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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Quote Of The Day

"That isn't for sale. It's just a decoration."

Said to daughter about the candy, which was lining the shelves at the check-out counter of a local shoe store.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Single Handedly Bringing The Property Values Down

I live in a neighborhood where it seems everyone has a big landscape crew come in and mow their lawns and do their yard work. Everyone except for us.

Rob and I like to roll our eyes at each other and say things like, "If I am ever that lazy... blah blah blah" But really we just say that to make ourselves feel better. Because we really are that lazy, or at least I am. If we had the money to pay a lawn crew to come in and do the work while I sat on front porch, sipping mint juleps*, thumbing through the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I'd give up ever touching lawn grooming appliances again for the rest of my natural life, and beyond. **

This morning I decided to mow the front lawn as a "gift" for my husband. It is a "gift" because it is something I rarely do. There is something satisfying about the back and forth horizontal lines that the lawn mower produces. I imagine it must be the same feeling that people with wall to wall carpeting get when the vacuum their rugs. Not satisfying enough that I want to make a habit out of doing it though. (Is that clear, Rob?)

People drove by as I was mowing the lawn and stared. I imagine they were saying to each other things like, "Is she the hired help? I thought that was the Mom?" "Look that family has so many kids they have to take care of the yard work themselves!"

Or they might have been saying, "Why is that woman chasing those half naked, small children around yard with a lawn mower shouting, 'I am going to make mulch out of you, my pretties!'"

*I have no idea what mint juleps is other than it sounds like something you would lazily sip on a porch while your servants fanned you with palm fronds.

** Rob has told me that in a few years I will have my own crew of landscape workers. They are called my sons. Now if I could just get them to fan me.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Quote Of The Day

"No when I was a child we didn't have crayons. If we wanted to color we had to make our own paints out of berries and leaves we collected ourselves... No we didn't have paper either. We had to paint on the walls of the caves in which we lived. But it really wasn't that big of deal since we were so busy eeking out our existence in the ice covered tundra, hunting mammoths, and fashioning our clothing out of fur pelts."

Said by me in response to my children's never ending questions about what things I had as a child, you know way back in the last century

Long Haired Freaky People Need Not Apply

My oldest son decided approximately six months ago that he wanted to have long hair. LONG hair... like Jesus or Johnny Damon. Whatever. It's his hair I couldn't really care less how he wears it as long as it is clean.

Mostly I just ignored the hair growing or made jokes about putting bows in his hair. My joking was all in good fun and my son would laugh. His hair looked awful, like a big poofy mushroom cap sitting on top of his head. Especially when he takes off his baseball cap and the hair on the top of his head is plastered to his scalp and the ends of his hair are curled up and sticking out like a mane around his head. In the grand scheme of things, it isn't something I want to fight with my son about. However, it drives my husband crazy.

It is one of the very few parenting things that we have disagreed about. Rob keeps asking him if he would like a haircut. And the constant mentioning seems to make my son even more adamant that he is not cutting his hair. I think embracing it takes the rebellion factor out of the equation and shows that we respect him as an autonomous individual capable of making some decisions of his own. And honestly, I just don't care.

When I was his age I had long hair. Really long hair that was well past my butt. Every morning my mother would put it into two thick braids. I would have to stand up on the toilet lid so that she could reach the bottom of my hair without having to sit on the floor. Every morning would find me in tears as she dragged the brush through the snarled mass of my hair. And every morning I would get hit on the top of my head with the brush and yelled at to stand still. I hated it and hated my long hair. I begged to be allowed to cut it short. Short being a relative term since I really only wanted it to my shoulders.

Well, one day I came home from school and decided that I was going to cut my hair myself. I'm still not sure what possessed me to do it, or how I thought I was going to get away with cutting my hair and my mother not noticing. But I cut one of my braids off above my shoulder.

Then I panicked. And I did the only thing I could think of which was to dispose of the evidence.

And so I flushed my 2 foot long braid down the toilet.

But now the question remained, what to tell my mother about my missing hair. My first thought was to just pretend that I had no idea what she was talking about. I thought that when she came home from work I would just pretend like my hair had always been like that and that I had no idea what she was talking about. But even at ten years old I knew that was just wishful thinking.

Then I got the brilliant idea to pull all my hair back into a single pony tail in the back of my head. that way the short choppy hair would be camouflaged by the longer hair that still remained. I silently praised myself for this awesome idea and resolved to wear my hair in a pony tail for the next few years. Surely my mother would be none the wiser.

But when I tried this I realized I had cut the one side so short that it wouldn't reach the back of my head, let alone flow nicely into a ponytail.

Then I became desperate, though not quite desperate enough to tell the truth. I called my mother up at work and told her I had just arrived home and looked at myself in the mirror and realized that someone must have cut off my hair at school that day.

She asked the obvious questions like, "How could someone cut off your hair and you not notice?" "Why would anyone do that?" "Wouldn't you feel someone with scissors right next to your head?" "Wouldn't any of your friends have told you that the hair on half of your head was missing?" "Do you have any idea who would do that?"

And I gave the obvious answers, "I don't know." "I don't know." "I don't know." "I don't know." But the answer to the last question would haunt me and live on in family lore for the rest of my years, "Well, I did see Stacey with scissors today."

And my mother answered, "Well, we will just see about this Stacy girl when I get home. Don't worry we'll get to the bottom of this." And then she hung up.

Then I spent the next two hours ringing my hands and pacing around our house. I was terrified. And frankly a little incredulous that my mother actually believed my lie, or so I thought. I would find out years later that she spent the two hours laughing and sharing the story with all her coworkers, and all of them collaborating on what my mother should do.

Long story short, many embarrassing phone calls to my many friends and their parents and the school principal, I finally collapsed into a sobbing heap on the kitchen floor and admitted that I had, despite all the believable evidence I had given to the contrary, cut my hair myself.

Which brings me back to my son.

This past weekend Rob offered him cold hard cash in exchange for a haircut. They went back and forth over the amount of money his hair was worth. My son poured over his Lego catalogs contemplating future purchases. Finally they settled on $100.

My son sat outside on the stool wavering in his decision. Finally I said to him, out of earshot of my husband, that his hair could always grow back, but legos are forever. With a glimmer in his eye and thoughts of Bionicles, he picked up the clippers and shaved off the side of his hair.

And now I have four other boys who have felt the lure of cash and decided they want to grow their hair long also.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Quote Of The Day

"What are you talking about? I did so give you dinner last night. The banana split was your dinner... Why, yes I do think that it was a nutritious dinner. Dairy, nuts, banana- a perfect well rounded meal. Keep complaining and tonight you'll be eating beans out of a can with your fork, because there is no way I am cooking in this heat."

Monday, July 25, 2005

To The Person Who Called My House at 9:43 am

I apologize that you were not greeted with the customary hello.

I imagine it was quite shocking to instead be treated to the sounds of two small children screaming, crying and fighting, as well as an older child screaming "shut-up! Shut-up! I can't hear my computer!" in the background. I promise I am not running a torture chamber over here, despite the seeming evidence to the contrary.

Sometimes my two year old decides to answer the telephone before I can get to it. Normally this is not a problem as I am standing right next to her and she immediately hands the phone to me so I can say hello. No one is any the wiser.

Today, however, I was out of the room when the phone rang. My 2 year old answered the phone and the 4 year old tried to wrestle it out of her hands. The screams you heard were her fighting for dear life to hang on to it. The loud thumps were her her hitting her brother over the head with the receiver. That was followed by his screams.

Wisely you decided to hang up, probably because the shrill screaming pierced your eardrums, rendering you deaf.

Feel free to call back at another time.

On second thought, don't call back. They have finally stopped screaming and I am not up for a second round this early in the day.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Context Is Everything

Son: Mom, I can't help it, I just love to screw. I love screwing. Don't you just love screwing?

Me: Not on my table I don't love screwing.

Son: Well, I do. I love screwing on a table, on a chair, on the floor, on anything that is hard really. It's just so fun. I love the holes. It's fun to screw in the holes.

Me: (trying not to laugh) I just don't think I can carry on this conversation any longer, enough with the hole screwing.

Son: Why? Don't you like to screw holes?

Me: (laughing) No, ...I mean yes, ...I mean I don't know.

Son: Well, Dad does.

Me: Yes, that is true.

Son: (yelling to me as I leave the room) Just call me the hole man from now on, because I love holes.

Me: Oh God help me.

(To put the story in context, it occurred right after I discovered someone had driven screws into my kitchen table. This is the reason, when your children do something incredibly stupid, you should never ask "why?", or at least never ask it in public.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My Life Is A Series Of Events Too Boring to Discuss

I was afraid that taking medication would change me, turn me into some insufferable perky cheerleader. Thankfully that has not happened. I am still dark and cynical and hate Chicken Soup for the Soul stories as much as ever.

But I have nothing to write about. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing.

There is nothing interesting about doing laundry. Who really cares what I made for dinner last night. Or that I cleaned my bathroom, with bleach! The excitement is really too much.

But I have had a few fleeting thoughts:

1) I have been walking around muttering about the whole Harry Potter hype. I just don't get it. When I see grown ups walking around clutching the newest book to their chest and reading it in their every spare moment, like standing in line at the store, I can't help but laugh.

2) If you lose a tooth and want to wash the blood off so as not to offend the tooth fairy, it would be wise to plug the drain so that if the tooth slips out of your hand it will not go down the drain. Consider yourself warned.

3) Having a bagless vacuum means that you can sift through and retrieve the lego that have been sucked up. In theory. In reality they should be picked up off of the floor when I ask.

4) If someone would invent a device that hooked on to the harness of children's carseats that would deliver an electric shock when I pushed a button, I would SO buy one or two, or six. Just a small electrical shock. You know to knock them unconscious for a few minutes. Okay, I am just joking. They don't have to be rendered unconscious. The electrical shocks alone should be an effective tool to stop them from the constant bickering in the van.

5) The fan perched on top of the television gives my house that extra bit of class that it was previously lacking.

6) My favorite part of my day lately is when my infant son wakes up in the morning. He looks in my eyes so intently and smiles so wide it seems as though his face may crack in half. When he reaches up and grabs my face with his small sweaty fists and pulls it towards his open mouth, it is a moment of pure joy. His world is complete because I am there and it is at that precise moment that I feel my life has some sort of meaning. And it gives me hope that just maybe my heart really isn't a shriveled black lump of coal that I often think it is. Maybe.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Evidence That Will One Day Be Used Against Me

My oldest son had, say it with me now, another baseball game. Rob took him and all the boys to the game. I opted to stay home. Since the game is an hour away from our house and they need to "warm up"an hour before the game, it turns it into an all day long affair. I just couldn't stand outside in the blistering heat, holding a sweaty squirming 7 month old and chasing a two year old around.

Just strip me of my Nike sneakers, because I JUST. COULDN'T. DO. IT.

I decided to stay home and relax. Oh and to grout the tile in our sunroom, because a 2 year old and 7 month old are the perfect helpers for this type of job. Of course they will sit quietly and watch the Wiggles, for 30 seconds.

At one point my two year old was sitting on top of our piano in the adjacent room throwing CD's across the room like small frisbees and clapping for herself. And I found myself saying things like, "Wow, what a good throw. You're good at that!" Because it was either that or have her playing in the tub of wet grout and trying to dig it back out of the floor with her fingernails.

And then when she wanted to have a snack for the twentieth time that hour I suggested that she go get one herself. When she poured an entire box of Honey Nut Cheerios out onto the area rug and the two of them climbed into it eating it by the wet fistsfull, I said, "Oh, yummy yummy!"

Other memorable things I said.

"Please don't paint on the baby's back with the grout!"

"Don't dunk your head in the bucket of dirty water!"

"Go look out the window in the other room and tell me if you see an elephant. Are you sure? Well keep looking, maybe it's hiding." This one bought me at least five minutes. And because I am mean I used it several times successfully.

My two littles successfully trashed several rooms in the house. When Rob came home he surveyed the mess and declared it looked like a frat party gone bad. Very, very bad.

I question whether the medication I am now taking, my crazy drug, is working at all. Because all evidence this weekend points to the fact that I am, in fact, still nuts.

But I do have a nice floor.

The Floor
Originally uploaded by the big yellow house.

Friday, July 15, 2005

File This One Under Parenting Advice

Son: You know what I really want, Mom?

Me: No what?

Son: A cup.

Me: A cup? Like a water bottle? or a coffee cup?

Son: No, like a cup that goes in your pants.

Me: Oh. Do you need one of those?

Son: No, I just want one.

Me: Why? Are you afraid that you're going to get hit in your penis with a baseball?

Son: No. I just think it would be cool to have one.

Me: Oh.

Son: Then when I am bored in the outfield I can tap my hands on it and pretend it is a bongo drum I am playing. Wouldn't that be cool?

Son: Mom? Why are you laughing like that? What's so funny?

The moral of the story is that you must always question your children's motives. Even when you think the answer is painfully obvious, it probably isn't. This will save you untold embarrassment. And potentially save your child from being saddled with a nickname like "penis-drummer" for the rest of his childhood.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

In Lieu Of A Real Post

Ten random things about me that you probably don't know and could probably care less about knowing.

1) I am an only child. I hated it as a child and I hate it even more now.

2) I do not own a hair brush.

3) I have a "thing" about people drinking out of my cup, any people. If someone takes a sip out of my drink I can no longer drink it. It drives my husband crazy.

4) I only wear sneakers when I am exercising and it requires sneakers, which I do between 0 and 1 times per month.

5) I refuse to wear shorts.

6) I don't know my own cell phone number, in spite of the fact that I have had it for several years. The only person who has the number is my husband and I like it that way. Not that I have any friends who want to call me and chat. But one day I might make a friend.

7) I think call waiting is the rudest invention ever, therefore I don't have it. Neither do I have caller id. So feel free to make prank phone calls to my house.

8) I have gained and lost over 300 pounds in the past ten years as the result of being pregnant seven times. I have no stretch marks. This is the lucky result of genetics, not rubbing cocoa butter or any other lotion on my stomach. And frankly with all the crappy genes I inherited from my family I deserve this one.

9) The one time I had my IQ tested the result was 145. I am sure it was a fluke. I refuse to be retested since I'd have to stop thinking that I am a genius and that is why I am misunderstood.

10) I have always thought I was 5'4" tall, but the past few times I have gone to the doctor and been measured I am 5'3". This depresses me as I imagine I am shrinking and becoming one of those hunched over elderly women. Next thing you know I'll have short white helmet hair.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Fifth Season

The inning that your child is pitching is the longest of the game. It is as if time stops completely.

I watched my son pitching the fifth inning of his Little League All Stars game. Nothing in my life has prepared me for this stress. The weight of the game resting on his tiny 9 year old shoulders. It is such a visible position to be playing. All eyes are on the pitcher. There is no back up should you royally screw up.

I find myself unable to look away, mentally willing the pitches to be good.

Luckily my telepathic skills are superior.

My days revolve around baseball. A summary of my life in the past weeks and the weeks to follow would be the same.

And driving to and from baseball games and practices.
Washing baseball uniforms.
Making sure that we have the conflicting schedules down for two kids on two different teams.

It would be much easier if we just staked at tent at the baseball field and lived there for the month of July. I'm giving it some serious consideration.

Making sure that kids have all their baseball paraphernalia in their bags.
Double checking that they have all their baseball paraphernalia in their bags.
Keeping an abundant supply of sunflower seeds on hand. (which begs the question, why??)
Making trays of ice to put in their enormous water thermoses.
Packing a bag full of snacks to bring with us, that will be stepped on, crushed, smashed, and otherwise shunned for snack bar fare.

Mediating fights in the hour long van ride over who's Lego Bionicle is the most fierce. (Granted that has nothing to do with baseball, other than I am trapped in the van with them and sorely tempted at times to drive into the nearest telephone pole rather than hear another argument about the intricacies of this Lego.)

And then doing it all over again.

The year has a fifth season, baseball season. God help me in a few years when I have even more boys playing little league.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A Bedtime Story

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived in a shoe. A decrepit old shoe that needed lots of work to resuce it from a century of bad taste and neglect.

She and her husband did many home improvement projects and fancied themselves quite handy.

One weekend they decided to finally tackle installing the tile floor in their sunroom. Tile that had been special ordered two years ago and had sat in it's boxes, getting dusty from other various improvement projects that pushed it to the background.

The husband took a Friday off of work and they set about working on the project. First they installed the new subfloor. they stepped back and admired their handiwork. And it was good.

Then they set about putting in the tile. Surely the gods were smiling down upon them because the room is such a size that there was no tile cutting required except around the heating vents. They smiled at this, because no cutting is good, very very good.

And they worked as a team, this husband and wife. He would carry the heavy boxes of tile into the room and cut them open. He would spread the thinset out across the floor with his trowel and she would set the tiles on it behind him.

She would stand back and command the husband, in the nicest possible voice, "move the tile to the right, no to the left, my left for crying out loud... a little more, turn it slightly clockwise." And the husband did this with minimal audible sighing. And it was good.

Then they approached the end of the project. They were tired and looking forward to having the project done.

The wife commanded the husband to go fetch the last box of tile. There were only four more tile needed for it to be completed.

The husband returned. "Oh, wife of mine, there is no more tile."

The wife got up and stormed out of the room, "Why must I do everything. Of course there is more tile. Did you even look?"

The husband replied, "Yes, I did look, my wife. And there is no more tile."

The wife yells, "I know there is more tile. I ordered it myself. I would have ordered more than enough tile. I know how to do simple math."

The husband said, "Yes wife, I am glad that you remember who placed this tile order. I feel that will be important information in the next few minutes."

The wife looked for the tile. And she looked some more. And she used words that caused her husband to blush and her children to cover their ears. Still she did not find anymore tile.

The husband said, "I do not think math is your strong point."

The wife shot daggers out of her eyes and killed him.

But then she revived him when she found out that the tile had been discontinued and she needs him to make a built in bookcase in the roughly 5 foot long area to hide the fact that there is no tile on the floor.

The wife imagines the next owners of the house moving in and deciding to tear out that odd bookcase. And that thought makes her laugh.

And it is good.

The End.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Because I Do Not Encourage Such Things

like walking and talking, I pushed him down shortly after the photo was taken.

Originally uploaded by the big yellow house.

Really, you let them stand and say mama today, next thing you know they are running through the house and talking until your brain matter begins to ooze out of your ears. It is better not to even let them start down this road. Trust me.

With Friends Like This

The other day, a friend told me that she had a dream that I ran away from home. And she was the one who found me.

She went to IKEA to go shopping and there I was "in New Haven, living it up and having a grand old time". What? Why would I be in New Haven? And why IKEA? If I'm running away I am not buying furniture I have to assemble myself. I lived in that city while going to college and there wasn't all that much living it up and having a grand old time there then, if you discount finding prostitutes turning tricks in the stairwell, having the window on your car smashed in every other week until you drove around with plastic and duct tape, and people being shot on your street corner.

If I'm running away it would be a relaxing tropical island somewhere. I'd really have to be crazy to run away to New Haven.

On the other hand, I have another friend who also had a dream about me. She prefaced telling this dream to me by saying that she thinks she is psychic because her dreams always come true. She then proceeded to tell me she dreamt that I died in a car accident. Well, gee thanks for that. Personally I would prefer if she would dream about the winning lottery numbers and share that information.

The only conclusion that I can come to from these two seemingly conflicting dreams is that I am going to die in a car accident and New Haven is Hell.

Either that or I need some new damn friends, which is probably much more likely.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Reason #1 Why I Should Take Up Knitting

Every year we pre buy our heating oil for the upcoming winter. The oil company sells it at a discounted rate and you determine how many gallons you want to buy based on how many gallons it costs to heat your house for the season, or more accurately how much spare cash you have laying around to hand the oil company months in advance of actually needing to use the oil.

When the prices go up in the cold winter weather, for no discernable reason other than they can charge you more because you need it, you have already bought your oil at the "cheaper" price. Unless of course the price of oil drops below your pre buy price,but just typing those words makes me laugh, as if that ever happens. And the words "discounted" and "cheaper" sound ridiculous given the astronomical price of oil.

Yesterday I read in the local newspaper that one oil company is having their pre buy at $1.99 a gallon. What? I about dropped dead right on the spot. Last year I pitched a fit about having to spend $1.59 as the prebuy price. Though I was thankful later on in the winter when the price per gallon soared over $2.00.

But my thankfulness was quickly replaced by anger again once I realized we had burned through all of our prebought oil with plenty of winter still looming ahead.

I am seriously considering taking the children and going on a two month vacation somewhere warm. It would be cheaper than heating this house. Except for the fact that Rob still needs to go to work. But can't he just bring a sleeping bag to his office? We all need to sacrifice. I'll go on a warm tropical vacation for two months and he can work long hours, sleep on the floor of his office (it has a door and a window), shower at the gym he joined but never uses, and use his weekends to do projects around the house using his physical laboring and a flask of alcohol to keep warm It sounds fair to me.

A friend called me later in the day and told me she was driving by another one of the local oil companies and they had their prebuy oil price listed as $2.59 a gallon. Sixty cents more a gallon? Clearly we will be investing in warm winter clothes, slippers, and fingerless gloves. I may even renew our newspaper subscription so that we can stuff our clothes while we huddle together for warmth.

I won't be buying that beautiful chair that is still calling me from the furniture store, as much as I love it. It would be a shame to buy it just to have to chop it up for kindling.