Thursday, November 30, 2006

You May Be Right

Hmmm. I just noticed that my last three posts had Billy Joel songs as their titles. You're probably thinking, "Wow. She must be a big fan." Guess the cat's out of the bag on that one. I even have the bad recordings, you know "The Bridge" and "Kohuept."

song: You May Be Right • artist: Billy Joel

She's Right On Time

There was a catalogue in the mail today from a kid's company with the headline: "Need a Last Minute Gift?"
Last Minute Gift? When in the heck do these people think I start holiday shopping?
song: She's Right On Time • artist: Billy Joel

Miami 2017

Message to American Movie Classics: Scarface is a bad movie, you should stop showing it. I'm tired of switching to AMC at 11:30 every other night and seeing Al Pachino face down in his indoor swimming pool. Crime and drugs don't pay - I get it already!

song: Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway) • band: Billy Joel

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

If I Only had the Words to Tell You

Sunday at Mashpee Commons we ate lunch behind a family with children similar ages to mine. "I'll bet you don't do sign language with your kids," my cousin remarked nodding to the other table. She's right - I don't. I thought I might with my youngest son, having seen some other children signing to their parents and thinking it was pretty cool, but I didn't have the time to commit to it or the ambition.
Kids eventually learn to talk, why teach them something they'll only use for 12 months maximum? Yes, signing for more food is convenient but I can tell when my son wants more dinner, he hands his plate directly to me or Ken. This is the international sign for "more" in our house as opposed to the international sign for "no more," which is a forceful head shake followed by throwing his plate on the floor followed in rapid succession with throwing his folk, sippy cup, and any food scraps left on the highchair. It's messy, but it gets the point across.
Likewise my youngest son can communicate his desire to go outdoors by pulling a hat, anyone's hat, out of the basket, putting it on his head and banging on the front door. He communicates his literary needs by handing you and book and then running into the living room and patting the couch until you sit down and read to him.
Adults tend to think that kids can't wait to talk because there's so much they have to say and until this point have been unable to say it. What is it that we think they need to tell us? "This board book doesn't have much of a plot, and very little character development - plus - you've already read it to me eight times today!"
Yes, I suppose it's frustrating if you're stewing in a dirty diaper and no one notices, but if that's the case you are the child of clueless parents not the victim of wordlessness.
What's so great about being able to talk anyway? There's a big difference between being able to talk and communicating. Adults can talk and yet we fail to communicate all the time. People are either not listening to each other or failing to get across what's really important among the myriad of unimportant details we're all going on and on about.
Maybe we should take a lesson from a toddler and don't talk at all. Take someone's hand and lead them outside or hand them a good book. Remember Eliza Doolittle? "Sing me no song! Read me no rhyme! Don't waste my time; Show me! Don't talk of June! Don't talk of fall! Don't talk at all; Show me! Never do I ever want to hear another word. There isn't one I haven't heard."
Bet she didn't teach her kids sign language.

song: If I Only had the Words to Tell You • artist: Billy Joel

Monday, November 27, 2006

Popsicle Toes

I've discovered another benefit to staying up every night till midnight, besides the obvious advantage of premature aging and general crankiness. Ken is already upstairs and the bed is all warm and cozy by the time I climb in with my freezing cold hands and feet to spoil it.
We're pretty scant on heating the upstairs, especially at night, so when it's cold out, it's cold upstairs. Everywhere but in my bed that is!

song: Popsicle Toes • artist: Michael Franks

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dancing in the Dark

When my four-year-old comes in our bedroom in the middle of the night and wants to crowd into "the big bed," I steer him back to his own room and lie down in bed with him. My hope being that he'll fall back to sleep before me and then I can sneak back into my own room.
As I perched on the edge of his bed last night at 3:30AM, listening for his steady breathing and trying not to get too comfortable myself, I realized this was a metaphor for the role all parents play in their children's lives.
We lurk around the fringes of our kid's lives as they get older, ready to help when we're needed or go back to our own lives when we're not. We want to be involved but not overbearing and although we think we know what's going on, we're pretty much in the dark.

song: Dancing in the Dark • artist: Bruce Springstein

thanksgiving couplet #2

Dessert pie.
Calories belie.

thanksgiving couplet #1

Thanksgiving done.
Leftovers just begun.


Our book club is reading the pulitzer-prize-winning novel March by Geraldine Brooks. I'm three-quarters of the way through it and it's not even the end of November yet so things are looking good for our December 11th meeting. March is a companion story to Little Women, and tells the tale of Mr. March who is off serving as a chaplin to the Yankee soldiers during the Civil War while his wife and four daughters are at home in Concord. It will only be the third book I've finished this year for book club. Did I mention I have kids? Well anyway, since I'm well on my way to finishing this book with time to spare I thought it might be high time to read Little Women. I clearly remember carrying the book around with me in the sixth grade but I know I didn't read it else I'd surely remember it. I have total recall of things that happened in middle school, not like my fading memory of last week. I can tell you I did read The Pearl, babies, scorpions, caves, ask me anything.
So I was at the library today and checked out Little Women. Did you know it's four-hundred-and-forty-four pages long? And not the large type and wide margins you sometimes get with kids books, four-hundred-and-forty-four pages of regular type - single spaced. No wonder I never read it. It's the Harry Potter of 1868!

song: Longer • artist: Dan Fogelberg

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fields of Gold

Folk stories are a great distraction when kids and I are in the car, taking a walk, or engaged in any activity where storytelling comes in handy. I'm no great storyteller but I can recite classics like the Three Little Pigs pretty well give or take a detail or two. One of the more disturbing folk tales that we've read and I've recited a number of times is Rumplestiltskin. That story has got all kinds of things going on, none of which lend themselves to a feel-good tale. First there's the poor miller who lies about his daughter's ability to spin straw into gold. Then there's the king who's so greedy he can't stop at one room full of gold - he has to have three. Then there's the story's namesake who offers to help the miller's daughter, for a price, and ends up getting cheated by the miller's daughter, now turned queen. But my son hasn't noticed any of these disturbing details yet and loves for me to recite the story. He especially likes for me to make up a lot of funny names when it comes to the end and the queen's trying to guess Rumplestiltsin's name.
"Is your name Handsome Harry?"
"Is it Marvelous Mike?"
"Is it Mommy?"
To all of these questions my son happily sings out, "no!" Right up until the big climax: "Is it Rumplestiltskin?"
We were up in Vermont for a few days last month and we stayed at the Swiss Inn in Londonderry. The upstairs sitting room had the mandatory eclectic assortment of antiques that one would expect to find in any self-respective New England inn. One of the items was a spinning wheel which my son pointed out, saying, "just like in Rumplestiltskin." Just like it, I agreed.
The next day we drove to Woodstock and, among other things, visited the Billings Farm and Museum, which is a very nice spot if you're looking for something to do in the mid-Vermont area. In the museum part of the complex were exhibits of old farming equipment, actual examples of the equipment with explanations and old photographs showing said faming implement in action. My son even sat through a 10-minute video showing people cutting ice out of a pond in the 1940s. At one point he wanted to know if the mannequins in the scenes of life on the farm "used to be alive," which was funny and in the room with the farm equipment he started picking up the hay that the old plows and milk wagons were sitting in.
"Honey, you can't take that, it belongs to the museum."
"Can I just take a little?"
"Okay, just a little,"
He puts a handful into my pocket book.
"Okay honey, I think that's enough."
"Just a little bit more, Mommy."
Then he turns to me and asks:
"How much straw do I need to make gold?"

song: Fields of Gold • artist: Sting

Monday, November 20, 2006

I'm Going Down

Last week the Kleenex box took an unexpected dive into the toilet bowl. The incident lead to the creation of this sign, which is now strategically located on the bathroom wall to help prevent further mishaps.

In case you're not sure, it reads: "When you're done close the two lids."

song: I'm Going Down • artist: Bruce Springstein

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Time of the Season

November 19 - first Christmas song of the season heard on the radio. Had to control Pavlovian urge to rush to the mall.

song: Time of the Season • artist: the Zombies

Friday, November 17, 2006

Busy Bodies

My younger son's had a very busy week. On Saturday he fell off a stool and almost bit a hole through his tongue. I was thinking we should take him to the emergency room but what would they do - put a stitch in his tongue? After Ken said it wasn't that bad, and since he was laughing at his older brother while I was on the phone to the doctor's office, we decided not to take him in. It's looking better now, though earlier in the week it was kind of white and swollen and every time he stuck his tongue out it would give me the shivers. It will come in handy when he's 16 and wants to get his tongue pierced.
The doctor got to examine it anyway because we took him in on Monday for a suspected ear infection.
Later on in the week he stuck his hands into the kitty litter numerous times. While I was on the phone he picked up the cats water dish and started drinking the water out of it, later he climbed into one of the basket I keep by the door for hats, gloves, etc., and reached the handle on the water jug, pouring water all over himself; and after dinner he fell into the mostly empty bathtub while Ken and I were busy examining the weird red-marks on his brother's scalp. Yesterday while I was leaving a work-related phone message, he grabbed a drawing I had to scan for work and ripped it in half and then dismantled the stapler and bent the wire so it doesn't work any more.
song: Busy Bodies • artist: Elvis Costello

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Great Suburban Showdown

The following event took place three years ago but I'm including it because I promised my professor something funny if she read my blog.

I hadn't been using cloth diapers on the baby recently and I was feeling guilty about it so I put some on him this afternoon. Of course he instantly poops in them and cloth diapers are a bit gross when they're poopy, you have to empty its contents into the toilet and then swish the diaper around to make sure everything's off.
So I accomplish that and I take my drippy, wet, poop-stained diaper downstairs to the sink that's next to the washing machine and I put it in and put the plug in and start filling it up with hot soapy water. Then I wander off to call the swim teacher and leave her a message saying we aren't going to take swim lessons this winter; but I get distracted because the cordless phone needs to be recharged and I have to go use the rotary phone instead.
I finish making the call and I hear the noise of running water but it doesn't register that anything is wrong because I just assume it's my tea water starting to boil. It isn't of course, and I finally realize the laundry-room sink is overflowing and when I go into the room I see that the overflowing water is pouring directly into the kitter litter box, which in turn is overflowing onto the floor. It was a huge mess. I had to turn off the water and reach into the sink up to my elbow to pull the plug. Then I had to go upstairs and get the baby and put him in the Pack 'N Play for safe keeping and then bail all the water out of the liter box until it was light enough to pick up and take outside and dump. Then I spread towels all over the floor to soak up the water and then I washed the floor and the towels. It took about 45 minutes to clean up, plus I'm running around trying to finish before Ken gets home so he won't find out and think I'm a big idiot.
Boy, that cloth diaper sure did save a lot of resources!

song: The Great Suburban Showdown • artist: Billy Joel

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Should Have Known Better

I said, "Don't play with that jug of water, I'm afraid it will drop on the floor and spill."
HE played with the jug of water.
IT dropped on the floor and spilled.

song: I Should Have Known Better • artist: The Beatles

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


So I used to thumb my nose at people who had to resort to bribing their kids in order to get them to cooperate.
That is of course until I had to start doing it.
Usually my bribes take the form of offering up something I want to do as well.
"Let's leave the playground now and we'll have time to go to the coffee shop."
This morning in the doctor's office a mother was trying to cajole her son away from the toys in the waiting room and towards the door.
"Who wants a jelly donut?" she offered.
Everyone in the waiting room looked up.

song: Tempted • artist: Squeeze

spider couplet

The spider in the upstairs bathroom,
I fear is migrating no time soon.

You Never Can Tell

My son's been itching to make dinner. Not crack the eggs or grind the nuts, he's already mastered both of those. Not grease the pan either. Somehow when I was a kid my mother convinced me greasing the pan, a bunt pan mind you, was fun. No, he wants to actually make dinner.
What's more, he wants to make dinner without a recipe. I don't know where he gets his cooking daredevilry. I can't make cranberry sauce without a recipe and there's only three ingredients in that.
I don't want to squelch his culinary aspirations but I'm getting tired of taste testing his creations. His focus has been on soup. First it was garlic soup, which, although I have a recipe for, he refused to follow. We served it up at my dad's birthday dinner where my parents were both polite enough to try a bowl. After all, what are grandparents for but to drink soup created from random ingredients and declare that "it's delicious."
Next it was cube soup. Cube as in bullion cubes. This one had promise until he insisted on putting in too much salt. Last night it was sticker soup, which thankfully, didn't have any stickers in it. It did, unfortunately, have too much curry powder.
Being only four he's having a tough time with the less-is-more theory of cooking. If we have fifteen jars of spices in the cabinet, why not add all fifteen to the soup?
And though I'm impressed that he can recite ingredients like sugar, flour, and baking soda, I have a hard time convincing him that, while those ingredients work for pumpkin bread, they aren't normally part of a good soup. Sadly, as I have no fundamental grasp of cooking, I have no idea why this is. I can only offer the lame, "because the recipe says so." Who knew I should have paid more attention in junior high school home economics class so that thirty years later I would be able to provide my son with basic cooking instruction?

song: You Never Can Tell • artist: Chuck Berry

Monday, November 06, 2006


Who else out there feels like their days sometimes segue from cleaning up after breakfast straight into cleaning up after lunch with nothing else in-between?
Grilled cheese anyone?
song: Circle • artist: Harry Chapin