Thursday, October 28, 2010


Up until this week we got a different answer every time we asked Danny what he wanted to be for Halloween. Now we're on the hook for a helicopter pilot costume. Dear God, help us.

My husband is, at this very hour, trying to outfit our double stroller as a helicopter for Danny, who insists on being a helicopter pilot for Halloween. We're slowly working out the details of the rest of the costume. (Have I ever mentioned how much I despise Halloween? Well, except for the big bag of candy that we buy two weeks before Halloween that almost never makes it to the trick or treaters.)

Halloween 2009
Fiona is easier. She doesn't have a preference and the biggest challenge will be getting her to keep on the hat that I sewed a yarn wig into. She'll be in a raggedy ann costume made up of an outfit I already had. Owen will be a skunk (thanks to my neighbor Justine for handing this one down to me). Jim thinks I should be the cat that Pepe Le Pew pined after. How appropriate ... lately dear Owen can't get enough of mommy. He actually tries to crawl after me as I leave the room and whines every time he sees me. (It's just so charming.) And Jim, of course, will don the now-infamous mullet wig (and I'll pretend I don't know who he is).

And without further ado, here are this week's top overheard remarks ...

Noooooo, Fiona yells. And it's not the sweet, soft "No" with a cute head tilt that we used to get.

Why are you doing that to the stump, Daddy?
I'm cutting it down, Danny. It's in the way of progress here and that darn Lorax keeps popping out of it, Jim replies.

NOOOOOOOO. Dear Lord child, you just woke up. What could possibly be wrong?

Why are you doing that, Daddy? Danny asks (again) as Jim hacks away at the tree stump with an axe.
We need more sneeds, he says.
We love The Lorax around here. If you've never read it, you really must. The book pretty much sums up our attitude about our consumerist society and its effect on the environment. (Hint: We most often come down on the side of the Lorax even though we're hacking up tree stumps.)

Jim, you spend more time on grooming than I do.
Hey, I work with people.
So do I.
Yeah, but they don't care how you smell 'cause they smell worse. 
Is this supposed to make feel better about smelling like sour milk and sweat? It doesn't.

No. Noooo. No. Noooo. Did I mention Fiona says this A LOT?

I need a nap, Daddy says as he's driving the kids.
Take a nap while you're driving. That's a good idea, Danny says.


Jim, just stop talking to her, I say, after realizing that Fiona says "No" every time you speak to her.

Noooooo. No. NOOOOOOOOOOO. (My ears are bleeding.)

I can't do it. I don't pee on wheels, Danny explains to Nana, who tried to get him to pee beside the car while waiting for the fireworks to start last weekend.

Sorry, Fiona says about 50 times a day whether she's done anything worth apologizing for or not. Oddly, she never says this after screaming "No" in my poor bleeding ears.

My penis is a squirt bottle, Danny says. Oh dear. At least he's not running around "shooting" with it anymore.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. (I think my head just exploded.)

Look, mom, it's the po-po, Danny says whenever he sees a police car lately. (Thanks, Jim. Now our kid talks like a gangster.)

Have a fun weekend. Try not to eat all the Halloween candy before Sunday.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Back when I had fewer kids, I seemed to be able to form coherent thoughts on topics other than poop, sleep and toddlers who don't eat. My number one source of outside news these days is my husband who often asks me, "Did you hear about ... " And I say, "Um, no." And just as he begins relating the news of the day, someone starts screaming or someone needs to be changed or wiped or fed. I just nod and try to comprehend what he says. I often just keep my mouth shut because I fear sleep deprivation has rendered me incoherent and totally confused. (This is a sad state of affairs for someone who used to work for a newspaper.)

This morning, though, I was listening to some yippity yappers on a morning talk show and I heard this:

"This should be a lesson to the banks that they can't run their front office so fast. If some people get back into their houses free and clear, then so be it."

And this:

"If there are people out there who just signed every piece of paper put in front of them [at the closing table], then there are going to be some indictments."

They were talking about the foreclosure crisis. Now, I know the perils of taking quotes "out of context," but let me assure you, they were talking about this as a moral issue and actually sticking up for the defaulting homeowner. I don't know, though ... keeping something, like, say, a house, that you didn't pay for seems like stealing to me. And stealing is against the law under most, if not all, circumstances. Right?

I would comment further but I'm just tired and kind of sad that my children are growing up in a world where figuring out right from wrong is so very confusing. Sigh. 

The nonsense my children utter under our (mortgaged) roof  seems to make more sense. 

This is a little corner, Danny cries as he's shown the corner at Nana's house.
That's okay, Dan, you have a little nose, Daddy replies.

Owie, you're my best friend, Danny says. [Sniff] Actually, I had to fight the tears pretty hard. I get weepy when I haven't had much sleep.

I have had it with the dumping of the hamster, I tell my husband over the phone one morning. Owie was up every two hours the night before. This seriously hampers (the word I meant to use, actually) my ability to communicate intelligibly.

Put that [kitchen set] back upright, I tell Danny.
No thanks, he replies.
Oh, really? A quick smack on the bum changed his mind.

I did it all by myself like a man, Danny tells me after helping himself to the lemonade. I had just moved the lemonade dispenser to the bottom shelf in the fridge where the kids can reach it. I'm sure that I'll come to regret this very soon. Though I do love that he can help himself and his sister to snacks and drinks now.

Have a good weekend. (And don't forget to pay your mortgage. It's still the right thing to do.)

Friday, October 15, 2010


See? He's sitting up now!!
I'm living three inches from my face these days. Not my words, but those of a man I know who said this once and it just made so much sense. Remembering his words helps me laugh at myself when I feel like crying. It's weeks like this past one where I forget that there's a reason for everything and it will all become clear in a few days or months or years. I forget that sleeplessness in young children usually precedes milestones big and sometimes small. At least in this instance the pay off is sooner rather than later.

The baby, who otherwise sleeps pretty well, decided to throw himself a one-man party between 2 and 4 a.m. a few nights this week. Yesterday, he began sitting up without losing his balance. He's quite pleased with himself. And he's at the Swiffer stage; he's scooting across my filthy floors. At least he's making himself useful. In other news, Fiona is getting quite verbal, even asking without whining the other night for a napkin at dinner. She still whine much of the time, or, as I like to call it, mining. She walks around the house whining "Mine" almost constantly. It's so unpleasant.

I assisted in Danny's classroom this week which was a fun break from the work at home. Danny got to be student of the week. He was "interviewed" during circle time. He told the teacher he wanted to be a rock and roll singer. And he even got to bring in his little stuffed kitty, whose name is Professor Gilbert. I'm not even kidding. He came up with this one on his own. His father was goading him into calling it Bo Derek, but it didn't stick, thank goodness.

What I can recall from this week pretty much sums up the kind of week we've had here:

Fiona: Here.
Me: Thank you. 
Fiona: No, MINE.
And this could go on all day. She likes the act but not he concept of giving.

Bad girl, Fiona says after doing something she thinks might be wrong. I think Danny has been calling her this lately. I may be able to fool people into thinking she's talking about boogers. 

Dammit, Fiona says. Awww. Fiona's first curse word. (Shit. I mean, shoot. I mean, sugar.)

What the hell? Danny says quietly as he sets up his cars in a traffic jam. Dear God, It's me. Please don't let my son say anything like this at preschool, 'kay?

What's wrong? Danny asks a little boy who is having a tantrum because he doesn't want to leave the park. When he gets no response, he explains: There's no crying at this park.

I'm going to go run errands, Dan. See you later, I say, kissing his forehead.
Don't do it, he yells.
Why not?
You could get lost.
I've told him not to run off alone because he could get lost. Sigh. Now he won't let me out of his site. In fact, this is the reason he tells me to stay with him at preschool.

No, Danny, you can't stir [the boiling macaroni water]. That's a job for an adult. 
Hey, I'm an adult, he bellows. 
Um, no, honey, you're a kid. 

Two minutes later, he returns to the kitchen ...

I'm a little kid adult, he informs me with hands on hips. He is persistent; I'll give him that.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mysteries of the mom-iverse

I knew about three year olds. I'd heard that they like to ask questions. Danny started out shortly after his third birthday with the questions. The progression has been interesting. He started with What's that? and moved on to What's that thing do?

Now that he's established what everything is and what it does, he digs a little deeper. He wants to to know why. We get this question a couple dozen times a day. I'd been bracing for this so hard that I remember the first why question he asked. He was 3 years and 9 months old and the question was about gum. Why is it stretchy, he wanted to know. And I thought, "Great. The first why and I have no answer."

Two months later, I'm still stumped on a daily basis. Today's stumper? Why do I have to be respectful, he asks. Is "Because I said so, you little snot" an acceptable answer? (I didn't say that ... I just sent him to his room for a nap AFTER I made him pick up all the toys he angrily threw on the floor. And, no dear family, I don't wonder at all where he gets his temper, kay?)

Why should he have all the fun?  I have a few questions of my own and most seem to have no good answer. But feel free to take a stab at any of these.

If my kids barely eat, why is my grocery bill nearly $500 a month?

If I barely eat (really, who has time for that with three kids), why am I not losing that much weight? And, again, why is my grocery bill so high?

Where do my children get all their energy if all they eat are apples?

Why does the child who is unfazed by pee pee pants scream like crazy when a drop of water or juice spills on his shorts?

Why do my kids take one sip of water from their water bottles then abandon them, but fall all over themselves to take a sip from my water bottle?

Why can my husband spend a morning with the kids and report that the girl child "didn't whine a bit" but when I spend the day with the kids there's more whine than a Napa Valley vineyard?

Why can my husband ignore the children and get work done around the house while I can't fold a basket of laundry without a dozen interruptions? (Not that I'm complaining, but, seriously, why does he get to look like Super Dad while I can barely fold a basket of laundry or mop the floor or clean out a closet?)

Why do the children only cry and whine at me in the  kitchen but not my husband? We tested this theory the other day. Fiona began crying the second I walked in the kitchen. My husband had been in there for a few minutes already.

Why is that I can get three kids (and myself) dressed, fed and strapped into car seats and the diaper bag packed and ready for church in less than an hour but be waiting in the van for my husband? I mean, it's not like he's up there putting on make up or anything. (Actually, this man spends more time on grooming than I do.)

When I've had such a rough day with the kids that I do a little happy dance after they go to bed, why do I suddenly feel the urge to check on them when they're sleeping? Oh, wait, maybe I know the answer to this one: Because it's easier to conjure up positive thoughts about a silent, sleeping child.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


It's been quite relaxing around here lately despite Fiona's nearly nonstop hyper-whining and Owen's inability to go back to sleep between 10 and midnight. There's been lots of play dough sessions on the back porch, free play in the backyard and even a trip to the Museum of Life and Science. I also started approaching Danny's defiance and disobedience a little differently this week. I've managed to take some of the emotion out of it and it's made a big difference. Case in point ...

One day this week, Danny pooped his pants a little while doing computer games. Don't you just love stories that start out with poop? I told him to go upstairs to get cleaned up. I mentioned that computer games were more important than going potty so there would be no more computer games that day (Thanks to sister Jax for a tip on how best to convey consequences). I figured this would be a good time to give him some choices as my brother suggested this past weekend (when in doubt, ask a shrink with no kids, right?). Upstairs, I gave him two choices: take a nap or poop in the potty. He balked, he cried, he whined. I repeated the choices.

He told me, through tears: "I don't want to do choices."

I laughed. (Is that allowed?) Then he laughed.

He took a nap.

And in other news ...

You need to say "Yes, ma'am," and move on with your life. This is my new line when Danny begins to argue with me. So far, it's been working. He quiets down and moves on with his life.

You need to come this minute or mommy will think of something dreadful to do to you. I didn't think it would actually work, but he came and we left the museum quite peacefully.

I'm going to put my nose in the corner. [pause] That's a good idea, Danny tells me on his way to the new timeout spot. Time out is no longer in the cushy chair that we found on the curb years ago and reupholstered. He just sits there and taunts us. The time out spot is now a corner that he faces and puts his nose in. He's been there only twice this week.

And the aftermath ... 

Your sister's head is not a baseball, I tell him. His response? "Oh." (it's as if he thought his sister's head was a baseball all along.)

Danny: I don't like public. (talking about preschool, as I had just told him that when he burps in public he should say "Excuse me.")
Me: Oh? Why not?
Danny: It's loud and scary. 
(You know, sometimes I feel the same way.)

Danny, giggling and pointing to a picture of a man with no hair: That's silly.
Daddy: Um, that's normal for some people, Danny. 

Sit still. We only have 30 more snaps to go, Jim says as he's putting Fiona's pajamas on. We hate snaps in this household.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Finally fall ...

We spent the first real weekend of fall in the North Carolina mountains visiting family. It was our first road trip and vacation with three kids.

It went much, much better than expected. It was nearly serendipitous.

We actually went hiking. With three kids. Really. There was a babbling brook and a bridge and a pine forest and trees that Danny could actually climb and an apple tree. An apple tree!! We all picked and ate ugly, green apples right from the tree. Without even washing them. We went to a really cool general store with "penny" candy and a bluegrass band playing on the back porch. Fiona clapped and danced. We went to a huge park surrounded by mountains with a playground and a babbling brook and kid-size playhouses and a large grassy field that Owen just loved rolling around in (yeah, that's right, I let my baby roll around in actual grass) and a flower bush buzzing with honey bees.

The kids were just delighted. So were the adults. I wish that I'd brought my camera, but, alas, this weekend will exist only in the mind's eye. In fact, the only memento from the weekend is an ugly, beautiful green apple we brought home. I've been reluctant to eat it, so I took a picture of it to help me remember our weekend.

And it was fall. Actually fall. Cool weather, not a cloud in the sky. Today was the same, except we were home, just taking it easy, ambling through the day.

Today was a jeans and jacket day (the title of a favorite Elmo book around here), as Danny called it. It was also a day for comfort food. I get even more domesticy than usual when fall finally arrives. I relish pulling out my favorite recipes along with the winter clothes. This morning, I decided to make a favorite, easy, comforting dinner. I thought I'd share it because everyone needs easy comfort food, don't you think?
Tuscan Chicken With White Beans

2 t. olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (yes, I know, thighs are fatty. i never bought into the whole low fat diet thing. sue me.)
2 can white beans (great northern, cannellini ... i think they're the same thing, maybe)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 small onion, diced (I usually just use whatever bit of onion I have. Onions aren't my favorite.)
1 T chopped fresh garlic
1 t. salt
1 t. sage
1 t. thyme
a handful of baby carrots, cut into bite-size chunks

Heat oil in large skillet or dutch oven and saute garlic and onion for 3 to 5 minutes. Add all other ingredients and lay the thighs on top. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn thighs over and simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

And that's it. Done. We eat it with crusty bread to sop up the broth. No, I don't make the bread. We buy a dozen wheat sub rolls from Sam's Club (for less than $4).

It occurred to me as I left the kids playing in the backyard to go "stir occasionally" that this recipe could probably be done in the crockpot. Next time I'll try that and let you know what, if any, changes need to be made. I'm guessing more broth so it doesn't dry out.

I've been making this for years. It's from the Women's Day Cookbook that Jim swears did not belong to him (but it wasn't mine). This dish truly makes me feel warm all over and the leftovers make a fantastic soup base (just reheat with extra broth) for a Saturday lunch with a grilled cheese.