Friday, September 30, 2005

you never know what will impress them.

We're watching Cartoon Network -- because I am having a hormonal time right now and I can't face doing anything but staring at the TV or the computer -- and this song starts to play:

I sing the body electric
I celebrate the me yet to come

Since I am a huge dorky dork, I start singing because I watched "Fame" about 300 times, listened to the soundtrack LP (oh, yeah people, I'm so old I had vinyl!) once a day for two years, and even watched the TV series.

My children take notice of me for the first time this afternoon (other than to ask me for food, bathroom assistance, or to change the channel). "You know this song?" I nod my head as I continue to sing along. "That's so cool, Mama. You know the cartoon song!"

Go, me.

"steinbrenner creates a partial vacuum with his mouth!"

You know, he sucks. Which is what the Yankee faithful chanted in 1982, when former Yankee hero Reggie Jackson smashed a home run after the Yanks let him go to the opposing California Angels. "Sucks" was too risque to print in Sports Illustrated, so they rephrased it for publication.

Now, over 20 years later, the Red Sox organization is asking fans to turn inside out shirts that say, "Yankees Suck!" Which I have no problem with -- private business and all that. But it's interesting that the word still is seen as sexually vulgar.

I remember saying, "That sucks!" ages ago and my mom busting out my first and middle name to show her disapproval. (All three of my names were hissed when I was 18 and let loose the F-bomb in her presence.) I think I was 13 or 14 and I really didn't know why it was supposed to be so awful. To me, now, it seems like it has been cleared of all the sexual connotations and just means something really, really stinks. (Like the Yankees.)

I have been known to refer to the sexual meaning by embellishment, however. I said, "That sucks like Monica Lewinsky!" for a while. That's making a definite sexual reference, to me. Probably somewhere in between inoffensive and offensive is, "That sucks like a Hoover!" Although I might have to change that to "Dyson" in this day and age.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

more squirrel!

When I went outside to go collect ChaCha from preschool, the crazy-ass squirrel was still on our porch, scrambling on the support post. I told Cha we had a nutty (ha!) squirrel and we wondered if it would still be there. It was! We could see the bushy tail from the driveway. We walked up and the damn thing just climbed to the top of the post and then seemed stuck. He wouldn't climb down, either.

We went inside and I told Archie that it was still there. We looked at it through the stained glass in the front door and then Archie went out on the porch to take a look. The squirrel freaked out and fell onto the sidewalk. Archie said, "Hey, little squirrel! Are you OK?" The thing ran across our front yard and bumped into the fence. Archie said, "Why am I talking to a squirrel?"

We watched it run down the sidewalk away from our house. Maybe it was brain-damaged. I don't know what the deal was, but I'm glad it's not on our porch anymore. I was kind of afraid it would jump on me -- and its claws looked kind of dangerous.

"i meant to do that!"

I was just unlocking the front door to come inside and something fell off the roof and into the flowerbed by the front steps. And then there was scritching and the plant started to move around. I flattened myself against the door, a little freaked out.

A squirrel jumped out of the flowerbed and onto the support post and scurried halfway up. It stopped and stared at me. Then it scampered up onto the roof.

A squirrel fell off the roof. Maybe it was out all night drinking. Or its name is Pee Wee.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

you have to be tough to be the mom.

Bedtime tonight was not a very fun time. The girls are too big to dump them all in the tub together, so the twins each take a shower and Cha takes a bath. And I have to supervise the showers or there would be lots of shampoo left in hair and two little someones would forget to wash their ears and I don't want to have to register my kids as potato fields. So, bathtime is not the fairly relaxed time it has been previously.

After the scrubbings, it was on to combing the hair. All the girls have bobs that are ear-length, so that's not too bad, but they all were energized from the washing and were going a little crazy. Finally, everyone was clean and combed and dressed for bed. Bebe and Lulu were drawing and being silly and ChaCha was playing with one of those popcorn popper toys -- they have a handle that ends on a bubble with popping beads and wheels so you can push it around and make a lot of noise and drive your parents nuts.

Except Cha was swinging the damn thing around. I think I've told all the girls to cease swinging various toys about, oh, six billion times. And you know where this is going, right? The thing connected -- hard -- with my lip. I cursed because, fucking hell, that hurt. Archie took the popper and raised his voice to Charlotte. She started to cry.

And I'm clutching my lip and trying to comfort the sobbing three year old.

I guess no one ever said it would be fun all the time.

my drug of choice.

Diet Vanilla Coke. I'm seriously considering buying it from Price Club in bulk. Coffee would serve my needs as well, but I'm too spacy in the morning to work the coffee maker. So, I stumble to the fridge and grab a can and down some life-giving caffeine.

I know it's bad when the kids try to sneak a sip, and if the can is empty, they go to get me a full one. Because they know I'll drink another one. Oh, yes, I will.

Not being able to have caffeinated beverages was one of the worst things about being pregnant (especially the second time). I couldn't completely give up caffeine -- I still had chocolate because not having chocolate would have been insane. But there was much rejoicing when I could ingest caffeine again.

Mmmm. I think it's time for my lunch pick-me-up. Pardon me while I go get my fix.

Monday, September 26, 2005

monday morning thoughts.

Today has started off very well. I was awake and ungrouchy about 20 minutes before there were any stirrings from the kids. I cracked open a Diet Vanilla Coke (shut up -- I'm never awake enough to work the coffee maker) and watched a little TV news. Lulu came out, sleepy-eyed and smiling. Since I was planning on going to the grocery store, we were low on acceptable breakfast foods, so I suggested pancakes. This alone prompted Lou to jump into her clothes so she could help.

While we were geting a bowl and a spoon and the pancake mix, ChaCha pranced (I swear, the child prances like a show pony) out -- complete with fantastic bedhead. She wanted to help, too, so they helped measure and mix and I cooked up the first batch. Bebe stumbled out and asked, "What smells so good?" "Pancakes!" She was dressed in a flash. I was congratulated on my mad pancakes making skillz. That made me laugh and reminded me of Calvin Trillin and how his daughters thought he made the best cornflakes EVER. As in, not just pouring them in the bowl and splashing some milk on them, but that he was involved in the manufacturing process in some way.

I emptied Archie's wallet for the girls' lunch money and we drove over to school. Today was one of those days where I watch those two tall, grownup girls walk to their classrooms, greeting friends as they go, and I flash on a memory of them at about six months old. They were standing at our coffee table, across from each other laughing like mad. Screaming, squealing laughter. And, at the time, I remember thinking that this is why parents get all teary as their kids get older -- they still see the chubby, laughing babies, before anything has marked them.

ChaCha and I did a quick grocery run. That was marred only by the fact that I must use the SUV version of a grocery cart. You're familiar, right? It's a smallish cart with this huge area in front designed like a fire engine for the kids to sit. The thing is impossible to steer and heavy and Charlotte loves it. Oh, well, it wasn't even 9am and the store was fairly empty, so I managed. Cha helped bring in the groceries and put them away.

Archie told me I was turning into that kind of wife, stealing money from his wallet. "Yeah, except I wasn't taking it to go spend it on me -- it's so your daughters can eat lunch for the next two weeks!" "Oh, the children! It's all about the children, right?" Heh.

Still on the to-do list is some laundry, unloading the dishwasher, a little cleaning. I can't believe I cleaned the counter of doom this weekend. This probably sounds like the most boring day except it seems like a great one so far.

Excuse me. I have to go change my name to Pollyanna.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

oh, the hilarity.

The girls and I were watching a show, and the final bit of dialogue was, "Babies don't come from New Jersey! Everyone knows babies come from Philadelphia." I laughed and Lulu giggled. "That's funny, Mommy. Babies come from Philadelphia and New Jersey. And everywhere else."

I said that was right -- babies are born wherever their mommies are. Then Elizabeth asked, "How do babies get into the mommies?"

Now, I think we're open and honest in age-appropriate ways with the girls. The twins, at two, loved to tell people that Charlotte was cut out of my belly -- and they were, too! In fact, our doctor was pregnant when Cha was born and at their appointment, the girls asked her if she was going to have the baby cut out or push it out. We'd talked about eggs and sperm, but it hadn't gotten very technical -- until just tonight.

"Sweetie, remember, women have eggs and men have sperm. And when the sperm and the egg get together, it grows into a baby."

Bebe looked a little stumped. "But, how does the baby get out?"

"Out of the mommy? Well, there are two ways..."

"No. How does the baby get out of the daddy?"

"The baby doesn't come out of the daddy; the sperm comes out of the daddy."

Big sigh. "OK. How does the sperm come out of the daddy?"

In the calmest, most neutral voice I could muster, "The sperm comes out of the man's penis."

Bebe stared at me. Hard. And then she laughed. "Is that a joke, Mommy?"

"No, honey. It's no joke."

"But it is funny. Sperm comes out of the penis! That's funny!"

things you never expect to hear.

Charlotte had just used the toilet and came out into the kitchen. She was wearing a little sundress. Suddenly, a look of horror crossed over her face and she said, "Oh, no! I forgot my underpants!"

(A note to all you scary search engine users: Go away. Nothing to see here.)

cute phrase #734

Recently, ChaCha has taken to talking about the things she'll do when she's grown up. The phrase she's chosen is of her own invention, however.

"When I'm adulted, I won't ever eat green beans!"

Adulted. So cute.

Monday, September 19, 2005

chacha's new 'do.

I was taking a shower. Cha was playing in the cabinet and reordering my moisturizer and futzing around with some old toothbrushes. She was very chatty as I washed my hair. I was almost ready to get out when I realized she'd been really quiet. Not for a long time, because I don't take very long in the shower, but still, quiet.

As I grabbed a towel, I noticed she was kind of hunched over and she was giving me her sneaky look. "Whatcha doing? What do you have?" I assumed she'd squeezed out some lotion and smeared it on her arms. Or found the dental floss and unwound it. Something that was a pain, but no big deal.

She gave me her best "I'm-very-cute-and-remember-how-much-you-love-me-and-my-cuteness" look and held out a pair of nail scissors. Oh, God. I slapped my glasses on to assess the damage.

Her bangs were untouched. But there was a big piece of hair on the floor and little pieces on her neck. I took a brush and brushed out big hunks. All on one side. I think she "texurized" and took out layers on the underside. Except for one area right at her part where there's barely an inch left.

The kicker is I was going to take her to get a haircut tomorrow after preschool. I don't have the car today, so I can't get her there now. So she'll have to go to preschool with the results of her handiwork.

big weekend.

The mother of a friend of the twins asked me on Thursday if we wanted to come to a birthday party on Saturday. She apologized, but she'd forgotten to send the invitation with her daughter. I said sure, sounded like fun.

When we got home, I recalled that we'd been to a birthday party for the daughter late in the spring. Huh. The party had been great fun -- the parents are immigrants from Mexico so there was a pinata and weird (to me) Mexican candy. (Like the candy pollo asada -- a lollipop that looks like a chicken. A whole, raw chicken. Bebe assured me it didn't taste like a chicken, however.) And the food was glorious! Homemade tamales and refried beans and rice and a casserole dish full of homemade hot sauce. I called Archie that day (he was staying home with ChaCha) and said, "Dude, you should be here. Tamales. Homemade tamales!" He was appropriately envious.

Turns out, the party was for the older brother. Much, much fun. Cha got to beat on the pinata. (Archie said, "Ooo, you're angry at the pinata! Use the anger! Use the anger!") The twins just ran around with their friend and played in the bouncy house the family had rented. Arch and I ate delectable grilled carne asada and drank Coronas and chatted with other parents. We just hung out for several hours and watched the kids have a ball. When we finally came home -- about an hour past bedtime -- ChaCha shooed me out of their bedroom. "Go away, Mama. I'm tired. I need my rest!"

Sunday was very relaxing. The girls ran around and goofed off. Archie watched football and did some yardwork. He also bought Krispy Kremes and I think we all fell into a sugar coma for a brief period. As I got ready to start cooking dinner, Archie said, "Let's just get something. I mean, unless you really want to cook." You don't have to tell me twice. Go and kill some takeout, you brave hunter. Heh.

It doesn't sound like much, does it? But good food, cold beer, happy and tired kids, no cooking, Krispy Kremes, and football? The recipe for a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

i spoke too soon.

It's courting disaster to not worry about your kids. You'd think I'd know that by now.

I was all "Charlotte is social and sweet-tempered and preschool will be a breeze." I've had to have little "talks" with the head teacher every class. First, Cha decided after snack that she wanted to go home and she screamed for half an hour. The next class, they had a circle time and were singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and little miss had a bit of a fit because she didn't want to sing that particular song. Today, I had to go and manhandle her to get inside from the play yard. Miss Pauline had told her several times it was time to come inside and ChaCha simply refused. (She said, "I want to be alone!" to me and I said, "You're not Greta Garbo and I'm your mom and you're going inside now.")

I seem to blank on the fact that my youngest is not only sweet and gregarious, but strong-willed. She is also very charismatic and charming and is trying to use her smile and looking up from under her lashes to get her way. Manipulator, thy name is ChaCha! At our first talk, Miss Pauline said, "Charlotte is completely different from her sisters." I tried to play up the positive of that, but she is. She seems to expect things to go her way and is not shy about demanding things she wants. Oy.

Archie and I were talking about this last night, and he said something very funny. "Charlotte may just be our Rooster." If you are familiar with David Sedaris, you know exactly what Archie was saying.

(And if you aren't familiar with Sedaris, Rooster is the nickname of his youngest brother who is kind of the oddball in the family, but the oddball with a good heart. While I have no plans to allow Cha to swear and do drugs in the house, she is spoiled rotten by her sisters and this seems to tip all the control away from us, as parents. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before she institutes a bucket of candy.)

Sunday, September 11, 2005


The girls are in bed, Archie went out to see a movie, and I went out on the deck to have a beer. The sun is barely reflecting up onto the clouds. The palest blue and the clouds are an orange-y pink. It looks like a Turner painting.

four years.

I was going to write about all the details of my day four years ago. But it really doesn't matter.

Planes flew into buildings. Two of the buildings came down. One plane was downed by its passengers so it wouldn't reach the intended target. Many people died.

It was a horrible day. And four years later, I still can't quite believe it happened. But it did. And I grieve for those who will grieve for the rest of their lives.

Four years.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

completely spoiled rant.

Considering the past week, any complaints I have are ridiculous. Yet I can still find something to complain about.

I was all excited to watch the Agassi/Blake match this evening. I set the TiVo (since the evening coverage is from 4-8pm here on the West Coast and that is dinner/bath/bedtime) and I even added the three hour buffer in case the first match of the evening went long and the men's match went more than three sets.

So, the first match went to three sets. I hunkered down and patted myself on the back for being so extra-special-very-smart to set the TiVo. (I was rooting for Andre, for the record.) And Agassi loses the first two sets. Then he comes back to take the third. Then he takes the fourth! And, because of the miracle of TiVo -- with which I have no association whatsoever -- I can fast forward through the commercials and the replays and by the end of the fourth set I'm watching in real time.

As Andre pulls ahead in the fifth set, US-fucking-A ends coverage to show a "Law & Order" repeat. The fans on the East Coast can switch to the CBS late-night coverage to catch the end of the match, but I can't do that. I have to constantly refresh ESPN and the fifth set goes to a tiebreak and ARGHHHH! Because that damned repeat is so very important. Seriously, refreshing the live score is completely unsatisfying. I know that Andre won, but I have no idea what the points looked like. How the crowd was responding. Everything is ashes and I have to wait until after the news to see the end of the match.

I am a super-whiny baby right now. Commence the mocking.

my little hypnotist.

Archie and I watch a show on BBCAmerica called "Little Britain." It's a comedy program where two guys perform a host of characters. The Chav Girl, the overeaters anonymous-type meeting, the ever-patient caregiver and his charge who is in a wheelchair but gets up and does things when the caregiver's back is turned. My favorite set pieces is the British Prime Minister (played by Anthony Stewart Head) and his completely-over-the-top assistant. Mostly because I love ASH and his perfect portrayal of world-weariness.

There is a character who's a hypnotist. Mostly, he seems to hypnotize his mother. "Look into my eyes. Look directly into my eyes. And you're under." And then he proceeds to tell his subject what to do. The joke is that he's a very bad hypnotist and his mother (and sometimes a stranger at a boot sale, say) are just going along.

ChaCha seems to think she is this character. Whenever she wants something, she'll come up to me and say, "You are getting very sleepy. Very, very sleepy. I want a cookie. Get me a cookie!"

The funny thing is she's never seen the above-mentioned show; she just seems to channel this character. And she gets just as ticked off when I refuse at some point to play along with being hypnotized.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

not a seamless transition.

When I arrrived to pick up ChaCha from preschool, there was a lot of crying and screaming when the teacher opened the door to the classroom. I couldn't hear Charlotte's unmistakable cry, so I thought all was well. I asked the lead teacher, Miss Pauline, how Cha did. She kind of frowned and said, "She screamed for half an hour. We just let her be and she calmed down after that."

When I dropped her off, she was very happy and kissed me and turned her attention to her clay masterpiece. Apparently, at snack time, she wanted me and wanted to come home and then the screaming began. Oh, and she also wanted to take off her shoes to ride the bike in the play yard and had a snit about that.

And you know what? I'm really not overly concerned. I have certainly suffered hearing loss because of extended scream-o-ramas. And I just kind of ride them out, too.

On a good note, she did make several new friends and the other teacher said ChaCha spent a lot of time trying to comfort some of the kids who cried for almost the entire class. Way to go, sweetie!

And the twins are loving first grade. They don't want me to walk them past the playground in the mornings, I'm forbidden from standing near the classroom doors at dismissal. They are such big girls.

Monday, September 05, 2005

cuteness alert.

While taking her bath, Ms. Cha was scooping up bubbles and putting them in a plastic container. She said she was breaking eggs. "What are you making with those eggs?"

"The best souffle ever!"

and then i laughed.

"Efforts by Hollywood actor Sean Penn to aid New Orleans victims stranded by Hurricane Katrina foundered badly overnight, when the boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak.

Penn had planned to rescue children waylaid by Katrina’s flood waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch.

The actor, known for his political activism, was seen wearing what appeared to be a white flak jacket and frantically bailing water out of the sinking vessel with a red plastic cup.

With the boat loaded with members of Penn’s entourage, including a personal photographer, one bystander taunted the actor: “How are you going to get any people in that thing?""


Thank you, Sean Penn. You have given me a good laugh with your cup-bailing, motor-failing, entourage-laden boating misadventure. The above quote doesn't mention that the motor didn't work and Penn and his compatriots had to paddle the boat down the street. Probably using the cup all the way. Considering the horrible, tragic stories coming in Katrina's wake, I'll take a laugh anywhere I can get it.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

and then i cried.

I watched a piece on the news showing a woman clutching a handful of Polaroid photos. She said she'd given birth (she was still in a hospital gown) and her baby had been placed in the NICU. That's sad, right there. Then her baby was evacuated -- without the mother. She had no idea where her brand-new baby was. All she had was that handful of pictures.

Friday, September 02, 2005

two things.

I have only two things to say today, both relating to the devastation following Katrina.

1. If you've made a donation or are planning on making a donation to any agency or charity which will be aiding Katrina's survivors, please check in with your HR department and see if they are doing a matching program. It will only take you a moment or two and it may double (at least) your contribution.

2. I am greatly comforted by the promises of support and messages of sympathy from other countries. Most especially, Sri Lanka, whose president has pledged $25,000 to Katrina relief. That is genuine empathy and true generosity. I have resolved to vacation in Sri Lanka before I die.