Christmas Songs for 2016 1. I saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus 2. I Wanna Adopt an Endangered Hippopotamus for Christmas 3. We Three Democratically-Elected Kings 4. Baby It's Not That Cold Outside (Thanks, Global Warming!) 5. Frosty the Snowperson 6. It's a Gluten-Free Marshmallow World 7. I'm Dreaming of an Ethnically-Diverse Christmas 8. The Nut-Free Cracker 9. You're a Mean One, Mr. Trump 10. Christmas Island: Is Under Water (Thanks, Global Warming!) 11. Oh Sustainably-Harvested Christmas Tree 12. I No Longer Wonder as I Wander (Thanks, GPS!) song: The Christmas Song • artist: Nat King Cole
Someday my grandchildren will ask my children (probably for an elementary-school project) what were some of the holiday traditions they had when they were kids. Did you play special music or eat special foods? And my kids will say, "Well, your grandmother used to obsessively call the local radio station trying to register for the giant stocking giveaway. Sometimes she would make us try and call in at the same time on the other cell phone." #callernumberthreeagaindammit!!@#$#%@@#**%$ song: Tradition • musical: Fiddler on the Roof
N told me that some of his friends have elf on the shelves that "do funny things."
Great. Now there's elf on the shelf peer pressue.
"What kind of funny things?" I asked.
"Like they pull all the toilet paper off the roll. Or they dump the trash on the floor."
"That doesn't sound funny. That sounds bad.
Bad Dobby! Bad Dobby!
song; Whats So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding? • artist: elvis costello
setting: supermarket produce aisle
C: "Why do you have to pick up each bean one at a time? Can't you just grab a handful?
me: "I don't know, I guess it's because your grandmother picked string beans one at a time and besides - if you touch each green bean individually it means you care more. Parents who just grab a big handful obviously don't love their children."
C: big eye roll
song: Touch Me • artist: The Doors
There was a small lost child at the middle school monster bash tonight.
A helpful adult approach him and asked him who he'd come to the event with.
"And what was your Mommy wearing," said the adult.
"Clothes," said the child.
song: Can't Find My Way Home • artist: Eric Clapton
Don't you always feel sorry for the one sock out of the pair that doesn't have a hole in it? It usually gets thrown out with its mate, a perfectly good sock, struck down in its prime. It seems kinda barbaric. Like those Egyptian pharaoh's whose entire court would be sacrificed and buried with him upon his death. That's been debunked and relabeled as a myth by the way. But the sacrificial second sock? A sad practice that's all too real.
song: One is the Loneliest Number • artist: Three Dog Night
H: "Mommy, you know how in Peter Pan the kids all live in Never, Never Land where they don't have to grow up? I think the opposite of that must be Ever, Ever Land where everyone is a grown up all the time."
Me: "Sounds awful. I'm pretty sure I live there."
me: "I know it's hard when you're not feeling well but if you have to throw up in bed, it's better if you just throw up in the middle of the bed than lean over the edge and throw up on your bed, your brother's bottom bunk, and the floor. Understand?"
him: "I think so." It's just like the Titanic, if only they had hit the iceberg head on rather that ripping a big gash along side the ship in an effort to avoid the collision - the overall damage would have been so much less.
song: Crash Into Me • artist: Dave Matthews Band
Note to new parents, one day your child will enter the Guinness Book of World Records stage. Yes, this is a real stage, mark the section in the library, it will save you money when your child comes home with the Scholastic flyer and wants to order the 2016 edition (how the hell can it be out when it's still 2015?)
Likely the Guinness Book of World Records stage will be entered by your child just after the jokes and riddles stage, which, frustratingly, he or she will enter just before they actually learn how to read.
song: The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man • artist: Marcia Ball
It used to be that the town crazies biked around town and talked to themselves. Loudly.
Nowadays the town crazies bike around town talking on their cell phones. Loudly.
They might still be talking to no one.
But for better for worse they look like the rest of us.
So lately I've been writing down the titles to parenting books that look interesting, because pretty soon my kids will be back in school and then, instead of parenting them, I can read books about parenting them.
Anywho, I'd just like to point out to the authors of Buddha Never Raised Kids and Jesus Didn't Drive Carpool and If Buddha Had Kids: Raising Children to Create a More Peaceful World, that, up, Buddha did have a kid. A son, who, along with his mom, became one of his dad's disciples.
It's a shame we all can't live our lives with the optimism of children who pick up lottery tickets in parking lots because maybe, just maybe, somebody dropped a winner. song: If I Had a Million Dollars • artist: Barenaked Ladies
They say that you're supposed to apply sunscreen a half hour before you go out in the sun but what they don't tell you is that if you do, you'll be quite incapacitated for that half hour. You're still at home right? Because it's a half hour before you're going out in the son but now your hand are all greased up - you can't open the jar of jelly, your hands slip off the refrigerator door (leaving a big smear), you pick up your sunglasses and leave a greasy fingerprint on them, you can't twist the cap of the UV protection lip gloss. You finally make it out the door, after you wrap a towel around the door knob so you can get a grip on it, but of course now your hands are slipping and sliding on the steering wheel; so you're safe from the sun - but other drivers might not be safe from you. song: Slip Sliding Away • artist: Paul Simon
If April showers bring May flowers.
What do May flowers bring?
The Pilgrims right?
Freakin' cold weather. That's what.
Last night it was 8°C. That's about 46 for you fahrenheit folks. That after a high of 52°F during the day.
I wore leggings to dance class and not the knee-length ones neither, the ankle leggings.
At this rate we'll all be wearing parkas to field day.
I wore my flannels to bed and not the flannel teddy neither.
You know how soldiers who've lost limbs in battle often experience feeling a phantom limb by feeling pain or some sort of sensation in (or I guess where) the missing limb would have been?
Well the same thing happens to me except that it's not the phantom limb syndrome, it's the phantom sunglasses on my head syndrome.
I wonder if I can retire with, or at least claim it as, a disability.
It causes me to put my hand up to my temples repeatedly - like 10 times in an hour.
That's pretty disabling.
You know times are tough when you're so busy at work you run into the ladies room and don't have time to turn on the lights (because you know how long it takes to flip a switch - right?).
But then you're in the stall and you realize you may have made an error in judgement because it's raining out and consequently the bathroom's really, really, dark and you realize that life's a crap shoot.
song: Somebody Turned on the Light • artist: Arlo Guthrie
Sure I hung up the car on the big rock at the end of my driveway this morning, right in front of my neighbor.
But I was trying to turn up the radio because the show tunes station was playing Willkommen from Cabaret. The Joel Gray version.
You would have done the same thing.
Having four sons is like living in a zoo.
Although I've never lived in a zoo my guess is that they are noisy and dirty and that there's a lot of mud slinging.
But wait, that's not fair to zoos.
The zoos I've been to are all actually clean and spacious and beautifully landscaped and the animals all get along.
Having four sons is like living in a third-rate, soon to be uncredited, zoo.
Yeah. That's more like it.
If you have four sons it's likely at some point, even though you're not Catholic, you'll conclude one of them needs to have an exorcism.
What else could explain their behavior?
Case a point. Last week I had to bring my 12 year old and one of my seven year olds in to work (school vacation week). The seven year old, without me noticing, stuck two post-it notes on my back, one that read "baby," and another that read, "I poop in my pants." Please note the irony there if you've been following these posts.
Thankfully I have kind co-workers who pointed out that I was, yes, a grown woman walking around work with post it notes stuck to her back.
What kind of kid does that and then cries at night, not because I didn't come up stair for kisses and tuck ins, but because I didn't say "night, night," on the way out of his room.
The kind of kid who needs a exorcism that's who.
"Why you do this to me, Dimmy?" Read my A-to-Z posts to see if you have what it takes to be the parent of four boys. Find out more about the A-to-Z Challenge here.
If you're going to parent four boys you'll need to have a wicked sense of humor. You'll achieve this best by being born in Massachusetts where something being wicked is considered above and beyond as in "wicked good," or "wicked awesome." Maybe you should reconsider parenting four sons if you cannot find the humor in rinsing off clothing diapers in the laundry room sink and wandering off and forgetting about said diaper only to return to find the water overflowing out of the sink and into the cat's litter box which is poised underneath thereby not only wasting copious amounts of water in your attempt to be green but also creating a huge mess that needs to be cleaned up in addition to all the other huge messes piling up around the house. You'll need to see the humor in broken windows, and poop-smeared ceilings (really!), in inane questions and temper tantrums in the supermarket. I've tried to convey some of that humor in the last 22 posts. It's all about the humor really - there's something to laugh at, or at least to try and laugh at, every day. Speaking of the cloth diaper incident, the only real green I benefit I reaped from that little experiment was when I finally sold all the cloth diapers on Ebay. Skip the cloth diapers and just potty train your kids advises the mom whose seven year olds still wear Pull Ups to bed. But look on the bright side - I'm saving water by not having to wash peed in sheets every night right? Now that's, wicked awesome.
Since my first son was born 12 years ago I've written volumes about my children and about being their mom. And not just in this blog. On paper. In journals. Lots and lots of journals. You dear reader get the best, the prime rib if you will, of those entries. For years prior to the arrival of my first born I sporadically kept journals. I have one from the three months I spent in Europe in 1990 and another of the summer I spent working for Peach Tree Circle Farm. There are others but they tend to ramble or go months and months between entries. The reason I've been able to keep this current spate of journals going is that parenting is something new everyday. Just when you think you've figured your kids out they change, just when you get used to a phase, it's over. You find that you can barely keep up with their shoe size much less the inner workings of the growing psyches.
So you write entries in journals and try to grasp moments, catalogue them, file them away for when there's time to revisit them.
- Parenting is explaining that the "touchie takie" rule applies only to food and not to 59¢ items at the Christmas Tree Shop. Nice try guys.
- parenting tip #4891: The toddler who does not poop in his diaper all morning will unload with a colossal dump the moment you arrive at: a) the park, b) his big brother's piano lesson, c) the library, d) all of the above.
- Tonight I told one of the boys that if he couldn't eat his dinner, could he at least artfully arrange it on his plate?
No sense wasting food and sacrificing good design too.
- I think we can all agree that over weight guys with white beards and nicotine habits should not don Santa hats.
My kid (pointing out the car window): "Mommy. Is that Santa?" Me: "I don't know. Maybe." My kid: "Doesn't Santa know that smoking is bad for you?"
- When you're over 40 the a game Concentration with your kids could pretty much be renamed Just Guessing.
- Today the twins ate an entire bag of SeaSnax dried seaweed in the car on the way home from the health food store.
My tuna casserole they snub, but a big bag of kelp? Bring it on. ps. In case you've never eaten seaweed and you're wondering, it's not as if seaweed tastes like chicken. Seaweed tastes like seaweed.
- Parenting is asking your children if they'd rather enjoy their lives and be happy or keep arguing and fighting over who stepped on a crack.
If you have sons of a certain age, you will be surprised at how infrequently they change their underwear.
Use a bath towel once and it's in a clothes basket (or more likely a heap on the bathroom floor), but send them to a friend's house for the weekend and the clean undies you send with them will come back untouched, do a load of laundry and the ratio of socks to undies is like 8 to 1.
I can't understand it.
It's like the new math.
Sex is the traditional means by which one acquires children. Sometimes, when you have what's considered to be a lot of children, others might presume that you do not know that sex leads to babies, that you perhaps forgot this fact, or that you need a gentle "wink, wink, nudge, nudge," reminder. This idea might cause some people to say loudly, "hey you guys, don't cha know how this thing works?" And while I know that this is said in jest. It's not okay to say. Ever.
The Pinewood Derby is an event that your sons will participate in if they become cub scouts. You'll sign your kids up for cub scouts even though you frown on the BSA's stance on homosexual leaders because you're desperate for someone, anyone, to teach your kids good manners and besides you're a Unitarian so the kids meet plenty of gay couples at fellowship. So you sign up for cub scouts and it's pretty fun. There are parades, pledges, secret handshakes, and field trips, and your kids look pretty smart in those uniforms. And then it's February and your kids come home from scouts with a block of wood and tell you that you're suppose to help them make it into a car, and not just any car, a car that will win the derby. So you nod and look excited and give the box to your husband and think "yes!" finally a project were dads get judged with the same unfairness with which moms get judged: Halloween costumes, clever goodie bags at the birthday party, the most desirable dessert at the pot luck, your kids appearance. No one ever thinks a kid is dirty and has messy hair because their dad is a slacker. On the other hand, The Pinewood Derby is all about the dads. The Dad's who were once cub scouts themselves have the first advantage because they've already seen which car designs are the sleekest. Then there's the weight and where to put the weight, and how to incorporate your son's Star Wars theme, or "make mine an alligator like Billy's dad did last year," (curses to Billy's dad). And finally knowing how much room to leave between the wheels and the ground so the car doesn't get stuck in the track. The dads for the most part take their jobs seriously. While moms will stand aside at the pot luck and pretend they don't care if no one eats their green bean casserole, dads pay attention. They stand at the end of the track and take notes and confer with the other dads. The derby dads have to be ready to problem solve on a moment's notice. This is another category that's usually dominated by moms. Who's got a kleenex, extra bottled water, a sweatshirt, or clean undies? The moms right? At the derby the dads stand ready, usually armed with pocket knives that look like they came from the prop closet of Survivor. I once saw a dad chisel down his son's car when it was over 5oz at weigh in. He whittled it symmetrically too, it wasn't just a last minute hack. Another dad used his pocket knife to dig out a weight to bring his son's car under the weight limit and a third dad tried but alas failed to hollow out the bottom of his son's car so it would stop catching on the track. There was crying. Like monsters on the edges of ancient maps - the sign above the church basement where the derby is to be held should read, "here there be crying." I think the reason the Pinewood Derby is held in the basement of a church is so as to give the dads a more direct route with their prayers (Please God don't let my kid come in last), and also to remind people that there are worse things than having your kid be the one whose axel comes off his car midway down the track. Worse things. Like crucifixion.
If your four boys don't kill you with constant quarreling, they will numb your brain with a stream of questions that would confound Confucius.
Here are a few that I managed to write down since the A to Z challenge began: How high can birds fly? How many kids are there in the world? How many rocks are there in the world? How many trees are there in the world? Can the library take a book out of the library? Can a person have no cousins? Does xylophone start with y? Is a vine a tree? What would happen if your penis got chopped off? What if you got married and at the church where you married you had a favorite stuffy and there was a bench up front, could you put your stuffy on the bench? When someone dies do they really get Xs over their eyes? How many minutes have I been alive? Is it nighttime yet? Is three a famous number? What kind of animals was God? Who's gooder, God or Santa Claus? What would happen if you threw a box of matches into the fireplace? Can a king not have a baby? How many years will I be when I'm 57? What if some kid brought in one million dollars to school on banking day?
You may think that once your kids are potty trained you won't have to worry about poop anymore but I'm here to regretfully tell you that this isn't the case.
Go ahead, google "my six year old poops in his pants," about a million hits come up.
The majority of six year old who poop in their pants are boys so with four boys, odds are you'll get one pant's pooper.
And here's the infuriating thing about it.
It doesn't bother them!
You'd think it would but it doesn't.
Touch the apple sauce to the chicken pot pie on their dinner plate and they freak out - but sit around at extended day in poopy underwear and not only will they not think it's a big deal, they'll question why you're insisting they take a shower that night.
Oh - and - unless you have a trust fund earmarked for the replacement of poopy underwear - poop is easier to peal off underpants when it's dried out.
If you are lucky your four sons will spend copious amounts of time outdoors in all sorts of weather, in all sorts of seasons, and even in the dark if they are so included and you remembered to stock their Christmas stockings with flashlights.
What will they do out there?
They will spend 95% of the time chasing each other around with sticks.
I once found a handmade sign in our yard that read, "sticks rule." Couldn't argue with that.
The other 5% of the time they'll spend strewing about the yard all the outdoor toys that they don't actually play with. If they can reach a hose and turn it on they'll make mud pies which they'll stir up with their sticks.
If they're old enough to have pocket knives they'll whittle their sticks into points in order to up the chances of putting someone's eye out.
Outdoors is a great place for your kids to be because when they scream they'll just annoy the neighbors and not you.
They might even wander into the neighbor's yard and then, like illegal aliens crossing the boarder, they'll be able to stay and live at their house instead of yours.
There's noise, and there's noise.
And then there's having four boys.
When you have four sons you will read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" in December and you will empathize with the Grinch.
After all, all the guy wanted was a little peace and quiet.
Who can't relate?
Don't get me wrong, I love Legos. They're so open ended. Except when they're not. Which is all the time because your kid (like mine) doesn't want a bucket of generic Lego bricks (notice there are only two of those options on the Lego website, it's like the Kentucky Fried Chicken of Legos, there's the bucket. And the big bucket). No, you're kids wants the Battle of the Five Armies from the Lego Lord of the Rings collection. He wants it because a) it's cool and b) because it's $59.99 and he's savvy enough to know that you won't shell out $399.99 for the Lego Death Star from the Lego Star Wars collection. But don't think you're done after Battle of the Five Armies. There are many more sets in the LOTR Lego collection and you have to buy a multitude of them in order to get all the characters in the fellowship. You didn't think Lego would be stupid enough to put all eight of the main characters in one set did you? Just like Peter Jackson isn't stupid enough to shoot his whole Hobbit wad in just one movie. Then there's Gandalf the Gray and Gandalf the white. You'll need to have both. And the Lady of the Lake, don't forget your token female Tolkien character. You'll know you've reached the bottom of the parenting barrel when you find yourself sifting through the dusty contents of your vacuum clean bag looking for Gimli's sword. All of these Lego sets are different and must be kept separate from each other if you want your son or daughter to be able to make the tower of Orthanc or Hagrid's hut more than once. Kinda makes gluing the darn things together, like the villain in the Lego movie wanted to do, look pretty appealing. This means you'll need a special Lego room built on to your house to store your Lego collection when once families just needed a big plastic bin and one of those special tables with the green nubby tops. Designated Lego rooms will probably be the next big thing in home design, forget appliance-laden kitchens, swank laundry rooms and bathrooms larger than the three-bedroom ranch I grew up in. Despite the differences in the individual kits one universal truth remains: they all hurt like hell when you step on them in bare feet at midnight on your way to the bathroom.
Read my A-to-Z posts to see if you have what it takes to be the parent of four boys.
Children advance through different stages. There's the stage where they discover their fists and wave them about in the air like midget dictators. There's scooting, crawling, walking, penis obsession, and finally there's joke telling. Some experts like the joke telling stage because they say it's proof positive that your child's developing their sense of humor - a sophisticated development. The people who say this, don't have any children and haven't been hounded by their joke-telling offspring telling bad jokes for months on end. It would be okay if the joke telling stage came after the learning to read stage but it doesn't. What that means is that kids can't read their own jokes, they need you to read them out loud - or worse - they make up their own jokes. And let's face it, kids don't make up clever, endearing jokes. They make up bad ones. For example my son once told this joke: Why did the chicken cross the road? Because a man was chasing him with a gun. That's perfect really. Why would a chicken cross the road - unless he was being chased by a homicidal maniac? After the make-up-your-own joke phase, comes the knock, knock joke phase; another joke phase where children don't seem to realize that a joke is meant to be funny. Then they start school and guess what? Their classmates will teach them jokes that will actually be funny. There's only one problem. It would seem that your son or daughter is in school with the exact same kids you went to elementary school with 30 years ago. How else to explain the proliferation of ancient jokes? We all know what time it is when an elephant sits on your fence. But for God's sake - laugh anyway. Read my A-to-Z posts to see if you have what it takes to be the parent of four boys. Find out more about the A-to-Z Challenge here.
If I believed in a higher being I might suspect that he (or she) blessed me with four sons because of my high tolerance for creatures with six-to-eight legs.
I wouldn't say I love bugs, but I don't hate them either. I once spent an hour on the floor of my dorm room trying to find a spider my roommate was "pretty sure," she'd seen because she didn't think she could go to bed knowing that it "might" be in our room.
Yes, the reason I have four sons today is because I once wielded the office "bug mug" and successfully relocated many misguided spiders rather than squashing them.
Children are heavy, especially when you have twins and you have to schlepp them around in those infant car seats because you can't fit your double stroller through the doorway of your local coffee shop. I remember discovering this dismal fact on one of my first outings with the twins and then having to stand outside the coffee shop pathetically peering through the windows until the barista saw me salivating out there and came outside and took my order. Which she finally did. Which is why you should always support your local coffee shop.
But I digress.
People used to comment about how I was getting such a great work out in by carrying the kids around in their car seats and about what a great upper body workout it must be was but that was all bunk, seven years later I can't see that it's done me much good. I even tried putting of the twins in the baby Bjorn front pack and the other in the LL Bean backpack and wearing them both - what a freak show that was.
Even in the double stroller they were heavy. Mostly because their two older brothers would try to get away with sitting on the front until I'd notice and shoo them off.
It's odd because they were so light when they were born at 5lbs each. "Like loaves of bread," my husband commented when we were still in the hospital with them thus forever cementing the old outdated "bun in the oven" adage in reference to pregnant women.
It doesn't matter if you raise your sons on a commune without electricity, 50 miles from the closest village, co-sleep and breast feed them until they are five.
One day your oldest will pick up a slice of seven-grain bread, take a bite out of the bottom right corner, and then tell you that the remaining shape is a gun. Gun? You don't even know where they learned the word.
Then they will proceed to pretend to shoot all their siblings who will all be busy fashioning their own bread artillery.
I hate the notion that boys will be boys, so I'm not going to say that being fascinated with guns is part of boy DNA - deal with it. I was horrified that my sons were interested in guns.
But horrified didn't get me anywhere. So I took a long look at what horrified me. I was okay when they wanted wooden swords and shields. I bought bows and arrows and tacked bulls eyes to bails of hay. We went to the Higgins Armory Museum. Twice. There are actual museums devoted to armory. Who knew? Mothers of sons know.
When my 10 year old was in his Moby Dick phase I let them whittle spears with his pocket knife and then pretend to hunt whales in the front yard - un-politically correct as it was.
It's only guns that I have a problem with. And not all guns. I bought muskets in Lexington after we watched the Revolutionary War reenactment. I'm even okay with guns that shoot rubber bands. And guns made of bread. And guns made of Legos. And sticks that look like guns.
It's hand guns. Toy guns that look like hand guns, even though they are made of bright green or orange plastic, those are the guns I don't want around.
I guess moms will be moms. Deal with it.
If you have four sons, there will be fighting.
Some days you will attempt to teach the fine art of compromise in order to aid them in resolving their conflict peacefully but other times you won't have the energy to mediate and will instead opt to let them "fight it out." Builds character right?
You're likelihood of choosing the fight it out method will be in direct proportion to the nearness of your neighbor's house and whether or not you suspect the neighbors can hear your kids screaming.
Proximity to other people will also dictate your reaction to the five second rule which also, you'll notice, starts with the letter F.
The five second rule is a completely made up arbitrator to help a parent decide whether or not food that's fallen on the floor is still acceptable for their offspring to eat (note that food, fallen and floor all start with the letter F).
Let's be honest folks, the five second rule is a crock of sh*t. Food that falls on the floor is dirty. Period. But it's not this knowledge that dictates whether or not you let your kids eat said fallen food, rather it's the reality of whether or not you're within ear shot of your neighbors or, more importantly, other parents.
If another adult's within ear shot it's more likely you'll announce loudly, "Oh, that fell on the floor? Well you'd better not eat it. The floor's dirty and we know all about germs, right kids?"
On the other hand, if no one's looking, your kid's in the clear.
Heck, I'd eat an entire meal off the ground if it meant I didn't have to cook something myself.
Have four sons and you'll have a built in excuse for everything and anything.
Christmas decorations still up in April?
E-mail confirmations and responses not sent out for days?
Forgot to bring an entree to the pot luck?
Not wearing pants?
As a mother of four boys, people barely expect you to make it out of your house alive never mind actually accomplish anything.
My house was messy before I had kids - but now no one actually expects me to clean it.
People sympathize with me like I've never been sympathized with before.
"I just don't know how you do it," they say, right after you say that, frankly, you didn't get around to doing it.
This might be true for moms of girls as well but four kids means I have a large car - a mini van if you must know - and driving it around can be a challenge. I haven't successfully parallel parked in seven years.
Perhaps you think it's the elderly drivers that we need to watch out for - or those inexperienced newbie teenage drivers. It's neither. I'm here to tell you that it's the crazed mom behind the wheel of the mini-van that you need to look out for. When you see a mini van on the road you should steer clear of it if you value your life. You have no idea what's going on in there. Crying babies, arguing preschoolers, yogurts being spilled, CDs being fought over, library books being pitched into the "way back," and multiple requests to play "I spy," are all being juggled by some sleep-deprived parent who most likely can't remember where they are going.
If you are the mother of four boys you will never have enough of either. When my kids were younger, and wearing band aids as fashion accessories, my million dollar idea was to team up with Johnson & Johnson to publish the "Boo Boo Book." A board book full of illustrations of stylized children and adults in their skivvies that came with an envelope of band aids that kids could apply to their fictional patients (or to themselves) which could easily be removed from the glossy board book pages. Maybe there'd be some coupons for more band aids in the back. Are you listening Johnson & Johnson? Message me. Find out more about the A-to-Z Challenge here.
Every year around April 5 I realize I've forgotten to sign up for the A-to-Z Challenge. "That's okay," I say to myself, "I'll just start now and write 26 posts for next April." That never happens and 365 days later I find myself in the same predicament, one year older but no wiser or proactive. Not this year. A is for Astonished. As in I'm astonished that I remembered, and even more so that I followed through. You don't need a theme to participate in the A-to-Z Challenge but I think that my theme for the month, as it's been for the last 7 years is "parenting your four sons." A is for Astonished. As in people are often astonished to find out that I have four sons, like it's an unsightly goiter or birth defect, "OMG, you have four sons?! I don't know how you do it!" Well dear reader, the month of April is your chance to find out how I do it and to judge whether or not you too have what it takes to be the mother of four boys. A is for April Fools' Day. I was just kidding about the Astonished thing. April Fools' Day just might be my favorite holiday. Not because I'm wicked into practical jokes, they weren't on my radar until after my kids were born and my oldest was introduced to the idea in preschool, woke my husband up in the middle of the night and urged him to tamper with the sink faucet so I'd be sprayed with water in the morning. What I love about April Fools' Day is that it's a completely straightforward holiday. The Easter Bunny doesn't play April Fools' Day jokes, neither does Santa or the leprechauns. Green milk in your cereal? Mommy. Tooth paste in your Oreos? Mommy. Jello in all your lunch containers? Mommy. Pants sewed together? You get the picture. There's no backstory. No ruse to keep up. Nothing much to buy. It's just a day to have fun and goof on each other. This morning two of my sons drew a moustache on their brother who was still asleep and tried to lure me to sit down in a chair that had shaving cream on it. I can't wait until next year. A is for April Fools' Day. Find out more about the A-to-Z Challenge here.
The theme of this weekend's This American Life episode was "starting from scratch." It's was a repeat that I've heard before so I guess it takes me two times through to make a connection.
Starting from scratch is what I do every day. It's the best I can do really. Better at least then rolling backwards. You make dinner - they eat dinner. You wash clothes - they wear clothes. You hang up the St. Patrick's Day decorations - it's March 18. You file a bunch of entertainment stories, it snows and everything's cancelled.
Who needs keeping up with the Jones's when you're busy keeping up with the dishes, the bathroom, the wet towels on the floor, the lunch boxes, the homework, the overdue library books, the Legos, the Playmobil, the cobwebs, the stuff that's going bad in the fridge, the influx of Skittles that come home with H from the speech teacher, the crumbs on the bottom of the toaster, the dirty mice cage, the pod casts you downloaded last week, the letter you owe Christine, and the cookies you want to make - from scratch.
song: Every Day is a Winding Road • artist: Sheryl Crow
Our house is on a dirt road and in case you weren't aware, dirt roads thaw much more slowly than asphalt ones. So, when all the other roads in town are clear of snow, ours still looks like Nanook of the North might be stopping in for tea (better set aside some salted herring and crackers).
As I was walking my kids across the still-frozen tundra that is Hidden Village Road I was reminded of Oscar Wilde's story of the Selfish Giant which is a sweet little tale with a religious message underlying it that seems a bit out of place in the Oscar Wilde canon. In the story spring won't come to the selfish giant's garden because he build a wall around it and kicked the neighborhood children out.
So I am left to ponder who kicked a kid out of our road - and why didn't they kick out one of mine?
Today is Friday the 13th.
Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the name of the condition suffered by those who fear this date.
Dendrophobia is the fear of trees.
Lutraphobia is the fear of otters.
Syngenesophobia is fear of relatives (presumably your own).
Macrophobia is the fear of long waits.
Chronomentrophobia is the fear of clocks.
Bolshephobia is the fear of the Bolsheviks.
Aulophobia is the fear of flutes.
There are long lists of obscure and bizarre phobias but I don't see a name for my particular phobia, which is the fear of having a highway sign fall on my car as I drive under it (hey, those suckers a big!).
I think I'll name it Flat Stanleyaphobia.
song: Don't Fear the Reaper • artist: Blue Oyster Cult
The garbage men have given up the pretense of even trying to keep to a weekly schedule. It's a crap shoot if, and when, they might be driving down our street.
They showed up out of the blue on Monday (our usual day is Friday). Most of the street had left their trash cans out for three days either because they didn't care if animals tried to tip them or more likely, because they'd frozen to the snow. But a few of the neighbors had to run behind the truck to catch it like supporting child actors chasing down the Wells Fargo wagon in the movie version the "The Music Man."
You puts your trash out and you takes your chances. song: Maybe This Time • musical: Cabaret
Usually when you meet a neighbor on the street or an acquaintance at the supermarket you poke around a bit for something to say that's of actual interest, something specific to the person like how their spouse, kids or job is going. We only start talking about the weather as a last resort. When we've run out of interesting things to say.
But we've all given up that pretense. Now we're completely unashamed to talk about the weather. To open actual conversations with it. Even my kids talk about the weather. All there is is the weather. Really. Is there anything left except for the weather?
That four foot high mound of dirty snow outside the garage is no longer the elephant in the room. Now it's the guest of honor.
It's a good feeling when you remember to bring your travel mug into the coffee shop thereby saving one paper cup and plastic lid from the landfill, but a bad feeling when your kid spills his hot chocolate on the floor and you end up using 10 napkins in order to wipe it up. #balancingthedharmawheel. song: Stuck in the Middle with You • artist: Steelers Wheels
At the science fair you can tell the science parents from the non-science parents in a heartbeat.
The science parents are all floating through the event confidently, engaging with students, and asking meaningful questions.
The non-science parents are all clutching their cups of coffee, looking overwhelmed, and having traumatic flashbacks to 10th grade chemistry class.
If I judged the science fair I would choose the winners the same way I choose bottles of wine at Kappys, by the poster (or in the case of vino - label) design.
And as a graphic design major, I think that would be entirely appropriate.
I think the science fair, with a running time of two hours, is a good metaphor for life.
So much to see. So little time.
song: She Blinded Me With Science • artist: Thomas Dolby
It's a sorry state of affairs when three inches of fresh snow makes your road easier to walk on because it covers the six inches of solid ice that have been building up thereby providing more traction when you walk down the road to the bus stop than you've had since the end of January. And as we sit around indoors contemplating life at -13°C we pondering the important things, like why doesn't the word snow rhyme with the word plow?
When I was in college there was this amazing feeling I used to get leaving the campus and stepping off the subway in some part of the city, knowing that no one knew where I was. The idea was rather thrilling since up until that point, for the most part, people knew where I was, or at least where I was supposed to be. The feeling of being part of the crowd was liberating and mysterious. Sometimes I didn't even know where I was riding the subway to myself. Would I get off at Government Center or take the Red Line to Harvard Square? Once I rode to the end of the Green Line only to discover (disappointingly) that Lechmere was just a department store and not some specific part of the city. Now as a species it's like we've gone completely in the other direction. Now we tell everyone where we are every moment of the day. When we're at the movies. When we're out to eat. When we're at the coffee shop or the mall. We text and tweet and post things to Facebook that no one really reads because who cares if you're at the dentist or on a whale watch or having lunch with the queen - what we really want is to talk about themselves and what they are doing. But we all keep on with these posts. We want everyone to know where we are. We want everyone to know who we're with. There's no mystery left. Just tedium. As a college student I found the idea of being anonymous thrilling. Now it seems we find it terrifying.
song: Somewhere Out There • artist: Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram
H and I are watching The Hobbit part 1 and I'm trying, with not much luck, to like it. Forget the added characters, overblown plot, extra fight scenes, and lack of humor - I've read the book several times and it never occurred to me that Thorin was a muscle-bound, hunky-looking dwarf. song: Misty Mountain Hop • artist: Led Zeppelin
Question: I read all the books and watched all the movies (two of them in the theater even) but must I watch Harry Potter movie 7 part 1 again now that H's has read all the books and is up to that movie because - spoiler alert - I don't think I can handle watching Dobby get killed again, it is by far the saddest moment of the entire series. Even sadder is the fact that the spider plant H named Dobby seems to have died as well.
I forgot two. They are Johnny Cash tunes of course. Nothing's more fitting than having the man in black going in your head while you're out doing some physical labor like shoveling snow. If Johnny we're in my front yard I'm sure he'd ask, "How high's the snow drifts Mama?" and I'd reply, "Three feet high and rising." I also kept hearing the refrain "Plow, Plow, Plow" sung to the tune of "Cry, Cry, Cry." You're gonna plow, plow, plow, and you'll plow alone. When everyone's forgotten and you're left on your own. You're gonna plow, plow, plow. But I wasn't left all alone because my kid helped shovel. They want the money. song: How High's the Water Mama? • artist: Johnny Cash
When I headed outside yesterday to start shoveling the latest freshly fallen 10 inches of snow from the driveway, I debated whether or not to bring my iPod along. I didn't and rather than listening to music (what makes for good snow shoveling music? "Working on the Chain Gang?" "Cold as Ice?"), I entertained myself by thing of how various artists would rework their songs after moving to New England. Johnny Cash would sing "Don't take your plows to town, son, leave your plows at home," Johnny Rivers would sing, "Mountain of snow," Peter, Paul and Mary would croon, "If I had a snow shovel," Barry Manilow could sing "Sh*tty Weekend in New England" (and I'd still be a member of his fan club), and then there'd be Donovon: "First there is a Driveway, then there is no Driveway, then there is." Maybe we'd get Vicki Lawrence in for "The Night the Lights went out during a blizzard in Georgia," Aerosmith could drop by for "Big Ten Inch Record Snowfall," and Ian and Sylvia could keep "Four Strong Winds," just the way it is.
song: I Dig Rock and Roll Music • artist: Peter, Paul and Mary
For a while now I've been meaning to take my kids out for Chinese food.
Even though I love my diners, I feel my kids need to branch out beyond ordering hot dogs and pancakes when we go out.
And, really, if anyone's going to introduce them to msg, it might as well be their mom right?
I've mentioned the idea to them before but it's always been met with resistance.
Last week though, I figured out a sure-fire way to sell it to my kids.
"You guys, Let's go out for Chinese food. You can order something called a pu pu platter."
"A poo poo platter? Really?"
Not sure I understand the rationale behind the scented marker.
Were the marker manufacturers just hanging out in the boardroom one afternoon and then one of them says, "So, we got this product, it's for kids and it's not edible. How can we make it more appealing?"
And another one say, "I know! Let's make them smell like delicious foods like lemons and strawberries and chocolate. That will ensure that kids will - try and eat them!"
And everyone says, "Brilliant!"
Not a parent in that room, I can tell you that.
The other night I had this great zen moment while at a performance of "Arsenic and Old Lace." When I have write a review for the paper, I always show up to the show notebook in hand and follow through by scribbling feverishly throughout the performance. C asked my what I write about and I explained that I mostly jot down adjectives describing the performers, the set, and the costumes but that's not entirely true, I also write down dialogue because you need at least one good quote in a review. I once sat next to another reviewer who was taking notes in just the margins of her program! It was very intimidating. When it comes right down to it through I usually don't use much of what I write. Mentally, it just feels safer to take a lot of notes. Anyway, there I was, scribbling away diligently during Act 2 when H accidentally elbows me, causing my pen to shoot out of my hand and disappear onto the darkness of the theater floor. This was after I also explained to C that I usually bring two pens with me to review (In case one runs out), but that tonight I'd only brought one. "What if they both run out?" he asked, when in hindsight the question he should have asked was, "What if a kid knocks the pen out of your hand?" So there I was, without a pen - or a back up pen. The zen moment was when I realized I couldn't take anymore notes for the future and that instead I'd better start experiencing enough of the play in the present that I'd be able to write a decent review. All-in-all the write up went pretty well, and I think I learned an important lesson. But in the future I think I'll still bring two pens. Even if I'm just writing notes on my program. song: Watching the Detectives • artist: Elvis Costello
Here's what I love about the internet.
You can google "can I freeze my homemade crackers?" and you'll get like a dozen links to blog posts about how easy it is to freeze your homemade crackers usually complete with recipes, photos and maybe even a video tutorial.
Admittedly it might be overkill but it beats asking your Magic 8 Ball.
We went to check out the new playground at Morse Pond School during last week's half day. I think everyone had fun despite it being about -3°C out.
I asked H about it at dinner.
MOM: How'd you like the new playground?
H: Great. I'll be at that school next year.
H: For two years. Unless.
MOM: Unless what?
H: Unless I get a letter from Hogwarts when I turn 11.
Parents and grandparents who sit in the bleachers directly behind the basketball hoop at the rec center's basketball for six and seven year olds either have a lot of faith or an excellent insurance policy.
Lots of nose picking and eating it taking place on both teams during today's game. Guess no one got enough breakfast.
"I look like a farmer, but I'm a lover. You can't judge a book by looking at the cover."
I don't get it - farmers can't be lovers?
And as a graphic designer I frequently judge a book by its cover. If you can't invest in a decent designer for your book cover - well that does say something about you and about your book now doesn't it?
Today I read a recipe on line that called for "one free-range egg."
How exactly does an egg free range?
Does the farmer have to carry the egg outside and manually roll it around in the grass?
I can just hear the egg shouting (it's got the voice of Gilbert Gottfried), "Wheeeeee! Look Ma! I'm free ranging!"