Sunday, July 31, 2005

Where to begin?

The wedding, as I mentioned, was marred only by a certain 3-year-old's sudden refusal to walk down the aisle.

Sean had been with Jeff the entire day (I was with the other bridesmaids performing all that beauty-ritual and lady-in-waiting stuff), and Jeff said that he was Mr. Sunny Disposition, charming and pleasant, loving his tuxedo, when WHAM! Five minutes before the wedding, fatigue and stage fright slammed into him. I arrived at the church, calmed him down a bit, and took my place in line. Just as I was about to walk down myself, someone else approached Sean to say hello (curse her good intentions and poor insight into toddler behavior!), thereby shattering the delicate façade of composure that I had helped erect. That was pretty much the end of the game. He lay on the floor, crying, refusing even to walk with me, and I had no choice but to leave him.

That was a rather low point for me -- I envisioned the label "Uncaring, Ineffective Parent" hovering above my head as I walked down the aisle. I don't know what exactly happened next, but at some point someone took Sean outside. I was pretty miserable through about half of the ceremony. I hated to think of him so sad, and alone with someone he probably didn't know very well trying to take care of him.

I found out later that rescue came in the form of my mom and sister, who had been scheduled to arrive at the end of the ceremony with Allie. They found Sean sitting on the church steps with a family friend, tears streaming down his face. I'm so, so relieved that they came much earlier than I had expected. They were able to comfort Sean and to persuade him to re-enter the church. Even Allie, who is the embodiment of disruption wherever she goes, behaved herself in the church.

The rest of the day proceeded very smoothly. Sean and Allie left with my mom and sister after putting in an appearance at the reception -- but not before they pretty much fell asleep during the best man's toast (which, by the way, was touching and heartfelt, not that I'm biased at all). And after that, Jeff and I could just be a couple having fun at a wedding rather than parents trying to corral two very small children.

Oh, hey, did I mention the bride and groom at all? No? Boy, I am self-absorbed, aren't I? They were truly radiant, and, cliché or not, did really bask in their love for each other. Even though I teased G that the theme of the day was "Respect the Tiara," she was the furthest thing possible from Bridezilla -- calm and gracious and beautiful.

Vacation travelogue coming your way shortly . . .

Friday, July 29, 2005

I'm back!

I hate sand.

More later.

p.s. Is it really dorky that one of the first things I did after turning on my computer is check to see if getupgrrl's baby arrived?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Just Popping By . . . say that the wedding was a smashing success and that I've posted some photos.

For those of you who had placed bets on how Sean would handle his ringberear role -- anyone who chose "Refused to walk down the aisle at all, and, in fact, lay down in the vestibule whilst his cries of 'No! No! No!' reverberated off the vaulted ceiling of the church," would have received a handsome payoff.

Fortunately, no one, including the bride and groom, seemed to mind at all. And that was really the only snafu for the whole day.

More details later -- now it's time to pack for our vacation!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Calm after the Storm

Things will be quiet in this miniscule pocket of the Internet for the next week or so.

Saturday is Jeff's brother's wedding, and we all have very important roles to play: Jeff, best man; me, bridesmaid; Sean, ring bearer; Allie, not-quite-the-flower-girl. Proving, for once, the value of form over function, Allie will be wearing a flower girl dress but will not have to perform any flower girl duties (a wise decision for all concerned).

Sean's been practicing carrying a pillow in preparation for the big day. He has done very well with that, except for the third trip down the hallway, which ended with him hurling himself on the glider rocker and dramatically exclaiming, "I don't WANT to be the ring bearer, no I don't!" Since then he's reclaimed the ring bearer title with relish, so I think it was just a temporary setback.

The day after the wedding, there's a family/wedding party day at a baseball game. And then, we leave for a week at the beach.

(Oh, no, we're not feeling stressed at all.)

So, like I said, you probably won't hear much from me till next week. If I can carve out a little time on Sunday, I'll post some photos from the wedding. And when I return for real, I'm sure I'll have lots of entertaining stories to tell. Well, stories of moderate interest, at least.

See ya!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What To Do, What To Do?

Say your daughter has been rebelling against sleep lately. And although you are loving and patient and kind and all sorts of other positive adjectives, you have HAD IT with being sequestered in her room every night for at least an hour as she performs gymnastics in her crib and yet shrieks in agony every time you step out of the room.

What to do? Stay in the room and stew in your own resentful juices? Leave and let her scream?

I've tried both options, and have found them unsatisfying for a variety of reasons. Tonight, I poked around in my tattered bag of solutions and plucked out a pretty good one. It does nothing to help Allie go to sleep any better, but it sure did make my stay in her room much more tolerable: In case you'd like to try this yourself, all you need are 1) a flashlight and 2) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Of course, tonight was the night that Allie went to bed within 15 minutes, but those 15 minutes were so sweet.

Soon I'll be able to participate in Phantom Scribbler's growing-larger-by-the-minute discussion thread!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Our Southern Sojourn

We are such the well-traveled family lately. Just got back from a brief trip to northern Virginia to visit the newlyweds, MK and D. Lots of fun, even though I felt like we were the traveling circus that invaded their placid little nest. I think they kind of dig our kids quite a bit, so it might not have been as disruptive as I'm fearing. And unlike on our last trip, bedtime did not take 2 and a half hours -- the kids were asleep within 30 minutes! Alas, so was Jeff….

On the way home, we stopped to visit Jeff's aunt and uncle. They've been really wonderful to us over the years, and we're quite fond of them. As long as we do not discuss the vast political chasm that separates us, all is well.

After we ate lunch, Jeff's aunt was showing some toys to Sean and Allie that she keeps for her granddaughter's visits. Then she pulls out something else -- "Look, we have a toy for us grown-ups, too!" It was, I kid you not, a George Bush doll. That TALKS. I can't remember what the doll said: after the first utterance -- "Freedom comes at a price"-- I covered my ears and ran from the room. Jeff's aunt and uncle were goodnatured about my reaction (I think that it's one of the reasons they pulled out the doll).

Sadly, Sean just loved the doll and asked if he could bring it home. You will all be proud of my self-restraint when I tell you that I calmly said "No, that's Aunt J's. It stays at her house" rather than "Are you out of your MIND?" I'm telling you, that thing creeped me out.

Oh, and regarding traffic in the DC area? Completely insane. It's good to be home!

Friday, July 15, 2005

The camera is safely home again (thanks to my friend's fortuitous trip to my neck of the woods, I didn't have to drive 2 hours to retrieve it). So, here are some photos from our fun day out. You'll see that Sean does seem to have a firefighter hat obsession!

I am not cut out for editing fiction.

Keeping track of each character's name, history, hair color, type of car, education level, housing, and job; mapping out timelines and plot arcs to check them for internal and external consistency; fact-checking and fact-checking and fact-checking some more -- none of this especially appeals to me. I'll stick to juicy articles on Regulation of Sodium/Potassium Adenosine Triphosphatase Activity: Impact on Salt Balance and Vascular Contractility, thanks anyway.

Even as a reader of fiction, I'm not very attuned to detecting errors. Typos and grammatical mistakes, yes, but not errors of fact. I think I tend to be so interested in plot, characterization, themes, and other big-ticket stuff that I often just skate right over some inconsistencies.


I'm indulging in a fluffy summer read -- Jennifer Weiner's Little Earthquakes -- and came across a mistake that the author, and definitely the copyeditor, should have caught. One of the characters grew up on the Jersey Shore, and she mentions going to a bar in Ocean City. Umm, I don't think so -- Ocean City is DRY.

Have you ever noticed any howling mistakes in books you've read?

Edited to add: Comments are currently wonky. Haloscan assures us that they are working on the problem...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Social Outing! Wheee!

Yesterday, I got together with some friends from college. My friend K was visiting from Florida, and I think it was the first time the four of us had been in the same ZIP code in 3 years.

What fun! In addition to the four adults were our seven kids. I think if I had had some play group experience under my belt, all the attendant chaos wouldn't have seemed quite so overwhelming. But overwhelming in a good way.

Sean really warmed up to the other kids, most of whom were older than him (ranging from age 5 to 10). He tends to keep to himself when other kids are around, but this time he seemed quite engaged. I loved watching him play in the pool, somewhat oblivious to the rather elaborate rules the older girls were trying to enact ("Okay! Everyone out of the pool, line up back here, bigger kids first, jump in the pool, then jump right out. Now get those noodles out of the pool. Sean, you need to get out of the pool. Sean! Get out, Sean! Okay, go!"). He was having too much fun to notice that he couldn't jump as well as the big kids.

Allie was the youngest one there, and through luck of biology, I was the designated Allie Chaser. I was a little envious at first that my friends were able to chat by the pool, intervening verbally with their kids when necessary, while I zig-zagged across the yard in hot pursuit of She Who Will Not Stay Still, Ever. Fortunately my friends are also exceptionally considerate, and they decided they would take turns watching Allie so that I could sit by the pool for a bit, too.

The collective parenting that goes on in situations like this is striking. Everyone looks out for one another's kids, everyone pitches in, and it feels like a, well, community. In the "it takes a village" sense. I can imagine that the potential for hurt feelings or resentment is also great, depending on the degree of intervention and the diversity of parenting philosophies. In this case, though, we were all pretty much on the same page.

Also of note, my kids fell asleep in the car on the way home and successfully weathered the car-to-bed transfer -- with only minimal, short-lasting waking up. For Allie especially, this is nearly unprecedented. Normally, she wakes up as soon as the engine turns off and cannot be cajoled into falling back asleep.

I had planned on posting some photos, but my addled brain has struck again: I left the camera at my friend's house. It's an hour away, too, and I'm not exactly relishing the prospect of retrieving it. Oh, well. That's the only sour note for the whole day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

In the interest of presenting a fair and balanced view, I give you the following anecdote as a counterpoint to yesterday's post:

On the way home from what started as a pleasant trip to Borders and ended with me chasing Allison down the self-help aisle, Allison let it be known that she was Not Happy*. As she was screaming in her carseat, Sean leaned over to her and said, "Don't be sad, Allie. Let's sing a song! Bob the Builder! Can we fix it? Bob the Builder! Yes we can!"

And you know what? It actually worked! She calmed down and started singing along with him.

* Might it have something to do with the fact that she hasn't taken a nap in 4 days? Naaaahhh.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Brotherly Love

Give it to me straight: Is 3 too young for an older brother to begin Operation Torment Younger Sister?

For the most part, I think Sean and Allie get along well. They often play together, and they make each other laugh all the time. Allie in particular loves her big brother -- if mimicry is the most sincere form of flattery, she is nearing idolatry heights. Their bickering usually centers on toys, and the lack of sharing thereof. This I anticipated.

What I was not prepared for at this age was Sean's utter delight in pestering his sister. He'll start off innocently enough by hugging Allie. Then the hug turns into a boa-constrictor squeeze, or a tackle, or both. Allies screams her little head off at this -- anytime I hear that sharp, distinctive cry, I can immediately identify the situation as "Sean is bothering me!" Which does save time on detective work. Also helpful is the fact that Sean readily admits the transgression.

I thought I would have a few more years before the Sibling Wars began. I'm not too familiar with those skirmishes myself -- my sisters are 11 and 9 years older than me, and although they fought like cats and dogs, I have never had so much as argument with either of them. (Hmmm, do you think that might have something to do with my fear of confrontation?)

I'm hoping this is all just normal and not a sign that Sean will turn into the older brother in The Wonder Years. Most of the time he's sweet and affectionate, but I worry a little nonetheless.

Next up: Seeking Solutions for Allison's Current Nap Strike . . .

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Best to get the preceding post below the fold, quick.

What a whiner I am. Despondency over shoddy housekeeping skills is a sure way to earn me a place in the Cry Me a River, Honey, Hall of Fame.

So. Here we are. NOT whining.

A few of you have asked me what I thought of Middlesex. I liked it, although I don't have a lot to say about it. What struck me most was my sense of futility in constructing an image of the narrator. One of the most basic cues I take from an author is the sex of the characters. For better or worse, I use that as a block on which to build my impressions and reactions. In Middlesex, the narrator is a pseudo-hermaphrodite; he has both male and female sex characteristics and was raised as a girl. As a teenager, though, he discovers his "diagnosis" and decides, against his physician's advice, to be male rather than female.

Perhaps since so much of the book recounts the narrator's childhood as a girl, that is primarily the sex I found myself visualizing, even of the narrator as an adult. References to the narrator's current life, as a buff, urbane man who dates women but has never had a serious relationship, knocked my perceptions off their axis. I never realized how ingrained that male-or-female dichotomy is for me. Intellectually I know that sexuality exists on a continuum, but emotionally I found myself a little unmoored by this book.

Hmm. On second thought, I think I do whining better than I do analysis.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Pointless Complaining Ahead

Somewhere there lives a clean house, with efficiently organized paperwork, no clutter, a tidily arranged very small number of toys, and home projects that are actually completed.

Casa Mimilou is not that house.

In my little hamster wheel existence, I can't seem to get anything done. I blame the kids, mostly, but even that goes only so far. I don't know what my problem is -- laziness, torpor, listlessness?

Allison has finally surrendered to sleep, and here I sit in front of this stupid glowing screen. Instead of folding laundry that sitting in a shapeless pile on my couch, I'm complaining about how messy my house is. Instead of picking up the 657,362 pieces of multicolor molded plastic that litter every floor in my house, I have already rationalized that it's not worth the effort since the Dynamic Duo will just take them all out again tomorrow at 7 a.m.

I'm not really sure what the point of this post is -- I guess I just wanted to vent about how the status of my house mirrors, maybe even amplifies, how dispirited I feel right now. How I want to not only get my domestic act together but also be helpful to other people in my life, yet lately haven't been able to do a blessed thing but take care of my kids.

Phooey. Maybe I should go fold that laundry after all.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Three Signs That I Have, Indeed, Lost My Marbles

1. I took the kids to Target in the middle of a monsoon for such essentials as soap and a birthday card.

2. Solely on my own volition, I bought glitter for a special afternoon art project.

3. As we were getting back into the car, I said to my 21-month-old daughter, who was responding to everything I said with "No!" (it's her job, after all), "Allison, you are being argumentative."

House of Glitter, here we come.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

And To Think I Pride Myself on My Professionalism

One minute it's here, the next it’s gone -- it's the Incredible Vaporizing Credibility!

I was just about to start making dinner this evening when the phone rang. Normally at that time, phone calls are from either Jeff or a telemarketer. This time, though, it was a brand new freelancing client, one I'd been eager to land.

We were going over the details of the work I'd be doing, the kids were playing quietly, all was well. Until, that is, Sean decided he was going to wash his hands himself in the kitchen sink. As I am trying to sound professional and accomplished on the phone, Sean drags a kitchen chair across the floor, climbs on it, and turns on the faucet. Full blast.

Did I mention that I was on the wall phone across the room, not the cordless phone?

Not one to miss out on the festivities, Allie climbs on the chair, too (Note: it's a large, sturdy chair, and they were leaning against the counter and not in danger of falling). Much splashing and giggling ensue. Periodically Sean calls out to inform me of their progress. So my end of the conversation, about confidence intervals and statistical significance and P values, is punctuated by "Mommy! Look! We're all wet!" and "Mommy! Mommy? Mommy!!! I'm washing my hands all by myself!"

Still tethered to the wall, I'm gesticulating wildly for them to be quiet -- why I thought that an impersonation of a windmill would have any effect at all I don't know.

Finally, the conversation ends. I'm now free to go dry off the kids, the sink, the counter, the chair, and the floor. The client never mentioned the noise in the background, either because she couldn't hear it or out of politeness. I kind of doubt it's the former.

I know I could have excused myself at some point to intervene, but I didn't want to give the impression, right off the bat, that my work would be conducted in the midst of domestic chaos. Has something like this ever happened to you?

At the least, I suppose, I learned a valuable lesson: "Always keep the cordless phone handy."


I tend to be so ensconced in my domestic cocoon that I could easily go days without getting worked up about current affairs -- more by dint of my desire to have a failsafe coping mechanism than a desire to be uninformed.

Not today, though.

Since I am too distracted to be thoughtful on my own, go see Phantom Scribbler's eloquent post. Yeah, what she said.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Remember when I said that I didn't think that the sleepaway component of traveling wouldn't be so bad this time around?


But wait. Before I launch into a brief recapitulation of the stressful aspects of our trip, let's start, uncharacteristically for me, with the positive:

-- Great time with the in-laws. Sean and Allie love all the attention they get from their grandparents, aunts, and uncle. And vice-versa.

-- Nearly unprecedented kid-free time for Jeff and me: Jeff went to the movies and played golf; I went to dinner with my sisters-in-law and soon-to-be sister-in-law; and we both went to a Pirates game. This last outing was a little strange -- it was the first time that Jeff and his siblings and their spouse/fiance/boyfriends had gone out as a group. Since Jeff's youngest sister was 3 when we started dating, I'm still having a bit of trouble wrapping my arms around the idea of a quadruple date!

-- A tiny local parade proceeded past Jeff's parents' house on the 4th, and Sean was completely enraptured by all the firetrucks in the parade. The pinnacle of excitement for him was receiving a firefighter's hat from the one of the firemen driving a truck. He was just thrilled with this flimsy plastic hat (and was so cute I have to share a picture).

Now, back to classic Mimilou complaining.

-- Allison is not the most adept of travelers. Adjustment is not part of her vocabulary. She had so much trouble falling asleep each night -- 11:00 p.m. was the average, and not after a high level of intervention. Oh, and she wouldn't nap. The result was one cranky girl. Her daughter wasn't too happy, either.

-- I must do substantial repentance for my poor diet during our trip. Between the fast food consumed at the rest stops on the turnpike and the indulgences I indulged in over the weekend (think regular soda and donuts), I feel the need for a strict regimen of spinach salads and water.

The long car trip went reasonably well. On the way home we had small insurrections over the endless sitting in car seats, but we managed okay. To cap things off when we got home, Allison dove straight into a protracted bout of hysteria and didn't fall asleep until 10:00.

Yes, it's good to be home again.

Friday, July 01, 2005

And We're Off

The first of our summer trips starts tomorrow -- we're heading out to Jeff's parents for several days.

Now, since I know you will all miss me terribly (just humor me, okay?), I had an idea that just may help you bide your time until I return.

Way back when I began this blog, I told only a handful of people (about 5, if I recall correctly). I was too timid to draw anyone else to my blog; in fact, I didn't leave my first comment on someone else's blog until about 5 months after I started my own.

Which means, of course, that unless you have plumbed the archives (and why would you?), chances are there might be a few posts you haven't read.

At the risk of sounding like I have gone from timid straight to egomaniacal with no intermediary stages, here are a few selections from the bargain basement:

40 Days and 40 Nights

No gymnasts here

Take that, Parents!

Happy 4th to the USians, and see you all next week!