Sunday, August 30

Monkeys for a Monkey

The boy has been asking for a pet pretty much since he learned to speak. It's not going to happen. I'd be more than happy to get a cat, but my mother is deathly allergic and Adam himself gets the sneezies around them. I'm not a dog person. Not even a little bit. I could probably handle having a dog in the house, except that we all know I'd be the one taking care of it. And that's not going to happen. We've considered the guinea pig/fish/hamster route, but frankly, it just seems like a lot of work for a pet that's not going to give much in the way of cuddly fun back. And so, you guessed it, that's not going to happen.

You can imagine Doodles's glee when his California friend, T. Rex, sent him Sea Monkeys for his birthday. A pet, at last! One the whole family could be satisfied with!

He eagerly put in packet one and waited 24 hours for the water to purify, asking approximately every 12.9 minutes, "Is it twenty-four hours now?" He put in his packet of Sea Monkeys, and waited for them to hatch. They did so early, which caused a little concern on the boy's part, but he got over it.

Doodles: Mommy, I need to go talk to Tally.
Me: It's dinner time. What do you need?
Doodles: I promised I'd tell her when the Sea Monkeys started to hatch!
Me: Okay. You can do it quickly.
Doodles: Can she come see them?
Me: Just for a moment. You need to have dinner.

Doodles runs across the street to retrieve a very excited Tally. As they walk into the house, I overhear them talking...

Doodles: They're really cool!
Tally: What do they look like?
Doodles: They look like sperm! Only a lot bigger.

Nothing like a kid who tells it like he sees it!


Friday, August 28

Declarations from the Boy

Tonight we have a guest blogger. Readers, I give you Doodles:

i'm not yor sarvint.

(Translation: I'm not your servant.)


The New Geography

Pie, to Jasmine: I can name three countries in America.
Jasmine: Yeah?
Pie: Yeah. Florida. New York. And, um, Afghanistan.


Tuesday, August 25

Interview with a Four Year Old

Me: What's today?
Pie: My birthday!
Me: How old are you?
Pie: Four.
Me: That's pretty old. What can you do when you're four that you can't do when you're three.
Pie: I can stay up late.
Me: What else?
Pie: I can play.
Me: You couldn't do that when you were three?
Pie: I could! What couldn't I do when I was three? I couldn't go into kindergarten.
Me: Can you go in now that you're four?
Pie: No.
Me: What did you do today?
Pie: I went to gymnastics camp. I had lots of fun. I even got to be leader and sometimes I could be first. That's all.
Me: We didn't do anything after camp?
Pie: Went to the Res! And that's all.
Me: What's your favorite thing to do?
Pie: To play my Polly Pockets.
Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Pie: A mommy.
Me: Anything else you want to be?
Pie: That's all I want to be.
Me: Are you going to be a mommy who works?
Pie: Yeah. But I work out of the house.
Me: What kind of work will you do?
Pie: Housework.
Me: Outside of the house?
Pie: Inside the house.
Me: What work will you do outside of the house?
Pie: I will plant the garden. And water stuff. I can water dirt.
Me: Who's gonna make the money?
Pie: I will.
Me: How?
Pie: How will I make money is I'll find a money thing and then I'm going to call someone and ask if it's money and then I'll try getting it and then I'll get some money out of the printer. And that's all.
Me: You're all done with the interview?
Pie: Uh huh. Can you read me last year's one?
Me: Any grand pronouncements first?
Pie: What?
Me: Any big statements?
Pie: I want to be the biggest one in the whole universe of America.
Me: Happy Birthday, Sweetie Pie.

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Sunday, August 23

Interview with a Six Year Old

Me: So what's today?
Doodles: Sunday.
Me: Any significance to it?
Doodles: No.
Me: Nothing at all special about today?
Doodles: I got lots of presents.
Me: How come?
Doodles: Because it was my birthday.
Me: Oh, so it was special?
Doodles: Yeah.
Me: How old are you?
Doodles: Six!
Me: That's pretty old. How did you get to be six?
Doodles: It's my birthday today, so I am six.
Me: What's different about six than five?
Doodles: Six you're going into first grade and five you're going into kindergarten. Is the interview over?
Me: Not yet. Any other differences?
Doodles: No.
Me: Six is the same as five?
Doodles: Sort of.
Me: What's your favorite thing to do these days.
Doodles: Be a spy.
Me: Anything else?
Doodles: Nope.
Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Doodles: A spy.
Me: And grand pronouncements for the world?
Doodles: What?
Me: Any grand pronouncements?
Doodles: I wish everything was for free.
Me: Why?
Doodles: So people could just get what they want and poor people would be able to buy stuff. Is it done now?
Me: Yes. Happy Birthday, Baby.

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Friday, August 21

The Girls Won Out


Wednesday, August 19

And It Begins...

At camp family night I was chatting with one of Doodles's counselors.

Me: He seems to be making friends, no?
Counselor: Oh, yes. He does very well here.
Me: I've heard a couple of names at home. I'm actually pleasantly surprised that he plays as much with the girls as the boys.
C: Oh those girls adore him.
Me: Yeah?
C: Every week they come to me. "Oh, Doodles is so cute! You need to give Doodles a blue ribbon this week for being the cutest boy!"

At that moment one of the said girls passes by.

Girl, to Doodles, with big grin: Hi, Ticklish Boy!



Run for Your Life

I announced to the kids on Monday morning, "Daddy's going to be in London for a couple of days. It's going to be just us."

Doodles replied, with eyes open wide, "You're not going to be able to run!"

I choose to believe that, when he said this, he meant, "Mom, I'm concerned for your health and well being because I know that running makes you strong" and not, "Ack, Mom, when you don't get to run, you're a bitch on wheels!" Both statements, I fear, are equally accurate.

I've been playing with my running routine, as last week a friend introduced me to Walden Pond. I mean, I knew it was there. I pass by it all the time. But I had never deigned to stop and swim. So last Friday at 5 a.m., she picked me up and we headed over. It was an unbelievably foggy day--we met with a friend who swims there every week and even she got lost in the middle of the pond--but the swimming was phenomenal. I'm a strong swimmer, but I've never loved doing it because, let's face it, swimming back and forth, back and forth, back and forth... in a pool is about one of the most mind-numbing activities there is. It's about equivalent of running on a treadmill (blah!!). But swimming in Walden Pond, that's swimming! We were out an hour and a half that morning and then went back for another hour on Sunday. I could have easily and happily swam for twice as long. I was completely sore after, in a good way, and it was such a soothing way to workout. I think that next summer I'm going to add a triathlon into my summer racing schedule.

Speaking of racing schedules, I've been following a training program pretty hard core and I'm having a hard time getting to speed. I can't decide if it's the extra pounds or the old age, but my motor is just not revving. I have two half marathons--the BAA in October and the Maine Coast in November--and I'd like to PR at one of them (I think the BAA is my best bet). The way things are going, I'm not sure it's going to be doable.

Last week I ran 31 miles, including intervals and tempo runs. For the tempo run, I was supposed to run five miles at an 8:09 pace, but I couldn't get my body moving faster than 8:20. And then the intervals. I really despise interval running. Every Monday night I think, "Ugh, gotta go to bed early so I can do intervals tomorrow." Every Tuesday morning I drag myself to the track. This week I had a sudden revelation as I was dying my way through my interval of 1 mile-400 rest-2 miles-800 rest-2 x 800 that I didn't actually have to do intervals. No one was making me. It made me feel both better and worse to realize that only I was inflicting this pain on myself. And yet I keep doing it. Can't help myself.

This week, with Adam gone, I'm deliberately taking it slow. The swim on Sunday. Yesterday, I ran after dropping Pie off at camp for five miles, and was so miserable in the 85 degree heat (today is day three of above 90 degree weather here) that I decided to take another rest day today. Tomorrow night I have a four-mile race, an hour swim on Friday, and a shorter long run on Saturday (I'll probably stick to eight or ten miles). A nice, easy slow week meant to recharge the body.

And you know what else a slow week means? Bitch on wheels. Poor kids. Next week I'll be running regularly again. And they can go back to having a (more or less) happy mom. In the meantime, hide.

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Sunday, August 16

Tattoo You

Pie: Why do you have a stamp on you?
Me: It's not a stamp; it's called a tattoo. It doesn't come off like a stamp.
Pie: Can I have a tattoo?
Me: You have to be eighteen to get a tattoo. When you turn eighteen you can get one.
Pie: When I turn eighteen, will you take me to get a tattoo?
Me: Sure! I'd be happy to take you. What kind of tattoo will you get?
Pie: A flower. No, a piggy!
Me: Okay. A piggy it is.
Pie: How do you get a tattoo?
Me: They use a needle to make the picture.
Pie: They stick you with needles?
Me: Yep.
Pie: Oh. Maybe I won't get a tattoo.
Me: That's fine, too.


Monday, August 10

The World Goes Round and Round

Growing up, my father played Quiz Questions at dinner with me and my sister, although the game quickly became known as "Quiz Questions Me First!" because that's what we'd shout out as soon as he sat down. The questions would be current events or history or science or whatever, such as "Who discovered the theory of relativity" or "Count to ten in binary numbers." One of my mother's great pet peeves in life is that my father loved to ask us geography questions, but he never used a map or globe to show where he was asking about. To this day, the only reason I remember that the capital of Ecuador is Quito is because of "Quiz Questions Me First."

This weekend my parents were in town, and my father started discussing geography with the kids. Only we don't own a globe. We tend to use maps on the computer, but it doesn't give the kids a real sense of perspective on where things are. Yesterday morning, we took a trip to the Museum of Science before we brought my parents to the train station so they could head home. Lo and behold, my mom spotted in the gift shop a globe, which my father then purchased for the kids.

This morning, the kids were playing their own version of geography. Doodles would ask Pie a question and she's randomly spin the globe as fast as she could and point.

Doodles: I got one for you, Pie! Where's Israel?
Me: Can you find Israel?
Doodles, with a sigh: Yes, Mom!
Pie spins the globe with a quick jerk and then just sticks her finger out.
Doodles: No, Pie. That's South America. Where's Israel?
Pie spins again and points.
Doodles: Nope. That's Hawaii.
I look over. Sure enough Pie has her finger planted in the Pacific Ocean in the general vicinity of Hawaii.
Me: How do you know that's Hawaii?
Doodles: I just know!
I can't figure out if he knows where things are or if his reading has improved that much, but either way, who am I to complain?

Doodles eventually gives up--Pie clearly has no interest in playing his way--and Pie just continues to spin this apparently amazing top.

Pie: Mommy?
Me: Yes?
Pie: Is it going to glow?
Me: Glow.
Pie: Yeah, glow.
Me: Um, no. It doesn't glow.
Pie: Then why is it called a glow-b?

She'll do okay, even if she doesn't know where Israel is.

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Wednesday, August 5

Sew What?

Once upon a time, or so the story goes, because I have a horrific memory and this is my dad's story that I'm relating... Anyway, once upon a time, my mom cooked us all breakfast. According to my father, they were fabulous breakfasts. Some days it was scrambled eggs. Some days it was French toast. But every morning, before school and work, my mother cooked us breakfast. But, my father loves to tell me, I ruined it. Because I was never happy with what was served. If it was French toast, I wanted scrambled eggs. If it was scrambled eggs, I wanted fried eggs. If it was fried eggs, I wanted French toast. So one day, my mother had enough. And she declared, "I'm not cooking breakfast for you people anymore." Which is why, to this day, my father resents me for him losing his breakfasts. And he likes to remind me of this. Frequently.

I will now shift topics, but rest assured, I will tie it all together at the end. I always tie it all together at the end. Don't I?

A few years ago, I wanted to learn how to sew, so my grandmother gave me one of her sewing machines. My grandmother was an incredible seamstress--she sewed her clothes, her curtains, her everything. My parents got married on a week's notice. My grandmother bought a size 12 white cocktail dress from Neiman Marcus and sewed it to size for my size 2 mother in literally days (and as I know the definition of literal, you can know that I mean that). My grandmother dutifully taught my mother how to sew. I have plenty of pictures of me in adorable little dresses that my mother sewed. Granted, she sewed out of necessity--another thing my parents frequently like to remind me, they had little money in those days and sewing my clothes was the only way to keep me clothed. But she did sew some awfully cute things. Fast-forward thirty-some-odd years later, my mother and grandmother still have their sewing mojo and the two of them collaborated on sewing the huppah for my and Adam's wedding.

Now, as expert seamstresses, you'd think some of that might have rubbed off on me. It didn't. In my defense, I'm pretty sure no one ever taught me. It's possible my mother may have offered to teach me to sew, but I have no recollection of it. She taught me to crochet. She offered--on multiple occasions--to teach me to weld, solder, and use a band saw. I declined. But that's a story for my therapist, not for you. Point is, no one ever taught me to sew.

Here I am. A grown woman with a little girl, a not-quite-so-little boy, and a sewing machine. I've got a manual. I've got a box of spare needles, empty bobbins, and... well, stuff. And I have no idea how to use any of it. I've got this fairly sophisticated machine and I can--almost--sew a straight line with it. But I've got this crafty streak that wants to be able to use the machine. I have this not-at-all secret side of me that longs to be Martha Stewart. I'm a stay-at-home mom. I'm working on my novel (yes, yes, I am!). But I have lots of time when children are occupied, but not so occupied that I can do anything that requires total focus (like writing). For instance, when a playdate is over, and I am summoned approximately every 14.7 minutes. A good time for sewing.

A bunch of weeks ago, I went with the kids to Jo-Ann's Fabrics. I was going to sew. With the help of the Internet, damn it, I was going to sew. I let the kids go wild. The boy wanted a cape. The girl wanted headbands. I thought I might, just might, try my hand at a skirt.

And then we saw it. The dress. It was on a mannequin and the girl just swooned over it. "Mommy! I love that dress. That dress is beautiful!" Next to the dress is a free pattern. "Easy" it reads. "Simple" it promises. So I look at the girls face. And I look at the pattern. And I sigh and say okay. The girl and I choose our fabric. We choose our ribbon. And I promise that eventually I will put it all together.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I sew a few capes (complete with the Air Force fabric that I couldn't talk the boy out of). I make a headband that is worn for five seconds before the girl declares she can't stand it. I start working on a few projects for upcoming birthday parties.

The fabric for the dress sits. It's in my office. And every few days, Pie wanders in and says, "When are you going to make my dress? I want my dress. Can you make my dress, pllllleeeeeaaassssse?"

One day this week, Jasmine and Pie are playing. Playdates for Pie of late have been iffy--we're in the midst of a full season of perfect temper tantrum storms these days. They emerge from nowhere, build to awe-inspiring fury, and then spend themselves, leaving only a helpless wrath of destruction. Therefore, a playdate is no longer free and easy time. It's on-call time on a new level. No writing, No reading. Nothing that requires substantial concentration or my leaving the general three-room vicinity.

Hey, how about sewing? I can sew! So, I start sewing. Have I mentioned that I'm not a sewer? So "Easy" and "Simple" are "Laborious" and "Tricky." And I had to stop every few minutes to run into Pie's room to fix a toy, find a purse, or answer a question. Luckily no change in weather patterns, so it was a relatively calm afternoon. And an afternoon later, I'm just about done. Even with a matching headband. Yeah, the seams don't quite line up. Okay, so maybe the double hem wasn't exactly intentional but the only way to keep the bottom from falling down. Maybe, it's a bit big. It'll fit perfectly next summer. Or at least the summer after that. I have the girl put it on so I can mark where the ribbon ties go.

"Where's the ribbon?" she asks.

"Right here," I say, showing her the green ribbon we picked out. Together. The two of us. Me and Pie.

"No!! That's the wrong ribbon! I want flip-flop ribbon! I want ribbon with flip flops on it! Where's the flip-flop ribbon? I don't want green ribbon! That's the wrong ribbon!" And the tears ensue....

All right. Thirty-three years later. I admit it. I should have just shut-up and eaten the French toast. Sorry, Mom.

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Monday, August 3


If someone said, "This is going to freak you out," and then came at you with a green pepper and said, "Squeeze it. No, I mean, it squeeze it. SQUEEZE IT!" would you squeeze it? I didn't think so.

I still don't know what Adam wanted with that green pepper. But I'm going to have nightmares tonight.


Saturday, August 1

Sand Boy