Proud moments in parenting, part I

Item: on Tuesday, with Dido home from school puking and....running, I went down to the basement to iron rather than hang out with him and the Babe.

Item: yesterday, I sat in the bathroom crying because the Babe, who is now back in her crib after a brief vacation for no one in a big girl bed, still refused to take a nap.

Item: during said crying jag, the Babe followed me into the bathroom, saying "No cry, mommy. No cry."

Item: this morning, when I refused to find the Transformers cartoons on YouTube for him, Dido told me I was the meanest mom ever, and no one likes me very much.

Item: after that outburst, he remembered to mention that the reason he slept in our bed last night was because he peed in his.

Item: the H rolled out of bed awakened by Pasha this morning, but instead of just stumbling out with her for a morning pee, he took the time to find me (reading emails in my office at 6:30) and give her to me instead for the pee run. As I carried her down the stairs, I felt something warm cascading down my right leg.

Is it too early for a cocktail?


Wild Kingdom

That title has two connotations for me--given my advanced age, the first is, obviously, "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom", the Sunday night TV staple starring Marlon Perkins that I watched religiously throughout childhood. The other is a song by a (presumably now defunct) NYC-based band, The Second Step, with which I was fairly obsessed in the late 80s, when they used to perform at a downtown NYC Mexican joint I loved. (Can anyone remind me of the name? The Cactus Cantina or somesuch? It was awesome, as was the band, and the song, "Wild Kingdom." I have it on my iTunes, having bought their CD nearly 20 years ago, and if I can get my act together, I'll put it up on here. It totally rocks.)

Now, I have a third connotation---as my friend Marti might write, Doods, I live in the Wild Kingdom. Seriously. Today, on the way back from an antique/hardware store/ice cream run to Great Barrington, Massachusetts (20 minutes away from our own little WK) we had to stop our car in order avoid running over a foot and a half long SNAPPING TURTLE crossing the road near our house. I made the H get out of the car to ensure that it would cross safely to the other side. I thought it might be a snapper (what the hell other American turtle is that f'ing big??) so I told him to be careful, so he did a little frog march behind it which made it pick up its pace and get to the creek on the other side of the road. When we got home, I consulted my trusty field guide (thank you to my MIL--awesome Mother's Day present) and confirmed its taxonomy. Apparently, this is the time of year when the girl snappers leave their ponds for nearby rivers and creeks whereby they will lay their l'il snapper eggs. Go figure.


Bucolic pleasures, bad carma, and bedtime blues

Let's start with the glorious, shall we? The sunsets here are different, and spectacular, nearly every single tonight. Yesterday, just to make the two natural disaster-acclimated Californians feel right at home, we had a tornado warning for much of our region. Yet by the time the sun was preparing to set, the clouds were dissipating across the sky, there was a fiery ball descending toward the horizon, and the juxtaposition of blue against green was staggering. (In the interest of full disclosure, this picture, which does no justice to the sunset it depicts, is from a couple of nights ago.)

Then, there are the other wonders of nature, namely the growing ones. I cannot call anything on our property a "garden", but we do have ragged old apple trees, explosive forsythia, and, I discovered yesterday, one lovely lilac. The Babe and I set out on a flower-gathering expedition with the dogs , and returned with much astonishing loveliness. The whole is now fragranced, which is helping with a mood turned dark, thanks to a not-so-kindly encounter the other day with the Massachusetts State Police. My infraction was a driving one, but I'm not going to write too much more than that about it until after I complete my field trip this afternoon to the Great Barrington courthouse, where I must appear, to find out--something, perhaps the size of the book to be thrown at the person who dares to drive in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts carrying a California license, a semi-valid temporary registration, and claiming to live in New York. Let's just say I experienced harassment and bullying from a young officer the likes of which I've personally never seen. Welcome to the Berkshires.

Meanwhile, her loveliness (the Babe) has insisted upon moving into a Big Girl Bed. She begged, she pleaded, she picked it out, she chose the other baby upon whom she would bestow her now-obsolete crib. Until I took the crib apart and put it in the basement. Now she cries for it, and will only go to bed if she's already fallen asleep in my arms or, even better, the car. Sigh.


Of dead pigs, live frogs, circus performers and the myriad joys of motherhood

"We'll split a pig with you" are not necessarily words I associate with a door opening onto a budding friendship. But when I heard them last week from a new neighbor, I hoped, like a seventh grader with a crush, that that's exactly what they were. My young neighbor, a New York City transplant married into an longtime local farming family, couldn't be nicer or seem like more fun, her husband, too, and though they are younger and as yet without kids, they seem to like us, too. Hence the offer to split a pig from her brother-in-law's farm down the road. I can't wait. Having sampled his fresh, pastured hen's eggs (a welcome to the neighborhood gift a few days earlier--Dido pronounced them "the best eggs I've ever, ever, EVER eaten") I am confident that his equally happy (at least in life) pigs will also be delicious.

Meanwhile, the frog saga continues. Our pond is teeming, swarming, fully alive with tadpoles, side-lying columns of them buzzing through the murky water, and more to come, judging by the wormy tubes of eggs (finally identified as such after much dopey puzzling on my part) lying in the muddy banks. The frogs sing not just at night, but pretty much all day long, and Dido caught one Friday afternoon. He was completely ecstatic. After it flew out of his hands and back into the pond, it sat still in the water, head above, body and legs dangling below, and I was worried that the kid had unwittingly injured it. After a few minutes, though, he dove down and swam out of sight (not hard, in our zero visibility pond water.) But he popped right back up, and seemed to stare Dido down. Dido made a couple more attempts, but then grew delighted with the fact that Frog seemed to be connecting with him somehow--perhaps wondering what this strange, inept hunting creature that failed to eat him could possibly be.

Meanwhile, the night before, the Babe woke up, in her very first night in her "big girl bed," crying for her daddy. No surprise, the waking or the need for papa, but awaiting us was an unfortunate surprise--a big pile of puke (which sounds like the name of a Russell Crowe band, but sadly, was real.) She's been sick as a dog ever since, with a brief interlude yesterday where she seemed to be getting better, so we all, including my visiting mother in law, went to a fundraiser circus performance at a local school. It was fantastic, and made quite an impression on both kids. I'm not sure what they loved more--the 7th grade trapeze artist, the boy unicyclists, or the amazing acrobats. Both my kids fully appreciate performance, in any and every form. But by nighttime, the Babe was listless and cranky, refused to eat dinner, and then puked all over me, the dog, the deck again.

Adding to the fun, her illness (at least thus far) culminated today in a ten minute waking nightmare--she seemed to wake from her nap, but quickly was hysterical, wouldn't let me touch her, wouldn't take the ever-soothing pacifier, seemed terrified or in pain. It was horrible. I finally took her outside into the fresh air, and asked her, over and over again (although she already seemed fully awake) to wake up. When she calmed a bit, desperate, I offered her ice cream. Apparently, even when you have the stomach flu, strawberry ice cream (from a local dairy, thank you very much) is a panacea.


And they called it, Puppy Love...

I heard Donny Osmond interviewed on local radio last week while driving the kids to school. Apparently (like Jerry Lewis?) he's HUGE in Europe. He discussed his rivalry with MJ. (That's Michael Jackson, for those of you who weren't reading Tiger Beat in 1973.)

While you think about the goodness, nay greatness, that is the Osmond oeuvre (he's just released his 55th album, covers of 70s love songs, really, run, don't walk) you can also contemplate true puppy love, in the glorious form of Pasha. Enjoy the cuteness, and don't let the saccharine sweetness get you down.


7 Things You May Not Know About Me

From Mieke

Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to blog about their seven things and post the rules as well. At the end of your post, choose 7 people to tag and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them that they have been tagged and to read your blog! OK, here we go....

1. I don't think I know seven people who blog, at least, not really well enough to tag them.

2. I think memes are the new chain letter, and I despise chain letters, even though when I get them (the real ones, not the email ones, which I always delete, sorry to my friends who send them) I have great intentions about completing them, especially the ones that are lists of kids to send books to...but I often fail to live up to my own good intentions. And even though I think memes are slightly evil like chain letters, I have always secretly wished that someone, anyone, might tag me. Hypocrisy-r-us?

3. I see myself as thinner than I know I really am (in other words, I know I am fatter than I look to myself) but I am totally obsessed with my weight.

4. My (now former--sob--I loved him) doctor thinks I have suffered from severe depression on and off for years.

5. I never told my old shrink that my GP put me on antidepressants. How screwed up is that? I constantly wondered if she noticed the change in me, which, to my eyes and mind, was pretty remarkable.

6. I love dishes--you know, china. I spend way too much time and bandwidth contemplating new dinnerware.

7. My first non-fish pet was a black and white Dutch rabbit named Scrambley.

Can you tell I was scraping there at the end? And I have surprised myself by getting all confessional, though unlike Mieke, I didn't reveal secret past career ambitions (electron microscope-using scientist) or details of my deflowering (not that interesting, nor traumatic.)

Ok, Alyssa, Alto, Tart, Kel, ummmm....Quinn, Fussy, ok, I'm really scraping here, not that I don't want to tag these illustrious women of the blogs, but rather that I feel particularly unworthy and really, that I am imposing upon them. Is that just WASPy weirdness emerging? Perhaps.


Looking for Mrs. Goodpark

Or, Bookstores are the New Bars

After picking Dido up at school today (have I mentioned that, since leaving the driving capital of the universe, I now drive two and a half hours per day, minimum?) and stopping for the requisite afterschool bribe snack of ice cream (chocolate cherry, an adventurous choice for two children under six, I thought, and delicious, I can assure, since I had to "help" them keep their cones from detonating all over the store like some Willie Wonka-invented IED) we made a quick trip to the post office (to pick up our mail) and then I gave in to the Babe's entreaties to take them both to the park. The weather was glorious today--the best kind of spring sun and breeze combo--and our little town park was as full as I've ever seen it with kids. The local pre-ballet class had just finished at the arts complex next door, and the place was crawling with girls in leotards and their (non-tutu'd) brothers. My companion-starved kids were in heaven.

I stood there like the fat girl waiting to be picked last for kickball, trying to look completely unphased as all around me, moms stood in tight, chatting groups. No one gawked or pointed, mind you (unlike when I actually was the girl picked last--never mind that I'm fatter now than I thought I was then.) Finally, the Babe took the fall for me. The park has one of those old fashioned merry-go-rounds--the kind you run around to spin and then leap on. I remember loving them as a kid, and at least in L.A., you never see them anymore. No doubt too many potential head injury lawsuits. I've seen three of them so far here--you go, brave and stoic parents, children and parks departments of the northeast. Dido loves these things--running, jumping, dizzyness, all in one activity. He was pushing a bunch of the post-dance class girls, and the Babe wanted in on the fun. For a while, she was content to sit on top of the wheel, but then she wanted to push with her brother and another big girl. She ran as fast as she could, but the momentum of the wheel knocked her down on her face. She was dusty and surprised, but, in her typical fashion, after two dismayed yelps, she was done with crying. Seeing my kid faceplant finally softened up a few of the other moms. In the way of all moms on all playgrounds, they offered consoling color commentary on the Babe's performance: "That was more of a roll than a fall. Nothing really hit the ground" and so on. Her biting the dust, so to speak, broke the ice for us all.

Woe to the even half-normal, half-interesting-seeming person who throws me a conversational bone these days--I am become a regular chatterbox, with so much nothing to say that I might as well be a Fox News commentator. And like my kids, I'm so anxious to feel I belong here that I will pretty much grab onto any sociable life raft. Lucky for me, the friendly woman wasn't just half-interesting, she was totally interesting, smart, cool, someone I'd really want to have as my friend, if first impressions are worth anything at all. Twenty minutes later, I had the lowdown on local summer camps (free--yes, you read that correctly, FREE to kids in our town, paid for by the town), schools public and private, and a slightly clearer picture of the social hierarchy of my low key, friendly but still small town. When this gang mentioned a first name, if I had met someone in town with that first name, chances are, it was the same Sarah or Beth or Joan. Ok, it happened twice, not three times, but still. This either means I'll find myself in a lovely, tight-knit community, or some twenty-first century Peyton Place.