Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sarah's birthday party

"I'm tired. Let's do something very low-key for Sarah's party, keep it really simple" I'd said. Jeremiah agreed. Summer is rough. So we decided we'd invite a few kids and fill up the pools and then just sit back and drink a few beers. A relaxing plan, in theory.

We ended up with, by my last count, 40 people at our house. We filled the pool Kate got for her first birthday and the pool Kate got from Cindy and Jessica at her last birthday. We made snacks. We ordered pizza. We had enough beer for a 4-hour party instead of 2 hours. I made a Dora cake that seemed to get as out of hand as the gathering. We had a blast. I'm still tired.

I've got some 30 or so photos on a flickr set to share here but it's been so long since I've used flickr I've forgotten how to link it. While I re-figure-that-out, here's a couple to give you a flavor of the day.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Three years ago today I failed to give birth. I tried very hard to will the fetus who we now call Sarah out of the womb in time to share a birthday with my Dad. Sometimes it's hard to get Sarah motivated; I am perpetually late since conceiving her. So, Dad, I am sorry. Regardless, happy birthday!!! At least now you don't have to share your birthday with someone so impossibly cute.

On to Sarah. She made it out the next day. You can see the details here, should you be feeling nostalgic. Tomorrow I will spend the day preparing for her party that I decided would be very low-key before inviting every one of her classmates in addition to the Third Ave crew. So today, I thought I'd take a moment to document some interesting facts about the almost exactly 3-year-old Sarah. When she finds the cure for cancer, journalists will want to know this stuff.

Sarah enjoys some foods I find surprising for a child her age. These delectables include but are not limited to - blackberries, olives, blue cheese, yogurt lasses and chai lattes. She also loves typical kid-food, mac and cheese being at the top of the list. Annie's makes a good one. Sometimes when Sarah discovers I'm making macaroni and cheese she squeals, does a little Snoopy dance and embraces my leg with uncanny strength, kissing my thigh.

Sarah is very concerned about the injured and is always at the ready with a kiss for any boo-boo she spots.

She loves the pea gravel walkway we're building out back. Most of the pathway is made of mulch (don't walk in that barefoot) but I made a small portion pea gravel and will slowly change the rest. She sits and lays down in the gravel. She makes pea gravel angles.

Come to think of it, she loves rocks in general. I always find very small rocks tucked away in pockets, bags, the car, furniture and once in the refrigerator.

Not a princess like her sister, Sarah still loves the creepy-computer animated Barbie movies. She doesn't care about Barbie dolls. I finally realized she loves those movies as well as Annie, Mary Poppins and The Music Man because of the dancing. Sarah likes to dance along with the players in those shows. Sarah has the heart of a dancer.

For Christmas last year her Drueke grandparents got her a giant, flat lion. It's like a bear rug, kinda. She sleeps on that thing, eschewing her bed, nearly every night.

Sarah isn't quoted here as often as Kate is. It's not for lack of talking. The thing about Sarah is her hilarity is to be found in her expressions, tone and body language. She frequently has us in stitches but I'm not a capable enough writer to relay it in words.

Sarah's a rocker and loves the White Stripes and the April May song (English and French versions) from the Deathproof soundtrack. She sings like a bird, too. You should hear her do You Are My Sunshine.

Sarah's super sweet and is full of hugs and kisses. She still likes to be rocked before bed. When we rock before bed, she wants Kate to sing Rock-a-bye Baby.

Sarah has mastered the art of snapping and does it frequently. She's pretty good at it. She snaps while Kate whistles.

Sarah has learned how to dress herself and is very nearly swimming on her own. The amount of time she'll spend completely submerged for showing-off's sake is slightly alarming to me. She will no longer use the little Dora toilet seat topper we have for small bottoms. She is hurtling towards autonomy which is handy considering how neglectful I tend to be.

She's a real lover of cats and dogs alike, but seems to lean toward dogs if forced to choose a favorite. I think she would like to be a dog. I still sometimes catch her eating the dog food nuggets.

I have never met anyone who hates loud noises more than Sarah. She thinks the sound of public toilets flushing is much too loud. She will leave the kitchen when I turn on the blender. Ssshhhh!

When I drop Sarah off at daycare in the morning all the kids yell "Drueke!" like she's Norm entering Cheers. Everyone at daycare including the other kids' parents and the teachers and staff call Sarah "Sarah-bo-bera", when they're not calling her Drueke.

When Sarah threw out her last pacifier it was by mistake. We had somehow given her the impression (probably by saying it over and over) that once she turned 3 she would no longer be able to have a paci. That night when we told her we couldn't find the paci she sat in my lap weeping and saying "But I'm not 3! I'm not 3!"

Tomorrow she will be three, just one day late. The past 3 years have been doubly wonderful since Sarah made the scene.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


On August 10th, roughly 2 and 1/2 weeks from today, Kate will enter kindergarten. For some reason, when I say this my own life passes before my eyes. My kindergarten teacher collected pigs. She taught us how to sing in a round and that's the year I learned Let's Go Fly a Kite. Patrick Shoemaker had the chicken pox and the measles simultaneously. I fell in love with school supplies (an enduring affection whose tenure exceeds most of my loves). Then I see every other grade whirring past. So. Fast.

Although Kate's journey began 5 years ago, there's something official about kindergarten that makes parents all weepy. To my chagrin, I'm no exception. This is probably because I hate homework and when I left grad school I thought I'd finally freed myself of that scourge and now I'll have to deal with it all over again. Twice. Also maybe because the whole thing is a reminder of our mortality and how sweet yet fleeting life really is. Mostly I think it's the homework.

So anyway, Kate will attend Drew Charter School. I thought the school might be with-it enough to have a Facebook group, thus allowing me to keep up with all its news while slacking at the office, but it doesn't. There is a surprising number of people named Drew Charter, though. We enter Drew with some trepidation. While it fairs well in most standards of measurement, Drew is too far for the kids to walk and requires the crossing of Memorial Avenue (very busy) without a crossing guard so bikes are out too, which makes me a little sad. Also, Drew's student population is 98% black. Frankly, that's a little off-putting. It is by no means diverse and who wants their kid to be in a minority so extreme? I worry that she will be ostracized for being different and while I'm sure she'll ultimately be fine, I dread those tearful days. I figure no matter where she goes to school there will be plenty of socially awkward days to endure, regardless of the racial/socioeconomic/family-structure/etc make-up of the student body, so it's worth a shot here, anyway.

On the up-side, the school has just hired a new principal. He has 40 years of educational experience and his previous role was as the executive director of Outward Bound Atlanta. This background instills me with hope. I found this article when I Googled him. So we'll see. It should be interesting to see how the princess deals with having to wear a uniform to school. Fingers crossed, chins up...and away we go.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Another spectacular morning! I would like to note here, for posterity, that since Friday evening, we have had the air conditioning off in our house, windows open. The weather has been astonishingly glorious. This morning we headed out around 7:30, on wheels, to the coffee shop. Once we made it there it was decided we should then hit McKoy park, for its superior swings selection.

I noticed when the girls ran down the big hill to the swing set whose swings are closer to the ground and subsequently easier to mount, that someone in the vicinity seemed to have lit a grill. It smelled like a campfire. I thought that if anyone was firing up a grill at that hour, only BBQ (real BBQ, not the thing my northern kinfolk term all cooking outdoors, but the slow-cooked food that is specifically BBQ) could be the result.

Shortly after I made note of the delightful smell the other mama at the park at that early hour said to me "hey, is that trashcan on fire?" It was indeed engulfed in flames. We had just walked away from it not 45 seconds ago. Black smoked billowed from it. She and I stood staring in some disbelief. Then she flipped open her phone and dialed 9-1-1. I called to the lone guy riding his mountain bike in the skate park. "Hey! Fire!" I said. "I was just noticing that, thanks!" he called back, making haste, along with us, away from the trashcan. The fire had caught the surrounding pinestraw and was working its way up the pine tree immediately behind it. Good heavens.

We heard the sirens and wondered why it was taking the fire department so long to arrive at a burn site approximately 1/4 of a mile from the nearest station. But arrive they did. Sarah was terrified of the noisy truck. We watched as the police arrived and visibly swore in the car while slowly pulling past us gawking on-lookers. It really was a big fire. The fire truck arrived and our heroes went to work, quickly putting out the flame. The initial giant poof of smoke dissipated quickly and then we all inched closer, because that's what humans do, and clapped. Then we watched as the firefighters put their hose away and climbed out of the heavy gear. Kate thanked them and we headed home. The trucked passed us and all the firefighters waved. I thought of Sesame Street, as I so often do - "a fireman is a person in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood in your neeeeiiighboooorhood..."

phone pictures MMS'd to me then emailed from there, what can I tell you? Not the best quality.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More cake!

"You remember Glynnis" I said to a disappointed Kate, who had just learned the cake I was making was not for her "she gave you that big box of paper to shred when you visited my office." Her eyes ignited with the glow of fond recognition. "That was a lot of paper!" I paused for a quick moment to reflect on the charming weirdness of her love of paper shredding. "Yeah, well, it's her birthday."

I had decided to make an ice cream cake. At first I was thinking I'd just do cake and ice cream, because I did know that strawberry is Glynnis's favorite flavor. But then I thought it would be fun to the put it all together. Not only have I never made an ice cream cake, I've never liked ice cream cake. I'm not sure what came over me, really. Still, it was a fun experiment. I'd looked for some sort of write-up on the topic of ice cream cake-making. The instructions I liked best were only sort of what I planned to do. For one thing, they recommended using store-bought ice cream, which I thought was the very height of laziness since homemade ice cream is easier to make than most things I slap between layers of cake and tastes infinitely better.

Here is what I realized entirely too late - homemade ice cream lacks the added ingredients that cause the dairy confection to freeze so thoroughly you may have to leave it sitting on the counter for 20 minutes just to be able to scoop it out. Indeed, homemade ice cream wants nothing more than to melt at the mere mention of exiting the freezer. As I iced my creation, it seemed to be sweating. Pink sweat. I was forced to admit that store-bought ice cream has its merits.

So here it is - you'll notice there's little fanfare but that, of course, is due to the finite time alotted for the decorating process. The end-result was met with happy forks. To my surprise, Glynnis had been wanting an ice cream cake since she saw her sister's earlier this year. Guess I just caught that vibe.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Haiku For You

Wit's End on the Edge of a Third Birthday
Violent mood swings; fits.
Anyone who fears the Twos
has not seen the Threes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Growth Spurt

We went into the weekend with one kid largely afraid of the pool and only willing to ride her new bike on the tiny back patio and another kid who just wouldn't give up her pacifier.

Saturday morning I woke up before the kids. Already, everything was different. As I sat in bed lavishing affection on the cuddle-master Rex, I heard the thump-thump-thump of tiny feet (that "pitter-patter" stuff is pure nonsense, as soon as they learn to walk they sound like a herd of elephants). The girls came running into the bedroom, ready for the day. On that mid-July, Atlanta morning, we had all the windows open and it was positively perfect outside. "Kate and Sarah, get dressed, we're going to get Kate riding that bike of hers." Then...they did get dressed. AND I was able to convince Kate to wear shorts and tennis shoes.

I told Kate and Sarah that if they rode their respective cycles all the way (.03 of mile) to the coffee shop they could get their own chai lattes (sort of their own, we split one into two cups). Kate hopped on her bike and tamed it immediately. Training wheels are great! I explained to her that my first bike didn't have training wheels, that my dad held onto the seat and ran along behind me promising not to let go and then let go. "That's how I learned to ride a bike, Kate. Through lies and trickery." She asked me "what if I fall off?" and I said "You will definitely fall off, probably a lot. I know I did, but my mom was at the ready with a warm washcloth, soap and water and plenty of bandaids and I will do the same for you." Usually a statement like that only makes her more worried, but she actually seemed happy with my response. Who IS this kid?

Furthermore, Sarah peddled her tricycle nearly the entire way. We have one of those awesome tricycles with the long handle in the back so when she got distracted we could just push. So the girls received their promised tea and then they peddled all the way home. And at 9AM it was still breezy and comfortable outside.

At some point in the morning Sarah informed me she'd thrown out her paci. She says this a lot. In fact, she does it a lot. Usually we retrieve it because we know how it's going to play out later. I was busy, though, and just congratulated her for being a big girl and forgot about it.

That afternoon, Kate also rode her bike to the pool. Sarah insisted on "riding" her tricycle but she's only got about one ride in her a day, we quickly learned, and Jeremiah ended up pushing her most of the way there. When we hit the pool, Sarah was all about showing us how long she can stay under water. It's a long time. She scares me. I kept my eyes trained her and thought "Kate wouldn't even attempt anything like that so I don't have to worry about her." As if on cue, Kate just started sticking her entire head under the water. Then, when I explained how she should make hands into "cups" and use them to pull herself through the water...she did it. She likes to keep a noodle under her while she does it but that kid was swimming. Then she started jumping off the side into the water, something we were never able to convince her to do before. It was like watching a switch get thrown.

When the busy, beautiful day was behind us and we were tucking two very tired girls into bed, Sarah realized her pacifier was gone. She wept and screamed. She has a way of melting down that would convince any uninitiated soul that she dying. Jeremiah actually dug through the kitchen trash in search of the beloved item. This is more about us, really. No one wants to endure this kind of screaming. He couldn't find it anywhere. I held her on my lap and rocked her for awhile (this is my solution to nearly everything right now because I really don't know how much longer I'll be able to do that). Finally, when she was so tired she was woozy, I laid her down. She went to sleep. Then she went to sleep without it again last night.

They were no longer little girls. They were little women.

OK, that's pushing it but I like to say that and think of Mo choking up while reading Little Women to Maggie in that episode of the Simpsons when he becomes her nanny.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Like Michael Phelps Without So Much Pot Smoking

We've had more than a little trouble convincing Kate that she must learn to swim. We've taken every angle we could conceive from "it is required" to all manner of things to make it seem more fun. Much like Edie Brickell, young Kate prefers the shallow water. This summer we signed her up for swimming lessons during the school day, with her classmates. She took them last year without much ado but we didn't see a lot of headway being made. Today was the 4th of an 8 week class. Today was the first class she attended.

True to form last night she began feigning illness the moment she was reminded the swimming lessons were coming up. This week, though, we really pulled out all the stops. Joy decided she would pick the girls up from daycare a little early on Friday, like she often does, to go do something fun. However, if Kate didn't go to swimming lessons and participate, Aunt Jo Jo would only pick up Sarah and leave Kate alone at daycare. (cue movie Dread music - dundunDUN!) Today after Jeremiah dropped the girls off at daycare, we all held our breath and crossed our fingers. This is one of those punishments on which no one really wants to follow through.

I entered the daycare center this afternoon with some trepidation. Sarah's class room is directly across from the front door and it's extremely difficult to avoid being seen by her as soon as I walk in, so I picked her up first. Besides, it's awfully cute the way she jumps up and down yelling "my mommy is here! My mommy is here!" until I get into the classroom. She always looks like she's going to faint.

We headed down the hallway discussing the events of Sarah's day. Then we walked into Kate's room. Before I was even all way the through the door a frenetic, chattering Kate careened across the room. "Mommy I went to swim class!!!" then she told me every single thing that happened in her class. I finally let out my breath and lifted her up and gave her a great big hug. She was so full of herself she was extra heavy. We grabbed her bag of swim gear "You hold it mommy, it smells like chlorine" and headed to the car. "I went swimming mommy and I didn't even lie about it and Aunt Jo Jo can be proud of me now! And I won't be sad tomorrow when she comes because she'll pick me up too!"

When we got in the car, I dialed Aunt Jo Jo and handed the phone to Kate. She breathlessly described her lesson again over the phone. Hearing Kate say "I went swimming! I put my head in the water!" Sarah exclaimed "you did? Did you kick your feet and use your hands?" Kate's little sister, you see, is already an accomplished swimmer. Not yet so accomplished at sarcasm, Sarah sounded genuinely excited for Kate.

As I listened to Kate describe her big day to Joy, a feeling of overwhelming pride swept over me and I thought for just a moment my heart might burst. Given how thrilled I was about her deed, I think it's a good thing so many recipients of Nobel prizes are in the winter of their lives, when their parents must already be free of this mortal coil, because I really don't know what the pride of an accomplishment so much greater than attending a single swim class might do to a person.

Princess Stinkyfeet reenacts her bravery at the pool's edge.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Cuter than Barbara Eden!

Aunt Jo Jo made both girls "Jasmine" outfits per their request. Kate selected her material for the item. It reminded me of being in 3rd grade and playing dress-up at Lelia Miller's house. She had a wonderful trunk full of dress up clothes and we used to get all gorgeous and dance around to Olivia Newton John's Physical LP. We always fought over the one Jeannie outfit in the trunk. These little numbers are much, much fancier than the one Lelia and I were doing Rock, Paper, Scissors for, I must say.

Sarah tried hers on, did a little dance for me (the camera loves her, darling) and then immediately requested that it be removed because she didn't like the way it felt. I'm hoping she'll come around because it's insanely cute.

The color is off in these shots. Kate's is actually a deep, royal purple, like Jasmine's top. She's shown above in full Aunt regalia. The outfit from Aunt Jo Jo the shoes from Aunt So-So. Currently my main hope is that the outfit doesn't get worn to the point of stinking as much as the shoes. You could win a war with scent wafting off those feet when she takes her polka dot shoes off.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Eating, Drinking, Slip n Sliding...All While Independent From England

Rusty and Jennifer had a 4th of July gathering that had everything. They grilled delicious food. We drank fantastic beverages and the adults showed the children exactly how the Slip n' Slide was intended for use. We played croquet, even flaming croquet as the night wore on. Sarah got to hang out with her first crush, Bob and consume her own body weight in cherries. Both girls, up way past their bedtime, enjoyed playing with sparklers. I was surprised Fire Marshall Kate would have anything to do with them, but she was very brave. Big night. Here are some photos I stole from Rusty because we forgot to bring our camera.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

July Ennui

This is the third year I've noticed it so I feel safe calling it a trend. July brings with it the doldrums. Mostly I notice it with my unsuspecting job, as it sits quietly doing its thing, thinking we're the best of friends, I begin to feel enraged by its very breathing and I feel annoyed by its hair-do. I recognize that it's not my job, it's me, that's damaging our otherwise happy relationship. I pull into the parking lot at work in the morning and growl, inexplicably angered just by being there. I can't explain it, but everything is wrong with work. I quietly calculate my expenses, mentally eliminating pretty much everything but utilities and food, attempting to see if I could just quit and spend my days doing...whatever it is I would do. I cannot. I don't really want to. It's July.

We are only 5 days into the month but my mood is fully teenagerish in its silent pout. Now is the time, the real me tries to call out, to reassess things, put them in order and set new goals (chirp chirp chirp!). The real me knows I enjoy making lists and creating new plans. She is screaming through the pillow that July me is holding over her face. The real me is trying to find a moment away from everyone and everything to sit in silence and get her sanity back. July me is over-scheduling her so she can't swing it. July me is a total jerk and the real me is beginning to switch from trying to make things light and fun to instead trying to kill July me. I wonder if this is just the sort of thing that makes July so hot.