I deploraxed The Lorax

Was The Lorax originally meant to represent Teddy Roosevelt? He certainly has a convincing moustache.

I took the kids to see The Lorax yesterday. I really wish I had read the reviews before I had promised to do that. I was going to write a lengthy review, but A.O. Scott of the NYTimes said most of what I wanted to say, and I feel, said it more eloquently than I ever could have, so I’m sharing that with you.

I don’t mean to seem like I hate things, or that I am no fun, but I must tell you that as I sat in that darkened theater, I felt sad. Mostly sad for Dr. Seuss. I kept thinking that if he were alive, he’d go out in his yard, dig a grave and practice rolling over in it.

As Scott mentioned in his article, Theodore Geisel exercised tight control over his work, which his heirs have abandoned. That’s why we get these overblown adaptations that have little to do with the original story. These tales are perfect for the ten-minute-long animated shorts we got in the 1970’s. They don’t need all these added-on backstories that muck them up and make them run for 90 minutes.

Another thought that kept occurring to me was an article I’d just read about how folks today, for the most part, really aren’t that green. That everyone likes to use the buzzword “green” but in practice, we still keep consuming and discarding and leaving the saving of the planet to others who are too few to stem the tide. We need the latest smartphone, the latest TV, what all the other kids are wearing, and we feel better about ourselves when we throw our plastic bottles into a conveniently placed recycling bin, but overall, we can’t be bothered to carry our own reusable bags into the mall.

While the message of “save the trees” is still there, pretty much everything else Dr. Seuss stood for is not. Sure the little kids will walk away with that idea about saving the trees, but they will also come away feeling like they laughed a lot — at things that were kind of mean-spirited. Language is used to cut other characters down, and slapstick is what really gets the laugh. For some reason there’s also a fat bear that’s played for laughs as well.

Dr. Seuss was a genius, I’m not going to deny that. But his genius was his simplicity. The way he used his children’s books as allegories about racism, environmental issues and war is a great thing. But it’s not like he was the only one. I see a lot of Dr. Seuss’ words everywhere these days. They are plastered all over Pintrest, quoted on Facebook, painted on library walls. But you know, Theodore Geisel is no more the world’s greatest philosopher than Shel Silverstein is its poet. We are wise to use Dr. Seuss as a starting point to talk to our kids, but we need to back that up with more complex ideas — and follow through on those ideas ourselves.

Learning Swerve

Here’s another funny thing about my kids:

They can figure out how to beat Bowser in the Super Mario Bros. video game, but when I ask them to return the laundry bag to their wood-framed hampers, they wither and give up. This is apparently a skill  they are not interested in acquiring. What’s up with that?


All over the place

Last week was another crazy one. The Princess had been sick, mostly with fever, but also she was listless and had no appetite. I took her to the doctor, since strep is going around her class (and pretty much everywhere else), but she didn’t have strep. Her liver seemed a little inflamed though, the doc said, and because of that, suggested we test her for mono. So great…no worries there…turned out she didn’t have mono, which was a relief, just a lingering virus, that made her especially cranky. The virus seems to be gone…now we’re still working on the cranky.

Friday, Edison started teaching himself to play the Super Mario Bros. theme on the piano. I went out to dinner with a friend, and when I came home, he was still banging on those keys. First thing Saturday morning, he was at it again.

Before I had even finished my coffee, fantasies of opening the oven door and leaving the gas on were dancing in my mind. By Sunday afternoon, Manfrengensen claimed to have been checking out flights to Japan on Expedia.com, with plans to hunt down the man who wrote the song and torture him, mostly just by following him around and singing the song.

Saturday night we were in church, and the kids were so good there. Not like the other time I told you about. Clooney was actually following along in the missal and even singing the songs. When the mass was over, I gave him kudos for his behavior, and he shrugged and said, “Well, yeah, it’s not like I’m here for nothing. What do you think, I just come here for all the standing and kneeling?” which I kind of thought was a funny thing for a nine-year-old to say.

Earlier in the day, I took Clooney and Edison to audition for a local commercial. I’m not a stage mom or anything, but I kind of know the guy who’s making the commercial. I asked the boys if they wanted to try, thinking it would be kind of fun, and they both agreed. Edison is more of a performer than Clooney is. Clooney’s a comedian, but he’s really dry, and he doesn’t really look for attention (unless someone has given him lemonade — that’s like feeding a Gremlin after midnight — watch out!)

Edison has done a couple of school plays, plus his toddler years were spent imitating Steve from Blues Clues, so he has a certain element of the musical-theatrical about him.

We went to the place where they were holding the auditions, and Edison went first. I could tell Clooney was nervous, so I pulled him into a hug to keep him still and whispered in his ear that there was nothing to be nervous about. “Just go in and be yourself,” I said.

“No,” he smiled, “I’m going to go in and be Billy.” Billy was the name of the character in the script. So obviously, he’s more of a method-kind of actor, comes from the Strasberg school (or the Strasberg preschool). Like he’s freakin’ Christian Bale or something. Go be the part, Clooney. Inhabit the role.

Anyway, afterward, they were both excited, it had been a fun experience, and I started to worry that one or both of them would be disappointed if he didn’t get the role. I said, you know, you both did well, (the director had said so) and if one of you didn’t get it, no big deal, they could just be looking for something else, someone younger or older or lighter or darker. It’s all luck sometimes. And then when we were in the car, I reminded them again, they could go with someone else entirely. The important thing was that we had fun today.

The boys agreed, and then Clooney whispered from the third row of the car, “Even though it’s going to be me.”

Well, this morning, we got word of the callback…and it was for Edison. The director stressed again that Clooney had done well, but he just wasn’t quite what they are looking for. I felt very proud of Edison, and I was kind of hoping Clooney wouldn’t be too sad about it. But he was. He cried. He cried! So I told him that these kind of endeavors are really just a crapshoot, and you can’t take any kind of setback too hard. I told him about all the rejection letters I had gotten for my children’s book a couple of years ago, and told him that even though no one bought it, I am still proud of it. And some day, maybe someone will want it, or something else I write. You can’t let it make you stop trying.

And I think he got that. He was cool after a while. He’ll try again. And we’ll see how Edison’s call back goes. You never know, because every day is a new adventure, right?

Choking, shmoking…

Here’s an example of what it’s like for a mother of young children at the pool:

The Princess was paddling in the shallow end, safely ensconced in her pink floaty Disney princess vest. I had been in for a while, but it really wasn’t that hot a day, and I’d been fighting a headache all day, so I got out and wrapped myself in a towel. I sat in a chair at the side of the pool, while she showed me how she could jump, dunk her head (while holding her nose) and float. Every trick was preceded by the words, “Watch me.”

All of a sudden, I felt something in my throat. Had I swallowed a bug? In any case, the apparatus was seizing up on me. I needed water stat! But the water was on the other side of the pool, where Edison’s friends had settled for the afternoon. I got up to go get some, coughing and trying to swallow.

“Mommy, watch me!” The Princess called from the pool.

“Princess, I have to go get some water.”

“No, watch me!”

“I’m choking here. I need water.”


“I swallowed a bug or something! I’ll be right back.”

“W A T C H  M E!”

Needless to say, I completed the task that was most pressing — I watched her for about ten more seconds before getting the water and preventing myself from full-on asphyxiation.

In other news, my decluttering thing has gotten a little side-tracked, but I have been slowly collecting things. Here are the things recently:

27) Hot Wheels stop watch. This had been Clooney’s, but he grew tired of it and gave it to The Princess. She put it on the desk in my office, where it proceeded to go off at random times. No one could figure it out, how to stop the beeping, how to work the thing. It moved from my office to the kitchen counter, where I finally dissected it to remove the battery and threw it away.

28) The Lemonade Stand. Purchased for $10 at Target four years ago, this thing has taken up space in our garage, only to be used for 20 minutes per annum. Not sure that in all its uses it paid for itself, but they never played with it for fun, only for business. I was going to throw it away when we moved, but they caught me and insisted we bring it to the new house.

29) Widowed yard game racket. Terrible game, really. Racket was neither taut enough to hit the ball back, nor slack enough to catch it. No idea what happened to its mate or the ball.

30) Clooney’s old raincoat. He must have taken it off in the garage last summer and left it there near the old paint cans. I’m sure it kept many a spider warm this past winter.

31, 32) Two Pirates of the Caribbean Nerf pistols. They only shoot one foam dart at a time, which in today’s automatic Nerf gun warfare is death.

33-37) 5 LEGO boxes. For some reason, the boys insist on keeping the boxes their LEGO sets come in. I don’t get that. It’s never going back in the box, and the model that they make and save (quite the racket LEGO’s got going these days. No longer do kids imagine myriad combinations for these blocks, now they are all specialized and the kids make the models, displaying them as trophies until when? college? they have their own children? The answer has yet to be discovered.) looks exactly like the one on the box, so what do they need to look at the box for? Makes no sense to me, so they’re gone.

Some headway. Next week while they are in camp, I am hoping to tackle the back room in the basement.

Yeah, we’re that family.

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…

All settled

Tuesday was the day we settled on our old house. Settlement was set for 4 p.m., and the boys were off from school, but I had my mother-in-law coming over to watch them. Mid-day I got a call from my step-mom who’s also our realtor, and she said that the buyer’s final walk-through had gone well except for one thing: where were the rugs?

Rugs? We had taken everything with us when we moved, and then the house was prepared for sale. We refurbished the outside, sealed the basement, and painted all the walls a neutral color. I had left some junk behind to be tossed, including a rug I had bought about eight years ago. The thing was so cheap that the ink bled onto our white socks every time we walked on it. When we moved into that house six years ago, I bought all new rugs and kept that one rolled up in the attic.

When it came time for the open house, my step-mom unrolled it, along with some other scatter rugs that she often uses in open houses. The rugs were placed here and there, but none of them fit any particular space. So, none of us noticed that the other realtor had slipped a clause about them into the contract under “inclusions.” Who wants other people’s old rugs?

My rug was old and cheap, I don’t really care, but the other rugs had been walked on by HUNDREDS of people in various open houses over the years. Why would someone want those rugs?

I guess the buyer really thought they tied the rooms together.


Anyway, those rugs went along with the deal.

In the meantime, I was dealing with other fires. Edison, our mad genius, had failed to turn in a rather large reading project, that absolutely HAD TO BE HANDED IN by 3:00 or his first semester grade for Reading would be a C. Edison is really great at starting projects, and he thinks big, so big that sometimes it’s hard for us to follow along. Finishing projects, he’s not so good at.

So, there we were, at 2:00, frantically searching for context clues in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. He was frustrated; I was frustrated, but you know, as a mom, you think, let’s just get through this. I’ll help him a little, we’ll turn it in and be on our way. My plan was to turn the thing in by 2:30, swing by and pick up The Princess, who had school Tuesday, and be back here by 3:30 for my mother-in-law before heading to settlement.

It’s always crazy getting out the door. Does everyone have his coat? Got your shoes on? Would you get your shoes please? I don’t know where they are. Where did you leave them? Just get the shoes! Yes, you can bring your DS. Shoes! Meanwhile the clock is ticking. I don’t know why, but it always seems to take 15 minutes just to get out the door, despite the fact that I start saying from the early morning, “Okay we have to be out of here by 2:15.”

So we got out of here by 2:20, headed over to Jake’s school, and pulled up to the door. Edison opened his folder, which was full of different papers, and he says (I kid you not), “Where? Where is my project?”

I don’t think I need to tell you that I was as close to being a mushroom-cloud-laying-mother as I have ever been at that particular moment. My delicate genius of a son had left the thing on the kitchen counter, I guess, while he went to look for his shoes, and then he left it there. LEFT IT THERE!


Where do I sign?

So I sped out of the parking lot, back down the interstate, into our driveway and got the thing. There it was, waiting innocently on the kitchen counter, and we circled back to turn the thing in.

By the time I got to settlement, I am sure my hair was a wild swirl of strands around my head. We signed the papers and got out of there, happily the owners of only one home.

We all learned lessons Tuesday though. I learned that my fifth grader is not really mature enough to handle the autonomy he has been given. He needs me to guide him a bit, to teach him to be a bit more organized. I have to remember he’s ten, and even though he talks to me like he thinks he’s my equal, he’s not ready to fly solo just yet.


On a separate note: Today is Thanksgiving, and I am thankful for my family. Thankful for good kids, a loving husband and the wonderfully supportive extended family we are blessed enough to have.

Good, Bad, Ugly, All In a Week’s Work.

I’ve been kind of stressed lately. I know that’s going to shock you, as I am sure I seem so together and easy going here. Ahem.


Anyway, the kids have been sick for a spell. I figured out today that between snow days and sick days, my kids have been home for six of the last ten, when they should have been in school.

But they are all on the mend, and the snow is melting. We had some good times sledding, even though Clooney was almost killed….Okay, it wasn’t my best moment in mothering, but you know, I have plenty of those. I’m a good mom. Just because I failed to stop my son from careening down a steep hill, doesn’t make me a bad mom. See here:



I don’t know…I figured he would know to roll out of the sled. So it hasn’t really snowed here since 2005, when he was two, and he’s never really been sledding. But I just figured he would roll out of the thing. Thankfully the folks driving on the street at the bottom of this hill were watching and driving carefully. Clooney came to a stop right in front of the bumper of an SUV, along with (briefly) my heart.

Thanks to whomever the patron saint of sledding might be.


Here’s the funny thing though: I’m such a dweeb. I was the only person on the hill that day wearing a hood. I don’t know what’s with people. They were all out there with their necks exposed in teen-degree weather. Not me — I’m bundled. I may be a dweeb, but I’m a warm one. Manfrengensen teases me that I look like Han Solo on Hoth in that get up.


Almost as warm as the inside of a ton-ton.

Almost as warm as the inside of a ton-ton.



But like I said, I was warm. We’d been sledding for like an hour, and they decided to do one more run, but I was finished and stayed at the bottom. Manfrengensen started to walk, and when he was like fifty or sixty feet from me, he turned back to me and yelled something that sounded like, “Blah, blah blah, tree.” My hearing’s not too good with the hood on. I kind of interpreted his words like a dog interprets those of a master. My head may even have been cocked to one side. “What?” I asked for clarification. And again, he said, “Blah, blah blah, tree.”

So, I figured he wanted me to wait by the big tree there, maybe take some pictures or video (see above as proof of what a great job I did at that). Turns out though (and I only found this after we’d nearly lost one of our young) he’d said, “Stand down here and make sure they don’t go into the street.”

Oh. That made more sense, I guess.

So, I sat in the corner with the dunce cap that night.


Then yesterday: The boys had another snow day, but The Princess had a dentist appointment, and we also had some errands to run. Because I wasn’t sure of the condition of the roads, I gave us some extra time to get there, planning to leave the house at 9:30. Things always happen though. Someone always has to go to the bathroom after they’re all bundled to go. I couldn’t find my gloves. I had my purse over my shoulder, along with a bag packed for the Y, figuring we would go there later in the morning.

So all that’s over my shoulder when one of them asked me to help him find his glove, which had been removed after sledding the night before and thrown into a massive pile of laundry in our galley of a laundry room. I had made some delicious coffee yesterday, and I had put some in a travel mug and worked all my chemical magic to get it just right. I set the cup on the washer, and bent down to look for the glove. But somehow, the stuff over my shoulder upset the coffee, and the thing went FLYING, landing totally upside down and commencing to empty onto the laundry room rug.

And I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself for not using the F word right then.

But then I stood up. I really don’t know what I did to that coffee cup, but somehow as it went down, it must have flown up and around, and when it did it sprayed EVERYTHING in the laundry room with sweet caramel-colored nectar. There was coffee on the window, the window pane, the window sill, the baseboards, the wall, the washer, the dryer. There was even coffee on both the inside and outside of the slightly-open door of the laundry chute. I’m talking total carnage.

So I cleaned that up and we made it to the dentist with seconds to spare. That went well. The boys were good waiting, and The Princess handled her first cleaning like a sparkly-toothed pro. We left to head for my Jenny Craig appointment, again with minutes to spare and got about five hundred yards out of the parking lot when the dentist’s receptionist called to ask if we might have left a case full of DS games (and I figured out there were about $300-worth of games in that case) behind. Yes we had. If Edison’s head were not attached, I think you know what might happen.

Later, more milk was spilled at home in a dramatic fashion that covered most of the table and kitchen chairs. That was when I think I came closest to totally losing it. Especially when Clooney told me that I had “missed a spot” cleaning it up. Then I kind of went Incredible Hulk for a minute.


So here’s the good:

At Jenny Craig yesterday, I had dropped another 2+ pounds, taking me over the 30-pound mark. Technically speaking, I have less than five more pounds to lose.

Today I went to Macy’s for the bra sale they are having (buy two, get one free) and I got four bras for the price of the one I was wearing from the place I went to in Unmentionables (the everyday one.) But in that bra’s defense, I want to tell you Sarah Jessica Parkerthat I went to Ann Taylor after that and tried on a T-shirt that made me think “My God, that looks like a FABULOUS rack! I must buy this shirt.” I freaking looked like I had Sarah-Jessica-Parker boobs, and (as you may or may not be aware) those are not to be sneezed at. Unfortunately, my belly button, which was shrouded in what’s left of the flab (damn baby weight!) and visibly outlined by the white spandex-cotton blend, spoke the sense to me through the clingly fabric to counsel against it. It said, quite frankly, “Sister, you are no SJP. We’ll talk again when you lose those five.” 

BUT despite the talking belly button incident, I tried on these jeans today that I had tried on more than a month ago. They were a little tight back then, and gave me a bit of muffin-top (and I don’t like muffin-top, at least not on me). A month ago, I had left them at the store. Today they fit great! I almost cried. Nice to go clothes shopping and like the way I look and feel.


Overall though, I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday. This morning I loaded up the crock pot with chicken and ingredients to make some kind of mushroom chicken thing. When I got back from the mall five hours later, I checked on it: forgot to plug it in. Doh!

Daily Run-Down

It was the full day yesterday. The day began like any other, with getting the boys ready for school.  I used to be a morning person.  I don’t know what happened to me.  Kids, I think.  In my heart of hearts, I June Cleaverwant to be June Cleaver in the morning.  I want to pack their lunches and cook them a full breakfast (though they are so picky, they’d refuse to eat it.) I want to send them off with a hug, a smile and a wave like the domestic queen I like to think I am.

But the reality is a little different.  They start bickering from the get-go.  I am usually greeted not with a salutation, but a tattle.  “He’s in my bed and he won’t get off my arm,” or “He’s not listening to me,” etc.  So that tends to set the tone for the morning, and by the time they are finished breakfast, rather than the hug, wave and smile, (actually I usually do get that hug, but then they run to the back door in  competition over who gets there first and whose turn it is to open it, and they’re usually yelling at each other in the process) nine days out of ten, I feel like, “See you at three, don’t let the door hit you in the ass!”

I took Ee to the park late in the morning (after cleaning our shower and folding some laundry), then we walked to school to get T3. It’s a distance of almost two miles. She actually walked a good part of the way herself. She is a feisty little trooper, and I enjoyed watching her explore the urban terrain along the way.  We had time.  She touched flowers, chased a cat, blew the feathery seeds of an aging dandelion and then got them stuck on her tongue.  She spat and sputtered, got all flustered. She tested the seating properties of various railroad ties people were using as borders for the landscaping in their front yards.  It was awesome watching the little wheels turning in her head.

When she asks for my hand, my heart soars!  There’s no better feeling in the world than holding your child’s hand when they initiate the contact.  Is there?

Then on the way back, I pushed them both in the double stroller while they munched leisurely on pretzel goldfish.  Those last couple of blocks are tough! Pushing 70 pounds of kids plus the weight of the double jogger.  Killer. Then we had lunch at home, (they like peanut butter sandwiches in the shape of stars — See? I can get my “Cleaver” on by noon) and while they were playing upstairs, I folded more laundry.

Next thing I knew, T3 was screaming.  SCREAMING.  Turned out Ee had bitten him on the arm, so hard that she broke the skin and left a full imprint of her bite radius. I did what I usually do: I yelled, and put her intasmanian devil her crib, that old Sicilian blood in me boiling over, bubbling like hot lava. I was so angry that I couldn’t look at her. I hate that I am so quick tempered, like I am made of nothing but dry straw and then poof! I’m engulfed in flame.  But then I calmed down, consulted a parenting book and went back in to calmly tell her it “wasn’t okay” to bite. She said she was sorry, and she wanted to kiss T3, which was kind of cute. Then she went down for a nap.

She’s going through the phase with the biting. It’s not the first time. Seems to happen when she’s frustrated, someone won’t let her do or have what she wants, and she doesn’t have any other means of expression. We’re working it out. Needless to say, T3 was not happy, especially since for some reason, he is her favorite victim 

While she slept, T3 and I played a couple of Wii games, which brought him back to himself.  Later we picked J up from school, came home for a snack, and went back to the park.  A bunch of their friends were there, and some of mine as well.  The park is always more fun that way.

In a development that rivals the shock and wonder of almost every surprise I’ve ever heard of, J (wonderful, amazing and beautiful J, who runs like an elongated penguin and is usually more interested in intellectual pursuits than physical) just started riding a two-wheel bike on Tuesday. For a year we’ve been trying to get him on his training-wheel bike to no avail.  He had fallen once or twice, not long after we’d bought the thing, and trepidation about biking has ruled him ever since. Then without warning, he just hopped on some kids’ bike at the park and took off. He couldn’t wait to get on his bike yesterday, and he spent most of the time at the park going in circles on the basketball court.

We got back to the house after Manfrengensen had come home from work, and by then I was too tired to make dinner. We just ordered pizza. My parents came by on their way home from the gym to see J on his bike, then we stayed outside for a while and let the kids race in the alley behind the house on their bikes.  By the time we got everyone bathed and to bed, nine o’clock was in sight.

Mole ManOne other note: not long ago, Manfrengensen joined the local rotary chapter in order to increase the visibility of his business.  He’s the youngest member, by far.  Every week they go to lunch, and a speaker makes a presentation.  The guy who coordinates the speakers is coming to the end of his tenure, and I guess the people he’s lining up…anyway, yesterday’s speaker was an older gentleman, somewhere in his eighties, who spoke for an hour about his stuffed animal collection.

Manfrengensen said it was one of those situations where you couldn’t make eye contact with anyone else in the room for fear you’d both break out in fits of uncontrollable laughter.



She looks like a character from HellboyEe has started asking “Why?” I love that phase. In this photo, I think she reminds me a bit of the amphibious character, Abe Sapien, from Hellboy. Those glasses are on upside down, by the way.

Wednesday, we went to lunch at a diner not far from our house because we had painters working in our kitchen. We were there for a few minutes when an older couple slid into the booth behind us. They must have been regulars, because when the waitress sidled up they exchanged friendly greetings, and the talk soon turned to the previous day’s primary in Pennsylvania.

Not that I was eavesdropping. I was sitting in our booth, trying to keep my monkeys in their seats. obama But every so often, a snippet of their conversation reached my ears, and I was subsequently appalled. The old man said, “I don’t like that Obama…” and the kids had my attention for a second, “They say he’s…” T3, would you sit down and eat your grilled cheese? and then finally: “His name is just one letter off from Osama…” and I was like, huh?... “and those connections really scare me.”

Which connections was he talking about? Were they the ones Obama made at Columbia University or Harvard Law School? How about the ones he made while he was teaching at The University of Chicago Law School, or the connections he made serving in the U.S. Senate? Do those connections mean anything to this guy?

I’ll tell you what scares me: it’s how ignorant of the facts some people can be. How can people go through life so blindly? Again, I have to blame the media, specifically TV, since most people don’t even read any more. It is the TV news networks who are to blame for the sad state of American democracy. It is they who have perpetuated the disinformation and innuendo put forth by Obama’s opponents. It is they who continue to broadcast anything said by anyone without bothering to check for facts. And it’s a shame that some people in our country are too lazy or distracted by the day-to-day to find out the real facts about Barack Obama the Man or Barack Obama the Leader.

I’m not saying you have to vote for Obama, but I do think that if you decide not to vote for him, you should base that decision on the facts, not some slanderous allegation or sleezy “slip of the tongue” made by John Ashcroft, Mitt Romney, or Wolf Blitzer.

The moment has really stuck with me. Sometimes, I think I’m too cynical, but other times, I think, no, I’m right.

I know Orwell was right. He was just off by 20 years:

War Is Peace Freedom is Slavery Ignorance is Strength

It’s time for change.


Update on Banana Bread: Serious doorstop material. Yesterday T3 began to ask for a piece, and then thought the better of it, “Mom, can I please have a piece of ba– um, some other kind of snack?”


Monkey keysSo this morning, Ee asked me to help her take out a toy McDonald’s cash register that my mother-in-law had given her. My mother-in-law has bought the kids like four cash registers, all complete with annoying sounds.  Anyway, when I picked it up off the shelf, the thing rattled, which was unusual.  Upon closer inspection, I found all the missing spare keys that had disappeared from the junk drawer recently.

Somebody’s kids are grumpy this morning.  Manfrengensen and I went out last night, left two of them with a babysitter and took the other one to a moon bounce birthday party.  We dropped him off and went for Mexican.  Damn, those Mexicans can sure cook up some tasty vittles!  

After that, we had some time to kill, so we took a drive through a neighborhood near our own where the houses are, shall we say, a bit more expensive.  austen mansAnd some of them were ostentaciously huge. Some of them were certifiable compounds. One looked like something out of an Jane Austen adaptation.  Another looked like a building on an Ivy League campus. But others looked more reasonable. Manfrengensen said, “This looks like the kind of neighborhood where afternoon tea is obligatory.”  I said more like afternoon cocktails. We pulled up in front of a gorgeous brick number with a FOR SALE sign on the lawn, that looked like it might almost be in our price range, but the fantasy in my head dissipated just then, when the Talking Heads sang  “This is not my beautiful house” on the radio. Kind of reminded me of when Manfrengensen bought a Jetta in 1999.  We signed the papers at the dealer and got in.  As he turned the key in the ignition, the radio spat out Cracker: “A million miles, a million miles…” A lattice of coincidence lays over top of everything…

I don’t necessarily fantasize about having a nicer house.  It would be nice to have just a little more room though.  And a basement that doesn’t breed cooties.

In any case, I guess everyone went to bed too late and got up too early.  I know I did.


rocket science

Moments from Parenting

Ee brought her toy camera to me this morning.  It has Buzz Lightyear on it and was, at one time, filled with candy.  “Cheese,” she said.  Then she went to her brothers and did the same.  To me, she reported that she had “cheesed” them.

Last night, T3 came over to me and furrowed his brow.  “Do you know what kind of face I’m making?” he asked.  I guessed: angry? thinking? “No,” he said, “I’m retermined.”


A Brief Movie Review

Manfrengensen and I watched this really great movie the other night called Rocket Science.  A small, indie-movie about a stuttering teen who joins the competitive world of debate teams in order to win an illusive love, it was really cute, hilariously funny, and took us in a completely different direction than we expected it to.  Highly recommend.


Today I am retermined to go to the gym and not to get stressed about anything.