Friday, September 28, 2007

Home Improvement (or, Why I'd Rather Be Napping)

I am moving to some other country which honors the tradition of the siesta. An afternoon nap would be just the thing to prevent my afternoon headaches. Add to the headaches Rachel talking on and on and on in that high-pitched voice of hers that zings right through my brain like an icepick, and you've got a recipe for insanity. You have to worry when you catch yourself holding your 5-year-old daughter by the shoulders and saying, "Stop talking. Please stop talking. "

Definitely not Mother-of-the-Year material. That's okay. Someone has to make motherhood safe for the less-than-perfect. Right now I am resisting the urge to feed everyone a simple dinner of brownies and apples. I bet they'd still whine about those apples, though.

We had some fun family plans for today. We were going to fetch our canoe from the storage facility where it has been residing, high and dry, for, oh, 3 years and bring it (finally) to its new home at a friend's dock. We were planning to take turns paddling around the lake in beautiful autumn weather and sitting on the grass by the lake munching apples while chatting with our friends. But somehow our plans were derailed by a neighbor who generously offered to help Larry reattach the railings (hey, a pun -get it? derailed? Boy, I'm clever) to our front stoop. (Warning - the abyss of never-ending home improvement lies ahead - not for the faint-hearted.) One railing was held up by a huge bush and another pretty much hung only by one end. So now, after 3 hours of work, both railings are lying in our front yard. This situation is in perfect accordance with the "things need to get worse before they get better" theorem of home renovation. This theorem also explains why we won't have a railing on our brand-new back deck in the foreseeable future. And why above our brand-new kitchen counters is a half-ripped out backsplash complete with exposed dry wall (which isn't staying very dry by the sink, I might add). And let's not talk about what is going on in our basement, where renovation seems to have been stalled out until at least the beginning of the next millenium.

All I can say is, the woman who used to live here sold us a perfectly decent-looking house and, in 4 short months, we've managed to turn it into a dump. It's a special talent we have.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

I had to rummage through the clean laundry basket in the dark this morning (so as not to wake the baby) ; so, coming out of the shower, I discovered that the only item I had available to cover myself belonged to my husband, not me . Towel wrapped around my dripping hair, I pulled on the offending apparel and scrounged frantically around my room for my own clothing, trying to hurry before my 4-year-old could walk in and ask the inevitable question: "Mommy, why are you wearing Daddy's underpants?"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Underachieving Thoughts

I don't have enough to do, so I spend my spare time googling people I knew in college - see what they're up to. It turns out that they are all way more successful in their chosen careers than I am. (Actually, now that I think of it, I don't have a career.) One is leading some amazing sustainable agriculture program at a well-known state university, another runs his own law firm with his wife as partner (good thing he didn't marry me, huh?), yet another is a dean at an Ivy League university. It strikes me that they didn't waste the money they invested in their education the way I have. It also strikes me that they're not bored enough to sit around googling people they used to know but will never speak to again. Why? Because they have things going on, money to make, important people to get back to.

As for me, well, the kids are in bed, everyone's been diapered, wiped, and brushed for the evening, and my teenage daughter (aka "the Slave") is getting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher so that I can go in there and do the final kitchen scrubdown. I might try knitting a hat after that.

I suppose the world does need underachievers, but I'm not sure for what. Maybe to do all the grunt work, like diapering and teeth-brushing and kitchen cleaning...

Someone tried to kill me this morning, by the way. I dragged myself out of bed at 6:15 to go walking with my neighbor Cindy and found her waiting for me outside with her visiting sister-in-law. Who turned out to be the fastest walker in the Western Hemisphere. I knew I was in trouble when she commented that she doesn't usually get such a late start. I was practically jogging to keep up with her, and my neighbor wasn't doing much better. My only comfort was knowing that, if I did suffer an exercise-induced heart attack, I'd probably be saved. Not by Cindy, mind you - she was too out of breath to administer CPR at that point. But by the sister-in-law, who happened to be a doctor.

Did I mention that this chick was 20 years older than me? It was embarrassing.

90 degrees today, and again tomorrow......autumn, we hardly knew ye.

Keeping Busy

My husband's away, and the 3 oldest kids needed to be 3 different places tonight (what is it about Tuesday nights, anyway?), and I'm a wizard - I managed it. I have yet to manage to get them all back home, however. After getting the three youngest to bed, I even had a little me-time left over with which to scrub the kitchen floor. Then I spent a few minutes foraging through the kitchen for any forgotten chocolate, but I couldn't find any. I spotted some chip dip that looked promising; but, alas, no chips. Who does the shopping around here anyway? Oh, wait - never mind.

And what tune keeps running nonsensically through my head? Carly Simon's "Anticipation" - "Stay right here, 'cause these are the good old days..." Now there is a scary thought.

I will not complain about the weather. I will not complain about the weather. I will not complain about the unseasonably hot, non-autumnlike weather. But I just don't think my kids should be begging to run through the sprinkler in late September. It's not natural. What's next? Lemonade on Halloween? Popsicles for Christmas?

Susie is so spoiled now that she screams at me the entire time I am reading to Rachel, unless I let her climb in my lap and put her head on the book. This behavior is not charming. And I have to feed her junk food all morning in order to get anything done.

Inspired by our field trip to the Philadelphia waterfront, Brian and David managed to build a model ferryboat out of Duplos. David also figured out how to use Duplos to build a spiral staircase. This blows me away. I mean, Duplos are square, and spirals are sort of, well, round. I think he's a genius.

Or maybe not. He's outside right now, trying to figure out how to unlock the combination lock that secures our bicycles - apparently, someone reset the combo by mistake. I explained to him that there were only 10,000 possibilities and he decided that he could beat the odds. That kid will do anything for 5 bucks.

Well, I've run out of marshmallows to throw at Susie, so duty calls....

Monday, September 24, 2007

Philadelphia Story

Today we decided to be spontaneous and do a little day trip to Philadelphia (which is, frankly, a little more than day-trip distance from where we live). We had to arrive there before noon, as the Seaport Museum offers free admission until noon on Sundays, and we needed the admission money to pay for the gas to get up there. So that entailed an early morning start, which meant that we had to leave the house in a not-very-tidy state, which I hate. I worry that we'll get killed on the road and relatives or neighbors will have to go into our house to figure out what to do with our possessions and will see what a mess we lived in. I'd die of embarrassment (that is, if I weren't already dead).
A long drive could be pleasant if we were allowed to listen to the radio. But Susie (otherwise known around here as She Who Must Be Obeyed) has decreed that only certain music may be played on our new CD player in the car. It has to have words, and it can't have too much "Daddy voices," for starters. This really bothers Larry, who erroneously assumed that as a grown-up he'd be allowed to listen to whatever he wanted to. We tricked her with a little Broadway show music for a bit, but then we had to bite the bullet and put in Raffi. Unlike Larry, I don't mind listening to Raffi, but his songs all have the distinctive quality of being able to burrow into your brain and stay there for a very, very long time. This is a bad thing.

Theo was away on a canoe trip and for some reason our teenage daughter Anna had absolutely no desire whatsoever to spend the day with us, so we only took 4 kids; that meant that I was able to be a passenger instead of driving the second car, which meant that I finally had time to finish crocheting a hobo-style bag that I started last year. Yes, it took me a whole year to find a big enough chunk of time to figure out what mistake I had made so that I could fix it and get on with the project. In fact, I didn't care about seeing Philly at all. I just wanted a car trip long enough for me to get the bag done. Philadelphia was just a nice bonus.

We saw the Seaport Museum (for free!), which was filled with just enough kid-friendly activities to enable us to stay there a whole hour; then we visited the Tall Ship Gisela (and if anyone can explain to me the "Tall Ships" concept, I'd really appreciate it), where I was able to show off to the tour guide all the stuff I learned about ships during our year in Newport, RI (forgive me, but I so rarely get to show off about anything...); and then we visited a submarine and the USS Olympia, which I believe was Commodore Dewey's flagship during the Spanish-American War (learned all about that yesterday); and then, being thirsty and hot and tourists, we spent a large portion of the children's college money on what the Philadelphians call Irish water ices, which were sort of thick, dye-ridden Italian ices, only not as good.

Since we wanted to tire out the kids before putting them back in the car, we dragged them on a couple-of-miles walk into the city to see the Liberty Bell, which is cordoned off behind a security shed and not exactly, um, free, if you get my meaning. There must be better things for Philadelphia to spend its security dollars on - evacuation plans, say, and maybe some terrorism-proof communication systems. Besides, the Bell already has a crack in it. What else is someone going to do to it?

So that sort of bugged me. Because the last time I saw the Liberty Bell was 20 years ago and it was out in this sort of open brick pavilion in the middle of a grassy lawn, and that seemed a little more fitting, somehow, than housing it in the museum equivalent of a bunker.

Anyway, we traipsed back to the car, getting a little lost on the way, and settled in for the ride home, after spending the rest of the kids' college money on bottles of water that weren't heated to 90 degrees by sitting in the car in the sun. We arrived home exactly at bedtime, with Rachel and Susie both well-rested from their naps in the car. So I sat at the computer and told Larry I had to finish an article for Home Education Magazine (I lied - instead, I goofed off in the blogosphere) and he was in charge of somehow stuffing them in their beds against their will. If this seems unfair, let me point out that he left me (again) this morning for a 4-day management retreat. So don't talk to me about unfair.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hell Hath No Fury....

Anna hates me because I expect her to do her schoolwork so she can graduate from high school some day. She started throwing her books around the dining room yesterday just to show me how much she hated me, so I ignored her (as did the rest of the family, all of whom know the drill by now). Unfortunately, no one had briefed David's very sweet little friend Chuck, who I noticed - a few minutes into the episode - standing in the kitchen, clutching his comic books to his chest, eyes darting frantically as he tried to gauge his chances of escaping via the front door. No doubt the studied nonchalance of the rest of us in the face of obvious danger added to his confusion. The look on his face was indescribable (where is that camera when I need it?). I sure hope his mother lets him come back.

Theo, naturally, was glad he had just packed up his stuff for a Boy Scout canoe trip. There's only so much drama one teenage guy can take.

I visited 3 grocery stores today, plus the Farmers' Market. I don't know why that was necessary, but I can rest assured now that I won't have to buy any food for at least 48 hours. Then I decided to take a well-deserved nap. It was one of those delicious, mid-afternoon naps with the sun streaming through the open windows and the ceiling fan whirring away above me. Apparently, I looked too comfortable; so Larry woke me up to inform me that he was going to go to the office for a couple of hours. He could have just left. If someone needed me, they would have screamed loud enough to wake me, I'm sure. So, I hate him. He tried to make up for this gross error in judgment by agreeing to meet me and the kids for pizza at dinner time; but then he stood me up. The waitress kept looking at me funny, because I had requested a separate table for me and Larry, and of course I was the only one sitting there. With my imaginary date. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to order the food without waiting for him. By the time we were almost finished with the pizza, I had made up my mind that nothing less than a flat tire or a car accident could have kept him from joining his beloved (um, that's me) at Pizza Hut. At just that point, he sailed in. "Sorry I'm late," he said breezily, grabbing a slice of pepperoni and apparently dodging the death darts emanating from my eyes. Sorry? Sorry? With no accompanying tale of a close brush with death? No explanation involving rescuing poor innocents from a burning building, say? You know, he's shown himself capable over the years of fitting the clueless-male stereotype from time to time; but today, he outdid himself. If I told him right now that I'm still pissed off, he'd have no idea what the heck I was even talking about. That's sort of cute, in a guy sort of way. But he still owes me chocolate. Twice.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wild and Crazy

I stayed out until midnight last night. I'm way too old to do that. I had to lie around on the couch all morning to recover. While the house fell apart around me.

So, what made me act so stupidly? Crazy neighborhood party? Or a concert, complete with mosh pit and screaming audience? Perhaps a wild night on the town, bar hopping with girlfriends? Nope, nope, and nope. It was a book signing for the latest book by the rising star of the knitting world. I have seen the future of knitting, and its name is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. That's right - I drove for almost an hour to reach a bookstore where I would have the privilege of seeing in person the woman who gave me the courage to try and knit a pair of socks. Understand, that I had barely knitted anything before that. Oh, there was a lumpy-looking baby hat or two, and some blanket squares which never really got their act together enough to coalesce into an actual blanket. But I lacked the confidence to try a "real" project. Stephanie fixed all that. She told me there were no knitting police and I believed her. She told me to go for it and I did. In fact, now I can't stop. I've turned into a sock-knitting savant. I don't do sweaters, I don't do scarves, I'll never figure out lace; but, hey, I've got your socks.

Ms. Pearl-McPhee is even funnier and more interesting in person than she is in print. She spoke for over an hour and then stayed at that bookstore (which was mobbed, by the way - I had to stand on a windowsill to see her speak) until almost midnight, signing books for all us besotted fans. By the time I got to the head of the line, I of course forgot any of the witty comments I had waited 2 and a half hours to say and gushed instead about how wonderful her books were and how they had changed my life. I am such an idiot sometimes. I kicked myself all the way home (which is very hard to do when you are driving).

So I need to go to bed early tonight. Tomorrow I can tell you all about why my teenage daughter hates me again, and where Theo has escaped to for the weekend, and why one of David's friends may never come back to our house to play. But not now. I'm too tired.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fire Prevention and Kickball Musings

Today I cleaned my oven before it caught fire. I've never done that before. An ounce of prevention, you know....

At Target today we bought a kickball. Again. I believe that makes 10 thousand kickballs we have purchased there. I also bought one of those little pumps that adds air to the kickball so that you don't have to go out and buy a new ball all the time. I think it's our tenth pump. I have no idea where all the other kickballs and ball pumps are. The balls must disintegrate after a certain amount of time (one and a half days, say). And then the pump needles are programmed to disappear, so you can't use the pump on the new kickball which manages to deflate itself on the ride home from the store.

This evening I attempted to have the kitchen clean, dinner on the table, and children scrubbed and smiling before Larry's return from his trip (occasionally I start channeling my inner 50's housewife, only without the cute dress and apron) - but the gods were against me. Susie was screaming (no nap), the kitchen was trashed, and assorted young ones were whining about all and sundry. Larry, to his credit, acted glad to be home anyway; and he was able to maintain his cheery facade until Brian and Rachel reported a major ant invasion in the family room. The evening sort of deteriorated from there. So I don't think I succeeded in convincing Larry that he doesn't want to leave his family for yet another management retreat next week. That's 3 management retreats so far this year; but, hey, who's counting? Not me - I like being left to fend for myself.

Is "sundry" a word? It looks funny.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Raising Vandals

It's taken me a year to get around to spending 50 dollars (an exorbitant amount for us) to attractively frame and mat a poster I found at a yard sale. It took my kids approximately 3 and a half seconds to get their hands on a bouncy ball (not on my watch, I would like to point out) and bounce it right into the picture and break the glass. I was tempted to hang it that way, so it would coordinate with the slipcovers that have been shredded in strategic places by a certain 4-year-old with scissors, and with the pretty lamps I found at Target which now sport unattractively spliced cords (same 4-year-old, same scissors), and with the beautiful maple coffee table which was gouged across the top by my eldest daughter's belt buckle within 24 hours of entering our house. Martha Stewart, eat your heart out.

Did I mention that Larry just installed granite counters in our kitchen, on the assumption that they would be indestructible? I, for one, am not betting any money on that.

Larry has left me, by the way. Oh, not permanently, of course - if he had done that, I would have made him take the kids with him. Just 2 days - long enough for me to feel sorry for myself, but not so long that he can't atone for this abandonment by showering me with lovely gifts upon his return. Chocolate would be nice.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chip Trip

What a great day - Larry and I took the youngest 4 to a potato chip factory (I'm sure the people there were glad when we left - my kids ate all their samples when I wasn't looking) and then a hike in the woods at a nearby national park. We saw 2 deer and scared the children by telling them to watch out for bears. For parents, we have a sick sense of humor. I was extra glad to get out of the house, because Anna had misplaced 50 dollars, which made her hate me. Because I wouldn't hand over more money. Hard to follow that logic there. All our attempts to make her more responsible with money backfire. If she doesn't have enough for something she wants, it's because we don't give her enough. If she spends all her money and has to wait for the next month's "pay," it's also because we don't give her enough. I shudder to think of this girl with a credit card.

We ate lots of potato chips today. I mean, ones we actually paid for. They were fresh, so I deemed them healthy. And non-caloric.

Oh, and I did get to stay in bed until 7:30 this morning. It felt fantastic. Maybe I'll get to do that again next month. Miracles happen, you know.

We don't think the mother bird found her nest. Or else it was too noisy and loud in our yard for her to want to return. Scrambled eggs, anyone?

Wet Cement and Other Hazards

The deck guys have been here for 2 days, providing ample entertainment for all. Considering that they had a sizable audience of young children (ours and the neighbors), it puzzles me why they would pour 7 post holes full of wet cement and then leave without letting me know; but no harm done, as I happened to look out my window in the nick of time. I don't know how we would have extricated my neighbor's 4-year-old twins otherwise. On the other hand, if I hadn't averted catastrophe, at least they wouldn't be giving their mother too much trouble from now on - she'd always know where to find them. Now that I think about it, maybe she sent them over here to play on purpose. With her husband away all week, she may have been feeling a little desperate, don't you think?

I managed to keep Susie napless all day today, which translates into a 7 PM bedtime (yes!). Of course, that means she'll be wide awake by 5:30 in the morning; but no matter - Larry can't escape to work on a Saturday, so they can enjoy their morning together. I play with her all week, I mustn't be selfish. And is it really asking so much to sleep in until 7:30 one day a week? Ah, luxury...

I'm trying to remember at exactly what point I signed up for this house slave position, anyway. I can go over a week without getting out of this house by myself and then I feel as though I need to hurry back when I do periodically escape. It's pathetic. Why doesn't someone just slap one of those ankle-monitoring bracelets on me already and be done with it?

Anna was almost pleasant today. So pleasant that I didn't even bother to annoy her on purpose - say, by perusing the photo albums with the other kids and pointing out her picture - "Oh, look, there's Anna smiling!" and "Look at this - Anna's sitting right next to David, and she's not even grossed out." She hates when I do that. But maybe tomorrow I'll take her to Kohl's and then embarrass her by speaking to her in public. That's always fun.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hello, 21st Century!

We have made some progress on the technological front around here, I am happy to announce; my husband bought some thing-a-ma-jig that enables us to hook up our VCR and our DVD player to the TV at the same time. Heretofore, to switch to one machine or the other required being able to crawl sort of sideways behind the TV in order to unscrew some cables from one machine and then screw them on to the other, all while endeavoring not to fall (painfully) onto the numerous Duplos which tend to migrate back there. Apparently, Larry realized that the thing-a-ma-jig cost less than the chiropractic bills (or else he was tired of my whining).

Now I'm hoping that we can actually own an IPod before they are out of style. Although by the time I get one (and figure out how to use it), everyone else will be walking around with some sort of digital chip implanted in their ears. But (bright side) at least IPods should be dirt-cheap by then.

And to all those people whining because they bought an IPhone when it cost a gazillion dollars and now Apple is lowering the price - shut up. It's not our fault you're stupid.

Sorry - just had to get that off my chest. I feel better now.

Larry was late to work this morning - the deck is being torn down today and he realized that there was a morning dove sitting on a nest in the deck's ....whaddayacall'em? ..... rafters? But underneath, if you know what I mean. Anyway, there is this mommy bird sitting on eggs and we have small children, which means that Larry decided to move the nest to a safe place (under our next-door neighbor's deck), so no one would be traumatized. But then we weren't sure if the mommy bird could see where the nest's new location was, even though Larry had left the ladder by the new location, just to give her a hint, you know....and he and I had to discuss whether a bird would understand what a ladder was, and maybe one of us should stand in the neighbor's backyard and wave toward the new nest location (do birds understand semaphore?), and then Larry suggested that he move the nest out in the open until she spotted it, and then he'd move it a little more, until she spotted that, and then....well, then we realized we sounded like idiots. So we compromised by moving it to a more visible spot on our neighbor's deck (a neighbor who by now was awake and had come outside to learn why we were standing in her backyard and arguing at 7:30 in the morning), where it will probably be knocked over before the end of the day by her 4-year-old twins. But, hey, we tried. I just wish I could be there when Larry explains to his supervisor why he was late.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fall and Apples, Hallelujah!

The gentleman who bought our old house has finally given up on trying to use all the apples that the apple-tree-formerly-known-as-ours bears. He turned it over to us. I immediately sent out my crack team of apple-pickers (plus Susie, who I think thought she was helping in some capacity) to harvest what they could. Turns out that was a lot. I had to beg them to stop. We made apple crisp (and gave some to our generous neighbor, of course); I always enjoy making apple crisp, but this year was made even more enjoyable watching Anna sulk the entire time she was cutting up the apples. Now that we're used to her moods, they are almost entertaining. And it's cheaper than cable.

We woke up to sweatshirt weather today, finally. I am so happy to be breathing air that has less than 90 percent humidity. Now if I could just find the kids' sweatshirts, things would be perfect.

We're on our 7th jigsaw puzzle here, and I think we'll declare jigsaw-puzzle season officially over when we're done with this one. We've done so many, we're seeing the world as a collection of little pieces - through jigsaw-colored glasses, if you will. It's time to go outside and play in the leaves and drink cider whatever else it is that we do in the fall. I've forgotten. Also, I need to reclaim my dining room table. My neighborhood Bunco club didn't enjoy rolling the dice on top of the half-done puzzle the other night.

Can any of you type with a toddler hanging off your forearms? I didn't think so. I'd better sign off.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In Memoriam

In memoriam of all those fallen and all those bereaved 6 years ago today - may God grant them peace. And may God grant a swift resolution to all the carnage and suffering (much of it avoidable) that has ensued.

Go hug somebody, okay? It's one of those days.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Straitjacket Saturday

Like that title? I think it's sort of catchy. And I'm certainly ready for one.

Today is Saturday, so I got to sleep in - I mean, if that's what you call lying in bed from 5:30 to 6:30 with the toddler climbing back and forth over you and leaning her elbows in those spaces between your ribs. Larry had to work today, so I wasn't exactly jumping out of bed with excitement over its being the weekend. As a matter of fact, I've been keeping the neighbor's 7-year-old girl hostage all afternoon, just to keep some of my kids amused (heaven forbid my kids should just play with each other, you know).

It's in the 90's here once again (I know, I know, but I just can't get over it, it's September, okay?) and it hasn't rained in ages (as in, I can't even find the kids' rain boots at this point), but there is a coastal flood warning for tonight anyway. I don't get that. Something to do with high tides and new moons. I didn't know those sort of things mattered anymore, what with technology and all. I mean, it sounds downright quaint. Farmers' Almanac, anyone?

Anna went out in public with me and the younger kids yesterday and didn't even die of embarrassment. In fact, she was downright pleasant; she even smiled at her siblings during the ordeal. I can't imagine what brought that on, unless maybe it was the above-mentioned astronomical/nautical phenomena. I'm glad she's not acting possessed, as Larry and I plan to go out tonight. For all you women who want to know how to get your husband to take you out, it's simple. Just make a dinner that the kids love and that he hates. Works like a charm. And it's not as if I'm hard to please. As long as it's not the Dollar Menu at McDonalds, I'm happy. Well, once Larry blew it (see for details), but I've forgiven him. Sort of.

School? Oh, yes, well, we've been plugging slowly along. All except Rachel, that is, who is taking about a month to whip through kindergarten before she sinks her teeth into 1st grade. I told Brian (2nd grade) to get the lead out - she's gonna need his books soon. I'm just glad that she is bending her formidable will and clever brain to something constructive this year. Another fall of sabotaged toilets and decapitated stuffed animals I could not handle. Anyone who does not know what I am talking about, check out the favorites column on the left. All the gory details are in there somewhere.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Toys R Us

Another 90-degree day (yes, I talk about the weather, but I don't do anything about it). We took a trip to Target (again) so Rachel and Brian could spend the birthday money that was burning a hole in their pockets. And if I had realized how many hours of enjoyment they would get out of a couple of trashy toys, I would have paid for them myself. We came straight home and the 3 youngest left me alone for a blessed 2 hours while they played with their new acquisitions. Let's see....twenty dollars for 2 hours - maybe a little more expensive than a babysitter, but we might get a couple hours more use out of the toys, if I'm lucky. Oh, and I had to shell out 5 dollars of my own to buy Susie a Barbie doll so she wouldn't get jealous. It came clothed in a bikini, but Susie likes her to hang out au naturel. With her little plastic sunglasses on. Rachel's Barbie is a little more dignified, sporting an attractive evening gown (complete with tiara) that isn't even slutty. Just for the record, Brian didn't get a Barbie doll. He bought some little Lego thing that I think is a firetruck with lots of teeny-tiny accessories. He is deliriously happy. In case anyone has been wondering exactly how much happiness costs, the answer (at least for 7-year-old boys) is 10 dollars plus tax.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


You know, anytime someone wants to turn off the summer weather around here and let a few fall breezes blow our way, I'm fine with that. Really.

The only way I can tell we're in September is that the apple tree formerly-known-as-ours is bearing its usual biennial (or is it biannual) overabundance. While we miss being able to use all the apples, it is fun to watch someone else (as in our hapless buyer) deal with all the rotting apples and wasps in the front yard. The 90-degree weather isn't helping the smell much, either. He is looking a tad beleaguered, I must say. Laughing at him takes our minds off the fact that our backyard (now that we've demolished the fence) is starting to make the city dump look good. That shouldn't improve next week when we begin tearing down the deck. Why do things always have to get worse before they get better? Beats me.

Anna still hates me (in case you were wondering). Susie loves me, though, because I haven't bothered weaning her yet. And Larry makes sure to tell me he still loves me; because if I leave him, he's stuck with all these kids. He's nobody's fool.

Monday, September 03, 2007

She Loves Me (Not!)

What Anna (my chronically alienated teenage daughter who used to be the sweetest girl in the whole world and still is deep down inside somewhere) deems to be my fault:

1. When she's tired because she stayed up way too late and then had to get up before the crack of noon
2. Any day that her neighborhood friend is not around to hang out with
3. When she has to go to the doctor because she has given herself a puncture wound while doing dishes
4. Her beloved flute teacher's falling ill and cancelling a lesson
5. That life doesn't consist of doing whatever she wants, when she wants.

I have to work on all that, I guess.

She did like us briefly a few nights ago when she was scared silly by a bat that somehow got down our chimney and was zooming around our living room. Though I must say that her shriek (which woke us up) should have been enough to turn my hair white. Larry took care of the problem, while Anna and I barricaded ourselves in the bedroom. You know, if it's retro to feel that the guy has to take care of all bugs, rodents (flying and otherwise), and any other type of household intruder, then just call me old-fashioned, all right? I sat up in that room and listened to Larry chasing the bat all over the main floor of the house and thanked my lucky stars that I'm of the female persuasion. (And he did get rid of it - he managed to chase it out of the house with a laundry basket. See? I never would have thought of that.)