Tuesday, May 31, 2005

And now, it's your turn!

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I will be flying on an airplane with four children, ages 12, 12, 7 and 2 and one husband (age 44). Upon arrival, we will be whisked away to a villa on the tropical sands my in-law's home in hot, humid, burning hell Texas where we will stay for ten days or so.

Then, due to more circumstances beyond my control, I will be boarding an Amtrak train with my four children and one husband (who has aged after staying at his relative's home and who will then be 47). We will be on the train for thirty-seven HELP! STOP ME! SEND VALIUM! hours.

Now. You tell me. How do I best survive this? I haven't flown in an airplane since 1996. (I've only flown flapping my wings as I jump from the uppermost reaches of my two-story home.) Seriously. What should I pack? How does the whole thing work when you bring your stroller to the gate for gate-check? What is your best travel tip?

And for those of you who are curious:

1) Houston.
2) Vacation.
3) Walt Disney World.
4) Because I am clearly insane.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Two Completely Unrelated Stories

I stopped by Target today to buy cat food and another Juice Box. I found that the prices for the Juice Box accessories had dropped, so I went to customer service to request a price adjustment for the items I'd purchased a few days earlier.

The woman behind the counter fiddled with her register, peered at the receipt and finally informed me that she could not do a price adjustment on my items since they were clearance items.

I paused. Okay, I said, can I return the items and repurchase them at the lower price?

Sure, she said. She punched at her register, did a refund, recalculated the price and handed over fourteen dollars and some change.


Second story, completely unrelated.

Last week, YoungestBoy had a baseball game. This particular game matched them against a superior team. The bases were loaded. The batter smacked the ball directly to the boy playing third base. The adults sprawled on the sideline in collapsible canvas chairs shouted, "Tag the runner! Tag the runner! TAG THE RUNNER!" The boy fumbled around his ankles for the ball, finally gripped it and stood paralyzed by confusion. "TAG THE RUNNER!" The runner ran behind him, reached the base and stood firmly on third base and the light finally dawned for Kendall and he limply tagged the runner. Late. Too late.

Kendall's face fell and at the same time, the adults began to cheer, "Good job, Kendall! All right! Good job!" I watched Kendall as bewilderment clouded his face. He knew he'd made a mistake. He messed up. And yet, the adults were all cheerfully clapping and exalting his name as a hero.

What's wrong with this? Are we so afraid to let our kids feel the pain of their mistakes that we cheer anyway? Is this wacky display of false congratulations helpful in any sense of the word? Kendall understood his error, even though the adults brushed off that pesky little truth in favor of a hearty round of applause.

And you know that at the end of the season, all the children will get trophies, even though some of the children are truly horrible baseball players and their teams resemble the Bad News Bears.

What are the kids really learning? I know--it's not if you win or lose, it's how you play the game, but what do you learn when the adults falsely cheer your mistake? Do you learn not to trust yourself? Not to trust the adults? Not to believe what you hear?

I just wonder.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Summer burst in without knocking first. Our rainy May turned into blazing May, ninety degree temperatures two days in a row. Originally, the weather forecasters said we'd have clouds and rain over the weekend, but glory be! They were wrong.

At 6:38 a.m., Babygirl woke me, asking if it were time to go to the "beach." When she says "beach," she actually means "pool." She knew that today the pool would open.

Instead of getting up at 6:38 a.m., I slept in five minute increments, sometimes ten or twenty minutes increments. She woke me over and over again, asking for a drink or socks or a new video. And with much vexation, I'd do her bidding, then crawl back into bed. Then, just as I'd drift back to sleep, she'd appear at my bedside again. I didn't get up until almost 9 a.m. and then, Babygirl raced me to the shower, stripping her clothes off and jumping in before I had a chance. She showered for twenty minutes while I cooled my heels, changed the sheets on the bed, put away clean laundry and puttered.

At noon, the kids were splashing in the pool, exulting in the eighty-degree heat. Babygirl sat for a long time on the edge of the wading pool before turning onto her tummy and sliding feet first into the water. I appreciate her slow, methodical approach to life. I'm like that myself in so many ways.

We stayed only until 1:30 p.m. Babygirl needed a nap. So did my husband.

After dinner, my husband went to the church to gather his materials for study. I took the four kids for a two mile walk. We are beginning our training regimen for our vacation in Walt Disney World. My boys are not in shape and I don't want to hear them bellyaching about being tired in the Florida muggy heat. They only complained a little.

When my husband returned home (about 6:00 p.m.), I took the boys to the pool again. This time, less than twenty children frolicked in the aquamarine pool. My twins played a raucous game of water basketball. YoungestBoy jumped off the diving board time and time again. I read more of Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. Then my cell phone rang. A church woman was trying to reach my husband. I told her to call again and I turned off my phone so the call would ring at home. Then a bit later, I turned the phone back on, just in time to receive a phone call from my husband.

A church woman's husband was rushed to the hospital. He has lung cancer and he wasn't breathing.

Ten minutes later, we were in the car, heading home so my husband could go to the hospital. So much for his much-anticipated quiet evening of study at home. So much for staying at the pool until it closed at 8 p.m.

He called at 9:30 p.m. to tell me that the man had died. He finally returned home at 10:30 p.m.

Memorial Day weekend will never again be the same for that family.

I thought today how very small children have no concept of the future. They live here, today, not three months from now or next year. I need to stop staring off into the future and focus my eyes on my daughter's curls as she prances in her ducky float in the swimming pool. Tomorrow is not promised. We have today.

Savor it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


One of my 12-year old sons said to me the other day, "Hey, mom, want to hear a joke?"

I didn't really, but I said, "Okay."

He said, "I-da-ho, you-da-ho, we-da-ho."

Somewhere along the line, he'd heard the punchline to this joke: "If two potatoes are standing on a corner, how can you tell which one is the pr*stitute?"

The punchline: "The one with the sticker that says I-da-ho."

So, he thinks the whole joke is "I-da-ho."

He laughed at his unfunny joke while I stared with a perplexed look on my face. He raised his eyebrows and offered this hint to me, "Get it? I-da-hoe. Hoe. The garden tool?"

And then I laughed.

I like to keep my kids clueless as long as possible. For a long time, they thought the f-word was "fart." In fact, I think they still do.

My Hairy Dilemma

I am unpleasable. I used to have hair like this:

Here I am, before my hair cut.  Posted by Hello

And then I had it cut. Now I look like this:

Here I am, after my hair cut.  Posted by Hello

My husband has no sympathy. He says, "At least you have hair."

Yeah, if that's what you want to call this disobedient curly mop on my head.

Note to self: Admonish hair stylist not to cut shortish layers in naturally curly hair to prevent the Little Orphan Annie effect.

At least hair grows.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Why My Sister and I Don't Speak

Sisters Posted by Hello

I'm in pink. She's in blue. I was born in 1965 and she was born in 1966, just sixteen months later. You might imagine that we grew up braiding each other's hair and playing Barbies together. You might picture us whispering secrets from our matching twin beds covered with pink chenille bedspreads. You might think I am lucky to have a sister so close in age.

You'd be wrong.

My sister and I--let's call her "Joy"--have never been friends. Sure, we were housemates for seventeen years, but never, ever friends. I had little patience with her when we were girls. I didn't want to play with her--she did not follow rules, she was a slob and she couldn't fold a blanket into a neat square. She whispered at night, keeping me from sleep. She left sandwiches under the bed. She bit me more than once.

By the time we were in junior high, our parents had divorced. She took it hard. I will never forget seeing her in the kitchen while my mother packed boxes. Tears streamed down her face. She cried--the ugly cry, as Oprah would say--at my mother's wedding, too. Her grief swallowed her whole and I didn't have a whit of sympathy. I found her display of emotions embarrassing and dangerous. I pulled away even more.

Sure, looking back, I feel sympathy. I wish I'd been softer and kinder. But early on, I switched into self-preservation mode. I kept everyone a safe distance and worked hard at being good and right and smart. I didn't have time for sniveling people who didn't wash their hair.

I see now how difficult it must have been for her. Although I viewed myself as teetering on the brink of catastrophe and failure, the reality was that I was a straight-A student, a much-in-demand babysitter, a reliable member of my youth group, a participant in student government, a passable singer, an avid pianist, a bookworm, an eager volunteer, a good daughter, teacher's pet and a loyal friend. I considered myself a jack-of-all-trades--competent in many areas, excellent in none. I wasn't popular, but I was an ideal daughter and student.

Everything I was, she was not. I overshadowed her, but not with malice. In fact, I didn't give any thought to her at all. I sound so ruthless, but in my family, it was every man for himself. Mostly, I was concerned about being embarrassed by her. I wanted distance between us.

All she wanted was my approval. I see that now.

When we were in college, we became pen-pals. She had pen-pals all over the world and so I was on her list of people to write. We exchanged the most cursory correspondence, nothing of substance, nothing emotional. My letters to and from her had no depth, but they were regular.

I remember the last time we argued. I was newly married and she was newly employed as a language instructor in Asia. She'd come to visit. My youngest sister, my mom, "Joy" and I drove to the house we grew up in, the house in Whispering Firs. (My youngest sister was born in the master bedroom of that house, as a matter of fact, attended only by my completely unprepared father, but that's another story.) The house was for sale and "Joy" had arranged with a real estate agent for us to tour it. (I think she lied to get us in, actually.)

After our nostalgic walk-through of the shrunken house (it seemed so much bigger when we were so much smaller) we discovered that we were locked out of my youngest sister's car. We stood in the driveway, helpless, hapless. My mother suggested asking a state patrol officer friend a few streets over for help. That plan failed. Then, "Joy" mentioned she had a AAA membership. Hooray! We were saved!

Except that "Joy" informed us, "It's my membership. I'm not letting [youngest sister] use it." She's selfish like that.

I said, "No, no, no, it doesn't cover your car, it covers you. So, you can use it, even for her car!" I thought she just didn't understand.

She understood, but she was not willing to use her resources to help [youngest sister].

We argued loudly and I pointed out her failures to her, as if she hadn't noticed them before. I was unkind and mean. She was worse.

Eventually, we called AAA.

I decided to never fight with her again. No more yelling. In fact, I decided we'd be shallow acquaintances from that moment on. I wasn't willing to drip another drop of emotions in the relationship.

And so it went. We continued being pen-pals. At one point, I wrote, "Let's start over. Tell me what you like. What color? What music? What dreams do you have?" She replied that she was too busy to answer. Every time we interacted, I grew frustrated with her until one day, I realized that my expectations were too high. She acted like she was fourteen--completely self-centered, self-conscious, inconsiderate--and when I began to expect that, I could excuse it. After all, don't we make some allowances for young teens, knowing that they will eventually mature?

Despite my misgivings and vows, I did keep trying. After all, my dad was dead (when I was 24 and she was 23) and she had no one but family. No husband, no boyfriend, no children, few friends. I extended myself to her, probably out of guilt, maybe to atone for my earlier sins, perhaps because I needed redemption of my junior high self.

And so, when I became pregnant for the second time (what do doctors know anyway?), I invited her to photograph the birth. I wanted photographs, but I didn't want a stranger during those intimate moments. She dabbles in photography, has taken classes, so I thought I could share with her the miracle of birth and she could be my photographer. I thought it was a great idea, a generous offer.

I went into labor on Labor Day, but for three hours, I denied the obvious. My contractions were two minutes apart when my midwife arrived. By then, I was flinging myself to the ground and howling. In the moments between pains, I telephoned my sister. When she arrived, I was in the birthing tub, clutching the edges of the pool, screaming through the contractions.

I looked up when she and my mom walked in and said, "I'm having contractions. I will scream in a moment. Do not be alarmed." And then I slid into another avalanche of pain. She clicked the camera, snapping picture after picture. I was vaguely aware of her camera, but my attention was riveted on my baby and the pain my unborn daughter was causing me. Less than an hour later, Babygirl was born.

In the following days, my sister brought the packets of pictures to me. She told me to look them over and decide which ones I wanted reprints of. I said, "Why?" She told me she just wanted to keep the pictures with her. I said, "Why?" She hemmed and hawed and admitted, "I want to show them to people."

Ding-Ding-Ding-Ding! Alarm bells went off in my post-partum head. "Who?" I said, dumbfounded.

"Oh, [our brother] and Uncle Joe."

I went into full cardiac arrest and when I was brought back to life with those paddles ("CLEAR!") I sprang into action. I sorted through the stacks of pictures and removed all those which were unflattering and unsuitable for public viewing. She'd taken some graphic shots of things even I didn't want to see. The next time I saw her, I handed over a heavily edited stacks of photographs. I explained that I had removed the pictures I wasn't comfortable with people seeing.

She nodded as if she understood my feelings.

When she left, she told my mother that I had stolen her pictures.

She came to say goodbye before returning to her home in Asia, dropping a final packet of pictures on my dresser. After she'd gone, I finished nursing my baby, picked up the envelope and pulled out the pictures. I found the negatives in sleeves, with twelve of them marked for reprints. I held them up to the light and discovered that she'd made copies of twelve of the pictures that I had deemed too private to show. The pictures she'd taken were of me at my most vulnerable, at the moment my daughter was being born. I was livid.

I emailed her a furious demand that she return the pictures. She ignored it.

I told [youngest sister] what had happened and she reported that "Joy" had showed her a picture. "Joy" told her, "Mel doesn't want me to show you this."

I emailed "Joy" repeatedly. She ignored me repeatedly.

Almost a year later, our paths crossed at a barbecue held by my brother to celebrate his marriage. The small gathering was held in their backyard. No room to hide. I decided on the drive over that I would be polite to "Joy." I would respond to her, but I would not instigate a conversation. I would not extend myself. I wouldn't speak first.

And so, we did not speak. I realized that day that I had always been the one to say, "How are you?" "How's your job going?" "What are you doing for fun these days?" "Did you enjoy your trip?" "Are you classes going well?" I'd been throwing out a rope time and time again and she never bothered to catch it. We had no connection.

As I mentioned this broken relationship to friends over the past two years, people have gasped at my unChristian attitude. They can't believe I am holding a grudge. They wonder why I don't forgive her.

When I explain the details, they suggest perhaps she needs a good slapping.

But still. A few months back, I decided that someone needed to be the grown-up here. I hate for my mother to have bickering between her children. I don't want to make the rest of our family uncomfortable on account of my horror at the thought of my exposed self being seen in photographs by strangers.

So I emailed her. I simply asked, "Are you willing to discuss the reason we are not speaking?"

After several days, she emailed back, "I'll call you when I'm in town."

I immediately replied, "When will that be?"

She did not answer.

My youngest sister let slip that "Joy" would be in town in May. I emailed "Joy" and said, "I'd really like to discuss this issue before you arrive in May. Please email me back."

She never did.

Ten days ago, she arrived for a one-week visit. She stayed with my mom, in my town. She made a point of taking my niece and nephew on outings. She ignored my kids entirely. She had dinner with my other sister. She saw my brother and his wife. She did not call me. I didn't see her.

I guess that's the end of my tale. Maybe it's just the middle, but I think it's likely the end.

And the pictures? They weren't even that good.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Nothing . . . and Something

The problem with shopping at 9:30 p.m. is three-fold.

1) The grocery store aisles are clogged with pallets of food and products waiting to be shelved. Shopping is an obstacle course, one in which you manage to be stuck in traffic jams even though only three other women are shopping. I kept having head-on collisions with one woman who seemed to forget she was in a public place. She stood mid-aisle, pondering items, oblivious to me. If I'd been sitting in my car in an intersection, I would have honked my horn.

2) The items on sale for 10 for $10 are sold out.

3) Simple fatigue. Babygirl woke at 5:38 a.m., and though I didn't drag myself from bed until 6:40 a.m., I wandered through a cloud of exhaustion all day. It didn't help matters that I was completely out of Diet Coke today. By lunchtime, my head ached. I left my house reluctantly tonight, wiped out, but in dire need of provisions. Especially Diet Coke with Lime.

I contemplated cracking open a 2-liter bottle and swigging that precious brown fizzy liquid mid-aisle, but instead, I kept moving.

Oh, and I thought of another problem with shopping at 9:30 p.m. When one shops late, one returns home late. One does not begin to blog until 11:00 p.m., which results in a truly pathetic string of words talking about nothing. Who do I think I am? Seinfeld?

And that list from yesterday? Still mostly undone, but now I did create a beautiful organized to-do list, tasks numbered one through twenty. That counts for something.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Now Where Did I Leave My Brain?

You know when you are packing for a move and you end up circling a room, trying to figure out exactly what to shove into a box next?

That's how I'm feeling at the moment. I'm trying to stuff all the loose ends into a tidy braid, but the braid is as long as Rapunzel's and I can't do it.

Remember how you felt in college when you couldn't keep your eyes open another second and you finally declared, "Well, if I don't know this material now, I'll never know it?"

That's how I feel now, which is why I'm going to bed. Tomorrow I can write a to-do list. I can work on attendance records for school-at-home. I'll fold more laundry. I'll wash more dishes. I might even mop. I'll purchase Amtrak tickets.

Tomorrow, I'll book that extra room at Disney and order that book from Amazon. I'll pay the phone bill and remember to put chicken in the crockpot. I'll send email to the decorating committee people for Vacation Bible School and I'll remember to ask my husband to order that acacia tree for a prop.

I will write that letter to my volunteers. I'll pull some weeds. I will fill the dishwasher and empty the counter. I'll grocery shop. I'll force the children to do history and literature lessons and I'll worry that they aren't actually remembering anything. I will rock Babygirl. I'll match socks. I'll write a check for the pool fee. I'll look for swimsuits in the Lands End catalog.

But tonight, I'll sleep.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

It Creeps and Crawls and Lives Indoors Now

I have a single tent caterpillar imprisoned in a plastic cassette case sitting on my desk. My youngest son found this delightful creature in the mud behind the church. Ignoring my protests, he brought it into the car. I am just grateful I found a container for the little creepy crawly.

When I was a girl, I used to collect these leave-munching pests. They would crawl up and down my arms. I've grown sqeamish over the years, though. I can't bear to even touch anything with teeny-tiny suction-cup like feet.

And I don't pull the legs off these anymore, either. (I used to think those were daddy longlegs, but google tells me they are called "harvestmen." My day is complete now that I've learned a practically useless fact.)

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Little (Digestible) Things

Sure, I could discuss a wide variety of issues, but I am too distracted by the comments on a previous post. I mentioned how CuteBaby's mom discovered digested paper in his diaper. Misery truly loves company, because I am greatly cheered by your reports of the following objects discovered in infant diapers:

1) Two Barbie shoes and a marble (in the same diaper!);
2) Needle;
3) Spider;

(I must comment on the urban legend about eating eight spiders at night while you sleep. . . my advice? Wear pantyhose over your head and prevent this from ever happening to you!)

4) Tinsel (by a cat, but still, it could have been a baby).

Does anyone else have something to add?

Tomorrow, I will have something of substance to say, I promise. I know this because I have phone calls to make to recruit volunteers and paperwork to complete and I hate these tasks and will need a way to look and feel like I'm working without actually facing the dreaded chores at hand. Behold, the blog!

Friday, May 20, 2005

An Hour and a Half Segment of My Day

Prepare lunch. YoungestBoy returns home from his half-day of school. Instruct 12-year old to watch CuteBaby roll on floor. Hear Babygirl say, "The baby spit up!" Tell her, "Get a tissue and wipe it up!" Phone rings. Agree to let YoungestBoy go play at his friend's house.

Give lunch to DaycareKid. Turn on dishwasher. Get distracted by stuffed-full refrigerator. Begin cleaning it out. Stop.

Check on baby. Discover he's eaten half a tissue which is now wadded on the roof of his mouth. CuteBaby's mom arrives. Confess that her baby ate a tissue. Wave bye-bye. Sit at computer so YoungestBoy can dictate the novel he's decided to write, even though naptime begins in five minutes.

DaycareKid appears, whining. "What's wrong?" He points to feet, mutters. Sniff, sniff. What's that smell? Oh no! He pooped his pants! Cart him to bathroom. Phone rings again. Talk to husband. NeighborKid walks in, starts talking to me. Wave him away. DaycareKid cries in bathroom, waiting to be cleaned. Get off phone.

Turn on television for Babygirl's pre-naptime show ("Max and Ruby"--we call it the "funny rabbit show). Wave good-bye to YoungestBoy as he climbs into his friend's van. Find wipes, clothing for DaycareKid. Begin cleaning him. Get poop under fingernails. Put him in tub, wash, rinse. To bed he goes. Deposit poopy clothes in washing machine.

Nap with Babygirl. Answering machine clicks on. I've slept for ten minutes. She's asleep on the floor. Go downstairs. Eat lunch. Wonder what to make for dinner. Call Greyhound to see how far $150.00 will take me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Don't Mess With Me: I Have Stamps and I'm Not Afraid to Use Them

A couple of years ago, we had our mortgage refinanced. The mortgage company set up our account to hold funds in escrow for our home owner's insurance and our taxes.

A year later, a representative from my insurance company called and politely requested that we remit the $441.00 we owed for our policy.

"Oh," I said, "Our mortgage company is responsible for that payment."

"Oh," she said, "They said they weren't and that we should call you."

"Oh," I said, "Let me call them and get this straightened out."

I called my mortgage company and the customer service representative was unhelpful, but did notice that they failed to withhold the funds. Oops, they said. Sorry. We'll fix that and you'll have to pay the insurance company yourself.

We live on a very tight budget and at the time, I did not have an extra $441.00 lurking in my bank account or my pockets or even under the couch cushions. I can't remember how I managed to scrape together the cash, but I was irked at having to do so.

I used to work in customer service in the correspondence department, and I know a thing or two about writing a compelling letter to a company. I whipped up a complaint letter. I asked that they "make me happy." I demanded an apology and a refund of my $441.00. I did this all in a tone so sweet it could give you a cavity.

Some numbskull called a month or so later. As I recall, I was holding my infant daughter while she cried and he explained to me that there was nothing he could do for me. I said, "Well, let me talk to your supervisor." He left me dangling on hold for a while, then returned and said, "My supervisor says this is our regular procedure and there's nothing we can do."

"Then send my letter to your supervisor and tell her that I want a written response that makes me happy."

I never heard back.

About six months later, I sent a second polite letter, decrying the insurance company's lack of responsiveness, describing my unhappiness. I asked again for $441.00 and an apology. In writing. I am unable to accept phone calls during the day as I am busy taking care of two babies, I wrote.

Soon after, I received a phone call. My annoyance abated when the customer service representative asked for a copy of the $441.00 bill. I mailed it in. And never heard back from them.

Six months later, give or take, I sent another letter, still polite, more insistent, suggesting that I would never be able to refer anyone to this particular insurance company if they did not make me happy. I received a generic response telling me they were researching my issue and that they'd respond within three weeks.

Another six months passed. I wrote yet another letter, attaching my previous letters. This time, I researched the name of the company's president and including a notation at the bottom "cc: President's Name." (I didn't actually send a carbon copy, though--I figured just the idea of him getting a copy would motivate them.)

Yesterday, I received a phone call from the office of the company's president. She explained my problem (as if I were clueless) and said, "So, we could reimburse you the $441.00 from your escrow account, but then you'd have a negative balance in that account."

I said, "NO! I don't want the money to come from MY account. I want the money to come from the company's account to compensate me for my inconvenience. This was not my mistake. This was your mistake."

So, she offered to reimburse half the amount to me.

I agreed. (Now, I think I should have held out for the whole amount.)

Don't mess with this housewife. I have a computer, a printer and a supply of postage stamps and I'm not afraid to use them. If you are a company who crosses me, I will prevail or bug you until I die trying because at some point, composing demand letters highlighting your incompetence and demanding satisfaction becomes a hobby to me. Your "no" only means I need to talk to someone higher in the food chain at your company.

Persistence pays. And so does my mortgage company. Ha.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

In the Beginning, at the End, and a Little in Between

My alarm rang at 5:10 a.m. and I decided on the spot to forsake my walking partner and stay in bed. My head felt like a granite stone stuck to my pillow by the force of gravity. Who can get out of bed with such a heavy head, let alone walk with it balanced precariously upon one's shoulders?

CuteBaby's mom dropped him off with this concerned comment, "Last night, he had some paper in his poop." I responded with horror, "From my house?" She didn't come out and say so, but seriously, the kid is five months old. It's not as if he's been to the library and chowed down on a few books while she was working. He rolls now and my floor is admittedly not pristine, so apparently he found and ingested some kind of paper while under my care. I suck.

While he napped, I vacuumed until my a wide ribbon of gray smoke wafted from the vacuum cleaner. I changed the belt and cleaned the filter, to no avail. The vacuum is dead. May the vacuum rest in peace.

When I returned from Target tonight, the boys were sprawled in the family room watching television. I ignored them until a ruckus broke out. TwinBoyA yelled at YoungestBoy for spilling his glass of milk which TwinBoyA left sitting on the carpet in the middle of the floor since dinnertime three hours earlier.

He thought YoungestBoy was at fault for not noticing this glass of milk in the middle of the floor.

And so ends a delightful day of digested paper and spilled milk.

Tomorrow's goals:
Prevent CuteBaby from swallowing foreign objects.
Plan dinner before dinner-time.
Keep children alive.

I'm keeping it simple.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Counting Down

Come close. I can only whisper this. Shhhhh.

I can't wait until my twins are old enough to leave home. Only six more years.

I'm not kidding.

This afternoon at 2:30 p.m., Babygirl woke just as my husband took the twins to their meeting with their mentor teacher. I'd secretly hoped she'd sleep longer so the house would be quiet all at once. It was not to be. Instead, her long-legged, lean body wobbled on my left knee while I clicked and clacked on the computer keyboard and discovered that the twins had done very little work for the day.

We are on Week Five, counting down to the end of the school year. They must accomplish a great deal of work so we can end on schedule. It's not optional. Each day this week, they need to do eight lessons. Today, TwinBoyA did three lessons successfully. TwinBoyB did four lessons, all wrong. He failed two assessments and skimmed over his literature to such an extent that he missed had no idea when the Middle Ages were and what the Crusades were.

I typed out a letter to each child explaining what they'd accomplished and what they needed to finish before they could play or watch television. Upon their return, TwinBoyA read his letter and cheerfully finished five more lessons. TwinBoyB exclaimed at the unfairness of life, stomped his feet, cried a few dramatic tears, declared he would not do anymore work and furthermore told me firmly, "DO NOT TALK TO ME ANYMORE!"

I search my heart and find that I will not miss this. As my husband left (I can't remember where he went), DaycareKid and CuteBaby woke. YoungestBoy returned from school. The two neighbor boys showed up and I told them they could only play in the back yard. The baby needed his bottle, so I sat on the floor feeding him while TwinBoyB babbled on and on, struggling to find a way to avoid actually reading his science material. He took the assessment four more times after failing it the first time. Finally, he understood that the inner core of the earth is the inner part.

At one point, I was trying to get to the laundry room to put YoungestBoy's baseball shirt into the dryer, but I kept getting distracted. CuteBaby needed a diaper change. The phone rang. Babygirl wanted shoes on. I need to pee. Oh wait, the laundry room . . . oh, I need to fold that basket of stuff.

Then I smelled the unmistakable odor of a half-potty-trained kid gone wrong.

"Did you p o o p in your pants?" I asked DaycareKid.

Big brown eyes looked innocent and he said, "No."

I said, "Come here."

I felt his backside and found a solid little ping-pong ball of it hanging in his brand new Spiderman underpants. Why do kids think no one will notice this personal problem?

(Well, this is a rambling story, isn't it?)

At 5:20 p.m., I carted CuteBaby upstairs to hand over YoungestBoy's baseball shirt to my news-watching husband and he said in surprise, "He's still here?"

Yes. Him, DaycareKid, Babygirl, TwinBoyA, TwinBoyB, YoungestBoy, and Neighbor Kid One and Neighbor Kid Two. I was trying to feed YoungestBoy an early dinner, answer the phone, hold CuteBaby, wipe DaycareKid's nose, shake off the leech-like grip of Babygirl, boil potatoes and not go insane. The daycare moms both came at once, the phone rang again, my husband left with YoungestKid, but not before bumping the car into Babygirl's trike which was abandoned at the car bumper by DaycareKid on the way to his own car.

Yes, yes, yes . . . we've been over this before and I should be am savoring these crazy days of mothering. But I can't see how I will miss TwinBoyB's antics and his complete lack of interest in all things academic. I sat in the living room at 7:00 p.m., going over his literature lesson with him. He is fully capable of reading his student guide and the accompanying literature book, but he most often won't do so without eagle-eyed supervision.

Why? Why? Why? (I say this while flailing my arms in the air, clutching great snarls of my own unruly hair and foaming--just a little--at the mouth.)

Maybe this is like transition in labor. You know, that point where you think, "I absolutely cannot do this. I changed my mind. I'm not having a baby." You are too far in to change your mind and there is no choice but to carry on, breathe in, breathe out, focus on the end result, maybe scream a little and clutch the sides of the birthing pool and look into the eyes of the women in the room who know that they did it and you will, too, and someday, you'll forget just how much it hurt. Maybe even tomorrow.

I hope so. I'm looking into the eyes of those of you who did this and lived--and I'm talking about having twelve-year old boys who hate school. We'll be okay, right? Right? I can do this, right?

Okay, then. Okay. Tomorrow's a new day, a new opportunity to accidentally squish slugs while I'm walking in the rain and a new chance to get this mothering thing right.

Salamander in Her Pocket

Despite a rotten night of restless sleep, I met my friend for our morning walk at 5:30 a.m. I kind of wish it were still pitch black at that hour of the morning so no one could see how rumpled and bleary I am that early in the morning. How does my friend appear so fresh and with such smooth hair?

A drizzle fell on us, the exact kind of rain which characterizes our region and causes transplanted people from sunny states to curse and then forsake my Evergreen State. We chatted as we hurried along. I looked at the ground to avoid stepping on slugs and to keep the raindrops from falling into my eyes.

Right in the road, I spotted a lizard-like creature. "Look!" I said. She leaned over and peered at it, then said, "Cool!" and picked it up by its tail.

Not Actual Salamander Posted by Hello

She cupped the salamander in her hand said, "You can give it to [YoungestBoy]." She knows how much he loves animals. Then she zipped it into her pocket.

"I hope you don't forget that thing in there."

And on we walked, stepping carefully around the baby slugs which are growing larger each day.

Slimy Example of Full-Grown Slugs Posted by Hello

I worried in silence about that salamander. Would she expect me to transfer it to my pocket? What do salamanders eat? Could it live in a jar temporarily?

When we approached her house and my car, I remembered the salamander.

She did not and I didn't say a word.

Call me squeamish, but I just didn't want a slimy pocket pet, even for a moment. I'm not a very good Boy-Mom and clearly, I'm an even worse friend.

Friday, May 13, 2005

This? Or That? Maybe the Other Thing

I have a logjam of things to talk about. This? That? The other thing?

I've been brewing up a mental storm about my sister, the one I invited to be the photographer to my second homebirth. What a fiasco! We haven't spoken in two and a half years when she left town for Japan and took with her twelve pictures of my birth which I expressly forbade her to keep. (She had copies made and didn't think I'd notice, I guess.) She's in town and I need to talk all about it here because my husband is sick of hearing about it and I don't want to put my mother in the middle of it and because she is so irritating I grind my teeth together just thinking about the photographic image of my unclothed self with a baby half-born circulating throughout Asia. If I ever go to Japan, people will recognize me from behind. (If I am devoid of clothing, that is.)

But that storm will have to continue to strengthen to hurricane force, because tonight I want to talk about my dad.

Tonight I went to a production of "Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors." I sat near the back and smiled with anticipation when the lights dimmed. A woman sang, then an actor burst onto the stage. Tears sprang to my eyes and I bit the inside of my cheek to stop myself from crying.

Why? I'm getting to be an old sap, but crying? At a romping musical? Where a stageful of men sing and prance and wave hats in the air?

Then I remembered sitting in the small audience at the Community College playhouse watching my dad on stage performing his heart out. For one play, he shaved his head to play a German spy in a spoof of some sort. I remember a bird prop going horribly wrong and the audience howling with laughter while my dad and his leading lady improvised hilarious lines.

My dad was more alive when he stood on a stage than at any other moment of his life. He emoted, he sang, he even danced a little. His eyes shone and he projected confidence and joy. He performed only in community theater, but he adored the stage. My youngest sister (not the picture-thief) has file folders stuffed with photographs of him and press clippings.

The theater itself was dingy and small, but the magic outshone the reality of that small building. The make-up, the glaring lights, the bare-bones props somehow led to a magical pot of gold and ushered us to another time and place.

I saw my dad in new light when I saw him perform, but I always wondered if maybe I were glimpsing his true self, his secret self, the self that was almost extinguished--but not quite--by his harsh father and his broken home and his desperate marriage and dismal job. At home, sometimes the actor-dad would burst through the regular scheduled monotony of our lives--job, school, job, school, job, school--and he would leap onto his tip-toes like a two-hundred pound ballerina with a goatee and sing, "I feel pretty, oh so pretty!" And I would roll my eyes at him and laugh.

So when I sit in the audience and watch actors perform, I cry, even when it's funny. Every baldish man with a goatee and a too-long nose reminds me of him. When it's over and we clap, I blink back tears. The lights come on and I look down and dig in my purse and pretend I wasn't about to cry for no reason at all.

No reason--except that for a second, I felt my dad in the room. Then the stage went dark all over again.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Longest Walk

Yesterday, Babygirl and I walked around our circle. You'd think that two healthy human beings could cover one-tenth of a mile in a reasonable amount of time, but no. Not when one of those human beings is two and a half. (I asked her, "How old are you?" and she said, without pause, "Twenty.")

Babygirl jogged at first. Then she did a bear-crawl and became distracted by a black ant. We stopped to gaze at the Gnome-Lady's house. She has twenty-seven gnomes strategically placed around her front yard. I convinced Babygirl that the Lady would not want her to walk on the rocks to see the gnomes.

We were nearly half-way around the block. Then came the puddles. Babygirl stooped to look down the storm drain. She jumped in the puddle. Because she is close to the ground, she noticed a ladybug crawling along. I placed the newsletter I carried near the ladybug so the bug would climb onto the paper. I thought we might take the insect home, but it flew away.

A few houses later, Babygirl saw rocks. She stopped and stuffed her shorts pockets full, awkwardly crossing her right arm across her small body to put the rocks into her left pocket.

When we finally reached home nearly an hour later, I emptied ten rocks from her pockets.

As someone said recently, the days are long, but the years are so short. Before I know it, she really will be twenty. I hope we'll still take meandering walks together, even thought she might be wishing we'd go a little quicker and I'll be the one stopping to poke at ladybugs.

Go. Now.

Before you do anything else, you must go read Judy's post about labels. You'll thank me.

As an added bonus, Judy also solves the world's problems in her post.

For the record, I have a green dot on my forehead today.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


A few things I wonder:

1) When did "scrapbook" turn into a verb?
2) Do people realize there is a difference between a conservative Christian and a Christian conservative? I'm one, but not the other.
3) Are labels ever helpful? Does it give you a clearer picture of me when I describe myself as a Republican or do you automatically think I've been lobotomized by the right-wing media? I think labels blur true identity. I shun them, but sometimes I use them reluctantly as a short-cut because really, who has time to read a year's worth of blog posts?

But I don't really want to be swept into any category like so many crumbs on the floor.

I decided today that when one woman presumes to speak for All Women, she ends up speaking for no one, not even herself. I get annoyed when I read in a book or article how "women" feel about this or that. I speak for myself, no one else. I've never had trouble speaking up.

Just ask my seventh grade teacher. I was sent to the principal's office for being mouthy. I was only asking questions. Why did we have to go over every single answer on the worksheet? My teacher did not appreciate my impertinence.

So I shut up in class for the next five years. Kudos to that teacher for shutting me down.

But I digress. All I'm saying is, "scrapbook" is a noun, not a verb.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


What? It's already past 10:00 p.m. A half-full, Costco-sized ketchup bottle sits on the kitchen counter. Open Prang watercolor paints on the kitchen table accompany Babygirl's latest ragged freezer paper painting. I never did correct TwinBoyB's grammar work from today, nor did I put water in the crockpot after I scooped out the remaining stew. My house looks somewhat abandoned, as if we all ran out during a fire drill.

But you can't really blame me because last night I googled a variation of myself and found a stunning mention of a particular blog posting I made way back in February. I discovered this last night at 11:15 p.m., way too late for a woman whose alarm rings at 5:10 a.m. I've been preoccupied ever since with this derogatory mention of myself in a stranger's lecture.

I had already been contemplating how disconnected I feel from our society, how belittled I feel as a woman who votes Republican, cherishes her faith and stays at home as a primary caregiver. I am sick to death of the mockery of conservative Christianity by people who claim to embrace diversity and tolerance. I am weary of the voices that refuse to admit that those of us who oppose abortion might have a valid point. There is all take and no give, it seems.

Why--please, someone tell me--why are women of faith, Republican women, women who scrapbook--assumed to be stupid? As if our default position is one of unthinking acceptance of ridiculous theology and backward political viewpoints? As if we are the ones who are intolerant and judgmental? All too often I find myself in the spotlight of judgment by people vastly different from me. All I can do is squint through that glare, trying to look into the eyes of those on the other side. Turn off the light! Come closer and sit down. We can talk, you know. I've got nothing to hide, even though I'm made to feel ridiculous for my belief system. I resent the implication that I am dim because of my conservative leanings and my choice to stay at home and raise my children.

I speak my personal truth here. Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and knowingly spout off something provocative, like when I called Michael Moore "smarmy." Most often, I'm just describing how things look from here, inside my house, inside my head. I think this goes a long way towards forging common ground--because if you begin to see my viewpoint and offer me a glimpse of your viewpoint, we can find those intersections of our lives and see that we are really not all that different. With common ground, comes understanding.

This is not a monologue. It's my half of a dialogue and ideally, you provide the other half by commenting here, writing on your own blog or even mentally mulling things over.

As for me, I might clean up the kitchen counter before I go to bed, but most likely, I'll leave that for tomorrow. I'd hate to have nothing to do in the morning.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Let's Run Away Together

I saw Brooke Shields on a couple of different television shows this week, hawking her book, Down Came the Rain. And I really wanted to be sympathetic to her, I did, but I couldn't because how can you feel sorry for an almost 40-year old woman with such long, lean calves and such well-groomed eyebrows and that dimple right by her pretty mouth?

Brooke on Oprah's show. Posted by Hello

Did you see how good she looked when she left the hospital with her newborn? On my best day, I didn't look that good. I never will. And after I gave birth? I was just a mushy-bellied, red-eyed, crazy-haired woman who smelled like baby spit-up and dried breastmilk.

I know--of course, I know--that post-partum depression is a real malady suffered by scores of women, but her descriptions of the dark days didn't touch me at all. I felt a whole lot more sorry for Andrea Yates, the mom who systematically drowned her five children in a bathtub. I related more to the straggle-haired mom who snapped than to the smooth-haired beauty who didn't want to pick up her newborn.

I know. Aren't I a terrible person?

I suppose the truth is that I'm just jealous of Brooke's beauty and wealth and extreme tall leanness. She is only a few months younger than me and it hardly seems fair that some people get more than their fair share of . . . well, everything. I hate myself for feeling so uncharitable.

But while I'm at it, let me also say that I bet women who are honest-to-God (but unpublished) writers who have something valid to say about post-partum depression, even though they are not gorgeous movie stars who had a traumatic experience . . . I bet they are peeved that Brooke Shields got a book deal about this topic as a result of her fame and good looks. Okay, right, so Brooke Shields went to Princeton and she's smart, too. Like that makes me feel any better. As my dad would say, please don't confuse me with the facts. I know I always narrow my eyes at people who get book deals even though they are not writers, per se.

As for Jennifer Wilbanks, the so-called "Runaway Bride," I feel a great deal of sympathy. In fact, she has inspired me.

I told my husband, though, so he wouldn't call the FBI. I challenge women everywhere: See how far from home you can get with $150 and a bad haircut.

I leave first thing tomorrow.

(Okay, okay, only in my dreams. But wouldn't it be an interesting exercise? And then we could compile all the experiences into a book and call it "The Runaway Woman," and it'll be on the best-seller list and then we'll all become rich, rich, rich and we'll go on Oprah, but before the show, we'll get makeovers and then we'll look fabulous and afterwards, Oprah will take us out to lunch and we'll all be Best Friends and go on a cruise together. And they all lived happily ever after. The End.)

Oh, the Horror!

At 9:00 p.m., the children are shooed off to bed. This is what I often find in their wake. At least this night, they left the remote control in plain sight.

My children appear to have been raised by wolves. Where was I?  Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A Day Like Many Others

Over at this blog, she shares her day's events. In lieu of my planned post for today which declares how judgmental I'm feeling lately about almost everything, I offer instead, a boring recount of my day.

5:10 a.m.: Alarm rings. Paw at clock until noise stops.
5:19 a.m.: Alarm rings again. I get up, pull on clothes and glasses.
5:30 a.m.- 6:30 a.m.: Four mile walk.
6:45 a.m. - 7:15 a.m.: Shower while Babygirl stands outside the stall and asks me questions.
7:30 a.m.: DaycareKid arrives. YoungestBoy wakes. I rock Babygirl.
8:00 a.m.: Homework time for YoungestBoy. Breakfast for him and Babygirl.
8:30 a.m.: CuteBaby arrives. YoungestBoy leaves for school.
9:00 a.m.: Twins wake and start school work. CuteBaby naps. Toddlers play/fight. Fold laundry, check blogs, answer email and phone, supervise schoolwork, wash more laundry. Doze in recliner while toddlers watch Mary Poppins.
11:00 a.m.: CuteBaby awake. Twins make and eat lunch.
11:45 a.m.: CuteBaby leaves for lunch break with mom. Babygirl throws fit. Put her in crib for 30 minutes.
Noon: Feed toddlers lunch.
12:45 p.m.: CuteBaby returns. Twins do school work.
1:00 p.m.: Naptime for DaycareKid and CuteBaby. Babygirl watches show until 1:30.
1:30 p.m.: Nap. Fall asleep with Babygirl.
2:15 p.m.: My lunch break.
2:30 p.m.: Babygirl falls off bed with a thump and wakes. Sit and rock her.
3:30 p.m.: YoungestBoy returns. DaycareKid wakes. Neighbor Mom calls--take opportunity to discuss yesterday.
4:00 p.m.: CuteBaby wakes. Feed bottle. Neighbor kids arrive.
4:30 p.m.: DaycareKid mom arrives to pick up DaycareKid.
5:00 p.m.: Neighbor kids leave. Boil spaghetti noodles, warm sauce and meatballs.
5:15 p.m.: CuteBaby's mom arrives and takes him home.
5:30 p.m.: Eat dinner.
6:00 p.m.: Send boys outside. Babygirl goes for ride with Daddy. I vacuum, fold laundry, read email.
6:30 p.m.: Babygirl gets a bath.
7:00 p.m.: Sit with Babygirl while she watches video. Read book, fall asleep.
8:00 p.m.: Babygirl goes to bed. Watch "Survivor."
9:00 p.m.: Watch "Apprentice."
10:00 p.m.: Write this lame blog post.
11:00 p.m.: Go to bed.

Tomorrow: Lather, rinse, repeat.

Actually, tomorrow I'm taking my mother out for dinner. My husband gave me $100 cash to spend on it, but my mother and I agreed: let's have a reasonably priced dinner, then go shopping with the rest of the money! So, that's what we'll do. We plan to have dinner at a waterfront seafood restaurant that serves the best clam chowder and fish and chips.

Boring. I warned you.

I Plead the Fifth

In a moment, when the clock reads 5:00 p.m. (PST), I ask that you turn to your friend or foe and offer a "high five" in honor of the fifth day of the fifth month of the fifth year . . . and then, either eat five cookies or drink a fifth of something, because, after all, this won't happen again for approximately one thousand years.

And then, if you are really on the ball, you can repeat this in fifty-five minutes, to commemorate 5:55 p.m. (PST) on 5/5/05. Eat five more cookies. Who's counting?

That's all.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

An Honest-to-Goodness Rant

The only thing worse than your own kid mouthing off to you is the neighbor kid sassing you. And what's terrible is when you raise your hand in a "STOP" gesture during a heated conversation with the neighbor kid and he flinches.

Two brothers in our neighborhood want to play over here all the time. My boys sometimes welcome them enthusiastically, but often reluctantly because these brothers, age 7 and 9, fight, argue, cry, whine, and call my boys names. Constantly. They can not play nice. And they probably also run with scissors.

I was in the kitchen at about 5:30 p.m., working on dinner. DaycareKid and CuteBaby had gone home and I was sweating over a gourmet meal of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and fishsticks when I heard the 9 year old boy screaming, "MY MOM CAN SUE YOU!" I went to check and found TwinBoyA holding YoungestBoy's arms behind his back while the neighbor kid stood shouting at them.

I stood between them and asked what was going on--but neighbor kid kept interrupting. "I WANT MY MEMORY CARD BACK!" (Now, this was a Nintendo dispute and the key information is that memory cards store information for games and furthermore, last week, the neighbor kids returned my boys' game--Animal Crossing--with a lot of their progress and data messed up. YoungestBoy cried all night about being turned into a virtual piece of wood and having their town deserted and full of weeds because of what the neighbor kids did to the game.)

Every time I started to get answers, neighbor kid would interrupt and shout. HE SHOUTED AT ME. Uh, hello? I'm the grown-up here. (Would you have ever dreamed of shouting at a neighborhood mom when you were a kid?) This kid shows no respect for adults and, in fact, I've caught him stealing and then lying about it in my house. (He stole my husband's lollipop and then lied to me about it.) Neighbor kid shouted, "He's trying to wreck our game!" I said, "Well, you wrecked his game when you had his memory card last week!" He said, "We did NOT!" Which is a lie. Meanwhile, YoungestBoy is crying.

Then, neighbor kid grabbed for the memory card--but I stopped him by reaching out and holding his arm. (I couldn't believe I reached out and touched him because everyone knows you should never touch a child who does not belong to you. Even in your own home. Even if said kid is making your own kid cry. I immediately let go.) I still didn't know what had happened because neighbor kid wouldn't stop talking. I turned to him, looked him right in the face, raised my hand in a "STOP" sign and said, "Stop talking! I'm trying to figure out what happened here!"

At last, I was able to ask YoungestBoy if he was finished with the memory card. He was, so I took it out and gave it to neighbor kid. YoungestBoy didn't do anything to sabotage neighbor kid's game--he just wanted to send a letter to someone in the neighbor kid's town and then get back to his own town.

Such drama.

So, neighbor kid left with a red face and tears in his eyes. I'd be happy if he never came back again.

Later, I asked each of my boys separately what happened before I came into the room. TwinBoyA informed me that YoungestBoy hit the neighbor kid. I called in YoungestBoy. "Did you hit the neighbor kid?" He said, "Yes, because he called me an idiot! Twice!" I asked why and he explained that neighbor kid was mad because he thought YoungestBoy was ruining his game.

"Next time you have a problem, don't hit, okay? Call for help, all right?" Hitting is extremely out of character for YoungestBoy. I was surprised.

So now, I'm going to have to call the neighbor kids' mom and explain to her what happened. Neighbor kid is a liar, so who knows what tale he told? I know it's horrible, but I am sick to death of dealing with this bratty kid!

I marked the calendar for two weeks. We are taking a two-week break from the neighbor kids. I don't need the pain of dealing with someone else's undisciplined kids, especially when I'm not getting paid for it!

Okay. Rant over.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

When Petals Fall

The petals fell from my tulips this week which triggered the memory of that awful April so many years ago when Paul borrowed a car and rigged it up so he could breathe carbon monoxide and die. Then Diane, quoting T.S. Eliot, speaks in my head:
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

But before the slugs finish feasting on the fallen petals, May pushes aside April and it seems too late to linger on the still surreal events of that long ago April night when Paul left us all without saying good-bye. Oh sure, he left some clues--an article he wrote called "Ten Acceptable Things to Do After Junior-Senior Banquet" (for instance, bowling: acceptable) and the video tape of "The Big Chill" playing on the hall television--but no one connected the dots until after the police found the car and poor Gerard had to identify the body because he owned the car. And then we shook our heads and sobs shook our bodies and we trembled in collective grief. A silent chill fell over that college campus as we tried to come to grips with his suicide.

Paul never imagined a life beyond that April night and so each April, I imagine for him, wonder at what might have been, ponder the seismic shock that continues to ripple the waves even twenty years after his desperate night. Twenty years came and went. And the petals still fall every spring, bringing a quiet end to their vibrant moments in the sun.

The tulips will be back, though, next year. They always return after the dark winter passes. Paul is gone forever.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Did you hear that? Listen.

You don't hear anything? Me, either! That, my friends, is the rare sound of silence.

DaycareKid = absent.
Babygirl = napping.
CuteBaby = napping.
Youngestboy = at school for another thirty minutes.
Twin Boys = with dad at meeting with mentor teacher.

Me? Diet Coke, blogs, blinders on so as to not notice the scattered debris on the floor.

Oh, that silence also means one more thing: the laundry is finished and a better housewife would jump up and go fold it.

I am not that housewife. I must enjoy this quiet while I can.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Weekend Update Featuring Reading List

I'd like to write something profound, words strung together that twinkle together like Christmas lights on a dark night.

But I can't because I have to catch up on my school-at-home paperwork. I have a terrible case of senioritis, only I'm not a senior and this isn't my last semester. I can barely drag myself through the motions of quizzing my boys on their spelling words and encouraging them to complete their history lessons. School here ends about mid-June, so I just have to hang on a little longer. And I promised to finish those records tomorrow for my "mentor teacher."

The curtain falls on another weekend in which my husband worked a fifteen hour day on Saturday and then preached Sunday morning, attended a meeting and then napped the afternoon away while I busied myself cleaning and decluttering and being snippy with Babygirl who was on my heels all afternoon, slowing me down. I bought a big computer desk at a garage sale for twenty bucks, so I'm transferring all the boys' school books and materials to the shelves built into this desk. But no one really cares that I am sequential and that interruptions drive me to the brink. Especially Babygirl.

At 7:00 p.m., I quickly exited my house. I thought I'd figure out my destination as I drove . . . but as usual, I had no place to go. I'm telling you, I need that apartment. In fact, the commenters on this blog tell me they need an apartment, too, so I think an apartment complex for moms, a "Momplex," is an excellent, possibly copyrightable idea. Who's in?

Meanwhile, here is a list of the books I've recently read:

The Kite Runner;
Pride and Prejudice;
Deception Pass; and
One for the Money.

Next up: Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry, which comes highly recommended.

But first, I have to finish those stupid attendance records.
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