Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kindergarten, Eyebrows and a Dog

My daughter started Kindergarten this year.  With both kids in school, I had visions of enormous amounts of free time.  I pictured myself starting my day with a Yoga class,  followed by a trip to the coffee shop, where I would cozy up on one of the velvet couches sipping lattes and working on my latest screenplay (yes, I am writing screenplays in my vision).  Afterward I would hop on my bike (in my vision I was biking everywhere) and I would bike to the city for lunch with friends.  I might squeeze in some shopping and possibly an eyebrow wax.  Then it would be time to bike back home to pick up the kids, who would be exhausted from their long day at school and would want nothing more than to come home and relax.  We'd hang out together, maybe a trip to the playground before dad gets home and then we'd whip up an amazing dinner with all of the fresh organic/ local foods I was able to pick up at the market that day.

On day one of Kindergarten, I acted upon one part of my vision and made an appointment for an eyebrow wax.  The salon was beautiful and tranquil, and as I lay on the heated massage table I smiled as I thought of my changing, stress-free future (complete with perfect eyebrows).  I was in such a calm state that I barely noticed the tape and wax being pulled off of my skin.  The scent of the aromatic healing oil surrounded me and felt wonderful as it was applied to my face.  The stylist handed me a mirror and I held it above my head, ready to admire my new perfectly groomed brows.  However these happy thoughts were immediately replaced with two words:  'HOLY'  and   'SHIT'.   My eyebrows had been scalped.  They were now two tiny lines that looked like they had been lightly etched in with an eyebrow pencil that needed to be sharpened.  "What do you think"?  The perky stylist enthusiastically asked.  After regaining some composure, and recovering from my initial shock, I was able to whisper, "Ummmmm, they are a little thin"?

She immediately went into defensive mode, "well--you had some areas that needed to grow in, and they would not have been uniform-- it's what I had to work with-- they will grow back even now--it, um, really looks great though.  Thin eyebrows are all the rage".  Now, I knew this was a lie, since I had just read a copy of 'Allure' magazine while waiting in the front lobby and I knew that it is ALL about bushy eyebrows this year.  I managed to be polite, and quickly paid the front desk (with tip- I know) and ran from the salon with my hand covering my eyebrows.  Thank god I was driving, and not biking, as I could not get out of there fast enough.

On the way home, I checked my eyebrows over and over again in the rearview mirror,  hoping to see some new growth- but each time getting more panicked at how absolutely ridiculous they looked.  On about the 25th or 26th time looking in the mirror,  I realized not only are they way too thin but one is higher than the other.  I looked like a lunatic.  I sat at a stoplight trying to raise one eyebrow and lower the other and wondering if I could naturally hold that pose all day.  A car honking behind me snapped me out of it and I managed to make it the rest of the way home without pulling the mirror down to take another look.  Once I got home, I spent an hour experimenting with various eye pencils, powders, and shadows, trying to get a natural look and decided that I definitely needed more products.  I went to Walgreens and had a wonderful conversation with the elderly woman in cosmetics about how to "draw in your brows".  I bought  a couple of pencils and left feeling somewhat encouraged.  I went home and tried the pencils out, trying to even out the crazy brow with the slightly less crazy brow- and I was pretty proud of myself because I thought it actually looked presentable.  I was now able to face the public and decided I could take a trip to the grocery store.

At the store I ran into a couple of people I knew.  In both conversations, I noticed they kept looking up at my brows and were definitely giving me a "holy shit what the hell is up with her eyebrows" vibe.  I grabbed a frozen pizza and got out of there.  Once I was back home, I went online and looked up "eyebrows".  I read that Rosemary Oil helps eyebrows grow fast.   I also discovered that powder may be more youthful looking than liner, and that Bobbie Brown makes a wonderful powder that several celebrities use.  I also discovered that there is a renowned eyebrow stylist in the Chicago area that has worked wonders with even the worst eyebrow mishaps, and through tinting, shaping, waxing and threading, she will give you back your dignity in no time.  I called the salon and made the next available appointment (November) with the eyebrow miracle-lady.  I drove to the Health Food Store and picked up a small bottle of Rosemary Oil, and made a stop at the mall, where I bought some Bobbie Brown powder and eyebrow brush.

I got back in the car, ready to head home to tackle the rest of my day, glanced at the clock and realized I had 10 minutes to get to school to pick up my daughter.  I got there on time, and she bounded into the car, full of things to tell me about her day.  She LOVED kindergarten.  She LOVED her teacher.  She LOVED her friends.  She LOVED her classroom.  She told me she was so happy and that Kindergarten is THE BEST.  I was thrilled that she was thrilled.  She asked about my day and I struggled with what to say since it sounded so ridiculous that it was all about eyebrows.  I said, "oh, I did a little grocery shopping",  remembering the frozen pizza.

"Mom"?  My daughter asked.  "Yes"?  I said.   "When are we going to get a dog"?  This question was a daily if not hourly one at our house.  We knew it would happen eventually, and had been considering it, but weren't sure if this was a good time.  I was just starting to enjoy the kids new independence.   The potty training, walking, cleaning, and feeding thing just didn't mesh with my new vision of personal development.  I looked back at her in the rearview mirror, her eyes big with hope and expectation, and I caught sight of my eyebrows.  I thought maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to not have so much free time.  "We'll work on getting a dog soon",  I told her.  She smiled.

"Mom"?  she asked.

"Yes, honey"?

"Why did you color on your eyebrows"?

The dog arrived in mid-September.   My eyebrows haven't quite arrived, but getting there.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The I Like Game

In an effort to strengthen our family bond and to end the day on a positive note (long summer days have started to wear on us a bit),  I decided I would start a new exchange to be used at night after bedtime stories.  I called it the "I like game".  I explained to my 7 year old son and my 4 year old daughter that I would start by telling them something special I liked about them, and then they could tell me something they liked about me or about the day, and we could go back and forth as long as we wanted.  I began with my son, and said, "I really love your sense of humor".  He responded with, "I love your big heart and your beautiful soul".

Ok.  Pass the tissues.  Game over.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wishful thinking

After helping my son get an eyelash out of his eye, I told him he could make a wish. He carefully held the lash on the tip of his index finger, closed his eyes and whispered, "I wish my eyelash was back on my eye".

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bowling night

Wii time is usually monopolized by my seven year old.  He is all about getting to a certain world on Mario, ascending a certain level on Batman, or beating his record score on Scooby Doo.  We were excited to finally take advantage of the rainy weather to play a family Wii game, and we decided on bowling.  
To be fair, we decided to forgo (btw I cannot use this word without thinking of ‘The Bachelor’) individual play for teams.  My husband and I are about the same skill level, and we knew we could carry-or at least even out-the kids scores.  We remind them about good sportsmanship, and tell them that it’s ok if they don’t get a great score every time, that there will be 10 frames, and that each one is like getting a do-over.  We explain that not everyone can be a winner, but the important thing is to have fun.  The kids each give us their token nods of acknowledgement, and we get ready to begin. 
My 4 year old immediately starts crying once she realizes she is my partner, throwing herself to the ground, saying, “Oh NO!  Not MOM! Now I’ll never win”!  I eventually convince her that I am a bowling champion and she’s back on her feet, doing a pre-victory dance: “Oh yeah, Oh yeah, uh-huh, uh-huh-- we are gonna wi-i-i-i-n”.  
My son isn’t buying it:  “Mom stinks.  Dad is the best”.  
The game is on, and it’s my turn first.  My son runs interference, chanting, “BOOOO, mom!  Lose mom! Don’t get a strike mom, don’t get a strike, don’t get a strike...”  I concentrate and go into strategy mode.  I use all the virtual tools at my disposal.  I zoom in to check position.  I click the turn mode to optimal direction. I narrow my eyes and focus on the virtual arrows, aiming just between the center arrow and the arrow to the right of it- and I end up hitting a few pins right down the middle, leaving pins on both sides.  I turn around to see my daughter crossing her arms and smirking at me. 
I hand her the controller and encourage her to get the spare (even though it’s next to impossible).  I cheer, “C’mon , you can do it”!  She tells us all confidently, “Watch....and learn, my friends”.  
She turns toward the game, starts a bizarre sideways approach with her hip jutted out to the side.  With a crooked, drunken stance and an even more crooked elbow, she takes a few steps and whips the controller all crazy-like, with no apparent regard for a specific destination, managing to hit both the couch and the table before her release-- and ends up getting the split, and the spare.  She gives me the ‘that’s how it’s done’ look and proudly reclaims her spot on the couch. 
Now it’s my husband’s turn- my son screams, “Yeah dad!  GO Dad”!!
My daughter joins in, “Go DAD!!! Get a STRIKE, DAD”!!  
I remind my daughter that she is on my team, and she lowers her voice and explains with a concerned tone, “Mom.... I do love you, but I can’t just love you all the time.  I love dad, too.  Dad is fun.  Sometimes you are boring. But some days you are fun.  Some days I love you the best-but today-I just have to love dad better”.
My husband takes his turn, and, like me, tries to use the advantage of technology to optimize his chances.  His ball ends up spinning sharply to the right and he hits 2 pins.  My daughter quickly changes her tune. Clinching her fist and thrusting her elbow toward the floor, she yells,  “YESSSS!  Mom is THE BEST”!  My son takes his turn and effortlessly gets the spare. 
The rest of the game continues like this, with the kids having to clean up the pins after their parents’ pathetic first attempts.  At one point my son says, “Dad, you are terrible.  Just give me the remote and I’ll get us the strikes”.  My daughter gets bored and eventually takes her turn by half-heartedly giving the remote a little push while simultaneously working on a princess drawing (and clears almost all of the pins).
My son eventually checks out of the game as well.  He starts to build a tunnel using a gymnastics mat and pillows, and decides he can just take his turn from there.  From across the room, he haphazardly sticks his hand holding the controller up out of the pillows, gives it a random flip, and ends up with a strike.  “BOO-yah!  In your FACE”, he yells, at no one in particular--from underneath the tunnel.
On my final turn, I decide to change up my game, putting the kids’ proven “technique” into practice.  Without glancing at the screen, I quickly and randomly give the controller a quick flip--and end up with a gutter ball.  
My son yells out from his newly built Lego town in the hallway, “MOM! Come ON!  Are you even taking this seriously” ?!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Inside Story

This morning I was complaining a bit about having to take the kids to school during a thunderstorm, and my husband- who was scrambling to get ready for a business meeting- was also not thrilled about driving to work in the storm.  He half-jokingly muttered, "yeah, well try my life".

My son chimed in, saying, "Yeah mom, dad's life is WAY harder than yours".  He continued, "His life is so hard.  If you got inside him-- if you knew his inside story-- it would totally beat yours.  You would not want to be him." He paused for a moment, pointed to my husband, and added, "There is a LOT of quicksand in there".

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

1st grade crush

My 7 year old told me about a “totally embarrassing” situation at school where his classmate was teasing him, and telling everyone that he was “in love” with a girl in their class.  He sighed, put his head in his hands, shook it back and forth and said, “and you know what mom?  I am.  I am in love with her”.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nature Calls

Our family spent the week in Vermont.  Although we were there for a sad occasion (a memorial service for my husband’s grandmother), it was wonderful to see family from around the country and catch up with their lives. The youngest generation of cousins had a blast playing together, and even the weather cooperated (which can be touch and go in Vermont this time of year).

The memorial service took place where my husband’s grandmother had raised her family, up in the picturesque Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.  It is a long drive back to the Burlington area where we were staying at my in-laws home.  About halfway into the trip, my son needed to use the bathroom. Given there weren’t many options, we pulled over to the side of a field.  My daughter was quite impressed with my son’s ability to be able to go wherever, but she announced that she would much rather wait for a bathroom “that has a door for pwivacy”.   My husband, recalling his Native American ancestry, said to her, “Oh, if you were a true little Indian princess living back in the day, you wouldn't worry about that.  You could just go right there in the grass”.  My daughter laughed and told him he was being "silly". 

After a few more miles of driving, my daughter fell asleep.  About fifteen miles from her grandma and grandpa’s (Papa and Dee-Dee) house, she woke up, yelling,  “I have to go potty! Now. Right. NOW”!  My husband and I told her we would pull over as soon as possible, and I nervously scanned both sides of the road for any sign of a place with a restroom.  She was screaming "Hurry UP!  I am going to pee my pants!  I-need-to-go-to-the-POTTY"!  I reassured her that we were looking and tried distracting her with the various interesting scenery and animals we passed.  She quieted down, and by the time we were approaching a gas station, she had fallen back asleep.  We were about 10 miles from home, and since the place was pretty questionable regarding cleanliness, we decided not to wake her and continued the trip home.

We were a couple of minutes from the house when she awoke again, screaming desperately to use the bathroom.  "WHAT is the MATTER with you!  I said have to use the POTTY! Do you want me to pee my pants"?  My husband sped up while I encouraged her to wait, giving her minute-by-minute updates, “only a couple more minutes”--which turned to seconds-- "Count with me, 10......9.......8.....7....." which only seemed to make her more and more miserable.  We finally pulled into the driveway, and I jumped out of the car, hurried to open her door, and she tumbled out in complete hysterics.

 I went to grab her hand and she started kicking me away, trying to climb back in the car, saying, “No! NO!  I didn't want to potty here! I don’t want to pee at Dee-Dee’s house!  NOOOOOOOO!  I want to go in the GWASS!  In the gwass!  Not in the toiwet!  I-want-to-pee-in-the- GWAAAAAAASSSSSS”!  She collapsed on the front lawn, kicking her little legs and pounding her fists into the ground.  After several minutes of struggle, I managed to get her into the house, but when she saw the nice, modern, clean bathroom awaiting her, she burst into tears again.  “I want to be an Indian pwincess and pee on the gwaaaaassssssssssssssss”....... it was then I noticed a note on the table from my husband’s parents saying they went for some groceries and would be back later. 

I looked at my husband, then back at my inconsolable daughter.  I shrugged my shoulders and said, “hurry up and take her in the backyard”.  She looked up at me, immediately stopped crying, smiled, and proudly walked with her dad to pee in the grass.  She strode to the middle of the lawn, squatted low and made a valiant effort--but try as she might-- no luck.  She looked up at my husband and choked out the words, “I-- I just can’t do it”.  She slowly and somberly walked past me, defeated.  She dragged her feet to the bathroom and slammed the door. 

Heartbroken, she later told me, “mom, it is not easy to pee in the gwass.  Boys are lucky.  That is not fair.”  

So true. 

We are making a drive from Illinois to Vermont in July.  I just hope there will be enough places to pee in the grass along the way.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chicks and Carnivores

The kids Easter baskets included ‘Magic Hatching Eggs’.  My son got a dinosaur egg, and my daughter received a little chick egg.  As the directions indicated, we placed each one in a glass of water.  We were surprised to see bubbles immediately emerge from each of the eggs (no one more surprised than I, since these things are normally big time duds).  “Look! They are breathing!  Mom!  They are breathing”!  
They could not believe that they were actually going to grow a couple of new pets.  They checked in on their egg every 3 to 5 minutes, and would report their findings back to me: 
J: “I think its sleeping now”.  
L: “There aren’t as many bubbles”.  
J: “I think I see my shell cracking”! 
L: "I think I see its' shadow"! 
 This went on for an hour or so, which I was grateful for at first, but wasn't sure how much more my sanity could take on the minute-by-minute updates. 
I read on the box that it may take 24-48 hours for the pet to fully hatch, so after saying a little prayer that we got the 24 hour variety, I started in with the ad-libbing (that is a nice parent-word to use in place of lying).  I told them,  “Guys, I’m not sure...but I think the directions said that if you stare at the egg too long, it might turn to stone”.  That deterred them for about a half hour or so, but then each time they went over to the eggs they were very careful to only look for a few seconds.  My son decided that he would only look sideways at his egg so as to be extra careful.   
The next morning, there were a few tiny cracks in the eggs.  The kids thought this was AMAZING.  They were jumping up and down and high-fiving each other, and placing bets on which one would hatch first.  By afternoon, my son’s egg had just enough of an opening that we could make out the little dinosaurs mouth, or maybe it was his eye-- but it was “definitely real”, according to my son.  Unfortunately, that was about all the egg action we saw that day, but the kids were patient, and wondered about what was going to happen next.  
That night, my son started asking some rational questions: ”Mom, is that thing really going to be real”?  “Mom, is that a kind of dinosaur that is not extinct”?  “I thought they were extinct”?  “Can I bring it to show and tell”?  “Mom, how big is the dinosaur going to get”?   
I carefully answered each of his questions with “I wonder” and “What do you think”?  My son was quiet and contemplative for awhile, and then something clicked.  He gasped and exclaimed in horror, “What if it hatches tonight and tries to eat Frankie”?  My daughter chimes in with a nervous laugh, and says, “heh-heh, that is sooooooooo silly- he won’t eat Frankie!  Dinosaurs don’t eat cats!  Right mom”? 
Then, for some strange reason, all rational thought left my brain and I decided that this was the moment to educate my children about carnivorous dinosaurs.  We discussed raptors and tyrannosaurs-to which my son could suddenly relate- “Like, you mean--Tyrannosaurus REX”?  
In an instant, both kids scrambled out of bed and started sprinting around the house, checking under furniture, desperately calling for the cat.  “Frankie?  Frankie?  
FRANK-IEEEEEE”!  After locating the cat, and after a lot of reassuring by me that my son’s egg did not contain that kind of dinosaur, they were able to settle down and eventually go to sleep.
The next morning, both eggs had cracked significantly, showing the fully-formed spongy upper body of the baby dinosaur, and the fuzzy little head of the baby chick.  My daughter was thrilled, and she lovingly oohed and ahhed over her chick.  She was lightly tapping the glass, saying “Hi chicky!  I’m your mama”, and singing “here chicky chicky,  here chicky chicky”.  She started contemplating names-- “I think I’’ll call it Lilly.  Or Lulu.  Or Lou.  Or Lou-la”.  I was so wrapped up in her excitement, that I didn’t even notice my son peeling the rest of the egg away from his little dino-sponge.  
I turned to him, and there he sat, surrounded by egg shells, arms crossed, looking less than thrilled.  He held up his little dinosaur in the palm of his hand and said flatly, “Mom. This... is just a dumb sponge”.  
My daughter replied, “Well...mom told you that’s what happens when you stare at it for too long”.   
Her chick is still hatching.  And we know its real, 'cause we can still see the bubbles.  We think.  Because no one is allowed to look at it.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thank you for sharing

Six words that make me gag:

Pustule (or anything with ‘pus’ for that matter)

...and the lady in front of me in the grocery store line just used five of them.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sometimes it’s not what you say, but...

As I was getting my daughter ready for Easter service, she was marveling over everything: “mom, look-- the Easter Bunny brought us this-- and this-- and this”!  She started floating around the room in her dress, pretending she was a princess, when she caught sight of her brother coming down the stairs, dressed in his Easter Sunday best.  She gazed up at him admiringly and exclaimed, “Oh, wow.  You look....so....disgusting”!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Crustaceans and such

My 4 year old has had a stuffed up nose for a few days.
Rubbing her nose and examining it in the mirror, she says, "Mom, I'm serious.  I think there's something in there".  Her eyes widen and she continues, "Like, maybe a crab-- or a squirrel".

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Omnipotent one

My 6 year old was not too happy about the cold weather this morning.  On the way to the bus stop, he was sharing his disappointment with my daughter.

J: "It's FREEZING!  God can be such a JERK sometimes!  He's ruining all the plants"!
L: "uh-oh, you better not say that.  Santa might hear you"!
J: "I wasn't talking about Santa".
L: "Well, Santa cares about everyone--even God".

Friday, April 15, 2011

“Conversation” with a 4 year old

(a.k.a.  Inspiration for Dr. Seuss, a.k.a.  A little glimpse into hell) 

At snack time, I ask my 4 year old,  “Would you like some carrots”?

She answers:  “Mom, I like my carrots with hummus.  Did you hear me mom, all I like is carrots and hummus.  I don’t like plain carrots.  Like, if people ask me, ‘what do you like?’, I will say, ‘I like carrots and hummus’.  That’s why I don’t just like carrots.  I like them with hummus.  If people say, ‘do you want some carrots’?  I’ll say, ‘no. I want carrots and hummus’.  I will never, ever, ever have plain carrots.  I like them with hummus.  I do not like to eat carrots by themselves, just carrots with hummus on them.  My friend likes to eat carrots with ranch dressing on them.  But I like them with hummus.  If I ever had to eat carrots by themselves, I might try it.  But I really don’t like it when I have it regular like that.  I like it with hummus.  If we were out of hummus, that would be really bad, because I like hummus.  We would have to go to the store to buy some more hummus, because that’s why I could not eat my carrots plain.  If you were not here, I would have to ask dad to get me some hummus.  I really like hummus.  With carrots.  Mmmmm.  These are good........  Mom, did you know I really like carrots and hummus?................Mom?"

Deep breath in, aaaand deep breath out.  The beach. The sand.  The ocean waves.  Singing of birds. Wind blowing softly through the trees.  Chocolate.  Wine.  Massage.  A great read.  Candles.  Rose petals.  Javier Bardem.  Champagne.  Strawberries.  Picnic.  Carrots and hummus.

"Yes, sweetie. Mommy knows."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Send the baby

My daughter loves to invent new games.  One that she loves to play is called ‘Send the baby’.  Although the way she pronounces it is “Spin the Baby”, which for me conjures up images of preschool kids sitting around a circle, taking turns spinning a baby doll.....but thankfully, she clarified, and it’s definitely ‘Send the Baby’.  Here’s how to play: 
My daughter will ring the pretend doorbell from the hallway. She’ll shout, “DING-DONG”!  I’ll come to the pretend door and pretend to open it.  There’s no one there.  I’ll look to the right- nothing.  I’ll look to the left- nothing.  I’ll shrug my shoulders and pretend slam the door.  My daughter will ring the doorbell a second time.  
“Well what now...”?  I’ll say, as I approach the pretend doorway.  She’ll run off and hide, giggling as I look again to see no one is there.  I’ll shake my fist and say something like, “Those darn TEENAGERS”!  and she’ll laugh harder.   Then I’ll pretend slam the door again.  
“DING-DONG”....she’ll yell again, and this time when I open the door I’ll look down at the ground where she has left her doll.  I’ll feign surprise and say, “Oh MY!  Somebody left me a BABY!  What is this baby doing on my doorstep?  Poor baby!  Is there no one here to take care of the baby”?   My daughter will sit in her hiding spot, covering her mouth to stifle her giggles.  
I’ll cuddle the baby and bring it “inside”, wrap a blanket around her, and tell her that everything will be okay. This is usually my daughter’s cue to ring the pretend doorbell again.  I’ll answer the pretend door and she'll explain that she is the one who left the baby, because she found the baby all alone, and that the baby didn’t have parents to care for it (I'll spare you the psychoanalysis on this one).  I’ll invite my daughter “in” for a snack, and once she’s comfortable that she’s given her baby-friend a good home,  she’ll say goodbye to us and go back to “her house”.  
Once while playing the game, I brought the baby in as usual.  I was giving the baby cuddles, and telling the baby how much I would love her as I was wrapping her in a blanket.  My daughter hadn’t rung the doorbell yet, so I kept talking to the baby, saying how much fun we would have together.  I told the baby about all the fun things we would do, the places we would go-- to the park, to grandma and grandpa’s house, to the fair; and I mentioned that maybe we could go to Disney World sometime.  As I talked to the baby about the Disney princesses, the Dumbo ride, and the breakfasts with Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse, I could hear my daughter upstairs.  I thought maybe she forgot about the game, so I left the baby on the couch, and started to straighten up in the living room.  I was putting the books back on the shelf when I heard the “DING-DONG”!  
My daughter was back.  I opened the pretend door to find her sitting on the floor, suitcase in hand.
She looks up at me and says, “Hi.  My parents are both dead.  Can you take care of me”?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Charlotte's Web

Today I went to see Charlotte’s Web with my daughter and her preschool class at the local Children’s Theater.  We've read the book, and have seen the movie, so I figured we were prepared for it.  Even so, when Wilbur had to say his heart wrenching goodbye to Charlotte, I glanced over to see how my daughter was doing.  She was rubbing her eyes and had tears streaming down her little cheeks.  I put my arm around her, and gave her a reassuring squeeze.  She continued to rub her eyes for quite some time, and was obviously heartbroken.  
My heart ached for her, and even though my attention was turned back toward the play, my thoughts were elsewhere.  My throat tightened, and my own tears began to fall as I thought about all of the hurt that was to come for her.  The first day of Kindergarten (ok, that one will be way worse for me);  having to endure teasing from her peers; dealing with harsh (or what she perceives to be harsh) criticism from a parent, teacher, or coach;  the betrayal of a good friend; the loss of a pet; the first experience being rejected in love; leaving for college; missing her family; losing a job; fighting with a spouse; having to watch her own children go through heartache; the overwhelming sadness of losing a loved one.  I continued to think about how I would console her in each of those situations, what I might say, and...
“Mom”?  My thoughts were interrupted by my daughter, who was tugging at my sleeve.  
“Yes, sweetheart”, I looked down at her, ready to give more support, and was surprised to see that she was all smiles.  
“See”, she said, holding up her finger.  “I think I got it out”. 
“What’s that?”   I asked. 
“My eyelash”. 
Ah well, Kindergarten is coming up soon.  I’ll be ready.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

521 weeks pregnant

One of my four year old's favorite things to do is browse through catalogs and circle what she'd like.  Not just for herself, but for her brother, her dad, her mom, the cat, and for the dog that we don't have yet.  Aside from the toy and pet catalogs, her favorites are the clothing ones.

While flipping through the pages of a new Anthropologie catalog, she 'ooohs' and 'ahhhhs' over the women's dresses.  "Mom, you would look so beautiful in this one......Oooooh, I love the flowers on this one...... look, this one would look so nice on you"!  I point out one that I think is pretty.  She eyes me up and down and matter-of-factly states, "well, that one is a skinny dress".

To illustrate her point, she puts her hand on my belly and adds, "you need to be straight up and down to wear that".

This got my son's attention.  He comes over to me and puts one hand on my stomach, and one on my back, gives my daughter an official nod and says, "Yep.  She's havin' a baby".

 I answer teasingly, "Oh, and what do you think the baby will be"?

He inspects my stomach once again and tells my daughter , "I think we're gettin' a ten year old brother".

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Now THAT is my kind of fun

During snack time at Sunday school this morning, all the kids were taking turns saying what they were going to do for fun later that day.

S: "I'm going to a birthday party".

M: "Me too"!

J: "I'm going to see a movie with a friend".

L: "I'm going to family swim".

K: "I'm going to dissect a frog with my mom!  Oh, and once, my grandma killed a groundhog by smacking it in the head with a shovel because it was eating her vegetables".

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Tell the truth.  Honesty is the best policy.  The truth will set you free-- except when you have a substitute teacher who you think is being “annoying”.  
Then, the truth will get your card moved to red.

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The circle of life

My four year old tells me, “mom, when I die, I want to come back as a boy”.  She then asks, “when you die, what do you want to come back as”?  
While taking a minute to think about how to address that question, she answers herself, “never mind, I already know you want to come back as-- my mom”.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Things I've invented

When I die, I think instead of images from my life flashing before my eyes, it will be the last viewed screen of Facebook posts.

I invented Facebook.  Or definitely had a major part in it.  Which brings me to.....

Things I invented.  Or at least came up with the concept.

1. Facebook (Winklevoss, Shminklevoss).

While pregnant with my first child in early 2004, I remember my friend and I were trolling the internet, finding bits and pieces on old classmates, some of whom had actually posted information, and in a few cases--pictures!  After being disappointed that we were unable to find any real information of value, I remember distinctly one of us saying, “there really should be a central place you can go to share information about yourself, and see backgrounds and photos of people so you can catch up”.  And then like a month later Zuckerberg launched his site.

2.  Desperate Housewives, Season 7, Episode 14 “Flashback”

Line: “Hey neighbor”.

Long story, but that line was stolen from me word for word.

3.  Spanx.

For years, I would buy my tights a couple sizes too small to squeeze myself into.  Which reminds me of...

4.  Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

Huge fan of raw cookie dough all my life.  HUGE fan of vanilla ice cream.  I think I was about 13 (at least a couple of years before Ben and Jerry’s launch of their cookie dough ice cream) when I thought of putting the two together. 

5. lol.

Right there, in a note from junior high, next to BFF, LYLAS, F/F and SFA (Sisters Forever Always)? 
....and I could go on and on.  My next invention that I don’t think anyone has patented or copywrited yet is going to be-- whoa- never mind, it’s top secret.  I’m sure you’ll hear about it once someone else steals it.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lenten offerings

During Lent, our church switches from real bread to thin, tasteless wafers.  After my 6 year old received his communion, he turns to the congregation and announces to everyone- “EEECHH. This is the WORST bread I have EVER had in my ENTIRE LIFE”! 

Then, as the chalice is being offered to him, he closes his eyes and chants, “just pretend it’s lemonade, just pretend it’s lemonade, just pretend it’s lemonade”....

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Decisions, decisions

I heard some muffled, sniffling sounds coming from the living room, and found my four year old, huddled in a corner, crying.  I asked her what was wrong, and she looks at me, tears pooled up in her eyes, and then manages to choke out the words, “I-- I just don’t know who to mawee”..... .“I weally wike Wyan K, but he doesn’t wike me”......”and maybe Sam, or Charlie... but I don’t know if they are going to pick me...”  then throwing herself to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably.
Oh boy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Lia:  "Mom, those flip-flops do NOT look good".

Me:  "Well,  I am wearing them because they are comfortable".

Lia:  "Well..... I guess I will just look away when you walk by".

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Clip quip

In the middle of giving my son a haircut, he suspiciously eyes me and says, "Don't you need some sort of license or something to be doing this"?


Anyone else ever feel like someone is watching them....or is that just me?  I’m not talking about the government pods in space with ultra-zoom lenses (cause we know that happens)-- I mean something more personal, like someone living in your attic, or hidden cameras planted in your home, or bugs on your telephone type of surveillance...
So we live across the street from a park, but do people have to park their vehicles directly across the street from my house?  Do they have to stay there for hours?  I mean how many utility vans need to be there in a day?  There are only 6 or 7 houses on my street.  Really?  Sears Appliance-- again?  How many times does the Culligan Man need to visit?
I was home alone one morning when I heard some suspicious noises coming from the front door.  I peered out the upstairs window and saw the top of someone’s head--he was wearing a brown ski mask and it looked like he was carrying something in his hands.   I quickly grabbed the phone and called my husband at work (isn’t that what most people would do during a home invasion?).  I then heard some loud thumping noises coming from the door, and I became completely hysterical.  
My husband asked me to calm down, and suggested I call 911.   Once I caught my breath, and could hear something besides the pounding of my own heart, I became acutely aware that the noises at the door had stopped.  I was convinced the intruder had given up, and decided to try the back door.  I tiptoed down the stairs in stealth mode to the kitchen where I stood, silent and motionless.  I glanced around furtively for a weapon, in case I had to use it.  Terrified, I forgot about my husband, still on the line--- “hello...........HELLO”?  
I whispered to him that I was trying to be quiet, to see if I could determine the guy’s next move.  My husband told me to go to the front window to see if I could see anything-- I steeled myself, kitchen butter knife in hand, and painstakingly made my way over to the window.  I carefully peered out, to see if I could catch another glimpse-- and then I announced,  “I SEE HIM!!  He’s heading back towards the street!!  He’s wearing a brown ski mask and dressed all in brown!!  He’s getting into the back of a van!!”  
My husband was quiet for a minute and said,  “He’s dressed all in brown?  Is his van brown?  Does it by chance say ‘U.P.S.’ ?"  "Maybe you should open the door and see if we have a package”.
So, as you can see my credibility isn’t great-- but still...!  Never hurts to be cautious, right?   
Now I completely forgot my point.  Probably from the brain scrambling waves in my computer. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Imaginary Friends

My little girl (4) has had a number of imaginary friends over the past couple of years.  Annie, Seiki, Minneo, Chuckie, Dang, and some others that I wish I wrote down earlier but forgot.   She used to bring up her friends on a daily basis, but now they have started to be mentioned less and less, so I thought I would dedicate a page or so to them before they are completely gone. 
Annie and Seiki have hung around for awhile now and my daughter brings them up often.  While at gymnastics, she fell off the balance beam and quickly turned around and screamed a barrage of insults at Annie, who had obviously pushed her.   
Another time I found her in her dad’s office crying, holding her hand, and screaming at Annie again.  I asked what happened, and she explained that Annie had convinced her to touch the lightbulb, making her burn her hand.  She still isn’t over that one.  
The other day my daughter started setting the table with her princess dishes and pretend cupcakes, getting ready for a birthday party.  She was slamming each plastic dish on the table with an exasperated sigh.   Scowling, she told me,  “I’m coming to Annie’s birthday party today, but she is definitely NOT my friend”.
I asked her some questions about her friends (and tried to type as fast as she was talking):
Annie is 6.   Her sister is Seiki (who Lia said “Seeks up on people”, but I have taken some liberties with her name spelling).  They have a brother named Charlie.   Their family lives in Oak Park,  but sometimes they live with us.  Annie has freckles, blond hair and red lips.  She likes to wear a shirt with Hawaii on it and pants with flowers and bunnies.  Annie is nice now, but she used to be mean.   Seiki looks like Lia, but with grey eyes and super duper red lips, she likes to wear a shirt with the flag of Palestine (thank you Montessori) on it,  and jeans with flowers and kitty-cats on them.  Charlie has short blonde hair, blue eyes, and he loves to wear dinosaur shirts with dinosaur-polkadot blue jeans.
Chuckie and Dang are friends, they are not nice,  they are mean.  They are 8 years old.  They are like teenagers.  Dang dangs people on the head.   Chuckie punches people and kicks them in the face, and pokes their eyes and “waps them around”.   I’m very familiar with the torture methods of Chuckie and Dang,  I remember her telling me a year ago:  “They waps you awound with a wope--and then I tell them, wou get out of here wou wittle cweeps”!!
I had started to notice a pattern with a few of her friends.  Seiki “seeks up on people”.  Dang “Dangs people on the head”.  So when I asked her about her new friend, ‘Minneo’, I said,  “What does Minneo do”?  She rolled her eyes as if to say “DUH” and then--
“She plays soccer”.
-End of Interview-

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Girl Scout Cookie Haikus

Minty cool and fresh
so crispy on the inside
just one more won't hurt

Milk is running out
my Tagalongs look lonely
good thing I bought more

Oh sweet coconut
caramel drizzled goodness
stay off of my butt

Put the box down now
says the voice inside my head
the scale does not lie

Now that is just gauche
leave the crumbs for goodness sake
get a therapist

How did I miss this
way back behind the crackers
victory is mine

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pure of Heart

My son went through a phase last year where he was afraid of the elderly.  Partly because he recently attended a family funeral and was becoming aware of age and mortality.  And maybe partly because my grandma once showed him how she could take her teeth right out of her mouth.  
During this time, we took a family trip to the arboretum, where I thought we would spend the day playing in the children’s garden and exploring the surrounding areas.  Upon arrival, I noticed there were a couple of large buses in the drop off/entrance area.  Sure enough, it was a field trip for a Senior Care center.  You would have thought we were at a haunted house the way my son gasped and ducked at every older person we encountered.  He literally hid his face under my shirt as we walked past a couple of ladies in the bathroom.  
We spent a few months dealing with this issue, and grew especially concerned regarding his attitude toward his own relatives.  We saw them often, and we wanted him to be comfortable when visiting with them.  We started showing him pictures of his great-grandparents as children, emphasizing that they were kids once,  just like him,  that they are loving people that love and care for him.  We explained that getting older is a part of life, and tried to reassure and comfort him as best as we could. 
We debated whether or not he would be able to handle a visit to my husband’s grandmother in a nursing home.  We felt the visit was important, so we spent some time prepping him beforehand, explaining that his great-grandma lived in a hospital and that getting visitors, especially her family,  was very important to her.  On the way to the nursing home, he was protesting, and screaming “NO! NO! Please! EVERYONE there is OLD”!!! “I DON’T WANT TO DO IT”!! 
After explaining to him exactly what we were doing--describing the meeting area, that it would just be our family, and other details about what the visit would be like,  I explained to him that sometimes we do things for others because it makes them feel good.  And sometimes, when we do things for others, it makes us feel good about ourselves.  It makes our hearts feel good.  I told him that if we got there and he really didn't feel like he could go in, that we wouldn't force him to do it.  
He settled down, and was quiet for the rest of the ride.  I was still nervous as we pulled into the parking lot.  I figured he would elect to stay in the car with one of us while the others went inside.  But he decided to give it a try.  I had no idea what to expect, but as soon as we walked into the meeting room, he smiled and walked right up to his great-grandma.  He knelt by her side and took her hand in his. They had a wonderful conversation about kindergarten, baseball and swim camp.  I held back tears witnessing the compassion my son was showing.
While getting him settled back into the car, I told him how proud I was of him for being so good with his great grandma.  He then told me,   “Now my heart is pure.  Now I can get through the gate”.

Now my heart is pure.  Now I can get through the gate.
I am pretty used to hearing these types of comments from him, and I always find it interesting what resonates and connects with him.  I can also usually pinpoint where he draws his inspiration-- from a previous conversation, or book, or movie.  This time I wasn’t sure where the connection came from, but I fully appreciated that a connection was made.  I kissed him and told him what a special little guy he is. 
Months later, I was watching ‘Neverending Story’,  a movie I had previously seen with him.  Watching the scene where Atreyu (“a warrior, though still a boy, and has a pure heart”) freely passed through the gates that guarded the Oracle,  brought me back to that day with my son and his great-grandma.  I smiled as I realized the connection he had made, and saw what I can guess he visualized that day, as I talked about making his heart feel good by visiting with his great-grandma. 
Now, he marvels over each year his great-grandmothers grow older.  “WOW, She is ninety!  That is almost 100”!!  He realizes how fortunate he is to have these people still in his life.
And I realize, once again, how fortunate I am to have him in mine . 

Monday, February 21, 2011


“You have such a pretty face it doesn’t matter what your clothes look like”. 
“You are lucky to have those baby-bearing hips”.

“Well, what did your legs look like before”?  
-Doctor, checking on the 20 lbs. of water weight/swelling (per leg) after C-section
“We may have to go up a size on account of that ribcage of yours”.
-Tailor, while measuring me for wedding gown
“Hmmmmmmmmm.  Uh-huh."   (Long, thoughtful pause. Then, furrowed eyebrows, followed by deep exhale).  “Well.  I can see you are a strong woman honey, you’ll be able to get through anything.”    
-Fortune teller
“Don’t worry about the post baby weight.  There are so many beautiful full-figured women out there”.  “Just look at Queen Latifah”.
“You have these brief moments of pure brilliance”.  “It’s an enigma”.

From the lyric files

'Clean me up, wipe my butt'
Mommy and Jack album (2005)
(To the tune of 'Build me up, Buttercup')

Why don't you clean me up,
wipe my butt mommy
don't you let me down
I'm a mess all around

and then worst of all,
I got a diaper rash mommy
so when I am clean
please remember the cream

I hate poo (I hate poo)
more than anything mama
so if you love me with all of your heart--

You'll clean me up
wipe my butt
give me a fresh start.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


My cousin Christine's wedding shower is this weekend, which I am unfortunately unable to attend.  We were asked to come up with some favorite recipes, and I thought I'd share one of my old favorites here.

Monica’s Flying Burritos
Serves: Absolutely no purpose. 

-Go to city with husband to meet friends for a fun night out. 
-Consume several drinks, eat very little.
-At the end of the evening, accompany husband to ‘La Bamba’, and order a burrito as big as your head.
-Carry burrito back to car, and on the way, pick huge fight with husband.
-Get very angry with husband and launch burrito into the air, sending it sailing down the street.  Try to grab husband’s burrito to throw as well. 
-Make a huge scene to both entertain and horrify onlookers. 
-Sulk for entire ride home (speak not a word).
-Just before arriving home, ask husband if he can stop somewhere to get you something to eat.

Tiramisu for breakfast

Ok, just a rant about all the buzz about fat after 40.  It’s either:  too many carbs, too little carbs, gluten allergies, thyroid disorders, metabolism issues...... and believe me, I have entertained every one of these possibilities when considering my own battles with weight gain.

Not to minimize anyone else’s legitimate issues or struggles, but personally I am aware that the reason I need to wear Spanx just to get my pants buttoned--is because I ate with complete abandon between Halloween and New Years (ok Valentine’s Day).

In a desperate attempt to reverse the disastrous effects of my eating, I, like many others jumping on the ‘New Year, New You’ train, decided to start my plan with a jolt to the system- the 7 day cabbage soup diet.  Here’s what it looked like for me:

Day one: Fruit and cabbage soup. 

Day two: Veggies and cabbage soup. 

Day three:  Fruit, veggies and cabbage soup. 

Day four:  Bananas and cabbage soup. 

Day five:  Entire loaf of banana bread, with half of a container of butter......followed by consumption of two (half) containers of frosting.  No cabbage soup.  and you don’t even want to know about days 6 and 7.

I lost 5 pounds! 

But no more cleanse or fad diets for me...... I did buy several boxes of Kashi cereal and dusted off my treadmill.  I am watching the carbs, since I am convinced that is an issue for me.  Maybe I should get my thyroid checked?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My bad

To anyone else who slipped on the ice this morning: I'm sorry. Apparently that is my fault.

 "MOM!! You JERK!!"