Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's just sitting there in the middle of the kitchen

I've been avoiding the room entirely. Every time I peek in there, it remains, immovable. Why won't it just disappear the way so many giant southern roaches have in past? Where do they go? Can't they take it with them? Earlier I stood right in front of it, staring at it, sipping my coffee. It just sat there. I understand Alice's inability to resist, but the cake she found that said "eat me" only made her smaller. This cake promises to do the opposite. This is more of an explode out of the house with giantness cake. I regret having promised Steve & Joy there'd be birthday cake left when they came over tonight (at this rate, there might not). I regret not insisting Jeremiah take it with him to work. It won't shut up. It wants me to eat it for breakfast. I should've just worked from the office today. Going to be a long one...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

It's been a good weekend for photos

The girls made friends with a puppy named Porkchop.

Check out this cute sundress I got at my favorite consignment shop for $8! I don't know what's going on in this photo, but I love this dress.Snugglin' with my babies on some mighty damp grass.

Action Kate.We will bury you!

Duck feeding time.How's my hair?

Jeremiah's birthday!

Happy birthday, love of my life! Hope you enjoy your full day BBQ class in August.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Operation

There are a lot of things Kate is unwilling to do, like use the potty at home or let us rinse the shampoo out of her hair, but she refuses nothing so violently, so successfully, as having her toenails clipped. Even with both Jeremiah and I holding her down, she often thwarts our attempts. Now that it's sandal-wearing season it's apparent that this is a battle we had to win.

Her big toes had nails of treacherous proportions, while the nails on her pinkie toes (the ones that go wee wee wee wee wee all the way home on a regular basis) were these weird, thick, creepy triangles. Now, usually if I'm noticing toenails it's because they're especially pretty. Like Rachell's, which, I noticed yesterday while we were having lunch together, are not only airbrushed but also had a tiny, sparkly jewel inserted in their design. It's cool-looking and, in my opinion, about the amount of space airbrushing should occupy at any given time. So for me to declare that the third toe on Kate's right foot, with the nail that had literally grown around the tip of the digit and turned black (what is that? Dirt? The uneasy shade of death?) was the most disgusting toenail I'd ever seen isn't really saying all that much. Well, except that once, when I was in college, I developed an ingrown toenail that became so horribly infected, despite my best efforts to nurse it back to health, that it had to be surgically removed or I might die (guess who told me that). THAT was disgusting...possibly more disgusting than this toenail of Kate's but time and experience have distanced me from it so much that I'm sticking with my assessment of this black, hard ,animal-looking thing on my kid.

Last night I put the kids to bed after reading several stories and providing multiple kisses and hugs. Then...I waited. Jeremiah and I ate dinner and watched a couple episodes of Good Eats, to which we are addicted. Then, I sneaked upstairs and peered in at my unsuspecting victim. She lay spread-eagle on her bed, pacifier suspended by a tiny bond of warm plastic to lip-skin, breathing through her mouth. She was out. I crept over to the closet where we store our camping gear and dug out my why-am-I-always-setting-up-camp-after-dark headlamp. I grabbed the baby nail clippers. I eased down onto Kate's bed. I set to work. Even in her sleep, Kate wiggles a lot when having her toenails clipped. I got the huge big toenails. I managed the weird triangles on the little toes. I got everything to my satisfaction, in fact, except that awful black thing. The baby toenail clipper wasn't cutting it. I kept having to reposition myself to get a good angle, but it was a no-go. And the battery in my headlamp was dying and causing my surgical light to wane. For this, I was going to have to get serious, and fast.

I tip-toed downstairs, headlamp still blazing, look of intent fixed on my face. As I opened the hall closet in search of the cuticle trimmers, Jeremiah stood in the bathroom with the door open, brushing his teeth. He looked at me, still brushing. I looked at him, still intent. He blinked, said nothing. I dashed back up the stairs. Then I quietly lowered myself to horrifically disgusting toe-level. I waited a moment while the subject repositioned herself, holding my breath. And then, in the split second that presented itself, I swooped in! haHA! Success! I turned the headlamp off. Brushed tiny little toenails into the cup of my hand for disposal and crept silently out of the room. See you next week, sleeping beauty!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


"I've left an embarrassing amount of clothing for your children at your house" Joy said when she reached me on my cell phone while we were at the park this evening. Her timing was pretty good, actually. Kate was undergoing her nightly metamorphosis from sweet angel to gremlin and we were feeling somewhat pressured to remove her from the public eye. The promise of new clothes would surely excite her into getting into the stroller.

The mention of clothing didn't really do it, but when the topic of new shoes was brought up she was inspired. Not before rolling all over the ground and actually dumping handfuls of mulch on her own head. She stinks. We spent so much time at the park, though, there wasn't time for a bath before bed. Don't look at me like that. Have you tried to bathe over-tired Kate? Yeah, well, give it a whirl and get back to me on the whole "oh, how long does a bath really take" business.

We got home and saw that Joy's assessment of the quantity of clothing had been fairly accurate. Kate was beside herself with excitement. Sarah was more interested in the tasty tags than the clothes themselves. Kate was pulling items out of the bag one by one. "This is for you, Sarah" she'd say, plunking a diminutive item down before her sister. "And this is for Kate!" Like Bob Dole, Kate often refers to herself in the third person. Joy took my mention of Kate's need for sundresses to heart. She got her three and an adorable purple skirt. As she pulled a dress from the bag, Kate would hold it up in front of her and then twirl around the kitchen with it.

Before heading upstairs, she insisted on putting everything back into the bag. She handed the over-stuffed bag over to Jeremiah, demanding that he close it. We're working on asking politely. There's been some backsliding on her part lately. Anyway, we got upstairs and Kate dumped the contents of the bag on the bedroom floor, again dancing with her new dresses. I was distracted, trying to keep Sarah from eating all the tags. What is it with that kid and eating paper? What part of "Sarah, honey, humans cannot digest cellulose" doesn't she understand?

After placing each item, one at a time, even the shoes, in the laundry basket that just happened to be sitting in the hallway, Kate came prancing up to me with the final dress. She held it up to her chest, beaming. "I'm going to wear it!" she stated (we'd gone over the bit about my washing everything before she can wear any of it, hence the laundry basket deposits, I knew she meant she planned to wear it tomorrow.) "I'm going to wear it..." she said again "...I'm going to dress up like a woman!"

I was a little taken aback. Where did she hear that? I made a mental note to delicately broach the topic with her father...I assume she heard it from him while I was out on one of my longer training walks. At any rate, thanks, Joy, for all the beautiful clothes for Kate and Sarah. They'll be looking stunning this summer!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I left my energy on the Perimeter

I realized it was nearly 10 after 4 and began to panic, hastily shutting the works at my desk down and running to the bathroom one last time (no telling when I'd have that chance again.) Merging onto the giant, ever-harrowing city bypass we call The Perimeter, I nearly collided with a fellow commuter who just happened to be in the blind spot I didn't know I had. "Sorry sorry sorry!" I mouthed and pantomimed my most heartfelt apology in my rear view mirror. It was too late, though. My late exit and near-accident ruined my traffic instant karma and my 19 mile trip to fetch the children took me a full 90 minutes. 'Was there a 15-car pile up?' you ask. No. 'Construction?' No. Nothing like that. Don't you see? The Perimeter is a circle. When I caused that driver to slam on her brakes behind me I slowed the entire flow of traffic for the rest of the day. And possibly into tomorrow.

The slow ride home, surrounded not just by exhaust fumes but also by the hazy smoke from a long-burning forest fire in southeast Georgia that hung so heavily in the air in Atlanta today I had to cut my morning walk to a mere 1/2 mile jaunt, half of which was spent coughing and reaching involuntarily out in front of me for the door to my house, robbed me of every smidgen of energy I had left. When I reached daycare Kate and Sarah were both in fine spirits. They hugged me excitedly and chattered on to me, to each other, to anyone who would listen, about their day. I, meanwhile, struggled to keep my eyes open.

Why is it that a day of slothlike desk work, followed by a commute so long my butt hurts by the end of it will suck every last drop of energy out of my very soul but a day spent outside, walking around and playing or doing yardwork leaves me feeling like I could just keep going forever? (That's a rhetorical question, I understand the chemistry, please don't send me the answer, it's just weird is all.) More confusing, such an exhausting day of sedentary behavior will find me in bed at a decent hour, unable to turn off my brain and drift mercifully into restful sleep, but the energized me of the day spent moving will keep me lively for hours until my head hits the pillow...and then I am out, dreaming of firing the President.

Right now I can scarcely recall the whole hour and 1/2 I got to spend with my kids today. Somehow dinner was prepared and served, clothes were changed, stories read, hugs and kisses distributed...I'm sure of it. They're snoozing in their beds, cute little cherubs, as I write. This cannot be the way I spend their collective childhood. Before you know it, I'll be wearily calling them both Billy. "I'm Kate" Sarah will say (I can already tell she's going to be like that) and I'll say "whatever" and glaze over while they head out the door in my car. Ugh.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

To all you knitters out there...

What would I have to pay you to make me a tank top like this? I want one! I took this stalker-like photo while she was enjoying a pleasant morning with her cute son, feeding the ducks at the park and had no idea I was even standing behind her. I couldn't get a shot of the front without getting in the water. I thought that might not be very discreet.
Anyway, send me your bid! I love it! It doesn't have to be all those colors. I'd settle for a delicious shade of dark brown, or a pale, pale pink...or maybe both together...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday in the park

Stunning weather. Everyone was in good spirits this morning so we decided to head out to Piedmont park for the spring/summer farmers' market. Kate decided the occasion was formal and went for her little black dress. Sarah hung out in the backpack, taking it all in and making comments like "wow, I bet that would be fun if I were participating instead of stuck back here with a view of the back of daddy's head." You're never too young for stony-faced sarcasm in this family.

We filled up on samples. What a haul! There was one million types of local cheese, nearly all of which we agreed were fantastic, the best gingersnaps I've ever tasted, beautiful strawberries, coffee, some more cookies (Me: Kate, do you want to try the peanut butter or the chocolate? Kate: Yes.), I don't even remember what else. We picked up some pork taken from, so we were led to believe, the happiest pigs on the planet. We got some wonderful soaps despite the fact that I could make my own and we ran out of cash long before we bought all the other stuff we wanted to squirrel away and spend all of Sunday devouring. Probably a good thing.

Then, as promised, it was time to go see the ducks. Kate loves the ducks. She quacks at them. She gets so excited to see them her voice becomes high pitched and her rapid-fire conversation completely unintelligible. It's endearing. We became concerned about the happy pork not being refrigerated so we had to coax Kate away from the lake with promises of a walk to the square where we would play in the fountain and get ice cream. Which we did.

For the walk to the square, Lola joined us. She had a blast. For one thing, everyone that met her just went on and on about how gorgeous she is and Lola is extremely vain, so this pleased her no end. Also, despite our concerns that she would be afraid of the hissing sound the steamy fountain makes, she loved the fountain. And Kate was glad to have a fountain buddy on this outing.

Both girls were really ready for bed by the time we returned from all our adventures at 5:30.Kate laid, slack-jawed, on the couch, watching Bugs Bunny. When the time came to get her into bed she marched in singing "Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!..." to my delight and pride. All in all, I'd say, a beautiful day well spent. Now then, on to the pork.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The very next morning

Apparently, the girls are morning people. After an evening of monstrous behavior, they both woke up this morning in full on sweet mode. Giggling, playing and hugging each other...Sarah was even tickling me. She figured that out pretty quickly. Kate wanted to wear her favorite dress from last summer. I held my breath, worried it wouldn't fit anymore, but happily, it just barely does. "I have a pretty dress!" She told me "it's blue and has flowers! I look so pretty." She danced around the kitchen and sang like Cinderella. Then I taught her to curtsy, which she did, repeating "it's very nice to meet you" after me. This sort of thing is exactly how they trick you into keeping them.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I'm feeling fussy

Blogger just deleted all the content to the post I wrote and published. Just...took it all away. The moment has passed, I'm not going to write it again. I'm just going to sit here and fume about it.

Bathtime was rough this evening. There was screaming, squirming, tears and a lot of whining. Next time, I will not ask Jeremiah to help. HA! Little joke there. No, all that infernal racket came from our obnoxious children. Kate was the worst. She didn't want to sit on the potty, she wanted to get in the tub! Then she finally sat on the potty and didn't want to get up and get in the tub. Then she was in the tub but didn't want to be and so screamed unrelentingly things like "stop getting my hair wet!" and stomped around, refusing to sit down. I thought about just taking her out of the tub but then decided maybe it was possible to wash the bratty part of her down the drain. Then came all the screaming about not wanting to put on a diaper. And not wanting the special anti-eczema body oil and then wanting the special anti-eczema oil. I struggled with Crazy while Jeremiah plopped Sarah down in her bed. She didn't want to stay there, though, and for story time had to be placed in bed with Kate and me. As you can see, I'm the only one anywhere close to sleep.

I finally just put Sarah back in her crib and left them both, wide awake and protesting, in their room alone. Eventually, they'll wear themselves out. "Scream all you want!" I told them "We're MILES away from where anyone can hear you!" That, of course, is a complete lie since the next door neighbors can hear us as though we're sitting in their living room. Sorry, guys! I'm going downstairs for a glass of wine and a fantasy about life when I had no children.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The glass doors, source of endless amusement

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down
(that's for you, Laura)

The Show

Last Thursday Joy, known in these parts as Aunt JoJo, took the day off and hung out with Kate. Sarah went to daycare because Joy doesn't love her as much. I kid! Sarah went to daycare because she's too young for ice cream and doesn't yet care about baseball. And that's what they did on Thursday. While Jeremiah and I toiled away in our respective salt mines, Kate frolicked at the square in Decatur and caught a Braves game. She has proven to us over and over that she knows all the words to Take Me Out to the Ball Game - even the "duh duh duh" we all add at the very end, so I guess Joy figured she was game worthy. She didn't make it to the 7th inning stretch, though. Apparently eating an entire foot long hotdog (the very first thing she told me about her day when I inquired) really took it out of her because Joy said two bites into the dippin' dots and she went into full on melt down. Then, after what must have been a really fun trip across the parking lot for Joy, she passed out.

Joy did hang out at our house for a bit with both girls, before delivering Sarah to daycare. She caught on camera Sarah's favorite pastime, trying to drown herself in the dog bowl. Apparently this life is not what she'd hoped for and Lola's water dish seems like the easiest out. My mom must've told her "you know, you can drown in a cup of coffee" too. Lacking access to the coffee, the dog bowl is probably at least as gross to an infant. By the way, in my current office situation I have tried several times to drown myself in my cup of coffee. It doesn't work. I can't fit my nose and my mouth in there at the same time. So, there, mom, see? You can't drown in a cup of coffee!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hallmark reports increase in profits, brunch sales up.

When people ask me about my mom I like to tell them about breakfast time. Mom was a nurse before she was a professional baker of cakes and loooong before she was the executive director of Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter. When I was just a wee thing in elementary school, mom worked on the medical floor of the hospital. Back then Woodstock, Virginia was still mostly a bedroom community – where people went to die. Frequently when we shuffled into the kitchen in the morning, still bleary-eyed from sleep, in search of the Frosted Flakes, mom would be there in her robe and slippers, sipping her coffee and reading the paper. Without looking up she’d say “Guess. Who. Died.” I learned quickly I was not expected to guess. She’d name some old person I’d never met. Then she’d do that little teeth-sucking noise and sigh and say “I’m so glad”. We knew she meant this person was some ancient patient at the hospital who had been suffering a great deal and she was relieved to know s/he had been freed from the pain of this mortal coil and was happy in heaven now. She never said that, though, and I suspect it was a bit disturbing to our friends who had slept over.

We kids all shared a bathroom so when mom wanted to make sure we were all informed of something, she’d leave us notes, sometimes on a large piece of poster board, on the bathroom mirror. The best note ever was the one she placed atop the beautifully clean and folded hand towels she’d put out for dinner guests we were entertaining that night. It said “touch these and I will kill you”. The note itself was unremarkable; she was always threatening to kill us. The thing that was so great about it was that she forgot to remove the note before our guests arrived. The towels remained untouched.

These are the types of things that I think of when I think of mom. Which is maybe a little strange because the specialized, surprise birthday cakes, kissed boo-boos, special Christmas gifts (like the year I got my cat, Holly), trips to the mall while singing to the soundtrack from The Music Man together, cookie baking, shrinky-dink making (back then, you had to use the oven in the kitchen, they didn’t come with their own little one), summer evenings on the front porch watching storms roll down the valley toward our house and sleep-over hosting almost certainly out number the death threats. Besides, a lot of the time she’d only threaten to break our arms.

Now I’m a mom, too. I’d always felt loved and included in my family, but it wasn’t until I first held my infant Kate that I realized how much my parents must love me. All at once I felt overwhelming guilt at having been such an asshole as a teenager and dread at the knowledge I held the seeds of just such an asshole in my arms…and I was already hooked. There is no way to return the favor my mom did me just by being my mom. The best I can do is try every day to be the kind of mom she's taught me to be. Already, I threaten to kill Kate & Sarah at least once a week. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, thanks!

Taking Suggestions

I am reading Lee Iaccoca's new book Where Have All the Leaders Gone? It's not a difficult read, in fact it's practically a pamphlet. Of course, were it not for a pamphlet we may have the Queen on our currency today. I've been having a hard time fitting reading into my kid-infested life lately and I really miss it. So I've set a goal. Inspired by Joy's goal to read a biography of every American president in order, I've decided to spend the next 12 months reading books penned by the world's greatest leaders (but in no particular order and they don't have to have been president...really, it's nothing like what Joy's been doing except that I'm picking a theme.)

There was a time when I read about 100 books a year but that is an era I now think of as my bygone Subway Days. Sadly, I think it's ambitious of me to select even 24 books for a one year period right now, but that's just what I'll do anyway. So then. Which books? I need suggestions. Serious ones smarty pants(es). My only rules are that the books must be written by (as least ostensibly) the leader him or herself - no biographies, please. And I while I will read the works of people who, on principle, I think I generally disagree with, I will not read anything by any pundits. I want real leaders. From all walks of life - Gandhi, Betty Friedan, Warren Buffet and Abraham Lincoln - for example. Oh, and I don't want people who've proven themselves to be leaders, but for evil. In other words, no Mein Kampf. I'll save that for when I've chosen a theme of Crazy People That Got Published. That, of course, will have to wait until I'm back up to speed on my reading.

Got any suggestions?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pigtail generations

Here's Kate, nearly 3 in pigtails, in the chair that was made for me by my grandfather. Below her is me, already 3 in pigtails, sitting in the chair that belonged to my mother when she was little. As you can see, the world was a much darker place in the 70s. In fact, there is no picture of my own mother in pigtails in her mother's chair because back then, there was no light at all. OK, I made that up. Mom, I've seen a picture of you in pigtails somewhere, feel free to scan it and send it!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tropical Commute

Props to mi hermano, Keith, for sending me Kirsty MacColl's Tropical Brainstorm some time ago. It's difficult not to sing along and on more than one occasion I believe she's saved me from injury or prison by making me too happy in my car to get out and kill the jackass that's tailgating me on 285.

This morning I woke up all crusty with allergies. The guy making my latte (we ran out of milk at the house) informed me that the trees are trying to kill us. He then went on to explain this is most likely because Atlanta has a disproportionate number of male trees and the lack of females creates, basically, a waste of tree sperm (my words). I knew this already but was pleased to have a barista who also knows about trees. Or would he be a baristo? At any rate, even if it is only self-defense, he's right, the trees are trying to kill us. So I feel dreadful (but not dead yet, you deciduous bastards!) and I'm grumpy about my job and the fact that I had to go to the office this morning instead of sneaking in a work-from-home day because I'm dumb and left my laptop on my docking station.

Knowing my state of mind, I popped ol' Kirsty into the CD player. For most of the commute I remained mute and glared at my fellow drivers through angry, puffy, slits of eyes. Coughing periodically. But it's irresistible and by the time she got to Us Amazonians I was unable to stop myself from belting it out along with her and arrived at the office still jaded, but much peppier.

Then I spilled latte on my favorite pants. She's powerful, but I can only expect so much from Kirsty.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hanging out with The Queen

Her Royal Majesty of England, former imperial taxin' without representin' overlords of our fine nation, Queen Elizabeth II, paid a visit to my home state, Virginia (one of the original colonies) last week. As I'm sure you know, the Jamestown settlement celebrates its 400th anniversary this year. This is a big deal. National Geographic even saw fit to celebrate it in this month's issue.

Jamestown is, of course, one of our greatest arguments for keeping out all those pesky foreigners that are clamouring for citizenship in our great land. The Jamestown immigrants showed up, stole the land, spread disease, marauded, grave-robbed and ultimately sent the natives packing. You simply can't trust them. But still, due to the anniversary, the Queen made a stop at near-by William & Mary and my own in-laws got to go see her! By my calculations, Chris & Sonya's distant view of Her Majesty is as close as I'll ever get actually being royalty.

The Queen came, stood up (I think she's standing, anyway) and waved. According to Sonya, she spoke not a word. All the hype and hubbub, and then not one word. Sonya reported this to me, and then, to my great amusement, called The Queen a whore. It's true you can't choose your family. But sometimes you get lucky.