Thursday, July 31

Piggy Pie

There's nothing like coming home and looking through my purse and thinking, "What's this?" and then remembering, "Oh yeah. It's the bacon sandwich Pie couldn't finish and instead she asked me to keep it for her." Good thing I checked my purse tonight!

Pie and Doodles have been doing studies at the Lad for Developmental Studies at Harvard since they were infants. They love doing them--the studies are always 5 to 30 minute "games" and the kids get a prize after. The prizes are a range of stuffed animals (at least thirty different kinds) with little tiny Harvard t-shirts on them or yo-yos or slinkies or the sort. And for the past three times, Pie has picked a pig. She know has a collection of pigs on her dresser.

When Adam came home tonight, he said, "Another pig! Pie, that's three pigs now! What are all their names?"

Pie thought a moment and then said, "Their names are Cow, Cow, and... Cow!"

And that, my friends, is what we call a Pig in Kosher Clothes.


Wednesday, July 30

His Father's Son

I serve Doodles a hot dog for dinner. He says, "Can I have some bacon with that, please?" Food group might be working a little too well.

Random Crazy Kidness

Whenever people hear that my kids are up at 5 or 5:30 in the morning, they get this horrified expression on their faces and say, "How can you stand that?" Even when I explain, they don't quite believe me. But the honest to God's truth is that we end up waking up our kids. I'm out of bed before the alarm (set for either 5 or 5:30) every day. I can't remember the last time my alarm actually went off. And with our creaky house, Adam and/or I always end up waking at least one child up. This morning, I got out of bed at 4:57 a.m. I went into the downstairs bathroom to change, but before I was out, I heard thump, thump, thump on the stairs in a way that was either Adam sleepwalking drunk or a child. It was Pie.

Me: Pie! What are you doing up? It's still night.
Pie: I was all done.
Me: But look, it's still dark!
Pie heads to the window. The tiniest inkling of dawn is far away, but visible. She exclaims, in a very loud voice: Look, Mommy! It's not dark! There's light out there!

The plus side of this is between camp and a playdate after camp, she'll be exhausted and she's been known to fall asleep while watching her show, often at 5 p.m. I expect that will be the case tonight.

(And why was I up at 4:57 a.m.? My boot camp went for a 5 1/2 mile trail run--what an incredible way to start the day, running through the woods. It's really a much tougher workout than straight running. I can generally run 10 miles at a 9:25 pace; here I did 5.5 at about an 11-minute pace. Hills, navigating tree roots and rocks, mud--all slow down the pace. But it's such a serene day to start the day that I came home even more energized than I usually do after boot camp.)

Doodles slept a smidgen later, but not enough to keep him up very late tonight.

The two of them have been killing me lately, but in a fun way. Doodles is still in his independence phase, but it's gotten a lot easier to tolerate. He's mellowing some, I'm mellowing some. Pie can still unleash a wicked temper tantrum, but they're fewer and farther between. But they are a trip together.

Doodles is completely laid back and Pie is fairly high strung (hmmm, I wonder which parent each of them takes after!). Pie will get really worked up about something, and Doodles is just, "Whatever!" Like yesterday at ice skating. Doodles always wears the dark blue gloves; Pie wears the light blue. Pie began to have an absolute fit. "I want the other blue gloves. The OTHER blue gloves!" I suggested she take a deep breath and simply ask her brother.

Pie: [taking deep gasping breaths till her voice is normal] Doodles?
Doodles: Yeah?
Pie: Doodles, can we trade mittens?
Doodles, shrugging: Sure!

Nine times out of ten, Pie wants what Doodles has. And nine times out of ten, he'll swap with her. Especially because of this, I try to be especially respectful when he doesn't want to swap or share. And generally, I can tell who's the instigator in any problem.

For instance, yesterday, there was a battle over a drum. I'm 99.9% sure that Doodles had it first, and Pie didn't want him to have it. I caught the two of them struggling with it. In true Solomon's wisdom fashion, I told them, "If you guys can't figure a way to make this work, I'm going to put the drum into time out."

Pie immediately latched on. "Yes! Drum in time out! Drum in time out!"

So of course I handed the drum to Doodles. Later I came out when I heard Pie yelling, "Close the gate! Close the gate!" I found the drum on the steps and Pie trying to close the bottom gate. We never close that gate except when someone is sitting on the stairs in time out. She was determined to give that drum a time out one way or another!

Of course the biggest problem with have is with... smooches! Doodles is an affectionate kid and he smooches Pie. Pie sometimes likes it, sometimes not. I heard blood-curdling screams two days ago, and I ran, figuring someone had impaled himself or something equally horrific.

Pie, trying to talk in the sobs: Doodles smoooo me! He smoooo me!
Me: He smushed you? That wasn't very nice.
Take Pie to Doodles.
Me: Where did you smush her?
Doodles: Right here [points to the top of his head]
Me: You smushed her head?
Doodles: Smooched.
Me: Oh! You smooched her!
Nods from everyone.
Pie: He smooched me! He smooched me!
Me: Well, there's only one thing you can do!
Pie looks at me expectantly.
Me: Get him back! If he smooches you, you should smooch him back! Even more!
Pie instantly stops crying.
Pie: Yeah!!!
Pie goes running after Doodles, smooching him all over his head while he mock cries.

Crisis averted. Peace reclaimed. Maybe I should be sent abroad as a peace envoy. I've got loads of experience.

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Monday, July 28

Running by Rote

It's 8:11 a.m. and I've run 8.58 miles (which included 5 x 1200 at an average of 7:45 pace), showered, had breakfast, drank coffee, made my kids' lunches, read e-mail, and am now writing a quick blog. What have you done so far today?

Seriously, though, I'm at the point of my marathon training where I kind of dread the next workout, although when I'm actually doing them, I'm moving pretty much by rote. I was talking about this with my friend A.M. on our Saturday run (14 miles, 9:23 pace), how your legs can be moving but it's as if they're moving on your own--you're completely disconnected from them. I feel that way about my workouts in general. I don't set an alarm anymore; my body just wakes itself around 5 a.m. I roll out of bed without even thinking about it, dress, eat a banana, have some water, and then head out the door. I'm barely aware of what I'm doing. I just go. I only run three days a week, although I cross train the other two. Boot camp one day--that's easy as it's already part of the schedule. I'm having problems coming up with what the other day of cross-training is. I alternate between biking and walking, although I'm hoping to add some yoga in.

I keep a poster in my office from my first marathon that reads, "At 18 miles you wonder why you do this. At 26.2 it all becomes perfectly clear." I feel that way these days. I'm running, I'm running, I'm running, and I think, "Why? How ridiculous is this, a woman in her 40s running and running and running and where does it get me?"

But then I remind myself. I do it to be healthy (although I'm at the other dreaded point in my training where I start adding on weight--always happens). I do it to set a good example for my kids. I do it because I love that feeling of crossing a finish line, of completing a goal. I do it to hang another medal onto my collection. It's just what I do.

So when the next line on my training schedule says 5 miles at an 8:30 pace, that's what I'll be doing. And I'll just keep telling myself, "One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other," until I have another medal to hang.

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Friday, July 25


Doodles had a playdate today with a friend who's six month younger, and therefore who has another year before she goes to kindergarten. On the car ride today on the way home from camp:

Doodles: Next year I got to kindergarten.
Friend: But we can still have playdates, right?
Doodles: Oh, yes. Lots and lots and lots of playdates.
Friend: Good.
Doodles: Maybe we can have double playdates! With you and my new kindergarten friends.
Me: That could be nice! Introduce F. to some new people.
Doodles: Yeah! [pause] There's only one problem.
Friend: Yeah?
Doodles: By the time I'm in kindergarten, I may not remember you anymore.


Monday, July 21

Score One, Pie

I'm sitting in the bathroom with Pie and Jasmine, as Jasmine--on a drop-off playdate and in the throes of potty training--attempts to use the potty.

Pie: We're having a poop party! It's a poop party! And a pee party!
Me: Pie, I don't like that talk. It's potty talk.
Pie: But, Mommy, we're in the bathroom. Potty talk in the potty!
Me: Oh. I guess you're right. Potty talk away!
Pie: Poop party! Poop party!


The Grass Is Always Longer on the EC Side

Me: Ugh. I forgot to ask you to mow the lawn this weekend.
Adam: I looked at it. It wasn't too bad.
Me: It's getting long.
Adam: Actually, it's more EC to not cut your grass too short. You're supposed to keep it long.
Me: Uh...
Adam: Ha! And it's actually true! I read what you wrote last night. See, your EC can come back and bite you in the ass!

Damn! Sometimes I wish he didn't read my blog...


Sunday, July 20

Going Green with Attitude

I've been jumping on the green bandwagon lately, trying to do the little things that will make an impact. I'd like to say I'm looking to make an impact on the world, make it better place for my future great-grandchildren. But that's not why I do it. I do it because our electricity and gas bills are out of hand and because I worry about my kids' health with all those chemicals we inhale in our daily life.

And what I do are definitely baby steps. I'm not riding my bike everywhere. I still keep the AC on. I won't be buying a hybrid till they come out with a minivan one. But I'm doing little things like phasing out all our Cascade and Windex for Seventh Generation and the like. I'm taking more books out of the library instead of just mindlessly buying them, as I've been wont to do. I'm trying to recycle every last thing I can. I'm trying to Freecycle instead of toss. I try to use more Tupperware and fewer plastic bags when making the kids' camp lunches. I've eliminated most of our junk mail and catalogs by using GreenDimes (which has shown me, without junk mail, we get no mail). I've gotten to the point where nine out of ten times I actually remember to take my cloth bags with me to the store. I randomly yell things to the kids when they're washing their hands, such as, "You guys! The environment!" (And I know it's working when I hear Doodles say to Pie, "Pie! Turn off the water! You're killing fish!" which may be a slight distortion of what I tried to teach them, but close enough for me.)

Of course, I have Mr. Whatever Man living in my house, and I'm constantly shutting the basement door behind him (no need to air condition the basement) and turning of basement lights that he leaves on overnight (good idea--make sure the bugs can see their way to your papers). He'll go along with most things I propose--as long as they don't require any actual thought on his part (meaning, when I put out a sponge for the counters, he'll not wipe the counters with the sponge instead of not wiping them with a paper towel; but seriously, he humors me on almost all of it). We're planning a few changes around the house (more on that another time), and I have some plans for that too (switching the family over to cloth napkins, using more efficient heating, considering a few solar shingles...)

My issue these days is in doing the research. Everyone is so holier than thou in their greenness, and it's a total turn off. I read Deirdre Imus's Green This: Greening Your Cleaning (checked out from the library), and she had me convinced until she wrote, "A word on Microwave Ovens. i don't approve of them, but if you have one and insist on using it, wipe the interior down with a nontoxic all-purpose cleaner." (p. 107) Hey, lady! We're not all gazillionaires who can hire help for the home! Sometimes nuking out a meal is the only way my children are going to be fed lunch!

And then there's my favorite, the Great God of Environmentalism himself, Al Gore. I know I'm way behind the times and that everyone knew about this a year ago, but how can anyone respect him as an environmentalist when his own house is such a sinkhole of energy. I just read in No Impact Man about Gore's latest call for renewable electricity and I just can't take him seriously anymore. I was fine with Gore--Global warming! World in crisis! I'm with you, Al! Yes, sirree!--but then Adam told me about how Gore's home monthly electrical usage is twenty times greater than the national average. I chalked it up to Adam's general Republican blather, but as it seems the whole world already knows, it's true. I don't buy the "We work from home. Our home is bigger." Isn't that half the point of it all? Have a smaller home! Maybe I've been watching too much Living with Ed, but Ed seems to walk the walk. Al Gore? Not so much.

I don't know why I'm ranting about this now, except that as I contemplate house changes, I'm doing ever more reading, and as I do ever more reading, I just want to go around smacking people. Bite me, Greenies. Yes, I'll go green. But in spite of you, not because of you.(Except for you, Ed. I definitely heart you, Ed.)


Wednesday, July 16

No Thanks Needed

Those who know me personally know that my OCD gets the better of me when any type of Martha Stewart task is involved, like the kids' birthdays. I like to go whole hog. Including making rather involved invitations. I've actually gotten to the point where they don't take that long to make, but they aren't just filling in the blanks on preprinted cards, either. There's photography and Photoshopping involved. So the kids' cards are done. I show each of them the card.

First, Pie:
Me: Sweetie, this is the invitation to your party.
Pie: Mommy! It's pretty! Look at me on it! It's pretty! Thank you, Mommy!

I show Doodles the card I've made for him.

Doodles: Okay.
Me: Do you like it?
Doodles: It's fine.
Me: Is there anything different you'd like on there?
Doodles: No. It's good.

Clearly Doodles has attended the Adam School of Reactions. Lucky me!

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Tuesday, July 15

Sugar and Spice and Everything Princess

Back in the day, when I was a new mom, I used to read the BabyCenter boards. It's a habit I gave up once I got the teeniest confidence in myself as a mom, but for a while, I was checking regularly.

I was a lurker, and not a nice lurker at that. I'd think the evilest of thoughts about some of these mothers. "Oh dear God," I thought. "Could they make their girls any more girly?" I'd mock their princesses and ballet dancers and divas and think, "If I ever had a girl, no way would I ever fall prey to that crap."

Yes, dear readers, that crunching sound you hear is me eating my own words. As I create the birthday party invitations to my darling Pie's third birthday, it is all pink and frouffy and--yes--princessy. To the nth degree. To the point that if someone else had done it, I would have thought, "Are you kidding me?" But, my friends, I kid not.

Pie is, well, she's Pie. And the thing is, the world encourages her, no doubt about it. Now, I know I'm a mom and all, but my kids are equally adorable. Doodles, with his lovely brown eyes and his dashing smile is about one of the yummiest boys around. But when we go out, the world zooms in on Pie. Out of all her hand-me-downs, she gravitates toward pink and purple dresses. She loves sparkly flip flops. She has painted toenails. And people just can't stop telling her what a little princess she is.

For instance, today, we went to the paper store to get paper for her party invites. The woman behind the counter ran out so fast, I thought maybe Pie had broken something. But no. She was just bringing Pie a toy to play with while we were in the store. She kept checking in to make sure Pie was okay, "Oh, what lovely painted toes you have! Oh, I love your glittery shoes. I wish I had curls like yours," and on the way out, ran after us to give Pie a small sheet of princess stickers. I actually don't mind it too much when it's just me and Pie, but I always feel a little bad when Doodles is around. "Hey!" I want to yell. "He's adorable too! And he likes stickers!" Doodles seems pretty oblivious, but it bugs me. And I'm not really crazy about the message it sends Pie.

But as they say, those who live in fairy castles shouldn't throw toads, or something like that. So I'm off to continue planning a princess party extraordinaire.

And Doodles? He's going to have a kick-ass dinosaur time. Roooooaaaaar!

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Sunday, July 13

The Philosophy of Parenting

When it comes to parenting philosophies, I think I'm closest in spirit to Tom Hodgkinson, who last February wrote this lovely article called, "Idle Parenting Means Happy Children." So much of the article resonated me, but I think my favorite was this:
My idea of childcare is a large field. At one side is a marquee serving local ales. This is where the parents gather. On the other side, somewhere in the distance, the children play. I don't bother them and they don't bother me. I give them as much freedom as possible.
I have a garden. I plant things in it. When I remember, I water those plants. Usually I don't. And somehow--fertile ground, good conditions, sheer luck--those plants thrive. I get big bouncing beautiful tomatoes at the end of the summer. I call it Gardening by Neglect.

Now, I'm not saying I'm Child Rearing by Neglect. But I do think that self-sufficiency is a good thing. The other day, Doodles and Pie were playing in the front yard, while I was sitting in a yard chair, leafing through a magazine.
Doodles: Mommy, pitch to me!
Me: No.
Doodles: Pul-lease! Pitch to me!
Me: Mommy does not pitch. Ask Pie to pitch.
Doodles: But Pie doesn't pitch well. You pitch!
Me: The only reason I had Pie was so you could have a playmate. Now go play with her.

Of course, that probably serves me right when five minutes later I heard a thud that was the dull sort of sound that can only mean a child's skull is caving in. The screams of agony didn't help.
Doodles: It was an accident!
Pie [clutching a bright red cheek]: AAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAaaaaaaa!
Doodles: It was an accident! You know she doesn't pitch well. So I got close so I could hit the ball.
I call it good parenting that he only had a plastic bat, as I refuse to buy him a wooden bat, so Pie wasn't seriously injured. I assuaged all hurt feelings (and guilt) with a few extra shows.

But as I've mentioned before, Doodles is exhibiting signs of a need for independence. I respect this. I understand this. He's getting ready to enter kindergarten and it's normal for a separation process to begin. He's at an age where he wants to do--and can do--many things on his own. Doodles can use a knife to cut his own French toast. He can turn on the iPod himself, but due to limited reading skills, he has to take whatever song is on. He can get his own yogurt out of the fridge, dress himself (including doing all buttons and tying up lace shoes), go by himself to the bathroom at the Res (the local swimming hole), recite his address and phone number, and countless other things that seem to multiply daily. But there is a limit to what he can--and is allowed--to do. On the no list: Driving a car. Drinking beer. Crossing the street by himself. Swimming in the Res without a grown-up watching him. Jumping from the top of his dresser. All things he will dispute. All things I stand firm on. All things that will cause a serious interval of pouting. The stubbornness and pouting when he doesn't get what he wants and the plain old not listening is making me insane! (I actually heard Adam tell him he was being "fresh" the other night. "Fresh." Take that Ward Cleaver!)

In a quest to conquer our stand-offs, I'm returning to a world I had left behind: the world of parenting books. But finding the right parenting books is a pain. After all, we're cosleepers so we must be attachment parents. But wait! I let my kids scream and don't go running at every tale of woe. So I must be a Babywise parent. But wait! I try to inject strong Jewish values in my parenting. So I must be a follower of Wendy Mogel. Pie actually went to visit the great and good Doctor Ferber, so perhaps it's at his altar we should be bowing?

You see my dilemma? I don't have a stand. And in the world of parenting books, you need a stand. I'm currently reading the highly recommended Playful Parenting, which tells me to do the one thing I really don't have any interest in doing: playing with my kids. For, seemingly, hours on end. This seems to me to be an uber-attachment philosophy, always open to my children to stop, drop, and play.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm always open to a dance party (definitely in if it includes little naked tushies), happy to read stories, and can certainly be talked into doing a craft project or two. But I'm not a "throw the ball, get on the climber, toss 'em into the Res" kind of mom. But this playful parenting thing seems to go to an extreme, as evidenced even by the author who, by his own examples, frequently slips and forgets to be playful.

So I'm on the search for parenting books that fit my non-philosophical parenting philosophy. I've gotten some recommendations from friends (and I'm dying to know about this $115 parenting book. It's not even anywhere in our entire library system, which consists of "35 public and 6 college libraries in the Metrowest region of Massachusetts"!) and I'm wading through the stacks on my shelves that have been ignored all these years. So, in attempt to embrace all my parenting non-philosophies, my current reading list includes: Raising Your Child to Be A Mensch; Children: The Challenge; the aforementioned Playful Parenting; The No-Cry Discipline Solution; the one my own mother swore by all those years, Parent Effectiveness Training; and just for good measure, Siblings Without Rivalry.

What does this all mean? It means in a matter of minutes after opening each book, I'll throw it down and through a little temper tantrum of my own. "Why oh why," I'll scream, "can't they just get to the point!" These books have so much filler garbage to justify the cover price and all I want is the information. You know, for the same price as I'd pay for the hardcover--no, for more than I'd pay for the hardcover--I'd pay for a pamphlet that distills all the necessary information without all the filler necessary for them to charge a hardcover price. Think about it, publishers!

So, unless anyone can come up with some easy summaries for me, I'm off to bury myself beneath the avalanche of books. Because, let's face it, if I just stay hidden long enough, this phase too shall pass and I'll be looking for the answer to some other problem! Meanwhile, I'll be on the far side of the playground. Drinking my ale. Come join me!

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Wednesday, July 9

Let's Give Her Something to Blog ABout

At one point this afternoon, when Doodles was facedown on the front porch screaming and Pie was clutching at my leg wailing, my neighbor--who shall henceforth be referred to as Beetle--said to me, "This should be your blog for today." But the thing is, as I pointed out to her, is that this stuff doesn't translate well. You can't see the mournful way my son quivers his mouth as he lets out his earth-shattering shriek. You can't feel the death grip as little Pie squeezes onto my leg with every ounce of oomph that she has.

Today was just one of those days.

I should have known. I'd been having highly productive days recently, and I knew there'd be a payback day. This was it. It started off well enough. I had a great boot camp class. When I got home, contractors had started the demolition of the house sort of across and down the street and the kids were sitting on the front porch, a captive audience. But it also meant that it was impossible to get them inside, get them dressed, and out the door. We were late. Definitely late. Shoes on, people! Don't forget, you have water play first at camp, so wear the right shoes for the job!

Me: What shoes are you going to wear, Pie? Your water shoes or your Tevas?
Doodles: Those shoes [pointing to leather sandals]
Me: You can wear those after water play. But they'll be ruined in water play. What do you want to wear?
After much pouting and negotiation, she finally settled on the water shoes, which are an absolute bitch to get on. It seriously takes almost five minutes to cram her foot into these shoes. We're now in the Very Late category.
Me: Okay, great, your shoes are on, everyone, it's time to get into the car!

I let Doodles out to get in the car, and by the time I turn around. Pie has her shoes off.

Me: What are you doing?!?!
Pie: Put on shoes by my own self!
Me: We are LATE! What are you THINKING! Why didn't you say you wanted to do it yourself in the FIRST PLACE! Let me get those back on you.

Um, ballistic might be the right word for what I went through. But let's just say, I finally got those shoes on and the kids into the car. And no, we're not going to listen to Princess music!

I dropped the kids off at camp, but when I went to pay after shopping at the local farm stand, I realized that their "favorite books"--needed for Favorite Book Day at camp--were still in my purse.

So I dashed back to camp to deliver them. Then I dashed to the eye doctor's for my yearly exam. I hate going to the eye doctor. I don't just hate. I detest. There are those who fear the dentist. There are those who fear the gynecologist. I say, "Dentist, scrape away! Gynecologist, get thee thy speculum! Heck, Dentist, scrape away while I've got the speculum but Eye Doctor! Away with thee! I shun thee!" I've always had a serious eye phobia, stemming perhaps from when I was, I don't know, seven or eight, and while playing, sort of, accidentally, I don't know how, got a scissors poked into my eye. (Mom was right kids! Don't run with scissors!) Rush to the hospital, many strips of paper dipped in medicine dipped in my eye, this close to losing my vision in that eye, my stomach churning even now despite my having blocked most of it out. Oddly enough, nine years ago, I did suffer through Lasik surgery, and I have completely blocked that out, although that could do more with the extra doses of Valium they let me have than with anything else.

Okay, so let's get back to the here and now, shall we? I had an eye doctor appointment today. I always warn the assistant that I'm not a good patient, but I'm so jovial about it, they never take me seriously. Until it's time for the...duh duh duh...glaucoma test! Yes! Once again I made an eye assistant (technician? Nurse? what?) cry uncle and give up on me. The good doctor had to do it himself. I actually have an excellent eye doctor. Boston magazine called him "up and coming." But I still hate going. And I have to go yearly (as opposed to the rest of you people who only need to go every other year, and I bet 99% of you don't even go at all, lucky bastards with good eyes! Just wait! That glaucoma can really sneak up on you!) because I have "thin retinas." Yes, that's right. The one thing that can definitively be called thin on me is my retina. Go retina! Anyway, the point to this (a point? since when do I have a point?) is that my appointment was at 9:45. It was 10:55 by the time I got out of there. With fully dilated eyes. Which means one of my few days of kids in camp and I'm stuck with the ability to do, oh, nothing.

So I do busy work till it's time to pick up the kids. Kids aren't happy because they need to be picked up early to go to Doodles's feeding group. ("Mom, they're about to read a group story!" "Doodles, you're about to go eat fruit!") Since he eats at feeding group, I packed him just a snack for lunch: a cheese stick and carrots with hummus. And the boy? He ate the cheese stick. So he should have been starving. But he was so not into feeding group today. Not that he ever is, but today it was clearly more about control issues than about feeding group itself. I'm having many issues with the boy about control. He's pushing buttons, taking names, and generally being a real pain about things.

For instance, last week at the playground, I gave the kids a five-minute warning and a one-minute warning.

Then I said, "Time to go!"

Doodles yelled, "I want to go on the slide again," which didn't really mean slide down; it meant have a chat with his buddies on the top of the slide, which is not a fast process.

I told him, "We have to get to [the much loved] skating class. We need to go now."
Doodles proceeded to walk up three steps of the slide, and turned and looked me in the eye.

"Now," I said.

He climbed up two more steps.

"Doodles, I'm going to count to three and you'll lose your show! Get down!"

"No," he said, and climbed up another step.

No show for him that night!

But once again, there is a point, and the point is that Doodles and I are frequently at odds these days (any favorite parenting books out there that deal with this sudden change of attitude? The "I'm almost five, I'm going to kindergarten, I can do any damn thing I want!" attitude?). The point is that Doodles is having control issues and I felt really validated when it took two people and twenty minutes at food group to get him to eat. I felt horrible as it totally crushed him--he was in tears, refusing to eat--but it made me realize it's not just me!

So we head back to town. "We'll make a quick stop at the Farmer's Market and then we'll do whatever you want!"

What did they want? To fall asleep in the car. Before I could get to the market. So I transferred them inside and let them sleep for about 45 minutes, because even that, I knew, was going to wreak havoc on their nighttime sleep. I tried to wake them gently. "Hey guys! Do you guys want to have Popsicles and play with Tab [the girl across the street]?" They both muttered no and went back to sleep. I kept working on them, chanting, "Popsicles! The big lime ones! Popsicles! Popsicles!" until I finally got them up.

We sat on the porch with Tab, had some Popsicles in the brutal heat, and then the kids wanted to play. I made the highly unreasonable request that before Doodles play in the yard, he put on shoes. After all, there is a lot of construction going on on our street. So he went inside. To pout. For forty-five minutes. And I finally said to him, "Look, if you're going to be in a bad mood anyway, then I'm cutting your nails," something he hates and dreads and detests, probably as much as I hate the eye doctor. But I'm just a horrible person that way, insisting that when his nails get to be more than 1/2 an inch long that they need to be cut.

So we had a Doodles meltdown. And Pie, who was unhappy that I went inside to retrieve Doodles, decided to have a meltdown too. So Beetle and Tab are on the front porch swing, reading a Junie B. Jones book, while my kids are writhing all over the front porch, screaming the kind of screams that, if I had heard someone else's kids screaming, I would have called DSS on the parents. And that's when Beetle said to me, "You should blog about this today." Which I'm doing. So blame this entry on the Beetle. I'm going to bed.

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Friday, July 4

Yankee Doodle Droop

Another 4th of July, another year of missed fireworks. I used to love going to see fireworks in New York, when they set them off at the very reasonable hour of 9 p.m. Here in Boston land, they don't start until 10:30 in order to air them on national TV. But I don't get it--D.C. and New York are also on national TV and they put on fireworks before everyone wants to go to bed.

We had a dreary rainy day, but that didn't stop the kids from gathering for our neighborhoods official unofficial 4th of July bike parade. It's an extremely casual thing. Meet up at the school. Say the Pledge of Allegiance. Bike a few blocks in the neighborhood. Someone up front carries a flag. Someone in the middle pushes a stroller with a boom box blaring patriotic songs strapped in. After we're done, back to the school where we all share snacks that we brought. Fine and dandy. Adam pushed Pie on her trike. Doodles, two-wheelin' stud that he is, took off at the front. That kid was flying. Which is why it was no surprise that he completely wiped out and now had a bad case of road rash on his cheek. I got him fixed up and he somehow managed to force himself back to the school for snack. He promised that a Rice Krispie treat would make him feel better. Oh, wait, the Popsicle would do the trick. Nope, nothing. The kid was in a sour mood all day. Even during our ever-so-wonderful 4th of July BBQ. He perked up only to become absolutely wild with one of his friends, but the minute she left, he was back to his crankmeister self. I felt so bad about his spill that I turned a total blind eye as the kid devoured cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels, and cupcakes, but the kid was still ornery. I still felt really badly for him and told him he could stay up late for fireworks (not the Boston ones, mind you, but the reasonably timed ones on TV), but he ended crashing at his normal bedtime.

But not the Pie! She ate. And ate. And ate. And ate. She played with friends a little, and her grandmother a lot. She ate some more. She took a walk. And then had more to eat. She got to stay up way past her bedtime, and when we finally insisted after 8 p.m. that she had to go to bed, she exclaimed, "Wait! We forgot to have dinner!" She was not happy to learn the kitchen was closed for the evening.

I hope everyone had a very happy 4th. And that you got to watch fireworks. And that no one forgot any meals in your house.

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Dating Myself

I'm starting to feel old. On two separate occasions in the past week, I've made references to friends that I felt a need to corroborate because it occurred to me they were young enough to not know what I was talking about. Let me ask you guys:

1) If I said, "You can bring home the bacon. Fry it up in the pan. But don't ever let her forget you're a man," would you know what I was spoofing?

2) If I sent you an e-mail that read, "We'll Do Our BBQing in the Rain," would you know what song I was referring to?

(I won't make you wait for the answers. This is the first one, and this is the second one, although I see that A-ha actually did a pretty cool remake of it, so maybe that will trigger with folks.)


Wednesday, July 2

Foggy Head

I have this evil cold that was given to me by my dear, darling children. Of course, they get a cold and keep running. I get a cold and I want to bury myself beneath a pile of blankets in my over-A.C.'d house, with a stack of magazines and a big bowl of chicken soup. So, because I don't have an original thought in my head right now, other than, "Nyquil! Now!" here's a little wrap for you of the past couple of weeks.

Our vacation: Did you know we went away? No, you didn't because I oh-so-cleverly scheduled a post for while we were gone, just to keep you entertained (wasn't that nice of me?). We took our third--and final (boo hoo!)--trip to the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville, Vermont. It was as heavenly as ever and the kids loved going to "camp," Adam and I loved having alone time, and it was nice to escape computers and work and room parent assignments and all that other good stuff. This is only our last year because the program we go to is for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. And we'll have but one preschooler next year.

The highlight for Pie was definitely her counselors. Oh, she found one who she fell in love with. Pie came back to the room on Tuesday afternoon.

Pie: I asked my counselor to paint my nails.
Me: What did she say?
Pie: She said, no. She said, ask your mommy.
Me: Does your mommy let you paint your nails?
Pie: No.
Me: When does Mommy say you can paint your nails?
Pie: When I'm three.
Me: And how old are you?
Pie: Two.
Me: Right, two. So no painting nails.

Of course, Miss Thang comes back very proudly from dinner, showing off bright purple-y nails.

Pie: Mommy, look!!
Me: What did Mommy say about painting your nails?
Pie: Mommy said no.
Me: And what did you tell your counselors?
Pie, with absolute innocent glee: I told them YES!

How could I get angry with that joy? We had a little to-do today when I went to paint her (toe)nails for the 4th of July. But I'm talking about the relaxation of vacation, so we'll just not go there now. And it was relaxing: swimming, kayaking, massage, dinner sans kids, hiking, hot tub, swimming, batting cages (for Adam and Doodles), goofing off on the tennis court (for me and Pie), drinking, and a general good time was had by all.

Boot camp: Ever done anything like say, oh, skiing, and there's some person who has the top-of-the-line everything--the professional goggles, the killer skiis, the aerodynamic skiing outfit--but is clearly a completely novice who doesn't know he should point his skis down the hill? That was me, today. Boot camp went on a bike ride and I still had all my gear from back when I biked almost seriously. Back when riding was something I spent entire weekend days on; when I rode to work, from work, and then tossed in an extra ride at the end of the day just for good measure; back when I had money to burn and a Bianchi road bike.

I still have all that stuff. But do I have the biking body that I did in 2002, which as far as I can tell, was the last time I was on a bike? Again, let's not go there. A friend was kind enough to do a tune-up for me on my hybrid (no way was I going with the clipless pedals of my road bike), but I showed up in my little biking shorts and my cute purple biking jersey. Thank goodness I left the fingerless gloves and groovy glasses at home. Because, man, are they wrong. You can totally forget how to ride a bike. "Wait, wait!" I kept asking. "I don't remember! The bigger gear for going up the hills? Or down?" It was humiliating. But fun. And who knows? Maybe I'll start biking again. Once I remember definitively what the big gear is for.

Movies: I've been working my way through the suggestions everyone gave me for flicks to watch (still open to more! Always welcome a good movie recommendation). But I want to give a particular shout-out to Lionness, because a movie she suggested, The Bubble, is one of the most thought-provoking movies I've ever seen.

My birthday: Adam outdid himself. I didn't think he could do it, but he did. Got me my own personalized bowling shirt. Had my sister come up to surprise me. Arranged for his brother to babysit. Rented a limo "happy bus." Stocked it with friends and beer and champagne. Took us all to Jamaica Plain for bowling and food and booze and cake at the Milky Way. And you know what? For once, I don't have a single snarky thing to say. It was perfect.

And with that, I'm off to find the Nyquil. Ah, happy Nyquil. How I missed you all those years. Welcome home.

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The Ultimate in Parallel Play

Adam: Doodles! Get upstairs and get dressed!
Doodles: I can't! Pie and I are in space!
Adam: Now!

Doodles and Pie get dressed. They head back downstairs.

Doodles: We're going on a mission!
Pie, following him: Yeah, we're going to get married.

If that doesn't sum up their personality differences, I don't know
what does.

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