It's hard to tell which upcoming event is more anticipated, this Friday's opening of the Sex in the City movie or the return of the 17-year cicadas. I wish the locust would just show up already. I thought they were supposed to arrive in early May? Every week there are articles about them in the papers with the same quotes from the expert entomologist at Barnstable County Cooperative Extension. They're coming, but like bad house guests, no one knows when. I personally can't wait. What could be more exciting for 5-year old and 3-year old boys than a infestation of insects? Tonight at the Captain Kidd I overheard a man at the bar announcing that they were just starting to peek out of holes in North Falmouth. "They're a little sluggish," he told the bartender. Just pushing through to the surface after seventeen years underground? I'd be sluggish too. The guy at the bar said he could vividly remember when the cicadas last appeared. It was the year he got his first bb gun. Guess what he used for target practice? I suppose it beats the neighbor's cat. At least the Sex in the City movie doesn't keep pushing back it's opening. Considering I waited until the show started its replays on TBS to begin watching, I doubt I'll go see Sex in the City in the theater. Despite that late start, I count myself as a big fan, having recently compared Carrie's relationship with the Russian to the protagonist of Eat, Pray, Love's affair with the Brazilian. Whenever I'm on the couch nursing at 11PM I always flip to channel 8. If I'm still on the couch at 11:30 I'll switch over to channel 6 to watch Seinfeld reruns. Does Sex in the City really need a movie? They wrapped up the series quite neatly in my opinion. In some of the the articles I've read leading up to Friday's big event, the reason given for the movie is the fans need to know what happened to their four favorite New York women. I have to admit being befuddled by this need to know notion. Nothing happened to them - they're television characters. They haven't been living in another dimension somewhere for the past four years. I'm a Seinfeld fan and enthusiastic rerun watcher, but never once have I wondered what happened to the characters, ditto for Scully and Mulder even though there's a new X-files movie coming this July. I didn't wonder about Sam or Diane either, or give much thought to how the cast of MASH reacclimated to civilian life after returning home from Korea. Come to think of it though that would have made an interesting movie, but I guess that was the premise for "The Best Years of Our Lives." I did wish that I had friends like the women of "Sex in the City." I wished the same thing after reading Bridget Jones' Dairy. I don't wonder about the afterlives of fictional book characters either. I didn't read the sequel to Bridget Jones - she got the guy - what more did I need to know? To set the record straight though, I do have friends who are equally as fabulous as Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda, in fact they are even more fabulous because they really exist. This isn't to say I won't rent the movie when it's available. I surely will. If the cicadas don't hurry up and get here their arrival might end up coinciding with, not the big screen release of Sex in the City, but instead it's arrival in a video store near you. That will be approximately three weeks from now - or when the ground warms up to 65 degrees. Whichever comes first.
song: Waiting on a Friend • artist: The Rolling Stones
There have been many ridiculous ads featuring women in their underwear; not to mention ads for power boats where all the men are wearing khakis and polo shirts and all the women are wearing bikinis that look as if they are two sizes too small. So even though it's a childish attitude and I should be beyond payback, I was gleefully happy to see this ad of the photographer in his underwear. I picture him lining up a family portrait: mom, dad, grandma, three kids, and the dog. Photographer: "Okay everybody now just relax and look natural. Don't be nervous. Just smile. Pretend that I'm in my underwear. Astute five year old: But you ARE in your underwear. Just look at the size of that camera - will ya? Nothing phallic about that, no sir. It's not the size of your lens, it's how you use it. Here's the best part, and again I know I'm too old to dissolve into giddy laughter when I say this but, it's the pouch collection. This reminds me of a book I read recently - to my three year old - called Arthur's Underwear. Have I mentioned that H is obsessed with Arthur? That crazy aardvark. He wears briefs.
song: We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off • artist: Soozy Q
I wrote about the twins the other day because I felt guilty that I never write about them. I was looking back over journals I kept when C was a baby and I recorded his every move. I spent entire days trying to ascertain the most effective way to "stimulate the baby." Here's an entry from those journals from a time when C was about the same age the twins are now: "you have also become very vocal, squeaking and squealing and deriving all sorts of pleasure in general noisemaking. We encourage it by asking you to tell us more. 'Really C? Then what happened? You don't say. Tell us all about it.'" How will I explain to the twins that they spent the first four months of their life propped up in their car seats in the living room with their only source of entertainment being their older brothers. You'd think I could have at least turned on the fan for them. Maybe that's why N has learned to suck his thumb so efficiently. They are starting to outgrow some of their newborn clothes. I noticed the yellow jumpsuit that both H and C wore looked a little snug on N this morning. The jumpsuit has a high collar that sticks up and made whichever of my children who was wearing it look like baby Elvis.
song: Ain't That Lovin' You Baby • artist: Elvis Presley
Is this the worst spring on record or is the weather just plain cr@p every spring and every year we forget? I realize we've much to be thankful for as there haven't been any earthquakes or tornadoes in the immediate area, but even a meteorological citizen of the world can reserve the right to complain about their own local weather. April vacation week was nicer than the entire month of May so far. I'd like to go out and smell the lilacs but it's too cold. C spent the morning making lemonade out of an entire bottle of lemon juice. He wanted to set up a lemonade stand. I said it was raining and after lunch he pointed out that the rain had stopped. "But it's too cold," I said. "People like lemonade when it's hot out and they want something cold to drink." "We could go down to the bike path and the people who are riding their bikes might be hot." It's hard to argue with that kind of logic but somehow I managed to get out of going. As for the garden well let's just be thankful that my family isn't counting on any of that produce as a major food source. The weeds are growing faster than the vegetables. The weeds that thrive on cold, wet, weather that is. We did harvest some radishes. Radishes - what kind of vegetable is a radish really? It's not the main ingredient in any dish I can think of. At best it's just a salad fixin', and at worst it's a decorative garnish people carve up and don't even eat. I only plant them because they reach maturity faster than any other vegetable, which gives my kids something to pull up early on. They are as close to instant gratification as a garden can get.
The prom was this past weekend. I was thinking of trying to donate the blue dress I wore my junior year (the dress I bought to match your dad's powder blue Mercades) to one of those shops that will tailor them for girls who otherwise couldn't afford a dress. The websites all request that people only donate dresses that are in style though, I doubt a 23-year old dress qualifies. Here's what else has been going on. They've finally started the bike path extension out to North Falmouth. You'd have loved that. Lawrence and Lynch is doing the work and it could be done within a year. Just in time too, you wouldn't believe the price of gas - $72 to fill up the mini van. Remember when I worked bagging groceries at the supermarket and could fill the tank of that big Buick with money from tips? Deval Patrick was taking heat a while back for a book deal about his life. Shouldn't he at least serve one term as governor before he pontificates in writing about his achievements? His casino plan didn't fly. You'd be happy about that. They let Bill Buckner throw out the ceremonial opening day first pitch. I remember we were in your Huntington Avenue apartment back in 1986 when that game was being played. We weren't watching it, Mike and Bill were, but we came out at the very end because as you put it, "history's gonna be made." There's a new Apple store on Boylston Street. The largest in the country. I wish it had been there when we were in school expect of course I wouldn't have had any money to spend and iPods didn't exist back then. They had a picture of the building's facade in Sunday's paper. It's directly across from the Prudential Center. The picture showed that hideous statue of the muscular "superman guy" at the Pru. I know you liked that statue, but I never did. You know Tower Records is gone. Remember how it used to be open till midnight? We'd go and just rummage through the cassettes (three floors worth) and never buy anything. They've turned it into high end condos. Sadly, Joyce Kulhawik, entertainment reporter and Simmons grad done good, got laid off from WBZ-TV. I can't remember the last time I watched a theater review on TV news, now I just read them in the paper though it doesn't matter either way because I have four kids and can no longer leave the house. I loved Joyce because she seemed to hate everything she saw. They are planning to reopen the back entrance to the Museum of Fine Arts. The entrance with the big columns that faces out onto the Fens. The article in the Globe said that barely anyone knows that entrance is there but we used to walk by it all the time. I think I have pictures of you sitting on the steps. C had kindergarten orientation at your elementary school last week. All us parents were funneled into the cafeteria to listen to school official after school official speak. I know that it's not about me anymore but being in school always has the effect of making me feel self conscious. It didn't help that the twins took turns crying the entire time. The best news is - they're fixing up Wendell's.
These are the top three questions people ask Ken and me about the twins: 1. How do they sleep? This is also the top question for all singleton babies as well. Answer: They sleep with their eyes closed just like everyone else. What these people really mean is: how much do they sleep? The answer to that question is they sleep a lot, just not all in the same big chunk of time. Let's just say that I've heard the "dawn chorus" so often that I can pretty much sing along. 2. What do their older brothers think of them? This question is the number two question asked of all secondary siblings. Answer: I doubt that they "think" about their little brothers all that much. They are much too busy bickering with, and just generally annoying each other to notice two sleeping babies. 3. When one twin cries does it make the other one cry? This question is specific to twins. Answer: Not necessarily. In fact they can be lying side by side, one asleep the other crying, and if the one that's crying is taken away, the remaining twin will wake up - and start crying. While these above truths seem to hold water for all babies, all babies are of course different, even twins. For example on Thursday while I was holding S and talking on the phone, he spit up all over the clean laundry that was in the basket waiting to be hung on the line. I had to rewash it. That evening, while I was giving H a bath and simultaneously changing N, N spit up on me- straight down the front of my sporty new nursing bra.
song: Deja Vu (All Over Again) • artist: John Fogerty:
I did some spring cleaning in C's room this week. Spring cleaning is defined as moving the furniture to vacuum under it instead of the usual which is leaving everything where it is and vacuuming around it. The great thing about cleaning this week is that it's stayed clean. C's been away since last Saturday with his grandparents visiting my dad's relatives in Canada. It's been strange looking into his room every night on the way to bed and seeing it empty. It's like he's away at college or something. Since cleaning involved the use of water, H was more than willing to help out. "C be so happy," he enthused as we sponged dust off the shelves. "Next we'll clean your room," I said. "I be so happy."
song: Don't Worry Be Happy • artist: Bobby McFerrin
I have often told Ken that, because there's more than seven years age difference between us, I'm his trophy wife. At 40, I suppose my trophy-wife status is a bit tarnished. I could, however, aspire to cougar status if only I had the energy to seduce men half my age. Too bad I don't because I always wanted to be a cat. Remember when the Aristocats came out? That movie had us all running around in our footy pajamas pretending to be cats. Now that gay marriage is legal in California I hear that Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are planning to get hitched. Ellen DeGeneres is 50, Portia is 35. Does that make Ellen a gay cougar?
song: Jack & Diane • artist: John Cougar Mellencamp
Purely by chance, H and I read this book tonight before bed. See if you can name it from its opening two lines. On the fifteenth of May in the Jungle of Nool In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool
song: Can't You Hear Me Knocking • artist: The Rolling Stones
Good grief. Would it just warm up, please, so my plants would grow. Our lettuce and radishes have been the same height for a month now. None of the seeds I planted last week have even sprouted. Not to mention H keeps systematically knocking over the bean plants we've been growing inside that I moved next to the living room window so they'd get more sun.
Following a recent rash of birthday parties, the goodie bag has become the bane of my existence. While I was driving us home from a party last Sunday afternoon, C, after comparing his goodie bag to his younger brother's and seeing that the items differed, shouted: "there's something wrong with my goodie bag!" I didn't bother explaining that the goodie bag is a nice gesture from the child hosting the party and not your God-given right as a party goer, it didn't seem like the right time for a "teachable moment." The goodie bags my kids have come home with aren't that bad, as in, they haven't been filled entirely with candy. In fact one bag contained some animal trivia cards that were really interesting. Did you know that there are 1,000 different species of bats? And who couldn't use another super ball? Generally speaking though, the interest kids show in the contents of a goodie bag seem to be in direct proportion to the time it takes to drive home from the birthday party itself. This might explain why goodie bag items often end up being left all over the back seat of the car. In January H and C both received goodie bags which contained an item called "grow a bug." You remember how these work. You put them in water and they are suppose to quadruple in size in 72 hours. Well in January C was really into the concept of grow a bug. I could see it in his eyes. He was picturing his bug (a caterpillar) outgrowing our bathtub like the picture book, A Fish Out Of Water, which, incidentally, was written by Dr. Seuss's first wife Helen Palmer. We put his bug, along with his brother's (another caterpillar) in the largest tupperware bowl in the house and filled it with water. For the next 72 hours, when C was downstairs, we brought the tupperware downstairs, when he went upstairs to bed, we perched the tupperware on a chair next to his bed. H, meanwhile, thought the bugs were real and kept taking them out of the water and trying to pet them. C would then yell at him to put the bugs back into the water so they could continue growing. During this last spate of parties C received a "grow a whale," which boasted it would grow to four times its original size. Skeptical because his bugs failed to fill the bathtub, C reluctantly gave the whale a try. While he was at it he found the two bugs and put them back in the water as well (after you take grow animals out of the water they revert back to their original sizes). This time, instead of starting off with the biggest tupperware bowl in the drawer, I chose a bowl only slightly larger than the bugs (and whale) themselves, which proved to be a smart move. "Look how much bigger they are," C remarked genuinely impressed, though he didn't feel the need, this time around, to keep the bugs (and whale) next to his bed at night. They did look bigger. I transfered them to another tupperware. I ended up transferring them into three different tupperware containers before we finally conceded that they weren't going to get any larger. Each time I moved our three "pets" I paid tribute to Roy Scheider by remarking solemnly, "I'm gonna need a bigger boat." Nobody got the joke but so what. I thought I was funny.
Ah, Esta, Esta, Esta. When I turned 30, wise Shawna from production assured me that my 30s would be lots better than my 20s. I didn't hear her make any such predictions this year when I turned 40. Coincidentally I went to three birthday parties last weekend too - two five years olds and H, who turned three. So were my 30s better than my 20s? Who the heck knows. I can't remember yesterday much less ten years ago. I will tell you this though, when I turned 30 I didn't have a husband, kids, a house (either with or without a white picket fence), or money in the bank. I managed to cover those first three this past decade. Without that much effort on my part either I might add. Sometimes life feel a little bit like that Talking Heads song. How did I get here? This is not my beautiful house. I am not someone's beautiful wife. As for money in the bank - why there's a new book out every week assuring the rest of us that money doesn't buy us happiness (it's buying books about happiness that buys us happiness). Ken was 39 when he got married and look - now he's got four kids. Which goes to show that you never know what might happen to you down the road. It's just like you said, "the sky's the limit." Well really four is the limit for us personally, but for you my friend - the sky.
song: Eye in the Sky • artist: Alan Parsons Project
On Tuesday I planted sugar snap peas and beets in our plot at community gardens. C spent his time in the garden on his stomach, elbow deep in the fish pond trying to catch frogs. When he woke up on Wednesday, his left eye was red. Instead of shipping him off to preschool, all five of us schlepped down to the pediatricians, H for the second time this week (he had a well-baby appointment on Monday). They have good toys at the pediatricians though, so nobody minded spending the morning there. If you've ever been to our pediatricians office you'll know that not only are there great toys in the waiting room, there is a collection of lawn ornament animals outside the front and back of the office. From all the exam rooms parents can distract children by asking them if they see the bear in the tree or having them count concrete rabbits. Clever moms can thereby deftly avoid all talk of needles and immunizations. After I paid my $15 for eye drops and the assurance C wasn't contagious, we left. Being saddled with two babies in car seats I couldn't corral my big boys into the van fast enough. They headed around to the back of the office for a close-up inspection of the animals. Since they weren't headed for the street I let them go and concentrated on getting the twins into the car. When I went back for them they were smack in the middle of the woodland animals trying to identify them. The scene was a little surreal and reminded me of something from Hansel and Gretel. There were my children, frolicking in this pastoral scene with baby deer and ceramic squirrels, but instead of chirping birds you could plainly hear the cries of frightened children who were all either about to get shots or be pushed into ovens and eaten by a witch.
As a mother, I often wish I could control time. Take one of my twins (when he's not crying), stop time, and just cuddle him for all eternity. There are also plenty of times when I wish I could fast forward through moments of extreme aggravation. C was noticing the passage of time recently and commenting how some things are unique to a particular moment. For example, he made a mental note that there are five letters in his name and that he's five years old. "This is the only time that will ever happen." he said solemnly. On his younger brother's birthday C took H aside and said, "I have some bad news for you, H." I thought he was going to pontificate on the passage of time and tell H how he'd never be two again but instead he told him: "It's a rainy day on your birthday." There's a new book out on the benefits of silence. We've really become a nation addicted to self help books if we need a book to tell us that a little silence is good for the soul. Any mother of young children can tell you that silence is more valuable than jewels. Next someone will write a book explaining how sun and water are good for plants or how moisture is bad for your basement.
Both the twins are smiling. I noticed S for the first time this week. Baby smiles are so great. They are unreserved and big. Babies smile with their whole mouths. Not like the forced, pinched smile that seems to say, "why are you torturing me," which is what you get when you ask an adult to smile for a photograph. Last night when we put N to bed he looked as if he'd just had a jolt of black coffee. His eyes were wide open. He lay there on his back in bed fixating on the hand he was waving around; staring at it as if he was stoned. "Hey man. Check this out. It's my hand." I know it's impossible for someone to look as if they are simultaneously experiencing both a caffeine high and a pot-induced high - impossible, that is, unless that someone is three-months old.
song: Smile • artist: John Turner, Geoffrey Parsons and Charlie Chaplin
Today is H's birthday. He is three. To celebrate, his older brother gave him a present - a card with one dollar and seventy-five cents in it. One dollar and seventy-five cents. Why one dollar and seventy-five cents? Earlier in the week it was only going to be one dollar. How did H's net worth nearly double in the course of the week? I couldn't tell you, but C was really excited about his gift. He couldn't wait to give H this monetary token of his affection. It's my mother's birthday later in the month. C says he's going to give her a dollar. As for H, his latest thing is recognizing letters. First it was only H, upper and lower case. He points out H's everywhere. In the usual spots like the pages of books and on street signs, but also in unusual places like the H at the end of Falmouth painted onto the high school track and the H in the middle of FHS. One night he pointed to my forehead wrinkles, the ones on my nose, between my eyes, and announced "that a H."
Yesterday Doug and his girls came over to our house. Doug is the only parent I can have over because our houses are equally messy. The kids all played in the backyard and got on reasonably well. Having someone smaller than him to push around proved too much of a temptation for H who acted didactically. He gave instructions such as, "don't run in garden!" while he himself demonstrated exactly what running in the garden looked like. He also protested loudly whenever one of the girls picked up a baby toy despite his own penchant for hoarding the twins toys. Doug's oldest daughter kept calling me by my first name. As in, "Look Joanne, the baby is crying" and "I want to show the ladybug to Joanne." It was nice. Like we were friends instead of me being the nagging Mommy who spends the majority of her day saying things like, "you two need to work it out for yourself," "please put your shoes on the stairs," "put the cat down," and my personal favorite, "everyone wears undies." Doug thinks that it is only by having children that we are able to get anything done. His theory is that before having children, you might have sat around with a limitless expanse of time and no sense of urgency to get anything done. But as a parent you only have this brief window of free time, which makes you hyper-productive whenever the chance to get things done presents itself. In this way, you can accomplish in 20 minutes what, before children, would have taken hours to complete. Interestingly, Doug is the only person I know who has managed to take up new hobbies since having children. Most of us are barely able to find time to do the things that, before having children, we enjoyed. I don't know if this proves his theory so much as it confirms the sainthood of his wife. When I have an extra 20 minutes the hobby I most often pursue is buying birthday presents for five year olds. I swear that if it weren't for C's constant need for party gifts, I'd never leave the house. Today it was Brady who, thankfully, "likes dinosaurs."
song: I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself • artist: Dusty Springfield