The other day, The Princess was coloring a picture from The Nutcracker. It was a man in Chinese silk pajamas that she was coloring red with a big fat crayon.
“Who’s that girl?” Clooney asked.
“That’s not a girl,” The Princess corrected him. “It’s a boy.”
“It can’t be a boy,” Clooney protested. “Boys don’t do ballet.”
They got into an argument, which, they naturally brought to me for judgement. My ruling was that Clooney was being sexist.
“Cool,” he said smiling at his sister. “I’m sexiest.”
And I had to explain to him that sexist and sexiest are not the same thing at all. (And by the way, how does an eight-year-old even know what “sexiest” is??)
So, any way, speaking if sexist (not sexiest) I had been waiting a long time to be able to read the Madeline books to The Princess. At first she wasn’t into them, so we never really got through the story. Then the other night, I tried again, and we made it all the way through the first one. She liked it okay, but here’s the thing: Clooney loved it. Not only did he love it, but the next night, after he had fallen asleep, and I went to tuck him in, the Madeline book was lying by his bed. He had read it again on his own.
It never occurred to me to feed the Madeline books to my son. Sexist, right? So I bought one of the sequels, Madeline’s Rescue, and when I read it to them, he laughed and laughed like the end was the funniest thing he’s ever heard. Last night, he finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which he’d been working on since right before Thanksgiving. And when I went to tuck him in, after he’d fallen asleep, I found Madeline’s Rescue on top of the Rowling.
The Princess is in camp all week, and she seems to be enjoying it. Every day she comes home and says what a great time she had, but then the next morning it’s a fight to get her to go. She thinks she’s missing out on something here, I guess. (Little does she know.) So, I have been trying to placate her by saying that I will try to come pick her up after lunch, but I think she’s on to me. Today she said, “Don’t try. Do.” What is she, Yoda?
The other thing that’s nice is that she’s making friends there at the camp. Yesterday she came home and asked if her new friend could come for a sleepover. So, I said, “What’s your friend’s name?” But The Princess couldn’t say. I hope she doesn’t plan to do this kind of thing when she’s older — inviting a person she just met whose name she doesn’t know for a sleepover. That’s just a bad habit to get into. I met the kid today. She seems like a sweet girl, really cute with gorgeous ringlets of dark hair, but she’s not coming to sleep over. We just met her. Can’t we start slowly, with like, a playdate?
Meanwhile, Edison is not idle in this first full week off. No. He has devised a club, kind of like the Boy Scouts, with merit badges made of paper (and I think stolen from the Boy Scouts of America website, which he assures me is okay since he’s not making any money from this endeavor) called the Edison Scouts. He and Clooney were busy all afternoon, earning these badges. They ran around the house for the athletic badge. They created puppet shows for the entertainment badge. They biked to another part of the neighborhood for some other kind of badge. Oh, they were busy, busy. But more importantly, they were having fun together.
And when The Princess got home from camp, she joined the Edison Scouts, and they re-created all of the events for her so that she could earn her badges too. She was so happy; they all sat on the same side of the table at dinner, saying please and thank you and being closer than three middle toes in a pointed shoe. For the moment, there’s a lot of love in this house.
But in the words of Scarlet O’Hara: “Tomorrow is another day.”
Driving home this afternoon, I was flipping through radio stations and caught a few seconds of Lady GaGa.
Clooney says, “They call this music?”
I said, “Yeah, it’s Lady GaGa.”
And Edison said, “More like Lady CaCa.”
Did I say kids were awesome?
The kids have been at each other’s throats for days. They’ve been arguing about EVERYTHING. I swear, if one of them says it’s cloudy today, the other one will point out that the percentage of blue sky to clouds negates the other’s declaration. And with three of them, this kind of thing is always happening between two. There is never a moment of peace. Plus, Manfrengensen has been working 6-day weeks, so when Sunday comes, I just want the day off.
Last night, I took the kids to seen Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules, which they liked. It had some funny moments, but also made me uncomfortable in some parts, but it’s just a movie, so I try not to take it too seriously. Edison came away with this idea of “Mom Bucks” where he and his siblings would earn play money from me for doing chores and things, that they would later exchange for real cash. That’s cool and all, but not really what I want to get with. I mean, first of all, they get allowances, and there’s really nothing that they want for. In addition to all that, I take them to the movies, and I also buy them things. Like yesterday, we went to this big community garage sale, and I got Edison a nice bike, almost new, for $20. After that, I took Clooney out to get him a Spooner Board, which you might think is overindulgence on my part, but it’s really just selfish. You see, by buying him this toy, I’m buying time for myself with kids outside. It’s win-win, as I see it. I don’t do it often, but I do it. To tell you the truth though, right from the start, I’m not too comfortable with this Mom Bucks thing because, and maybe I am being too idealistic here, but shouldn’t the motivation to help around the house and be kind to your siblings be intrinsic? Is that naive on my part?
Now, Edison is an early riser, and he rises every day with some kind of bee in his bonnet, some idea that he has, thing he wants to do, grand scheme he needs to execute. He’s off and running, sometimes without even remembering to brush his teeth. (Ew, I know, right?) Today’s idea: MOM BUCKS. So that when I come down, at Church-Time-minus-30, and no coffee yet made, he’s got every version of Monopoly we own spread out on the family room floor, and he has devised an ELABORATE set of parameters as to how each Mom Buck shall be earned.
I had to tell him to park it. Pistons were not firing yet, you know?
And this after I had gone into Clooney’s room (where The Princess sleeps on a fold-out chair on the weekends) to find them already locking their devilish horns. Clooney, I guess, had begun the day by declaring that this was The Princess’s last night in his room. I just backed away slowly, closed the door and pretended not to have witnessed.
Got to Mass just as the priest was getting ready to head up the center aisle. It wasn’t too crowded, I guess some people took off today, or maybe they are going to other masses because there’s no Sunday school this week. Manfrengenson trailed behind me and the boys with the Princess. We got good seats right up front. I really like our pastor. He gives an awesome homily, really knows how to tie the Gospel into what we’re dealing with in our 21st Century lives. He’s funny, comfortable with the flock, a very human kind of guy. When the homilies are over, I often want to hold up my phone and wave it in the air for an encore. “Woo-hoo! You rock, Dude!” Father Dave is like my spiritual Justin Beiber.
Today, however, I was distracted. The kids were jostling for space near me. The Princess, who’s usually in Sunday school during the 9:00 was insisting on sitting on my lap, while Clooney kept brushing his face against my arm like a cat trying to get its whiskers clean. The kicker was Communion. Before it started, the Princess, who is almost 6, and not at all a small 5, was insisting on being carried to the Priest while I went. I refused, and she refused to let it drop, whining in my ear during the entire Consecration. Communion time comes, and I pushed her out into the aisle. She’s still hanging onto my right arm and whining, while Clooney follows us, and takes hold of my left. They ‘re both hanging on me the whole time I accept the Eucharist and back to the pew, where Clooney immediately starts complaining that there’s a stain on his knee. For Pete’s sake, can’t I have a few minutes to pray? Just a minute to talk to God and ask him for the patience I need to deal with these people??
So, Clooney’s still kvetching, I haven’t knelt down yet, but as I turn to look at the problem, I notice that The Princess’s sippy cup has leaked milk all over the pew. Must be a whole pint there on the seat, so I reach into my purse for a wad of Kleenex, start mopping, the whole time, Clooney’s trying to sway my attention to the stain, I just want to pray…I’m kneeling while I’m cleaning (the rest of the congregation’s still going up for Communion) and as I straighten my leg to stand, the knee of my pants sticks to the kneeler. What’s on Clooney’s pants, what’s now on my pants, are the crushed raisins that The Princess has carelessly dropped during Mass.
These are the days that try moms souls…
Clooney began collecting Silly Bandz this summer. I cannot say when these things first put their rubbery feet through our door, but it built and built until he amassed a gallon-sized Ziploc bag full of them. I don’t buy them; he gets them at parties or at camp, and he’s been known to spend his allowance on them, at least until the Series 2 LEGO mini-figures were released a few weeks ago. But his eyes still get all glassy when he sees them in a store. The combinations of shapes, colors and other features (i.e. glow in the dark, tie-dyed, or sparkly) continue to mesmerize him whenever we pass a rack of them. And they are EVERYWHERE.
I have allowed it without encouraging it, because he’s into it, and because ultimately they are no more harmful than collecting baseball cards (though not as intellectually appealing), but I was a little disturbed yesterday when he came home and showed me two new ones on his wrist.
“Guess where I got these,” he began proudly. “Lucy and Gina dropped their Silly Bandz on the floor at lunch, and a bunch of people picked them up and I got these two!”
“What do you mean??” I asked, highly concerned.
It happened, just as I had thought. Six kids swooped in and stole the girls’ Silly Bandz off the floor. You always imagine that your child will be Superman, or the hero, the one who steps in and tells the others that what they are doing, if what they are doing, is not the right thing. So, I was more than a little shocked when not only didn’t my son do that, but he was also an eager participant in the crime. He and I had a long talk about what it meant, and how I saw the situation, and I hoped that he understood that what he had done was wrong and why. I tried to make him feel empathy for Lucy and Gina, and he promised to return the bracelets, but I wonder what he really learned. Did he learn that it’s wrong to do what he did, or did he just learn that it’s wrong to share stuff like that with Mom?
It’s a fine line. How do you teach kindness and morality, right and wrong, without choking the open line of communication between parent and child? Obviously, he’s never seen Manfrengensen or me take something that doesn’t belong to us, so it’s not a learn-by-example situation. I can only imagine that it will get tougher as he gets older and the pressure to really fit in plays a factor.
Have you had any experience with this kind of thing? Please share below if you have. Thanks.
It’s raining and the kids are wrestling in the living room. Thought I’d give you a list of the things they invariably tend to bicker over:
Opening the door of the house.
Opening the door of the car.
If they all have to sit in the middle row, the boys fight over the brown booster seat.
If someone is allowed to sit in the back row, they fight over whose turn it is to do so.
Yesterday they fought over whose turn it was to ride back there first for this outing, even though one of them had been the last one back there the day before, which meant clearly that it was the other’s turn to ride.
Closing the door of the car.
The Princess will also fight me over the buckling of her seat belts.
Controlling the remote for the DVD player in the car.
Pushing the elevator buttons.
Pushing the buttons to activate any automatic doors.
Helping me load the clothes washer.
Closing the detergent dispenser drawer.
Who is making too much noise when Edison is trying to practice piano.
Who gets to curl up in Mom’s blanket while they are watching TV.
Who gets to sit in Mom’s “usual” spot on the sofa.
“She’s banging on the piano!” (As if I can’t hear that for myself.)
Whose turn it is to watch his or her show.
“She’s touching my cars!”
“He’s touching my dolls!”
He won’t play with me.
She won’t play with me.
They won’t play with me.
Edison’s not letting me play Wii.
Clooney won’t let me take my turn on the computer.
“Gimme those back!”
Who gets to turn off the sprinkler.
Those are just the ones I can think of at the moment. They always seem to surprise me with the arguments they are capable of conjuring. I’m sure both my mother and my grandmother (who lived with us and helped my father raise my sibs and me) are both having a laugh somewhere. After all, their prophecies have come to pass: I have kids who are just like we were.
Happy holidays, all!
Thanks for stopping.
Yesterday The Princess and I baked together for the first time. It was fun. She was into pouring all the ingredients into the bowl and mixing them together, but for me, it meant so much more to do this mother-daughter thing. Nothing special, just brownies, which from what I have heard, turned out to be delicious.
I haven’t talked about the diet for a while, but to give a quick update, I am doing great with the Jenny Craig. I am more than half-way to my goal weight, having lost more than 18 pounds since I officially began the diet. More importantly, I went back to the doctor yesterday, and all of my numbers have come down. Since July, when I last saw him, I have lost 21 pounds. My cholesterol has gone from 252 to 175, and my trigycerides, which were embarrassing — over 700 — are now 122. It’s great to look in the mirror and feel better, but I have to tell you, when they gave me the numbers yesterday, I teared up. The numbers are the important thing. Overall, I feel pretty great.
Edison was in a play this week, written by his music teacher and performed by everyone in the third grade at his school. He spent weeks singing and dancing around the house, and even though there were times when I really wished he would stop, there will be times in the future, when other pursuits have garnered his attention, when I will miss that singing.
I am finishing up a book I had to read for the book club called The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. It’s one of those books I can’t wait to be done with. The writing is just okay, nothing overly literary, and at times the narrative is cliche, or just doesn’t feel real, like the author is stretching a limited imagination. It tells two stories in two separate narratives that the author is trying to somehow relate to one another.
One is a historical fiction about Brigham Young’s 19th wife, who divorces him and sets about on a crusade to end polygamy in the late-19th Century. That part of the book I really like. It’s fairly well researched and feels authentic. The other is a modern sort of murder mystery about a 19th wife in a cult-like sect that split of from the Mormons after 1890 who is accused of killing her husband. Her estranged gay son returns to the small town and proceeds to investigate the case, and I don’t want to ruin it for you, but you know, the mother’s innocent.
But I had some real problems with that part of the book. First of all, the solving of the murder comes abruptly and totally from left field. There’s no building of the clues, only a bit of meandering around them. The explanation of the murder is less than a page, and the motive isn’t fully believable, especially given that the climax is the first we’ve heard of it. Also, the confession comes after a totally contrived scene where the main character is captured and seems to be threatened, but again, it doesn’t feel as real as the author had been hoping to make it.
My biggest problem was with the main character, who as I mentioned, is gay. Why? Because I guess that would make the story more interesting? The author tells us that the guy spent a little time selling his bod, and on more than one occasion mentions that he was paid by a dude to let him put his “arm in a place where no arm should go.” Ew. And then, about 2/3 through the book, he meets a guy who falls in love with him and wants him to stay, make a commitment after ONE NIGHT TOGETHER, and the author tries to kind of make a case that it’s hard for Jordan to do that because of how he was raised in the polygamist sect. He can’t love, you see. But I felt like — well, he did just meet the guy. Frankly, the love interest comes off more like a creepy stalker than a sincere life partner. (I pictured him as Kenneth Parcells from 30 Rock, only you know, as a creepy stalker. If they ever make a movie of this book, Jack McBrayer should totally play the character of Tom.)
But I keep turning those pages, because I do want to find out what happened to Ann Eliza Young, Bringham’s 19th wife. I’m not sure I will find out, and I also worry that we’ll never find out what happened to the son she left behind when she left Utah, though the fact that she misses him is mentioned several times in the course of the story. I have like ten pages to go. Then, like Ann Eliza, I will be free (to read something else.)
p.s. — just searching on youtube, I found these clips. Seriously, this is the funniest show on TV:
Here are a few postcards from our trip:
At the beach end of our street there is a big, beautiful house. It’s the kind of house that, were I making a movie about beach living, would make a fabulous backdrop. It’s green-shingled, three-stories of what looks like generations of living on the beach, with turrets and arches, well maintained with a lushly landscaped perimeter. It’s got a pool on the beach side of it. The landscaping is meticulously maintained. How this guy gets such thick green grass with sand in such close proximity is, frankly, something the environmentalist in me doesn’t want to know about.
The guy’s a little crazy about his house. At some point, and I am not sure whether he got the city’s permission to do this, he removed the sidewalk in front of his house and replaced it with something more aesthetically in line with his property. There’s some concrete to the sidewalk there, but it is bordered by the same brick as his driveway. I suppose, having footed the expense for this upgrade, he has come to believe that the sidewalk is his. Over the years, I have seen him remove many a bike and wagon left there by public beachgoers, my own included.
On Saturday, I saw a woman unlocking her bike from the post on the sidewalk. I hesitated to speak, but I thought, in the spirit of community, I would warn her about how crazy the guy is about the sidewalk. I said carefully, and in a friendly way, “This guy here is a little crazy about the sidewalk. Just wanted to let you know in case he ever moves your bike. He doesn’t like people to leave them here.”
And she went crazy on me. Yelling about how it’s a public sidewalk, and he has no right to do that, he can call the cops, blah blah blah. All this crazy stuff, like I had been the one who moved her bike. I just wanted to get away from her, so I said, “Okay, you have a nice day,” and I took Ee in the stroller and quickly got away from her.
Then she caught up with me at the corner where we were waiting for the light, and she apologized, but the apology was this other long rant about how she’s just so sick of these people who come down here for the summer. She can’t wait for the summer to be over. She’s a full-time resident, and these people who come for the summer really get on her nerves. They act like they own the place because they own a summer place. These people crowd the town, they make more traffic, these people. And I was like…I’m one of these people. I don’t feel like I own the place, but what kind of apology is that? But then I noticed that she had three kids, and I knew how she felt about needing the summer to end. But that’s no reason to take her frustrations out on a total stranger. Can’t she do like I do and just yell at the kids?
Seriously, though. What’s wrong with people?
We were into the Olympics, at least the ones that were broadcast live, and the kids really enjoyed the gymnastics. Clooney kept doing his “floor exercises” on the beach, including repetition in “slow motion.” Thursday my in-laws came to visit, and we had lunch on the beach. While we were talking, I held the last bit of my sandwich in my hand, and I was on the outside of our circle. A seagull swooped down suddenly and grabbed it right out of my hand.
We went to the boardwalk. We visited Storybookland. Overall, a great week. Only three days of beach, weather permitting, left to the summer.
Today we are shopping for school shoes, which necessitates a trip to the mall for proper sizing. The mall closest to us is kind of sad. There’s a mom-and-pop shoe store that’s been there since I was being fitted for school shoes. But the rest of the mall, like I said, is kind of sad. There’s not even a Gap there. A mall without a Gap is only one bad holiday season away from being a mall with a wig store. And a mall where there’s a wig store, well, that’s the saddest kind of mall there is.
A Movie Review
Manfrengensen and I went to see Tropic Thunder last week. It was okay. Overall, uneven. There were some really funny parts, but many of the jokes fell flat. Much has been made of Robert Downey, Jr.’s performance, which was fine. But what really bothered me was Tom Cruise. I’m not a Tom Cruise basher. He’s fine, for what he is. My problem is that he’s always Tom Cruise. Even under 70 pounds of latex and acrylic hair, he’s still Tom Cruise, and you can tell that. I thought his performance was a caricature that was so cliche that it was annoying.
Another thing that kind of bothered me was the signature Dream Works use of music. I don’t know if it’s a Geffen requirement, but have you ever noticed that 90% of Dream Works films have a song in them that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie? It usually comes at the end, and one or more of the characters will dance to it like it’s supposed to be cute or funny, but in reality, it’s just a tie-in to sell the soundtrack. I hate that.
Another Movie Review
The best movie I have seen lately is one I happened to catch on cable. I’m not huge on sci-fi, but I really enjoyed Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. It’s about this crew that tries to reignite the dying sun, which sounds a little like you’ve seen it before, but you haven’t. Kind of a cross between Alien and 2001, it was visually stunning and had us on the edge of the sofa for much of the last forty minutes. No big name stars, unless you count Cillian Murphy, who was in 28 Days Later, and he also played The Scarecrow in Batman Begins. His performance was subtle, quiet, and quite brilliant. I have found myself haunted by the film for a week now. I just keep thinking, man, that was a good movie. And I don’t think that about movies often. Highly recommend.
And a Mystery
Last night Manfrengensen went to make himself some tea in his Mr. Tea Ice Tea Maker. He does this often, so we usually keep a spare pitcher handy in the back corner of the kitchen counter for him to collect water to pour into it. It’s opaque, made by Rubbermaid. So, last night, he had the pitcher in hand, and he asked me, “What’s this? Is this a joke?” I had no idea what he was talking about. He tipped the pitcher toward me and asked, “What’s this supposed to be? A bat?” So then, I was really confused. “A bat?” I asked. What the hell was he talking about? He said, “There’s a bat, or at least, I think it’s a bat, in this pitcher.” He continued to think I was trying to pull something over on him. We took the pitcher outside and poured its contents onto the patio where it landed with a hard, inanimate smack. It was, as it turned out, a dead bat.
How did a bat get into the house? And even more curious — how did it get into the kitchen, under the cabinets and down into the pitcher? How did it die? How long had it been there? Totally weird. And I think, a mystery that will remain unsolved.
p.s. – Clooney asked, “A bat? Is it an acrobat? Because, they can do tricks.”
I was so excited for today that I could hardly sleep last night. The weather promised to be beautiful, even more beautiful than usual for the season. Sunny with a high of 75, no humidity, rare for this region at this time of year. Days don’t get better than that.
I made plans to take the kids to the park. They had play dates, and I looked forward to seeing the moms and sharing a bit of adult conversation. It was fun. T3’s friend was waiting for him when we got there, and J’s showed up a few minutes later. In addition to that, another friend of J showed up within the hour and more friends of T3 were there as well. We stayed until after lunch, and everyone had a good time, except maybe for Ee who wanted more swing push and attention from me. Toward the end, she climbed into my arms and pressed her face against mine in an effort to get me undivided.
It was nice to visit with my lady friends, and I found it amusing the way they laughed that I was like Supermom when I pulled out the water, juice boxes and snacks. First of all, I had planned from the first to be there for a good part of the day, but also, if they had seen me scrambling to get kids dressed, snacks packed and stroller loaded by 10:30, they would have seen something other than Supermom entirely. Not that I was channeling her today, but I do tend to consider Elastigirl (a.k.a. Mrs. Incredible) my role model.
So we came home before two (almost three hours out there) and T3’s friend came with us for a play date. He stayed for a bit, and they all had fun, but then the friend had to leave. I took the kids and walked several blocks to pick up my car, which was being serviced for yet another flat tire. There’s been a lot of construction on the street this summer, and this is my second flat in as many months. It turned out to be another nail.
Then we all drove to the grocery store for some supplies. I don’t like taking all three of them to the grocery store, because it’s a bit hectic, but we needed some things that couldn’t wait. My first mistake was not to make a list, because the three of them were buzzing around me, touching everything, T3 asking, “Do we need this? Do we need this?” Ee wanting every toy or treat she saw, and J being good, but still tempted now and again to join the fray. In addition to the insanity, the store was undergoing a renovation, so I couldn’t find ANYTHING. The new arrangement is really wacky too. For example, they have certain brands of (but not all) tuna fish, mustard, pickles and mayo stocked on a shelf above the bread. Shouldn’t that stuff be in the canned meat and condiment aisles respectively? Are they just trying to make it easier on the sandwich builders? I don’t know…just found it confusing.
About half way through, J said he needed to go, which he always needs to do, and of course T3 then said he had to go as well. They had my head spinning. They went into the men’s room, and I waited outside the door to the restroom with Ee contained in the cart. I put my head down on the handle and closed my eyes just to rest them for a second. A woman said something about my choice of napping place. I opened my eyes and smiled at her, and then turning away, I noticed I was standing next to the mixed drink mixes. Sometimes I tend to make impulse purchases, and it was really hard today not to buy a gallon jug of cosmopolitan mix. I really wanted one just then.
Things didn’t get better from there. Ee kept asking for toys and treats, T3 kept fighting me about things he could and could not throw into the cart (butter, okay, eggs, not) and the struggle continued through what he could and could not load onto the conveyer belt and bag. By the time we got home, I was just like, I don’t care what you guys do now, just do it in your room and give me some time to myself. Which they did. Ee actually fell asleep, though the boys bickered in their room until dinner.
The worst bit of the story is actually that I forgot to buy coffee filters, which we are out of…will have to pull something Macgyver-esque in the morning.
Overall, a long day. I feel as though someone’s hollowed me with a mellon baller.