Thursday, January 31, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Yes! I have to tell a story in which there's an interesting character AND something happens. The hallmark of my writing is that it's really about NOTHING. Why does something have to happen? All the good stuff just appears during your wait to check out at the grocery store. Why does there have to be "potential for change," as my teacher says?
So of course this is helping ... sitting here posting this nonsense instead of doing my homework, which has something to do with answering 34 questions about my protagonist (one of which is "What is her astrological sign?"). I'm not sure this is for me. Up to now I feel that I've been perfectly happy with a protagonist whom I created literally, and who, by the way, is a Virgo. And though there have been many times when I have wanted to control what happened to him or what he said or how he acted, it's mostly been out of my control. So I guess I should feel better about the fact that whoever I write about isn't likely to talk back to me unless I allow it. Hmmm ... this is sounding better.
And also I'm sitting here eating Pretzel goldfish, which are not on the diet plan I've been following from the January issue of Shape magazine.
I celebrated my 31st this week, and that consisted of the following:
1. Being allowed to sleep until 7:30 a.m. I could still hear faint squabbling about wearing short sleeve shirts vs. long sleeve, but still.
2. Being made oatmeal with flax seed, blueberries, and bananas with fresh squeezed juice.
3. Being taken out to eat Vietnamese food (not likely to become a tradition, btw).
4. Being enraged by various idiotic student email messages.
5. Beign fed home-made beef stroganoff and sharing a carrot cake muffin with my roommates and our across the street neighbors, Bob & Betty.
Hey! Maybe Bob & Betty can be my characters ... they're interesting, and a lot of things "happen" to them ... they go to Cracker Barrell several times a week, Bob goes bowling, Betty walks loops at the church. Betty even told me a funny story (over cupcakes) about how Bob "used to have a thing about buying coolers, but now he just buys coffee makers. Because you never know when you're gonna need a coffee maker. Especially on vacation," she says.
Anyway ... it was a nice birthday.
The highlight of the Goose's week was the weekly tradition of taking the city bus downtown to Starbuck's and the library. And this week no hot chocolate was spilled! That's major. Up to now it has been very much a part of the tradition to spill the hot chocolate and not to have any extra clothes to change into. This week the trip also involved a high five with the bus driver, which was a big hit.
Also this week we bought a second car, which is not red, not that it matters. Later in the week (after I whip out a short story), I'll be sure to post picures of the birthday party with Bob & Betty (originally invited over as "backup singers" -- Brian's cute idea) and, hopefully, the new wheels.
Please send ideas for stories ...
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The Word of the Week is "Actually." Even Miss Ashley at his school is now "Miss Actually."
So here's something he actually wrote ...
His Magnum Opus ... dictated from his location atop The Big Bed this evening while flipping through the pages of some old board book about barn life by Margaret Wise Brown:
"One day there were some flowers ...
And two horses.
But somebody was hungry.
And then they flied.
Hay is for horses.
Can you read me a story?"
There are other stories of course ... but I fail to mention them usually because I am so caught up in writing about myself. Who, by the way, is doing just fine, thank you for asking. Usually his stories involve The Zoo Crew (remember them? Gordon the Gorilla and Morton the Mouse ... Super Fix-It Heroes who drive the big white work truck with the big silver tool box on the back? And sometimes a flatbed trailer?). Yes, of course you remember them. They're the ones who shop at Lowe's Depot.
Well, let's see ...
There is big news:
An unknown four-year-old was discovered living just one house down ON. THE. SAME. SIDE. OF. THE. STREET. Last night there was a playdate (while I was at Hot Yoga -- more on that later -- and we suspect Dr. Pepper was involved since he didn't go to sleep until after 10 p.m.). Surely they did not give him caffeine-laced soda! It might as well have been arsenic!
We asked him what he drank, and his only reply was, "Black juice." Fishy ...
So, I'm well on my way to dropping my newly gained 10 pounds, cute as they may be poking out through the pockets on all of my work pants. Last night I began my Hot Yoga class and, despite coming so close to death that I "saw the light," I feel that it was mostly a good experience. You know, in an even-though-I-nearly-died sort of way.
And for some reason no one thought it was funny when I -- after soaking through two entire monogrammed BKB towels -- yelled out, "Boy is it hot in here!" I thought it was well timed, but apparently you're supposed to be quiet and suffer silently. And don't get too much sweat on the floor because it's a safety hazard. Um, excuse me, but doing 75 minutes of yoga in a sauna is, in and of itself, a safety hazard.
For those of you who don't know about hot yoga, here's the low down: Some guy named Bikram one time decided that it'd be a good idea to try to kill people while they got all relaxed and gumby-like while practicing yoga. So he developed this "routine" that you do in a room with about 40 other suicidal people and their heater friends. The room is usually around 100 degrees, but please do not try to exit the studio during a session. It might disturb the other practitioners. And do not dare call it "Bikram's Yoga" unless you have sent your teachers to India where there are "mosquitoes big enough to rape a chicken" (quote from my new favorite book: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert).
Really: Do Not Even Consider walking to the door in search of oxygen, because who wants to be disturbed while they sweat out enough toxins to kill a water buffalo? Not me! I loved all of it! Even the part where the disgusting, hairy man beside me farted out loud! Even when I nearly choked because sweat was running up through my nose and down into my windpipe!
Yes, even in the lowest moment, I was still myself: an adherent to All Rules Everywhere. And just when my water ran out, it was over.
I'm NEVER going back.
Except for next Tuesday.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Lately we've been alternately appalled and amused by various utterances; however, it seems that the truly funniest stories come from other people.
The Goose's teacher informed Brian of this incident yesterday:
Groggy and irritable from his too-short nap at school, The Goose was dragging his sheet and blanky back to his cubby when he stepped on another 3s mat (side note: in our house, we refer to school friends as "The threes" ... there are also some Twos and Fours, but they are often prohibited from various things during imaginary play -- as in, "Only 3s and 4s can play with my chainsaw. No Twos can play with it."). In response to the Mat Trespass, the Offended Three said, "HEY!"
To which our darling replied--you guessed it, "Hay is for horses."
Then the stinker walked over to the teacher and said, "Hey, Miss Callee Ann, do you see that over there? That word is F-R-I-E-N-D and it spells lawnmower."
And all of this was followed by a weekend of visiting with my dear college friend Jane, who drove up from Jackson to play in the yard, shop, and, apparently, be called names. During dinner one night, while Brian and I were having our own heated conversation (about the status of our teflon pots -- he claims that I scratch them with forks; I insist that this is hogwash intended to tarnish my status as Queen of the Kitchen. Incidentally, he also charges that they're carcinogenic, but I haven't investigated that yet.), John was having a conversation with Jane, completely unbeknownst to his enthusiastically argumentative parents.
After calmly waiting for our discussion to subside, Jane turned to me and said, "Your son just called me a lug wrench," politely wiped her mouth, and kept eating low-fat, delicious Cappellini Pomodoro and home-made (by Brian) whole-grain bread.
But of course we do hear some doozies ourself. Like tonight, over pizza, he looks at me and says, "Mom, be careful with that piece. It has vegetables on it."
Or how about while The Master was having his bath tonight ... made a huge mess ... then said, "Don't worry Mom, it's OK, you can clean it up now."
Could you ever believe that he could throw Get-Under-the-Futon Tantrums?
Ah, the threes.
And then there are the obsessions. Like the current one about porcupine fish. He got a subscription to Nat'l Geographic for Kids and the most recent edition has an "article" about "Scaredy Cats" (animals that get scared and do something weird -- when I was a kid we referred to this as "it's like when a lizard shows you his money"). The first creature shown in the spread is a porcupine fish which--as John could tell you--swallows water when it's scared and blows up like this:
When he first saw the pictures of the of the PF, he was quite concerned that "the big scary monster" was going to "eat the turtle." Really it was just two pictures of the same creature: The monster was the Scared PF and the "turtle" was the calm PF, or PFV as I like to call him (Porcupine Fish on Valium).
Here he is with his mag, which he "reads" each night religiously:
Here is his imitation of the fish swallowing water:
I fear this is a bit boring.
Because really, I must admit that tonight I am forcing myself to type this despite the fact that I still have 91 pages to go in order to finish my book club book for this month (Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert -- fabulous, btw).
But I do have to leave you with some pretty sweet post-bath shots that B took the other night:
I swear that thing in my hair is really cute when it's on right.
Every night after his bath he says, "Hode me Mama. I'm code."
And, of course, if I'm tode, I'm sode.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Friday, January 04, 2008
We came, we vomited, we conquered. That's what I have to say about the holidays of 2007.
And thank goodness we had grandparents around to nurse us all and prevent us from eating way-too-soon-after-you've-barfed Christmas Roast Beast.
Here's a shot of the cousins and an Uncle playing peek-a-boo outside Nanny & Grampy's kitchen window.
The really good pictures are en route from Milwaukee (my camera suffered some neglect due to my bedriddenness). You can see the few shots I did get below:
BJ & AA:
"My Bruce" -- as John says:
The Cousins get a story.
Yep. That's it.
It was a really bad SV/FP (stomach virus and/or food poisoning). If the Mamarazzi (as my loving husband refers to me) is not in full swing, then it's bad. Real bad.
Did I say it was a real bad bug?
Bad. There's been only one other time in my life that I have mis-used the irregular comparative adjective of "bad," and that was when I was in labor and the nurse came to get an update on my contractions. I said: "They're getting worser. Don't tell anybody I said that."
But y'all: That was the worsest bug I've ever had.
Thanks, Jane, for taking care of us and refusing to let us eat. Thanks, Bruce, for going to get Gatorade on Christmas morning. Thanks, Husband, for sharing the toilet with me. I feel like we've strengthened our better/worser bonds.
And thanks to you, reader, for just being YOU. Without YOU, this site wouldn't be possible. (Actually, it would, but who cares what's possible when you no longer have worsest ever stomach bug, right?)
Well. It came and went, and there was only one toy taken away indefinitely, one bout of food poisoning, and one M3 (Mama Mental Meltdown) on the 2,000-mile car trip.
What did I do on my Christmas vacation? Well, besides getting food poisoning/a stomach virus (FP/SV), I learned that three is, apparently, the new Terrible “T” age. Evidence?
Following are some Goosequotes from our 8-day trip to Tundraland (aka Wisconsin/Minnesota).
- “I’ll pick it up when I’m ready.”
- “I’m gonna chainsaw you.”
- “We don’t put boys and girls in time out. It makes them mad.”
- “Baby Jack needs to not touch my chainsaw.”
- “No. Because I’m the John-John.”
Now, some of those quotes need explanation. OK.
The first is a response to a “pick that up” request, obviously.
The second is a response to a desperate in-the-car-on-the-way-to-a-holiday-wedding plea for better behavior. He had gotten this mongo chainsaw from The Paternals, and we’d been giving him the whole “it’s a tool not a toy and we NEVER put it near people” schpeel. So I think he was just trying to test our limits with the chainsaw-use comment, and I am trying not to think about what he might say to taunt me if we ever allowed him to play with guns. Ugh. Parenting is so hard. (Note: I tried to find the exact correct spelling of "schpeel," and apparently there are several as a result of the translation from Yiddish.)
Quote #3 is a typical Goose commentary on the likely results of invoking the use of T.O. during a chainsaw play session. His parenting book is being considered for publication by Random House.
Fourth is the requisite mention of Cousin Jack, who incited much whining and territorialism but fought back well.
And finally … that last quote is priceless. You see, his strongwilledness has become so, um, strong of late that I have resorted to saying things like, “I’m the Mama; you’re the child. I’m in charge. You don’t get to put me in time out or give me orders.” It feels even lower than it sounds, trust me.
I always thought that people whose kids seemed to just be totally out of control were not using strong enough disciplinary procedures or were giving them too much sugar and not mandating essential sleeping routines. But my personal science project with the matter tells me that that theory was WRONG. (A) I am a nap Nazi; (B) y’all know I insist upon cooking delicious low-fat meals, and (C) I try to stay informed about all the best behavior modifiers. Oh but the best intentions are all in vain when it comes to this child. He turns everything around on me. Everything I have ever tried:
You give him options, he gives YOU options back, or – better yet – dictates that something isn’t the ONLY option.
You put him in time out; later, he attempts to put you in it.
You tell him to calm down; later, he tells you not to talk to him until you’re calm.
You use the whole “Because I’m the Mama” line on him, then he’ll use it right back … in just the right context with just the right tone at just the right time to cause you to explode.
I know it’s a phase, but I also know that people say it gets harder and “just wait until he’s a teenager” and blah blah blah. Some people gawk at what we “let him get away with” (they’ve forgotten that we must pick our battles). Others think we should overlook it (they clearly aren't Type A). More "others" say that he just needs a sibling. Sometimes I think he needs another word that starts with an “s” and ends in “ing” … but it’s not “sibling.”
Then again, if we don’t spare the rod, then he won’t either. Copycat that he is.
So that’s my current parenting crisis.
You don't believe any of this, do you? Well. Regardless, please don't share your well-intentioned advice; do feel free, however, to start a petition for our appearance on Supernanny. I’ve decided some situations just can’t be explained or fixed. They just have to be endured with patience and persistence and faith that one is doing the right thing by trying to stay in charge as much as possible. Better here than Istanbul is all I can think to say.
Ooh! This was a happy post-holiday entry!
Actually, other than the behavior and the FP/SV incident that rendered Brian and I completely bathroom-floor bound on Christmas Eve until 3 a.m., we had a lovely time in both Milwaukee and St. Paul. If you’re gonna be sick, do it with grandparents around to take some of the pain away from sickly childcare.
If you want more photos, click here. Goodnight.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
First of all, don't tell Brian that I'm typing this on his new laptop while sitting at the table with a preschooler who is stuffing his face with Arthur-shaped pasta covered in cheese and previously-frozen mixed vegetables. Additionally, I'm drinking coffee filled with "Limited Edition Pralines and Cream" creamer. And it's not lowfat. We'll attend to that last part later.
As everyone knows, this is the time of year when I run around trying to find just the right bow for just the right handmade, fair-trade gift wrapped in paper made from recycled guava skins and wondering why I can't just go to Target like most people and buy gifts accompanied by a nice little box with tape, ribbons, tissue paper, boxes, and wrapping all in one place. I make all of this harder on myself on purpose, because it allows me to avoid having to double up on my meds after the semester is done. I get really bored and crazy playing trucks. I'm trying to broaden my horizons and help him learn how to play other kinds of games with me ... like "let's go ahead and get all of our holiday baking done today" or "here -- you throw socks at the ceiling fan while I fold the clothes."
And then I saw this lovely idea on my friend Mamabird's blog! It's called a "PlayTray" and I'm sure that it's a great way to enhance some form of tactile learning or something. But in my house, it ends up being fodder for a "Parents are Made (through trial by fire) not Born" video, which might could (yes, I use two modals together sometimes) double as a commercial for why you need easy access to efficient, allergen-reducing household items such as a broom, a dustsucker, and a wet mop. Or maybe just a self-cleaning kitchen.
After 10 minutes with the PlayTray, there was cornmeal and multicolored sprinkles in the crevices of the wood floor, red hots EVERYWHERE, and a pool on the floor where there used to be a semi-red-headed mother. Ash, maybe I misunderstood the concept of a playtray, but I nearly had to take my dental valium early (I'm supposed to go back in the morning, so they gave me a couple extra tablets for tomorrow). It was like I was trying to do this fun, educational activity, and all of a sudden the whole kitchen was dirty and JEB was crying because he couldn't get his red hot/cornmeal mixture back into the plastic container so that he could put it in his "purse" that a friend just brought back as a souvenir from Jerusalem. I know that it is not appropriate to let him put red hots and cornmeal into Holy Land Treasures, but I also know that if you have ever tried to cook a low-fat delicious meal with a three-year old underfoot, then you (and Jesus) will understand, and that all will be forgiven.
It remains to be seen, however, whether or not I can forgive myself for the Full Time Working Mother Diet I've been on lately. I've already reached half of my 9-months pregnant weight gain. Yes, you read that correctly. I see a New Year's resolution opportunity!