On Saturday, we had French toast and fresh pineapple for breakfast. An hour later, Son came over to give me a big snuggle -- and in the way that is peculiar to very young children, whose skin seems to retain smells like sun and fresh air and strawberries, he still had the faint odor of his recent breakfast on him.
I took a big whiff and caressed his hair. "Mmm...you smell like pineapple. Lovely."
He leaned in to take a deep sniff of his own, burying his nose in the curve of my neck. Then he pulled back, thinking hard for a moment before it came to him. Smiling a beautiful smile, he returned the sentiment in a warm, friendly voice: "And you smell like stinky shoes."
I laughed so hard that it confused him.
Click the button for more of today's hilarity.
Monday, March 31, 2008
On Saturday, we had French toast and fresh pineapple for breakfast. An hour later, Son came over to give me a big snuggle -- and in the way that is peculiar to very young children, whose skin seems to retain smells like sun and fresh air and strawberries, he still had the faint odor of his recent breakfast on him.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
As Sundays seem to be turning into quiz days, I actually made an effort to locate a quiz for today rather than just lucking out and having one find me. When I saw one promising to tell me just how nerdy I am, I had to take it. But I have to admit, I was a little disappointed to find out that I am only:
"Lightly Nerdy"?? What is that? Is that like the slim, low-fat version of a nerd? A nerd without a pocket protector and with a modicum of fashion sense? Okay, that would be fine. But does it mean I'm also slim in the brains arena? As in, not likely my book will ever be accepted by a good academic press slim? Not so okay with that, my friends.
Does it make me more nerdy that I am agonizing over the results of a nerdiness quiz I took on the internet as if it mattered at all? Or just more pathetic?
Then, thankfully, I discovered that Part 2 of the quiz would actually be more focused to tell me precisely what kind of nerd I am. -phew- Much relief. I am, to no one's surprise, I'm sure:
An Uber Cool History/Lit Geek. Oh yeah, baby. Of course, I think "uber cool" and "geek" are antithetical terms. And just writing that sentence makes me way more of a geek than it makes me cool. But at least my sense of self is restored.
How nerdy are you? And, more importantly, how do you feel about that nerdiness rating?
Saturday, March 29, 2008
If you ever make a disastrous pound cake (not that you would, mind you, only that I like to be helpful), and then you use up a lot of it turning it into trifle, but you still have some left, may I suggest the following:
Whisk 4 eggs together with 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. Then, crumble up the remaining stale pound cake into the custard. To clarify: you'll need at least 1/4 of a large pound cake for this, the kind of pound cake that calls for six eggs and two sticks of butter and that you bake in a huge bundt pan or fancy flower shaped one but then can't remove from the pan easily, so you might as well crumble it up. Stir thoroughly, and let sit until most of the liquid is absorbed. If you like that sort of thing, toss in 1/2 cup of raising at this point. Lightly grease a baking dish, pour the mixture in, and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve warm or chilled, as you prefer. (Warm is better, but it rewarms nicely.)
Instead of "Bread Pudding," I chose to call this "Morning Cake" in honor of Mickey. (Also because Son hates pudding but loves In the Night Kitchen, so I figured that way he'd eat it. He wouldn't even try it.) It's suitable for breakfast, obviously, because I added no sugar to the egg custard, so it's not too sweet. Most people would add about 1/2 cup of sugar to the egg mixture before stirring in the
bread pound cake. I figured it would be nice to have something healthy for breakfast, so I left out the extra sugar.
I will say that, if you like Bread Pudding, you will seriously love Morning Cake.
I will also say that if you eat a large piece for breakfast, warm and good, and then you get a hankering for more after dinner, as, say dessert, you will find an excellent use for random chocolate football Easter candies if you just chop up three or four of them and sprinkle them amongst your hunk of Morning Cake before you heat it in the microwave. Because, of course, Morning Cake is not that sweet, as it's meant to be a healthy breakfast. So it certainly needs a bit of sweetening oomph in the form of chocolate added to it if you want it to qualify as a dessert.
I will also also say that you will want to lick the dish clean after you eat this heavenly concoction. But don't blame me if you feel slightly queasy afterwards. It's not my fault that you cut too large a slice after eating pizza for dinner and then added too much chocolate. You're all on your own for portion control.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Did you know that are practically an infinite number of Lego movies? Me either. Till the day that I was searching online for some interesting coloring pages for Son. Not that he doesn't own several fat comic books, mind you, but that it's far better to color a picture printed from the computer on the back of a page that comes from some draft of some thing mama has been writing. Anyhoo... there we are looking for pages about Superman and Batman, and we come across this (it's short, you should click play):
Now, the title of this movie is totally dumb. (Sorry, whoever created it.) It should be called "Superman and Batman Get Run Over By Lots of Vehicles." I know that's not as catchy as "Superman versus Batman," but it's a lot more accurate in representing the movie's plot (assuming a one minute movie has a plot).
Purely as a PSA, you understand, I'm here to tell you that if you have a Lego fan in your house, or a Superman fan, you could spend hours on YouTube watching these. I know. We have. (Did I mention it snowed nearly 6" again last night?)
Or, if Superman isn't your cuppa', or you'd really rather just class up the joint a little and make sure your kids get some edumacation, may I recommend this (even shorter, and completely worth the click):
...which really would be horribly depressing except for the music that rolls in the credits that totally makes this scene in Hamlet uplifting. Which is what we're hoping for from a thoughtful Lego interpretation of Shakespeare, really.
For high quality, long-playing movie action (9+ minutes, and this is only Part 1), I would suggest you trot out your holiday spirit and watch this very good version of A Christmas Carol. Assuming you like the Dutch (I think) accented English, you'll be quite impressed by the Lego effects. (If you're inclined to see the rest of the story, the link for Part 2 will pop up on the sidebar of the YouTube page for the part below...though if you have a whole 18 minutes to waste watching Lego movies, do you think you could come over and clean my bathroom first?)
And if that doesn't float your boat, there's always 9,100 hits for "Lego Star Wars." And if you're still not satisfied, between Superman, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Star Wars, then there's really no hope for you at all.
In which case, please make some Lego movies of your own, and send me the links. Currently, there are no episodes of Lego Iron Chef. Any takers?
Thursday, March 27, 2008
It is easy, very easy, in a world where governors are getting canned for their sexual dalliances, and the country is fighting a never-ending War on Terror, and missing children make national billboard news to despair about the lack of goodness in people. It is easy to wring hands and lament crime, cruelty, and the loss of "common decency." But I do think it is fundamentally true that bad people make headlines, while good people rarely do. Except, perhaps, when they are making donations in the billions and are named Warren Buffet or are embarking on some kind of good-will ambassadorial venture and are named Bono. Which is to say that I think it is really important to remember that the famous and infamous are not necessarily representative of the rest of us.
This is hardly news. But here's the ponderable for today: what is it that makes some people better at being good than others? Why, for example, do some people give me the finger when I try to change lanes on the highway while approaching my exit, while others smile and wave me over? What motivates someone to those "random acts of kindness" that bumper stickers say we should all pass on every day?
I am sure we can all think of ways we motivate to do something particularly thoughtful on special occasions. New babies are born, and coworkers make casseroles. Someone breaks a leg and a neighbor son mows the lawn without being asked. A spouse is turning 35, and you plan a surprise weekend away at a couples spa. These are wonderful acts, and much appreciated. But they are undertaken as gestures of neighborliness or love towards someone with whom one already feels a closeness. And in general I think it is far easier to motivate to do these things for people we know. This does not make the actions themselves easy, of course. I had a wonderful friend who borrowed a pick-up truck, loaded in his snow blower (not a small machine) and came over to clear our driveway of many inches of snow while I was in the hospital delivering Son. This was certainly an effort above-and-beyond -- even more so because he never told me he was the one responsible for that driveway surprise until a year later. His modesty impressed me nearly as much as his kindness.
Such gestures certainly go beyond the ordinary. But what I want to talk about today are the small-but-powerful goodnesses of virtual strangers.
...When a man you've never met, for example, brings his son to your son's birthday party and proceeds to take 178 photos (having offered to document the event, so that you can stay busy as host), and then puts a CD full of great pictures in your son's preschool cubby four days later.
...or when you mention online that you have a swooning love of Almond Roca, and in under a week, a package full of this lusciousness arrives in your mailbox courtesy of a wonderful woman who lives in the only state where they seem to sell it. (Thank you again, lovely Foolery!)
How is it that some people are so good at these small and significant gestures? What motivates people to take the extra step, to make an extra effort, to do something particularly kind for someone they hardly know? Is it something to do with how their parents raised them? (If so, I want to know what, because I want my kids to grow up to be like this!) Is it something innate in their personalities?
What do you think? And if you don't know, then share an example where someone you don't or hardly know did something like this for you (or the reverse). Those acts ought to be news too.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
So after a full year of 3 times per week speech therapy, the twins had their annual renewal-of-service assessment Monday. And we have just gotten word that they are officially cured. Well, perhaps that wasn't the politically correct word the speech pathologist used. She waxed poetic about reaching objectives and meeting standards and complying with state initiatives and blah, blah, blah. But the long and the short of it is that my sweet little girls are finally talking. And I've just gotten 3 days a week of my life back. I'm really, really proud of how far they've come, and how hard they've worked (and of how much Big Sis helped during the process), and if only I could find a cap and gown in size 2T, we'd throw them a graduation party. *grin*
The kids are fed, the dishes done. I sweep the kitchen floor, pour myself some cereal, and then--before I put the milk on--dash to the laundry room to switch clothes from washer to dryer and start a new load. The kids are coloring happily at the kitchen table. When I come back, oh, 3 minutes later, I find this on my newly-swept floor:
Why has she taken my bowl down off the counter and flung the flakes around with such abandon that they even landed on her head? She wanted these.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I'm a day late to Lotus's birth story carnival, but I've been meaning to write this for a while, so I hope you'll bear with me. In the interest of being sure that my second-born gets some of the "good stuff," and that all the memory-book-magic doesn't automatically go to Child #1, I'm telling Daughter's story today. In just a few weeks, she will be two years old. That is hard to fathom, as this story feels like it happened just moments ago.
I was teaching a night class in the last semester of my pregnancy (sorry, I count in semesters rather than trimesters...I live on professor time). Night class for my university means once a week from 6:30-9:10pm. The week before she was due, I had contractions every six minutes throughout the first half of class. Somehow, no one seemed to notice my surreptitious timing of them. But at 8:15, when we normally take a quick break, I paid careful attention to the timing. And then, deciding that Dickens's Our Mutual Friend would keep for another week, I let them go early, sure that I needed to go call my doctor. They were aghast that I'd stood in front of them for nearly two hours without mentioning an impending birth. I thought they were overreacting.
The doctor on call (not my normal OB, but one in her practice) told me that if the contractions weren't getting stronger or closer together, then I was either in very early labor or just having Braxton Hicks. Apparently being on your feet for hours at a time while 9 months pregnant can do that. "Put your feet up and relax for an hour," he said. "If the contractions continue or get stronger, call me again."
Of course, as soon as I was comfortably seated in my car, driving home, they subsided.
Fast forward a week: my class is somewhat disappointed to see me in the front of the room. They were hoping for a "baby's arrived" class-canceling email. Or a substitute. Or some kind of good story. Or at least, not another day of Our Mutual Friend. Instead, they got me. And Dickens. It was the official due date. I'd learned at my weekly appointment that morning that I was now 4cm dilated. Still no real labor. So, I was wearing makeup and my knee-high black boots and my favorite flattering maternity skirt. I figured if my baby wasn't coming on her due date, the least I could do for myself was have a good hair day.
We had class. I felt great. I got home a little after 10, snuggled up in bed with Husband, and promptly fell asleep.
At 12:45, I woke up to make the first of my nightly trips to the bathroom. Only I couldn't get warm. I was freezing. I sat there, wrapped in my over-sized bath towel, shivering a little, and trying to go. Nothing was happening. I sat some more. Slowly I woke up enough to think, "huh, doesn't this feel familiar? Oh, yes, this is exactly how my labor started with Son. Oh, wait, maybe I don't actually have to go to the bathroom. Maybe these are contractions."
I came downstairs, not wanting to wake Husband with the lights and the watch-reading and the phone calls to the doctor. By the time I made it down, it was 1:00. There was no doubt I was in labor. I called the answering service for my OB and could hardly talk coherently enough to explain that I was in labor. Fortunately those answering service ladies get that a lot. Within a minute or two, a nurse called me back. "I'm working with Dr. R; he's in surgery right now, but he told me to call you back and tell you to come right in to the hospital, and he'll see you when you get here." It was the same friendly doc from my OB's office on call again tonight. At 1:05, I called our good friend and neighbor who was coming over to stay with Son while we went to the hospital; then I phoned Sis who was going to meet us there. By 1:15, Friend was here. I spent an agonizing 5 minutes trying to explain to him where to find breakfast foods and what Son would expect in a morning routine before he finally said to me in total exasperation, "Would you just go to the hospital already? You're in labor."
He wasn't kidding. I was so in labor that I couldn't stand up straight during contractions. I couldn't talk through them. I was breathing hard. In 30 minutes I'd gone from idly thinking I need to use the toilet to having contractions that were two minutes apart.
Husband raced us to the hospital, timing my contractions the whole way. They were 90 seconds apart. I kept trying to reassure him, "It's okay. Don't worry. This baby is coming fast but not that fast. She's not going to be born in the car." He looked grim and didn't seem to believe me.
The orderly put me in a wheelchair to take me up to Labor and Delivery, where a very cheerful administrative person (she said she wasn't a nurse) took over the chair and said in a bright voice, "Can you use the bathroom for me?"
I looked at her like she was crazy. "I think I should tell you my first labor was pretty short," I said. "How short?" she wanted to know. "Four and a half hours," I gasped as another contraction took over. She seemed unimpressed, and stopped the chair outside the open bathroom door. I was sure I could not stand up, so I looked up at her and said, "and I was four centimeters dilated this morning at the doctor's office before I was in labor at all."
"Okayyy," she said. "Let's just skip the bathroom." She got me into a room, Husband came dashing in, and helped me undress. I could neither stand, nor effectively remove sleeves or pant legs. It was 1:45, and I'd been in labor for an hour. I don't remember getting into bed, but I do remember the voices of nurses asking where the doctor was (still in surgery). Then the poor panicky tech who'd wheeled me into the room said something like, "Well, someone please go get a nurse or something!" She sounded terrified that she was going to have to deliver this baby herself. The nurse pronounced me 7cm dilated. I got a swift ride to a delivery room. I have a vague sense of being wheeled down the hall, but my memory is patchy. It was taking all my concentration just to breath through the intensity of this incredibly fast labor.
Husband had forgotten the paperwork (and my suitcase) in the car. The nurses were busy trying to hook me up to monitors. My sister walked in just before 2:00. My entire body was being overwhelmed by wave after wave of intense contractions. It was like I was the ocean. The waves never stopped, just grew enormous, and subsided a little, before the next one came crashing down on the beach. I recall tense voices asking where the doctor was. Someone was saying he was still in surgery. Someone was asking for an epidural. Someone was saying there wasn't much point in an epidural, since by the time it took effect, the baby would already be born, and there would just be the slow post-epidural recovery to deal with. Someone was nodding my head vaguely in understanding of this perfectly reasonable point, while the rest of my body rode the roller-coaster of intensity.
"I need to push," I announced. In my mind, I said this matter-of-factly. In fact, I'm sure I said it in something of a panic.
"Can you just hang on a few minutes?" a kind nurse asked. "The doctor isn't quite here yet."
The kind nurse is very lucky that a woman who has gone through all the stages of labor in an hour and twenty minutes is so overwhelmed by the tremendous forces rocking her body that she cannot form complete sentences. Otherwise, some not-nicely-phrased comparisons to stopping speeding locomotives with my bare hands might have come spewing out. As it was, I simply said, "No."
At that moment, Dr. R walked through the door. I've never been so relieved in all my life. I do remember that they had a gown waiting for him to walk into, gloves to snap on while he was still moving, and that once he arrived at the foot of my bed, it only took four pushed to deliver Daughter. I'm sure he's been in more dramatic deliveries, but he cannot possibly have arrived more closely to the point of actual birthing without missing the event -- unless he's also played a doctor on TV. She was born at 2:16am.
Lest you get all envious over fast labor, let me reassure you that while I have tremendous sympathy for the extended suffering of a long labor, a very fast one can be disorienting and nerve-wracking. An hour and a half from "are these contractions?" to "so, what is her name?" doesn't leave a whole lot of time for processing what's happening. Or for drugs. Or for registering patients. I was not officially a patient at the hospital till Daughter was two hours old.
On the plus side, without an epidural, my recovery was incredibly quick. I felt better sooo much sooner than I had with Son. Daughter was a wonderful nurser. And a good sleeper. She went to the nursery around 11pm that night, so I could try to sleep. They had instructions to bring her to me when she was hungry. At 2am, when she was nearly a day old, the nurse awoke me. "It's been three hours; she needs to eat. You need to wake her up." Daughter was a quiet, sleepy bundle. Nurse told me to open her shirt, tickle her feet, rub her belly, caress her cheek, basically annoy her into waking up enough to eat. Then Nurse left the room. After a minute or two of half-hearted annoyance, I said to my perfect little girl, "You really don't want to do this right now, do you? I don't either." So I put her on my chest, her skin against mine, covered us both with blankets, and we slept.
Our room faced a courtyard. At 5:30, the most liltingly complex birdcall I've ever heard trilled through the window. Daughter and I awoke, listened to the magnificent bird in the early light of pre-dawn, and began our life together. Her eyes looking into mine, the music of the bird outdoors, the warm love of being wrapped up, waking up, together. That moment of clarity, calm, beauty and peace is the strongest and brightest memory I have of her birth. Perhaps it is no accident that we have always called her Birdie.
Monday, March 24, 2008
We were invited for Easter dinner at the house of some good friends. In preparation, I dressed Daughter in her new powder pink finery -- a cashmere sweater dress that's been hanging in her bedroom closet since she was -6 months old. Yes, I bought it while I was pregnant, in the hopes that she was a girl, thinking if she was not, I would give it as a gift to some friend or other; someone I know was sure to have a daughter some day... Anyway, the dress finally fits, so on it went.
The hair "pretty" lasted all of 45 seconds, which is why it' s not in the photo. We cozied her up in some tights, everyone was as presentable as we could muster, and then "time for shoes!" sang out Mama. I tried to put her in her cute tan leather ones that have a bit of pink trim. "No," Daughter insisted. "Bown ones." I again offered "puppy shoes." "NO!" she said even more firmly. "Bown ones." If you don't think an almost-two-year-old can insist on something so strongly that there is simply no winning that fight, then you've never had a child this age. And if you have had a child this age, then you know that there are some battles not worth fighting. And so, she went to the party dressed like this from the waist down. Charming, no? And, oh, so fancy.
But our friends, no matter how much better dressed they are than we at pretty much every moment of every day, are parents themselves, so they chose to interpret the sneakers-with-party-dress look as charming.
Then it came time for me to unveil the dessert. I had spent quite a long time on Saturday making a pound cake. I even borrowed a pan from my sister, so that the cake would be particularly lovely. Here was my vision: a spring-like, buttery golden, flower-shaped cake sitting on a pretty platter, next to a cut-glass bowl of raspberry compote for spooning over individual slices.
Okay, so, got the vision in your head? The golden loveliness of a perfect pound cake juxtaposed with the juicy redness of raspberries? The kind of cake that calls for two sticks of butter, three cups of sugar, six eggs, a cup of sour cream (no low fat imitation stuff here!). A rich, dense, delicious, made-from-scratch concoction. And because our friends were going to have both set of their parents there, as well as two sets of aunts/uncles, I was particularly concerned that it look nice. Especially since the last time I took a dessert over there--for a much larger party--one guest said to me, "have you tried these little cupcakes? They don't look like much, but they sure taste great!" I did not reveal at the time that I was the baker of "don't look like much" cakes, but I was resolved this time to make something that not only tasted great but also looked like a million bucks. So, are you ready for the unveiling? Here is the lovely, flower-shaped wonder exactly how it looked when I turned it out of the pan:
No, the dog has not chewed it. No, these are not the leftovers. No, the pan is not hand crafted by monkeys with hammers. This is just how it came out (I used that verb loosely) of the pan.
You see, my sister--the baker*--told me that I should let this cake cool at least 30 minutes before trying to turn it out because a cake will set a little as it cools. And with an intricate design like this one (look closely at the photo, and you'll see what the design is supposed to be), you don't want to turn it out too early, or the cake will crack. [Got it.] And, she said, you should leave it at least two hours before covering it, so that it cools completely; otherwise, it will get soggy. [Check.] And, she said, (yes, she, the baker*), since this is a non-stick pan, as long as you coat it well before baking, you can leave the cake in the pan overnight so it won't dry out, and then turn it out at the party right before you serve it. TA DA!
Now, wouldn't you be proud to serve such a cake? At a friend's house?! After you'd promised to bring a dessert for 12 adults and 6 children? And you'd taken pains to make it especially beautiful?
Just in case you're even remotely temped to follow the "let it cool in the pan overnight" advice yourself, let me tell you what we tried to get it out of the pan. Keep in mind that the lovely molded shape of the flower, all ridged and intricate, made it completely impossible to run a knife smoothly around the circumference of the cake like any normal pan would allow. So, I loosened the top edge all the way around; tapped on the bottom of the pan; shook it; banged on the bottom with a knife; carefully inserted the knife into the pan at points all the way around; shook it harder; pulled more firmly on the edges of the cake; inverted it onto a plate and pounded on the bottom of the pan; soaked the entire pan in a gigantic bowl of scalding water for 10 minutes; inverted and tapped again; pulled so firmly on the edges of the cake that it began to crack; gave up on gorgeousness; stuck my fingers down along the edges of the cake to pry the buttery goodness out of the cold, dead hands of the pan. The pan won.
Fortunately, my friends are as gracious and classy as they are kind and fun. So when I asked for a large glass bowl, they pulled one out without question. Uncle L dashed off to his house for a tub of whipped topping, and I finished manhandling the hunks of pound cake into smaller chunks, layered it with the lovely raspberry topping and hastily-procured white whip, and voila! TRIFLE.
Which is, of course, exactly what I'd planned on making all along. It tasted scrumptious.
And since, as my lovely friend said, "no one should leave Easter dinner with a twitch," I'm just going to pretend that my contributions to the evening were gorgeous. Or at least, that they worked like the clowns in a Shakespearean tragedy -- a little comic relief against the backdrop of fabulous rack of lamb and asparagus goodness that the real actors turned out without even breaking a sweat.
And because I know said friend reads this blog, let me say publicly: Thank you for an amazing dinner and some truly wonderful friendship.
And for not laughing at my cake.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
In my dream world, I am a city girl. I have a fabulous job, something where I get to wear breezy-yet-glamorous clothes and do creative work with friendly colleagues who like good red wine. It's not that I don't have kids in this dream world -- only that somehow I can afford to live in a great place within walking distance of fabulous food, museums, a good city park, theater, and all the other city things that I can afford to take advantage of. You know: a fun career where I make enough money to enjoy all that a city has to offer, complete with children who love all this culture and never whine about having to walk from a very distant parking space back to our house. It's a dream world.
I've thought Boston. Or New York. Or London -- oh, how I love London. Hence, obviously, the quiz asking "what city do you belong in?" is one I just had to take. And I found, not at all to my surprise, and much to my delight, that the answer is in fact LONDON:
You Belong in London
A little old fashioned, and a little modern.
A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.
A unique soul like you needs a city that offers everything.
No wonder you and London will get along so well.
It is, of course, completely impossible to imagine how a literature professor gets a job that enables her to afford to live in London -- that is, without a husband who is an international business magnate of some kind (which Husband is not). And there's the little citizenship thingy. But it's lovely to be reminded that London and I do indeed get along so very well.
How about you? What city do you belong in?
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Although last week's Photo Hunt revealed promising green sprouts close to the earth, yesterday it started snowing again. Even chain link looks quite lovely dressed in feathery flakes, don't you think?
Friday, March 21, 2008
So here's a fashion question posed to me by Husband this morning: "Are corduroys out of style?"
You may contend they never were in style for anyone over the age of six. However, please recall that we live in Michigan, went to graduate school in Wisconsin, and have lived in and worn out our fair share of corduroys.
His question is prompted by having lost 20 pounds and consequently rediscovered stacks of pants that once again fit -- corduroys among them. But as he put it, "Now they fit again, only I realize I don't think I see anyone wearing them anymore." Perhaps this is because he is no longer 20-something and part of the grad school shabby chic crowd? Indeed, he has a real office job with stock options. But the office is "business casual" everyday and blue jeans casual on Fridays. The corduroys he is contemplating are very fine wale and unobtrusively styled.
So, dear readers, as I am not generally known as a fashion maven, can you tell me whether he should WEAR or DONATE these pants? Or where I should look to find out?
Sir John Pirate Badguy Racecar has amassed a crew willing to sail with him under his fabulous flag--and generously willing to take on any name Sir John PBR chooses to bestow. Hands on deck at present include: Lady Captain MegaSea, Sir Lightening Submarine, and Lady Duckling Transformer.
Originally denominated "Captain MegaSea," Lady Captain MegaSea was soon informed that "only boy pirates can be Captains." Complaining bitterly -- and avowing to love her given Pirate Name -- she was at last allowed to keep the name with the addition of the honorific "Lady." As Sir John Pirate Badguy Racecar explained: "only boys can be Captains, but it's okay if your name is Captain. It's just your name." (Strangely, he has never heard "Who's on First," though apparently he could have written it.)
Sir Lightening Submarine was very nearly Goose Mother Badguy Submarine, although -- in another fit of revision -- Sir John PBR announced, "I don't think I like the Mother and Goose part too much. It might make the picture too pretty." It is unclear if at some point we will have to begin referring to Sir Lightening Submarine as "Captain Sir Lightening Submarine, Sir" -- though it is to be expected that this will come to pass relatively soon, as long pirate names are by far preferable to short ones on this ship, and presumably he, as eldest male on the crew, will be Captain.
Although there is some concern that "pirates don't have dogs," Sir John Pirate Badguy Racecar suggested that Dog might like to be called Pirate Batman Spiderman Superman the Hulk. Lady Captain MegaSea contending that "Dog" should be a part of any good Pirate Dog name, Sir John PBR has deferred to the Dog Pirate naming excellence of BusyDad and his own young pirate hopeful who "sent a name on the computer." Dog has been rechristened: Gravedigger Blue Thunder Bat Dog.
You may also be glad to learn that, apparently, pirates are generally quite fond of Easter.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I've had several conversations with friends lately about the value of blogging, of play dates, of phone calls, of post-kid-bedtime get-togethers for enabling conversation amongst grown ups who are interested in talking about something other than poopy pants. I'll be the first to admit that I love a good post about the horrors of potty training. But I also love the occasional post sitting in my reader chatting about something going on in the grown-up world outside my home. So I'm going to try a little experiment here -- to write, once a week, a post about something not involving kids or domesticity in any way. This is not to denigrate those topics; after, all blogging has helped me feel so much more connected. There is a whole lot of feeling alone that can be mediated by realizing that someone else also has children who prefer to eat the same thing every. single. day. of. their. lives.
But I also think it might be fun to try to launch some conversations about the ponderables of life and just see what happens. If it turns out that everyone runs away screaming, well, experiment over. But I think maybe it would be good to get a little thinky together about the world once a week, and I hope you'll join in the conversation too.
So, for today, how 'bout that pesky Second Amendment? It's on my mind lately because of Tuesday's Supreme Court hearing of arguments about the Constitutionality (or not) of the D.C. ban on handguns. Realizing I'm not exactly sure what the language of the Amendment says, I looked it up. Here is the whole thing:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
That single sentence has launched countless hours of debate, legislation, gun hoarding, high emotion, logical arguments, and extraordinary self-righteousness on both sides of the question of gun control. I don't pretend to have any sense of what the right answer is, but I will offer the following observations.
(1) I'm more than a little unnerved by the increasing reports of gun violence at schools and on college campuses. It distresses me that guns are so easy to access and, more importantly, that there is so little apparent sense of the gravity of carrying around a loaded weapon in public. If guns were rarer, they would also be scarier. And with fear comes respect.
(2) People I know who hunt, or who have grown up in a family of hunters or law-enforcement members, often defend the right to own firearms. These are the people, though, who have a tremendously healthy respect for the power of a gun. They seem to me to be the ones who teach even children about gun safety. Who would not dream of toting around a concealed handgun in public.
But unfortunately, these are not the gun-wielders we see much in the media. And here's the rub: if you don't limit access to guns or restrict their locations of use on the basis of the Second Amendment, you certainly can't pass laws about how guns can be represented in popular culture. There's a First Amendment, see. The one about the right to free expression...
And this Scylla and Charbydis place is now exploding with bullets: in my opinion, guns too easy to get hold of plus cultural images that make the carrying of a gun seem like a casual, normal thing equals an over-armed public too willing to turn to the trigger whenever strong emotions strike.
(3) The Second Amendment is only one sentence long, and the part about people having the right "to keep and bear Arms" is introduced by the qualifying dependent clause, "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" -- which seems to me pretty clearly to be pointing towards the need for people to have and bear arms as part of a "State" defense program, a "Militia." It would seem, I think, to point towards the desire of the framers of the Constitution to assert the right of this new country to defend itself. Taking the second half of that sentence as if it is the whole Amendment is playing word games. Grammatically, people's right to "bear Arms" is because "the security of a free State" depends upon that right not being infringed. Grammatically, then, people would seem to have this right only insofar as they are armed as members of the Armed Forces or police.
I know this last point of mine is part of the argument Walter Dellinger made on Tuesday when defending the D.C. ban on handguns in front of the Justices. He was certainly more eloquent about it, bringing in details of the historical use of all of these term among many other things. I also know that even if the Supreme Court upholds this ban on the basis of grammar, that will not solve the enormous problem of gun violence in the United States. Much as I would like to see bumper stickers touting "Grammar, not Guns" -- sort of the grown up version of "Use Your Words," don't you think? -- these would not stop people from shooting.
So, what do you think the Supreme Court should rule in this case? Is it a violation of the Second Amendment for D.C. to have legislated a ban on owning or carrying handguns? (The ban does not extend to hunting rifles or any other guns that are too large to be concealed, by the way. It only covers handguns. But it does mean that you can't have one even in your home.) You can read the transcript of Tuesday's arguments here, if you are interested. And/or: what can we do in this country to help decrease the amount of senseless death on the receiving end of bullets?
And/or: even if you really don't want to jump into this debate, do you like the idea of getting Thinky once a week about something, political, social, animal, vegetable, mineral, or otherwise?
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
As the third active child in less than six years, it's amazing my mother lived to tell the tale. There were many Mom-isms that we grew up with (a goodly number of which I swore never to use on my children...and yet I have!), but a few favorites of hers that I only learned in later years were outright lies. And yet, like many a trusting child, I fell for them, hook, line and sinker. I also only realized once I was a parent myself that what she SAID and what she MEANT, were not exactly the same thing...
What she said...
1. "All the vitamins are in the crust."
2. "Santa only comes when children are sleeping."
3. "Germs thrive on sugar."
4. "Euphoria is a really special game where all the children lie on the floor, and the first to move or speak loses."
5. "The only way you're going to learn how to spell properly is if you look it up in the dictionary yourself."
What she meant...
1. "I'm sick and tired of wasting half a loaf of bread to the garbage. Eat the @*#&$! crusts!"
2. "I still have 452 presents to wrap, a doll dress to finish sewing, and stocking stuffers to pull out of thin air. Will. You. Please. Go. To. Bed."
3. "Since I can barely convince you to eat anything while you're sick, the last thing I'm going to do is endorse a candy bar over yogurt."
4. "For the love of all that is holy, will you PLEASE BE QUIET. I can't even hear myself think!"
5. "I have absolutely no idea how to spell otamatapeia. Odomatopia. Onomatopeia. Whatever."
And now, with parent-child battles of my own, I do have a greater appreciation of what she was up against. And a greater respect for the lies told so convincingly that it wasn't until I was 12, and made bread from scratch myself, that I realized the crust was made of the same stuff as the rest of the bread...
Last Friday, Son decided it would be an excellent idea to wear his pirate costume to the library. Complete with sword, hat and eyepatch. I kid you not. I did not bring my camera because I didn't feel the need to draw more attention to what I was sure would be a four-year-old pirate "aaargh!"-ing his way around in public. In fact, I could have taken photos because he was blithely tripping amongst the stacks as if it were the most normal thing in the world to be in the library wearing this:
The children's section occupies the entire downstairs, and we usually look for books on a theme Son has chosen. In the past, we've done dinosaurs, diggers, tigers, rocket ships, and "bowmen" (knights). This week? I wish you could have seen him sitting in the adult-sized chair in front of the librarian's desk, wearing his outfit-- eye-patched flipped up for formality's sake, legs sticking straight out in front of him because the chair is so deep -- and politely requesting pirate books. The librarian was a pro; she did not even smirk. We came home with both fiction and non-fiction.
Guess what I learned? Out at sea, a pirate would periodically toss a piece of weighted wood overboard. Tied to the wood was a loooong piece of rope, with knots in it at regular intervals (47 feet 3 inches; thanks, Wikipedia). A second pirate would use a sand timer, so the two of them could accurately count how many knots slipped through Pirate A's fingers in 30 seconds, in order to calculate their speed in -- you guessed it, lovers of all things nautical -- knots. And that's why sailors the world over still calculate their speed in knots. Of course, the particular book that imparted this nugget seems to imply that pirates invented this labor-intensive speedometer, but I'm letting that bit of artistic license slide for now.
Guess what else I learned? Apparently kids are aware of the fact that they prefer to take in the identical bit of kid-media many many many times in a row. Enough times that if they ask for the Backyardigans' pirate episode once more, you might scratch your own eyes out even though you adore the Backyardigans. How do I know that kids know they have this preference for ceaseless repetition? This was our conversation during the towering-pile-of-pirate-books winnowing process:
Me: We have too many books here. You need to choose four to put back.
Son: We-ellll, how about you choose your favorites, and I choose mine. We each pick three.
Me: [figuring six is close enough to the five I'd been aiming for] Okay. I pick this, this, and this.
Son: I choose this, this, and this. But wait...what about this one and this one and... [etc. until all the original books are in our pile once again]
Me: We really can't take them all. Here. How about we put this one back? [indicating a very dull "I Spy" book with a pirate theme -- a book we'd just finished reading five minutes before, one whose pictures were so uninspiring that the spying felt like a chore]
Son: NO! I like that one.
Me: [still hoping to jettison the only boring book about pirates ever written] But we just read it right now. So maybe we can leave it at the library, and we'll take home some of these others that we haven't read.
Son: But I want that one.
Me: Honey, we need to put a few back, and we already read this one.
Son: [looking quizzically at me, as if I really don't get it] But I want to take it home. So you can read it to me a million times.
We ended up with seven books. Including the deadly dull "I Spy" book. Because how could we live a whole week till the next library visit without at least one million readings of "I Spy" the pirate's parrot and the letter X on every single page? Aaarghh!
Since then, I have also learned that pirates often created individualized Jolly Rogers to fly on their ships. Guess what Son took for Show and Tell today? It's bright yellow, with a magenta grinning skull on it, and two crossed red swords where most folks would imagine the cross-bones. We mounted it on a small stick for a flagpole. And then Son demanded that I write his New Pirate Name on the back of the flag, so that everyone would know his New Pirate Name. He has christened himself:
And if you try to shorten the name, say, to Sir John Pirate, you will be sternly reprimanded for not using the full moniker. So be forewarned: If Sir John Pirate Badguy Racecar comes to a town near you (you'll know him by his garish flag), do NOT attempt disrespectfully to shorten his name, and DO be prepared to read the most deadly dull pirate book ever written one million times. Unless, that is, you know how to build a canon. That's the project he announced to me he wants to try next because "every pirate ship needs a canon." Obviously.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Mr. Lady tagged me for my very first meme ev-ah. I feel like I should add a “yo” to the end of that sentence, in her honor; at the very least, I should use a semi-colon—her new favorite punctuation. So, thanks, Mr. Lady, for pulling me onto the meme train! This has been an excellent procrastination tool to help me avoid grading the projects I really should be working on. I appreciate the love. And the distraction.
Name one thing you do every day:
Write. Comments on student papers, reams of emails, chapters or articles based on my own research, occasional children’s fiction (never yet published), book reviews, to-do lists, blog posts, or dictations from my budding-writer Son. I write a lot. I've been known to say there's too much paper in my life. But honestly? I don't think I could live or breathe if I didn't write.
Name 2 things you wish you could learn:
1. To ice skate well enough to win an Olympic medal. I’m not picky; it doesn’t have to be a gold medal.
2. To sing well enough that I don’t feel the need to murmur my way through “Happy Birthday” out of sheer mortification.
Name 3 things that remind you of your childhood:
1. Peppermint ice cream. Please do not confuse with mint chocolate chip. I mean the intensely pink mint ice cream studded with tiny bits of red and green peppermint candy. For years and years, I ate this every single Saturday – after consuming vast quantities of crispy crust Canadian bacon pizza with my sisters, dad, and step-mother.
2. The smell inside my mother’s sewing machine cabinet drawers. A bit spicy, somewhat dry, like an exotic wood that’s been warmed in the sun. I can still smell the excitement of creativity that I tried to imbibe by sitting behind her on the same chair as she sewed. (How annoying must that have been?!) And since I now have the cabinet, I get a reminder of all those happy afternoons every time I search out a needle or thread for any reason.
3. An old wicker trunk that I now use to store wrapping paper. Every year, my sisters and I took over our mother’s decorative wicker trunk in the weeks before Christmas and slowly stockpiled our wrapped offerings inside. Unwritten rule was that no one else was allowed to look inside the trunk. On Christmas Eve, we would choose one sister’s room and all sleep together on the floor, and then wake up at something like 5am to sneak out and add our stash to the pile under the tree. “Santa” had already visited, the tree lights were left lit all night, and the presents from the three of us doubled the pile – so there was always a surprising treat for the rest of the household (brother, mom, stepdad, grandparents) when they woke up too. Then we’d go back to our sleeping bags, whisper and giggle for a while, and fall asleep again until it was really time to get up. We felt like fairies. It was magical.
Name 4 things you love to eat but rarely do:
1. Timbale. This is a fabulous Italian dome-shaped dish that requires making a huge sheet of homemade pasta and lining your largest metal mixing bowl with it, and then spending the next four hours frying up homemade sausage meat balls, making marinara sauce with fresh minced vegetables and fresh tomatoes, boiling pasta, hardboiling eggs, and layering all this and about 10 other ingredients inside the pasta sheet before you seal it all up and bake it for three hours. It feeds about a dozen people and takes two good cooks all day to make and clean up after. So you know why I rarely eat it. Even though it tastes totally incredible.
2. Boiled artichokes with tons of garlic butter to dip the leaves in. Fantastic. Simple. Delicious. But who needs to eat ½ a stick of butter on a regular basis? Really.
3. Fresh lobster, eaten at a picnic table on the dock in
Name 5 things/people that make you feel good:
1. What my dear friend Rebecca has named the Big Salon Hair Cut. One that lasts an hour and a half, costs more than you’ll admit to your husband, includes Product (always with a capital P) that smells heavenly, and makes you wish you had some Event to attend that night with lots of strangers and a few old college snobs to impress.
2. A toddler who greets me at the door running full-tilt and hollering “mama!” at the top of her enormous voice.
3. A student who, out of the blue, sends me a note to say how much she enjoyed my class last semester.
4. When Husband reaches over in the middle of a movie and starts giving me a foot rub even before I suggest it
5. Flashing a tricky 5.9. It’s not as dirty as it sounds. Well, not that kind of dirty. If you’ve never gone rock climbing, here’s the translation: you read the number as “five nine,” and everyone just knows there’s a decimal there; flashing means you’ve never climbed the route before, and you make it all the way to the top without a fall or glitch; a 5.9 is hard enough that I couldn’t do one at all now that I haven’t been climbing for a few years but not so hard that I couldn’t work up to it again. If you wonder why rock climbing makes me feel good, here’s a photo that pretty much sums it up (yes, that's the ocean at the bottom of the cliffs; this particular climb was not actually not very hard, but it's a pretty incredible feeling to be out in nature like this):
In the spirit of memeosity, I am tagging PB&J in a Bowl, Kim at Jogging in Circles, and McMommy at The McMommy Chronicles, all of whom I’d like to get to know better. If they're already all memed out, I understand -- but being that this is my first chance to pass one on, I'm not blase enough to refuse.
Monday, March 17, 2008
As I finished changing Minnie 1, and stood her up on the changing table, she reached out both hands and cupped my face.
"This your chin, Mama?" she asked.
"Yes, sweetie, that's my chin."
"This my chin," she said, touching her own.
"Yes, that's right."
Back to caressing mine..."I love your chin, Mama! It so pwitty."
"Why, thank you, sweetie," I said with a laugh.
"Your chin pink," she continued, nodding wisely, "like my shirt!"
"I guess that's true."
"I looovvvvve pink!"
It's nice to be appreciated for my color, if nothing else. :-)
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Given that I've been known to let my own dog write a guest post here, it seems obvious that when I came across a quiz offering to tell me what breed of dog I am, I could not possibly pass it up. Here's what I found out:
Personally, I think Literature Professor and Astronaut/CEO are basically the same profession, so obviously this is a right-on-target quiz you should be champing at the bit to take for yourself. For more enlightenment, Dogster also provides a human translation of what it means to be whatever dog you are.
There's a handy dandy Learn More link, which bops you out to a page about the dog itself. Honestly, I liked reading that better, as it seemed less lunatic-overachieving-family-hating cutthroat bitch (I use that word only in the technical dog handler way, obviously). So, without further ado, I present to you a breed-specific profile of MommyTime (abridged):
The AchieverYou've heard about this "second-place ribbon" thing, but really don’t ever plan on getting one. Not a chance. Highly competitive, you keep one eye on the Best in Show prize and one on the rest of the pack, making sure you're always at least one paw ahead. You love your family and enjoy the company you keep, but you'd trade all of them in a heartbeat for a corner office and some meaty stock options. When you're not licking your professional coat, naked skydiving and triathlons keep you entertained. You idolize the top dog and will do so until you sniff out a way to take over the company and do a little "restructuring."
The things I think deserve the most emphasis here are tireless perfectionist (read: can't say no to projects, then refuses to do them half-assed even if it means staying up till 3am to finish) and a tendency to take charge (Husband would say bossy; I would say organized). I've always wanted to be a better herder and am delighted to learn this is a skill I should be able to develop without much difficulty. As for strange, irrational reactions, I suppose anyone might stomp around the house in a snit and rattle the dishes too loudly after paying the hairdresser over $70 to add highlights that would achieved the much-desired long two-toned mane--highlights which no one could even tell were there. Because obviously several days of stomping dish-rattling is so much more productive and satisfying than calling the salon back and demanding a redo.
Trademark Traits:Border Collies are loyal, trainable, whip-smart pets with an oversupply of energy; i.e. they won’t just hang out on the couch. . . . Easily trainable and eager to please, Border Collies can sometimes be perfectionists when it comes to learning and executing new skills. . . . Border Collies also like direction. A firm (but friendly) owner who can keep up with obedience lessons and training is necessary. They have a tendency to dominate weak-willed owners, so make sure your Border Collie knows who’s the boss. However, severe punishment or harsh treatment can elicit strange, irrational reactions. Regular doses of positive reinforcement will help them thrive.
- Long, two-toned mane
- Smart and independent
- Eager to please
- Suspicious of strangers
- Great herder
- Tireless worker
What kind of dog are you?
Saturday, March 15, 2008
This is the perfect time of year to play "I Spy" in the garden. Tiny little shoots bearing such great promise are everywhere -- if only you're willing to get down very close to the earth to find them out. (Click on photos to enlarge for details -- it's worth it, I promise.)
Tulip spears, red-tipped and strong enough to pierce a fallen leaf ...
the rounded glossy green of daffodils ...
sedum, nestling like miniature but extravagant cabbage amongst the remains of last year's stems and last week's snow...
... all fulfilling the promise of Spring.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Directions: Match the Causes with the Appropriate Effects
* Children wake up chipper at 5:15am; Mommy is dysfunctionally literate before 7:00am
* Little Miss I-Do-It has taken up residence and has the wherewithal to try anything
* Dog loves to go in and out, in and out, in and out of the house
* The entire couch is covered in fine, pulverized Cheerio dust
* The kitchen floor is all wet (with something that must be cleaned, not something made for cleaning)
* Daughter’s shoes are on the wrong feet over her feetsie pajamas
* There is dog food under the kitchen table
* The children have watched three hours of TV
It is only 8:30am
Ah-HA. Trick quiz. Did you figure out that you have to draw lines from each of the causes to all of the effects? If so, did you notice that in doing so you have created a page that is a scrawled, inarticulate mess? If so, did you observe that you have produced a metaphoric map of the confused state of most parental brains when wide-awake children demand coherent responses prior to 6:00 am?
If so, I conclude that you are familiar with the parenting of young children. And that you are reading this at a reasonable hour of the day, having consumed at least one large cup of your daily beverage-of-choice. Care to share?
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I've complained a lot in recent months about how unfair things have happened to me...missed trips, illness, missed opportunities. But the events of the last week have brought new meaning to "unfair" and I have realized that those recent bumps in the road of my life, while certainly un-fun, could have been a whole lot worse. In fact, my life is rather blessed.
A week ago today a very dear friend of ours died. Hadley was only 54, in good health, and led an active life. He left behind 2 sons, one in his mid-20's, the other a recent college grad, and a truly lovely wife (inside and out) who is battling with MS. His kids are as terrific as he was--warm, generous, fun, loyal, dedicated. He was always full of life, and it was hard to be around him without a smile on your face. Hadley would have done anything for anyone, and frequently did. The lives he touched, and changed, numbered in the dozens, if not hundreds. I do not exaggerate when I say that over 400 people attended his funeral. I've known Hadley for over 11 years; his family and my husband's have been friends for 25. My husband sailed with him often, leading them to victory in many a regatta. This has been a very hard death to deal with.
Hadley owned an oil business that his sons have helped with since they were 10 years old. Last Thursday, Hadley arrived just a few minutes before his younger son, greeted one of his drivers, handed over the keys, and went into his office. His son passed the driver on his way out to the truck, and then went in to say good morning to his father. In the two or so minutes that Hadley was alone, he died. The conjecture is a massive heart attack or an aneurism. Regardless, his 20-something sons are left to figure out how to run a business that their dad ran mostly in his head, and his wife is left to struggle through a debilitating illness on her own. And a really good man will touch others' lives no more. That is the epitome of unfair.
And while I would like to say that I will never refer to my life as "unfair" again, that is a fool's promise, for I am both human and realistic, and it is all too easy to get wrapped up in one's own life. But I can promise that I will never forget the joy with which Hadley lived his life, nor the sheer meaninglessness of his death. And in remembering, I will strive for perspective and balance in my own life. Hadley, my friend, we will miss you.
Kalamazoo Mom of Two got me thinking, with her incredibly ambitious closet clean-out, about things I need to clean that I don’t. There are the big obvious ones – like my home office. Which is another name for the dumping ground room we use when cleaning up the rest of the place for company. Or the top of my dresser in my bedroom which, because it is the first horizontal surface one encounters on walking into the room and is also too high for either dog or kids to reach, is on the receiving end of everything from dangerously pointy pens to “edible” rubbish. What is edible rubbish? Think: the tissue used to clean picnic food off the kids’ faces at the park and then stuck in a pocket due to lack of trash can. If you don’t know why this tissue is edible, you don’t have a big Rhodesian Ridgeback with a stomach of iron and indiscriminate taste in food. But I digress.
The thing that really gets my goat in our house is The Pile.
In case you've never met The Pile (who are you, again?): It contains miscellaneous art projects, catalogues, empty marker caps, broken bits of toys that need gluing, circulars about driveway snow removal, pseudo-important looking mail like the quarterly updates of policies from retirement account managers. It is generally perched on the end of a counter and topped precariously by four blank Christmas cards complete with their unused envelopes, a box of Kleenex, and three mismatched batteries that might be dead or might be new but how do you test them to tell.
This Pile makes me nuts. I sort it, toss ¾ of it, manage to rescue the occasional bill from it on the very brink of lateness. But then, what do I do with the art projects? And how do I toss perfectly good blank cards? So, having winnowed, I restart the pile. It is small, tidy, with the biggest things on the bottom. Not precarious at all. It feels like success.
But smug-cleanliness, thy name is Pile. Invariably, I look over one day to find it has grown into a beast again. Apparently overnight. A Play-Doh topped behemoth threatening to leap off the counter and take up residence over the entire kitchen table, complete with child-safe pinking scissors and assorted scraps of construction paper that will certainly be useful for making more monster projects.
There must be some method better than knocking it off the counter by accident on bleary pre-coffee mornings or sorting it late on Sundays looking for bills that have to be paid online before midnight. Surely someone else has shoved this pile into a brown paper bag to “sort later” because company would be here any minute, and then forgotten to sort it at all?
Is it just me? Don’t feel bad admitting it if it is. Just tell me: how do I defeat this Pile? How do you?
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
In the manner of the "Editor" of many an early novel, I beg leave to remind you that occasionally otherwise-normal people can temporarily lose their minds...
Brother-in-Law’s birthday. Must remember to call him when I get home from work tonight. Idle thought: Huh, March 4th. Funny. Shouldn’t I have gotten my period by now?
Oh. My. Stars. Could it be possible? Quick! Isn’t there a stick I can pee on, leftover from when I was trying to get pregnant with Daughter? There is. So I sneak into the bathroom while the kids are cutting something or gluing something or whatever. Who cares? Must. pee. on. stick. Three minutes later: false alarm.
Still nothing. Now convinced that the test must be wrong, I email an
In the meantime, I rack my brains trying to remember exactly when my last Little Visitor arrived. Because of course all I can recall is thinking recently how convenient it was that it seems to be arriving predictably at the end of every month. Except this is March, which means February has ended with no visit—and even though February is short, we’re now almost a week into March. Only I have not been writing this down. So I backtrack to August and September, the last two months I can remember for sure when It arrived because of events that marked the occasion. I try to recall exactly when It started in each of those months. Because back then, when I was writing this down, I was doing it on the calendar. You know, the one for 2007. The one I threw away when 2008 arrived because with all the clutter in my house, who needs to keep last year’s calendar?
So I end up calculating a cycle that’s 32 days, which is much shorter than it used to be before I started having kids. But it seems right, since I do remember that little revelation about how handy it was to have this thing every month. So much easier to keep track. Hah. And then I do the math to determine when Aunt Flo should have come every month since September, in order to figure out when I should be expecting her now. (No, this is not obsessive; this is practical.) And I come up with the 5th of March.
Which. Was. Yesterday.
I call my sisters, my best friend since I was 11 years old, my best friend from graduate school, my best friend in the town where I live. I leave overly light-hearted messages on every single answering machine because none of them are available on any phone they own. Hi, me here. Nothing much going on. Just wondering what’s up with you. Give me a call when you have a chance. I am supposed to be grading papers. I spend an hour re-calculating my likely dates for every menstrual cycle since September to figure out if it’s possible that I’m actually due next week. It’s possible. If my cycle were 33 days instead of 32, that would add one day every month, which would add one week over the course of seven months, which would mean It would be due around the 12th. This does not make me feel better. Why is every single person I know in the universe not near a phone right now?!?
At dinner, I fess up my concern to Husband, who I think would rather start a circus or move to
This does not sound reasonable to me. This sounds like denial.
I decide to take a proactive approach. I spend two hours Googling “precipitous labor” trying to figure out if the child I am obviously carrying is likely to arrive as quickly as Daughter and how one forms a back-up plan to avoid becoming one of those birth-in-the-car-on-the-freeway stories on the 6:00 news. I also check out multiple Ovulation Calculators and Due Date Calculators trying to figure out when my cycle might actually be considered late. Of course, these all politely request that you "enter the date of your last period." Which. I Don’t KNOW!
I am now officially insane. I was basically the last person to check out in the line at Target tonight because at twenty minutes before 10pm I could NOT stand it any longer and put on my coat and boots and drove to the store as quickly as was safe on the dangerously pot-hole filled roads of Southeast Michigan. Why did I do this? To. buy. pregnancy. tests. Because I could not possibly wait till tomorrow morning to pee on a stick and find out that—according to the test at least—I am NOT pregnant.
Thanks goodness I bought a two-pack of these stupid, inaccurate tests. I tuck the package under the couch cushion. Under the couch cushion?! What am I, a teenager with a dirty little secret? Oh, no, wait. I am a crazy lady.
A crazy lady who was so tired yesterday in the middle of the day that she had to take a nap. One who has been completely unable to stop eating anything that’s not bolted down for the past 10 days. One who has insomnia at 3am but yawns through her teaching at 3:30pm. One who has been impatient with the children she already has. These are clearly SIGNS.
Never mind that if I am pregnant, but it’s too early for the tests to show me this, then it’s far too early to be exhibiting symptoms of pregnancy. Never mind that only one of these is a usual early pregnancy symptom for me. Never mind that the TWO tests I have already taken tell me that I am NOT pregnant.
Because when you are a crazy lady who half wants a third child and half is completely terrified to have another, EVERYTHING is a sure sign of pregnancy, AND ALL THE TESTS ARE WRONG.
I am bored. Crazy Bored. There is nothing else to Google. I have read every story on “precipitous labor” available on the Internet, including the scenarios in nursing manuals designed to help Labor and Delivery nurses cope with emergencies (thanks, Google Books). I have read every website in existence in English that has ideas about early pregnancy signs, intuition, and calculating one’s due date.
I have become resigned. There is nothing I can do but wait. In four more days, I can take another test that will prove that, while I may be crazy, I am also right.
Thank goodness there is still one unused pregnancy test left under the couch cushions! I take it first thing in the morning, which is (as everyone knows) a far preferable time of day to take a pregnancy test. It is still negative. This cannot be right. I think of one more thing to Google: I look up pregnancy test accuracy. And I find out that this particular First Response brand test, the one that brags about giving results four days before your period is due, this one measures the pregnancy hormone at concentrations of 100mIU. I have no idea what this means. But even crazy, ignorant me can see that 100 is a bigger number than 25 – and the New Choice test available at Dollar Tree for $1 measures the hormone at 25mIU. So, I kick myself repeatedly for buying the stupid, expensive, brand name test at Target. And I stop by Dollar Tree on the way to pick up the kids from daycare and buy the last two pregnancy tests they have in the whole store. Because, of course, one will not be enough.
I awaken nervous and excited about the real test that will prove who is right and who is crazy...
Don’t you hate it when relatives arrive earlier than they’re expected? And then you have to run to the store to quick! quick! pick up the things you must have for their visit that you neglected to restock earlier? Sorry, Aunt Flo, you’ll have to make yourself comfy for a short while. I’ll be home as soon as I can.
Do you suppose CVS also carries pocket calendars? I seem to need one...
Edited to add...
Apparently I am too cryptic with the whole "relatives arriving early" thing. Aunt Flo is in the houuuussse! [insert appropriate boom-crash music and stomping] She's arrived a whole day early. Yesterday. Hence this post with no photos of little sticks containing two pink lines. You can thank me now, or later, for sparing you the photos of many many sticks containing only one pink line.