because if they find the cookies they'll never make it into my daughter's lunchbox. Except then I forget where I hid them. It's kind of nice though because sometimes I'll be having a bad day and I'll open a cupboard door and - Oh, LOOK, OREOS FROM HEAVEN.

YUM, Oreos.

Oh. Whoops, I got distracted. (We INFPs tend to do that.) Sorry - I know that's irritating. I BLAME SCIENCE.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Custard, GOOOOOOD.

Pin It Me: "Hey hon, are you gonna be here soon? 'Cuz I made dinner."

Husband: "Cool, what are we having?"

Me: "I made something new. It's called Hamburger Roll-Ups."

Husband: "Hamburger Roll-ups."

Me: "Yeah - my mom used to make them."

(long silence)

Me: "They're GOOD, I promise."

Husband: "What are they exactly?"

Me: "Well, you make this meat mixture and you make this dough from bisquick and you roll it up like a jelly roll and you slice it and bake it. And there's sauce."

Husband: "Hmmmm."

Me: "I PROMISE it's good."

Husband: "Why does this sound like an episode of Friends?"

Me: "It's not a beef trifle."

Husband: "You know, if you want, I can take over the cooking again. I can just whip something up really quick every night after I get home."

Me: "I'm perfectly capable of making --"

Husband: "Or I could make it the night before and freeze it. All you'd have to do is warm it up."

Me: "Hamburger Rollups were good enough for me and my brothers and sisters and I think they're probably --"

Husband: "Or, wait, I KNOW, we could starve. Sometimes starving is good. This could be like the first part of the fasting thing you were talking about."

Me: "I'm hanging up now."

Friday, June 20, 2008

So As It Turns Out

Pin It The house we love and miss?
(This is the playroom.)

In the neighborhood we love and miss?
(How beautiful are the mountains? SO BEAUTIFUL.)

With the friends we love and miss?
(This was from the girl's night out one of my dear friends organized right before we moved.)

And all of the neighborhood kids we love and miss?
(These are a few of the neighbor kids with mine. Seriously, we LOVE these kids.)

We get to keep it. WE GET TO KEEP IT!

WE GET TO KEEP OUR HOUSE. Everything is signed, sealed and delivered. It's ours.

I wish I could say something terribly profound and eloquent about it, but I can't quite form my happiness and gratitude into words yet. Still, I wanted to share the news with friends, family and all those of you who have held your breath right along with us. Your support and friendship and love and thoughts and prayers have meant the world to us.

I'm so happy. We're so happy. The kids are over the moon right now. If I may be really dorky and childish and, well, myself for a second, I think the super sophisticated thing I really want to say right now is simply: YAY! YAY! YAY! YAY! YAY! YAAAAAAAAY!


(We'll be moving back early next month. Can you believe it? Can you? Because I can't believe it. Holy cow. I've never been so happy to start packing in my life.)

(If you aren't sure what this is all about because you're new to the blog, click on the label "House Drama" (below the comment link) and you can read all about it from the beginning.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

100 Great Picture Books

Pin It Yesterday, we went to the library around the corner. The car was out of commission, so the girls grabbed their scooters and Jake hopped in the wagon (his bike is in the courtyard, which is currently being invaded by hornets). I had this bright idea that I would pull the wagon while rollerblading.

The thing is, I used to be an AWESOME rollerblader. I jumped on and off of sidewalks, I could do one footed turns and jumps like an ice-skater, and I was absolutely fearless. I would blade down huge hills at top speed without even blinking. (I was insane, basically.) Not so much anymore. (Insane OR fearless, take your pick.) Now I'm a lot more tentative and a whole lot less fast. The driveway seems very long and steep and scary.

I was trying to go fast enough to keep us moving, but slow enough to retain control over the wagon and myself if I needed to stop quickly. Jake was not happy with my slowish progress. "Mom, you are not going faster enough."

Oh, excuse me. I'm so sorry to inconvenience you as I huff along on my rollerblades of death.

On the way there, we saw a dead catfish on the sidewalk, which precipitated much screaming. From me. "You guys, you can look, but don't touch it. Don't touch it. Don't touch it! Jake, if you touch it, I'll - DON'T TOUCH IT! DON'T TOUCH DEAD FISH YOU FIND ON THE SIDEWALK!" (Advice for the ages.)

After that we made it there pretty quickly, despite the 170 degree heat. Unfortunately, when we got to the library I realized I'd forgotten my shoes. I wasn't about to haul everyone back home just to retrieve my shoes, so I ended up walking around the library wearing socks and rollerblade liners. (Hey, they were kind of shoe-like. Sort of. If you squint.)

We found our books, cooled down, checked out and rolled away. Back at home, I started cleaning the kitchen and looked over to see this:

YEEEEESSSSS. My DNA manifests itself at last.

Lastly, the local elementary school sent home a list of 100 great picture books. I love anything to do with books, and thought I'd post it for you. I thought my preschoolers were sort of well readish, but there are a lot of books on the list that we haven't read before. I'm excited to take this list with us to the library next time.

100 Great Picture Books, compiled by the New York Public Library

Abuela by Arthur Dorros.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett.
Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric A. Kimmel
Andy and the Lion by Juan Daugherty
Ben's Trumpet by Rachel Isadora
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
The Bossy Gallito: A Traditional Cuban Folk Tale retold by Lucia M. Gonzalez.
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina.
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault.
Corduroy by Don Freeman.
Curious George by H.A. Rey.
The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka H. Noble.
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell.
Doctor De Sota by William Steig.
Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell. The Fortune-Tellers by Lloyd Alexander.
Freight Train by Donald Crews.
George and Martha by James Marshall.
Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley.
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret W. Brown.
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say.
Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch.
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion.
Henny Penny illustrated by Paul Galdone.
Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss.
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly illustrated by Glen Rounds.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura J. Numeroff.
Is It Red? Is It Yellow? Is It Blue? An Adventure in Color by Tana Hoban.
It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folktale retold and illustrated by Margot Zemach.
John Henry by Julius Lester.
The Judge: An Untrue Tale by Harve Zemach.
Julius by Angela Johnson.
Komodo! by Peter Sís.
Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus.
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni.
The Little Dog Laughed and Other Nursery Rhymes by Lucy Cousins.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams.
Little Red Riding Hood retold and illustrated by Paul Galdone.
Lunch by Denise Fleming.
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.
Masie Goes Swimming by Lucy Cousins.
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey.
Martha Calling by Susan Meddaugh.
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia L. Burton.
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág.
Miss Nelson Is Missing by Harry Allard and James Marshall.
Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham.
The Monkey and the Crocodile retold and illustrated by Paul Galdone.
Morris’ Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells.
Mouse Paint by Ellen S. Walsh.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale retold and illustrated by John Steptoe.
Mushroom in the Rain adapted from the Russian of V. Suteyev by Mirra Ginsburg.
The Napping House by Audrey Wood.
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann.
Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth.
Over in the Meadow by John Langstaff.
Owen by Kevin Henkes.
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle.
Perez and Martina by Pura Belpré. Illustrated by Carlos Sanchez.
Pierre: A Cautionary Tale by Maurice Sendak.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.
The Random House Book of Mother Goose: A Treasury of 186 Timeless Nursery Rhymes selected and illustrated by Arnold Lobel.
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins.
Round Trip by Ann Jonas.
Rumpelstiltskin retold and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.
Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.
Stone Soup retold and illustrated by Marcia Brown.
The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant by Jean de Brunhoff.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.
Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola.
Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs.
Swimmy by Leo Lionni.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.
Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang.
There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff by P.C. Asbjfrnsen and J.E. Moe.
The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungerer.
Tikki Tikki Tembo retold by Arlene Mosel.
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf as told to John Scieszka.
Tuesday by David Wiesner.
Two of Everything: A Chinese Folktale retold and illustrated by Lily Toy Hong.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt retold by Michael Rosen.
The Wheels on the Bus adapted and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.
When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill.
Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale retold by Verna Aardema.
Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa retold and illustrated by Gerald McDermott.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Stuff I Think Is Dumb

Pin It 1. The fact that dogs, when you take them to the kennel, you can’t just leave them there forever. Why isn’t that an option? WHY?!!? I would pay them a LOT MORE if at the end of the dog stay, they would just keep the dog and send us pictures once in a while. Alternatively, they could have a “Break the Bad News” option where upon arriving at the kennel to pick up the dog, the kennel people tell your children that Fido went to live in heaven while they were on vacation. That way, you get the whole NO DOG thing, but also, your kids wouldn’t blame you for it. (Quick, somebody write a business plan. We could be billionaires.)

2. My hair. It turns out it really DOES make a difference if you have a professional color your hair or if you try to do it yourself. A BIG difference. It's the difference between feeling like a pretty, pretty, princess and feeling like a giant dishwater colored turd.

3. I would like to announce that I have crossed over into the realm of bloggers who receive free stuff. Did I get a Dyson? No. Did I get a Wii Fit? No. I got (Are you ready for this? It's really exciting.) - a BOX OF FREE POPCORN. GLORY HALLELUJAH. I HAVE ARRIVED.

4. I think it's dumb that in large group settings with people I don't know very well, I sometimes get overly anxious and self conscious. Sometimes when I think of something to say, I get all excited to say it and instead of just SAYING IT like a normal person I get all wound up and sick to my stomach and end up blurting it all out in one overly intense, awkward ramble of words. (On the other hand, give me a microphone and a podium and not only will I not be self conscious, I will totally ROCK YOUR WORLD.)

5. Swim skirts on large women. I'm allowed to say this, because I am currently nine thousand pounds. Here's the thing. We know you're fat under there. We know this because we can see the rest of you. Trying to hide the thighs specifically is kind of pointless. Set your thighs free. Let them come out and run wild and free with your arms and your back fat. Yes, that's right. You can do it. Come on out here and join the rest of us tubbies. I may not speak for the fit people of the world, who might sometimes prefer that we hide our unsightly cellulite from view beneath a swimming burka, but seriously - we're swimming, not going to church.

What do YOU think is dumb?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Head Space

Pin It You can always tell a TRUE Anne freak. A true devotee has read not only Anne of Green Gables and Anne of the Island; she’s read all eight of the Anne books – even Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside.

Rainbow Valley is about Anne and Gilbert’s children, and also about the children of the widowed minister who lives nearby. (The book has its charms, but it’s always irritates me a bit, because once Anne and Gilbert become parents, they become almost non-entities in the Anne series.) The minister’s children are neglected, not because they are not loved, but because their father is lost in his books, in his thoughts, in his sermons, and in his head. He spends 80% of his time locked away in his study while his children run free.

His wife was the person who grounded him, who made him put down his books and connect with his children. Now that she's gone, he's dreaming his way through life. He’s a nominal presence who sees to some of their basic needs, but who isn’t present in any meaningful way.

I feel like that minister. I find it so hard to stay present. I spend my life daydreaming. I'm physically here - I take care of all of my kids needs, take them to their activities, try to spend time interacting with them and playing with them, give them tons of affection - but there are so many times when I resent their intrusion into my head space. In the car, with the music on, I want to drift off into my thoughts, not play twenty questions.

Between the time I wander around blankly (thinking about imaginary things), the time I spend writing for work, the time I spend writing not for work (yes, o.k., I’ll admit it, I’d like to write a book - well, books), and the time I spend blogging – I’m spending too much time in my own head. I do most of my writing at night, but I think about it all day long. I justify my distraction in all sorts of ways, but that’s the reality. I’m too much absorbed in my inner life. I don't want to daydream their childhood away.

And I guess I'm wondering - how much of your attention is enough? How much of your brain space do you need to give over to your children before you’re a good mom? How much can you keep without being selfish or negligent?

I don’t know.