Finally, a field trip I wouldn’t mind chaperoning…

The Princess started first grade last week, We had this conversation this morning.

The Princess: Mommy, can you chaperone my field trip?

Me: When is it?

The Princess: Like, three weeks?

Me: What is it?

The Princess: It’s when you come along with my class.

Me: No, I mean, what is it?

The Princess: It’s when you get a group of kids from my class and you take them around and make sure —

Me: I mean, where are you going?

The Princess: Oh. France.

Happy Birthday!

The Princess says, “Mom, it’s almost your birthday! We have to get you a present.”

So, I said, “No you don’t. I don’t need anything. What do I need?” First of all I really don’t need anything, but more importantly, you know, I’m trying to teach her to be less of a Material Girl living in this Material World.

Her answer, proffered without a beat missed: “Make-up.”

Thanks, kiddo.

If The Princess had her way, and she could do my make-up regularly, this is how I would look leaving the house every day.

Stay Starchy, My Friends.

Recently, my oldest child, Edison has discovered the Internet meme. I have two favorites, the “Hey Girl” Ryan Gosling meme…

and “The Most Interesting Man in the World”.

I showed them to Edison, but he didn’t really get them, so we went to Youtube to look at the Dos Equis commercials and help him get the jokes. Yes, funny, he nodded.

Last night at dinner, I put some waffle fries on the side, and Clooney, who usually eschews potatoes of any kind, exhibited a rare excitement, claiming that waffle fries were his favorite.

Manfrengensen and I were, of course, suprised by his reaction, and then Edison, who is usally quite serious, said dryly, “I don’t always eat fries, but when I do, they’re the waffle cut.”  I don’t know, just tickled me for some reason.

Gay Pareeeee

This week Clooney had a geography project due, and he chose to do a Power Point presentation. I’m not much of a helicopter parent, so I let them do their thing and then give it a check the night before it’s due.

Going through his slides, I noticed that he hadn’t done a lot of in-depth research. On the slide marked “EVENTS” for example, he had listed two. One was the Fête de la Musique,  which is a music festival that features free concerts from all genres, though I had to help him fill in those details. Then there was something called Marché des Fiertés, so I asked him what that was. He had no clue, claiming to have just pulled things off the Internet through Google. So I did a little research myself. Turns out that it was the Parisian Gay Pride Parade. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it might be easier for him to field questions from the class about the Tour de France, so I suggested that he just go with that instead.

Okay then.

Two great questions from my six-year-old

The Princess came up with two great ones today. First she asked me if they had shoes when God was born. That was her focus: the shoes.

And then, because she can read now, she read the street signs when we were driving in the city, and she asked, “One way to where?”

Oh, crap.

The Princess and I have been having a nice time the past couple of weeks. Well, last week wasn’t so great because she was sick, and in and out of the ER all week (blog post about that is forthcoming), but we’ve also done some fun things like visit the zoo, play in the park, and go out to lunch together.

One day we were at Panera, and she had to use the restroom. There were two stalls in there, and one was occupied, so we took the handicapped stall. She went first, and then I did, and while I was going, she asked me if I had “tooted my horn.” I had not, but the woman in the stall next to us was obviously having some GI distress, so I tried to hush my daughter.

Why is it that whenever you try to hush your kids, instead of shushing, they start asking “WHY?” Is that a new phenomenon? Is it something exclusive to my kids? Why don’t they get that when I say “Shush,” it’s time to clam-up, and immediately? I wish I could be more like a French mom. Have you heard of this? It’s kind of the opposite of the Tiger Mom thing, and when you want to convey that some behavior is amiss, you just glare at your offspring with a look that instinct tells them you mean business, and they fermer leur bouche.

Anyway, I tried to get her to pipe down, all while what sounded like a Michael Bay film was going on in the stall next to us. Finally she got the hint and piped down.

Then, I heard the sink running outside our stall, and the door of the restroom opened and closed, so I figured we were alone.

We left the privacy of our stall and went to wash our hands, and The Princess was still being silent. I made a reference to the fact that the coast was clear, so she looked up again and asked me why she had had to be quiet.

“The lady in the other stall was having diarrhea,” I whispered.

“What?” My daughter asked.

“She was having diarrhea,” I said loud enough to be heard over the water running in the sink.

“Diarrhea?” The Princess asked even louder.

And then I heard it. A quiet cough behind us. The poor culprit had emerged from the stall and was standing right behind us. She smiled meekly, and we crawled out under the restroom door.

A Titanic Potty Mouth

The kids have recently discovered James Cameron’s epic, Titanic. It’s because of Clooney. He’s into disasters for some reason, and recently he latched onto the Titanic story. He’s checked out the

Click for link to

same book from the school library for the past six weeks in a row, Explore Titanic combing over its pages almost every night before he goes to sleep. And then, a few weeks ago, the Cameron film was on HBO, so we DVR’d it.

It had been years since I’d seen the movie, which I don’t think is all that, frankly. I mean, technologically it’s awesome. Verbally, not so much. The dialog is downright cheesy at times, and the whole thing with the gun in the end is just unnecessary and preposterous. But the kids like it.

Of course, I didn’t really remember how violent the movie was. At the end, people are falling off the deck and bouncing off the rotors of the propeller. Pretty gruesome stuff. And then — when everybody’s frozen in the water, right before Rose wakes up and realizes she’s alone — pretty creepy. But again, the kids dug it. I kept asking if they wanted me to turn it off, but on the contrary, they were riveted by the film.

And Clooney, with his expert knowledge of the ship, he kept pointing out first class, third class, and at one point, he asked me, “Is that supposed to be Bruce Ismay?” I’m telling you: the kid knows his Titanic shizz.

The other thing I didn’t really remember was the language, which is peppered with gratuitous profanity. I cringed every time one of the characters let an expletive fly, which was not infrequently.

Not that I don’t curse. I’m no sailor or anything, but there have been occasions where I’ve lost control, usually when something has startled me, and a four-letter word has escaped my mouth. I am a human in the 21st Century. I’m not The Big Lebowski over here, nor  do I claim to be one of Mr. Rogers’ neighbors. I live in the real world, and I realize that I cannot shelter my children at all times, especially from my own failings.

So, that takes us to what happened yesterday at the bus stop. As I got out of the car to go stand on the corner with Clooney, I grabbed my coat (because I can’t drive with a coat on — freaky that way). And as the coat came across the front seat, it brushed the top of my XL coffee cup, which proceeded to turn completely over, DUMPING caramel-colored liquid onto my fine (who am I kidding? It’s been dumped on before, but still, I like to think it’s fine, so just indulge me here) leather driver’s seat. So, you know, it just came out. “Shhht!” I really should carry a double roll of Bounty paper towels with me at all times. And some Clorox wipes. And a lint brush. and…

Anyway, Clooney kind of chided me then, and I am still not sure whether or not he did it tongue-in-cheek. “Why do you have to say that?” he smiled slyly. “Who do you think you are? Leonardo DiCaprio?”

That’s right, Jack.

Scenes from imagination at play

Sometimes, I like to go down into the basement where the kids keep most of their toys. It’s fun to come across abandoned scenes of play and try to figure out what was going on before the kids were called up to dinner or chores or bedtime.


Apparently, Darth Maul has a much, much lighter side.

And also, in The Princess’s version of The Phantom Menace, he and Quai-Gon have what looks like an entirely different relationship dynamic going on:

Then, here, you really have to wonder what Aladdin and The Beast (that’s Beast without the fur) were saying to Jasmine. They look like they are trying to convince her to come see the matinee performance of Zeigfield and Roy.

Day from Hell (except for lunch)

Sometimes, I cannot believe all the things I accomplish before 8 am. I get up (after slapping the snooze two or three times), take a handful of pills, shower, wake Edison, finish dressing, and go make sure Edison has gotten out of bed before heading downstairs. If Manfrengensen is up, I might also make our bed. Then it’s a start to the coffee maker before I open the blinds and go find everyone’s lunch boxes, 2 of 3 still being in certain people’s backpacks.

I collect lunches, (Manfrengensen usually makes the sandwiches the night before and puts them in the fridge) but I get together all of the drinks and sides, forks and napkins, get it all collected and sorted, and add an extra snack for Clooney’s mid-morning, plus refill his water bottle or I’ll never hear the end of it. Then I go wake The Princess and Clooney, usually trying to be fun about it, but that’s not always the most practical approach. Sometimes, all the laundry hasn’t been folded and put away, so I will have to go down to the laundry room to get someone a shirt or pair of pants.

Then it’s time for me to hurry Edison along, and when he comes down, I will make his breakfast to order and get his milk for him. When I remember, I also dole out Claritin and vitamins to him and Clooney. Clooney sometimes appears not long after Edison, but more often he

Somedays I feel like Mrs. Incredible...

somehow makes it downstairs before his brother, and then I make his breakfast to order and the requisite chocolate milk (that boy, like his mother, is a slave to the Dark Master, and I’m not talking about Voldemort) and usually get him doing his homework (which I have at some point between opening the blinds and waking him, found and put out on the counter along with a pencil) since he is better focused before school than after.

Once they are eating, I will usually go try to drag The Princess out of bed, which is a drag. She is a grumpy bear in the morning. Once I get her out of bed, she’ll try to start a fight, typically about wearing something crazy like a sleeveless ballet leotard when it’s long-underwear weather or shoes that are two sizes too small or large, but I don’t take the bait. Hey, if she wants to be cold, or have blisters on her heels, who am I to stand in her way? I’ve got other fish I am frying at the moment. But I have recently started brushing her teeth for her, after two years of not doing that, because I found she wasn’t really brushing them, even though she would tell me she was.

So then, it’s back to getting Edison ready to catch the bus. Does he have his homework? Does he have his violin? Does he have his music? His script? His shoes? And if any of those items are missing, I will need to help him find it lest I end up driving him to school. No matter what time I get him up, he’s always running to catch the bus. And sometimes, after I watch him leave, after we’ve been through all those “Do you have?”s — I will return to the kitchen and there on the counter will be his lunchbox, or his violin, or his music. Then I know I have got another errand to run today. But you know, that’s another battle I have decided not to fight anymore. The kid is who he is. After six years of trying to change that, I’m just going with it. It takes so much less energy to just drive that sh@& to school.

By then, The Princess has made her appearance. Does she want breakfast? Sometimes. Sometimes she’ll want to go play Polly Pockets in the basement for the 20 minutes we have until we have to leave. Sometimes she’ll watch Spongebob. Occasionally she will allow me to brush the hair that has fashioned itself overnight into what appears to be a squirrel’s nest. Yes, she will allow me, but she won’t like it, and won’t be shy at all about saying so throughout the ENTIRE brushing session.

Then I will usually clear out the dishwasher and put all that stuff away if I have time. Sometimes there might even be time for me to have breakfast, but that’s rare. When it’s almost time to leave, I will give them a warning to get shoes on, which they typically heed, unless the TV is on. So then I make sure they have their backpacks and lunch boxes and library books and sneakers for PE and get your shoes on it’s time to go. No your shoes. And your coat and hat and gloves. And while I am directing them to the car, I am pouring myself coffee (and making that a double) for the road, and they will be out in the garage as I rifle through the junk drawer for my keys and follow them, and then we are off to the bus stop.

That’s the usual routine, anyway. Very little variation from day-to-day. Though this morning, I had the strangest dream around 6 am. First of all, I dreamt that my stepmother, who has quite the green thumb, was growing these beautiful exotic kind of orchids in the tank of her toilet. (I know, wtf, right?) But then, I was running away from The Princess, not sure why, though I am sure I could dig a bit deeper for those seeds. Anyway, I was running through a wooded area in the early morning, and I was worried that spiders might have been spinning webs in the night, so I was waving my arms in front of me as I ran. Then, my bare feet ran through a thick spider web, which snapped and wound around my ankle, which was when I noticed a HUGE spider at the end of the thread, now clinging to my leg, and I tried to kick it off.

And I woke up, just after my foot made contact with Manfrengensen’s shin in the real world. “Sorry, sorry,” I said.

So then, today was a little bit different because The Princess had her annual physical scheduled for this morning, and she was quite excited about this because she was hoping to need glasses. When she was informed by the medical staff that she, in fact, has 20/20 vision, and therefore does not need spectacles, she proceeded to make one of herself, practically crying her eyes out in the exam room while we were waiting for the doctor to come in. What am I supposed to say to that? Sorry you don’t need glasses, honey? Who wants glasses? As someone who is just above “mole” on the vision scale, I can attest to the fact that glasses are no great shakes. But she doesn’t listen to me, so…

Then she started with the not wanting to go to school routine, and that was tough titties as far as I was concerned. Thankfully, by the time I got her to school, she was cool with the arrangement and gave me a quick kiss before joining her friends in the classroom. Now I had just enough time to cross the northern part of the state to meet a friend for lunch. I texted her to let her know that I was spinning in circles, and she kindly agreed to meet me at a closer venue. We had a nice lunch,

...other days not so much.

great visit, plus I had a little time to run a quick errand before we met.

As soon as we were finished though, I had to head back to The Princess’s school to pick her up, stopping along the way for a few quick groceries. Got her, brought her home, gave her a snack and unloaded the groceries with very little time left before we had to go pick up Clooney from his bus stop. From there, we went to Edison’s school to grab him from his extracurricular activity, ran him home for a quick dinner, and then took everyone out again (because Manfrengensen is at a basketball game tonight) so that Edison could go to orchestra practice at yet another middle school which is even farther from home than his own. Since we had only an hour before we had to return for him, I took the other two for dinner at Panera, which was fun, and then we went back to collect Edison.

Got home, everyone snacked and showered, read a chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to the three of them and now, I am enjoying the quiet. Not really a day from hell, just a long one. I don’t know how most people fit a full-time square job into the mix. Hat’s off to those of you who do.

End of Year Musings Week 4 – Something New

Monday, Dec 19: Something New
Knitting, a new language, underwater basketweaving… what new things did you learn this year? 

This year, I started making cakes for the kids’ parties. It’s not even close to looking professional. There’s no fondant involved, but it’s fun, and the kids will remember these.

Cake for Clooney's First Holy Communion

Clooney’s really into cars, so when it came to putting together this cake, the idea just kind of came to me…blasphemous as it may have been. The strip of road on top was made from the part of the cake that I had to slice from the bottom to make it even. It was devil’s food on the inside just to make sure I had my foot planted firmly on the road to Hell.

This is a Golden Snitch, which is a Harry Potter Quidditch thing, if you are not hip to wizard lingo.

For his 11th birthday, Edison wanted to go all Hogwarts, and we had quite an elaborate party. I did a couple of practice rounds of these cake pops before the final product. They were devil’s food on the inside as well. The wings were made of melted white chocolate that I piped out onto wax paper before applying to the pop.

The Wicked Witch of the West spelled out The Princess's name with her broom there as well. The sign was made on cardboard, and held up with chopsticks that I "borrowed" from PF Chang. I might also note that this cake weighed 14,000 pounds.

And then there was The Princess’s Wizard of Oz-themed party. (Quite a year of wizards for us over here.) The inside of the cake had layers that were the colors of the rainbow (or as close to the colors of the rainbow as I could get without putting our party guests into a food-dye-induced coma.)

For each cake, I just kind of used my imagination along with a lot of humor, patience, and icing. I’ve never taken any kind of decorating class, and I don’t claim to be Martha Stewart or anything. (And I think if Martha saw these, she would breathe a sigh of relief on that note.) Like I said, it was fun to make them, and I hope to do more cakes for the kids in 2012.