Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wayward Luggage

As I mentioned in the previous post, Jeff's luggage decided to take an extended tour of the Frankfurt airport and thus didn't arrive in the U.S. at the same time Jeff did.

This fact seemed to perplex Sean and Allie. On the way home from picking Jeff up from the airport, we had several conversations (the same one, repeated) about the missing suitcases. After the third go-round, they seemed to understand what had happened.

The next day, the fascination continued. When Jeff told Sean that the luggage would probably be delivered to our house that night, Sean reflected for a few moments.

"But Daddy. How will the pilot land the plane in our backyard? It's not big enough!"

I had to look away so that he couldn't see me laughing.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Let's Just Go Straight to the Photo Essay, Shall We?

Because the prose narrative I've been cavalierly touting seems to be stalled in the gestational stage.

Jeff returned from his trip yesterday (although his luggage has not yet arrived!), and we downloaded the approximately 1000 photographs from the trip. Luckily for you, Flickr imposes a limit on free photo space, so I had to winnow that down a bit.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Holding Pattern

I know I owe you all a comprehensive, or at least slightly better than cursory, travelogue.

It's coming. Really!

But first I have to slog through a bunch of work stuff that piled up while I was away. One of which is an utterly soporific book on ecology and meterology. So if you're wondering whether one can both edit at a furious pace AND be in a boredom-induced coma at the SAME TIME, let me assure you that it is indeed possible. And if you're an efficient multi-tasker like me, you can also concurrently chip the ice off of your fingers and wonder why all the window and door caulking that you paid someone good money to do has not staunched the flow of arctic eddies in your house.

Be back soon.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Sorry, couldn't resist (yeah, I know, how much self-control does it actually take to resist that trite phrase).

We had a fabulous trip to Rome -- so much history, so little time, but we managed to pack a lot into 2 and a half days. I will post pictures over the weekend, after the still-jetsetting, camera-touting Jeff (aka Mr. Snappy Happy) returns.

I received the welcome of my life yesterday. Apparently while I was gone the kids were all like "Mommy who?", but they seemed pretty happy to see him when I came through the door. Landismom was right -- their babysitters more than compensated for our absence: my brother- and sister-in-law took the kids to Sesame Place (a trip I'd decided to postpone till next year when I had more energy or something) and, get this, actually bought them stuff there, unlike tight-fisted moi who never goes to a gift shop with kids in tow. And by all reports the kids were really well behaved for J and G and for my mom. I'm so grateful to have such helpful people in my life.

I'll write more about the trip soon. Just wanted to touch base and let you know that at some point I'll be catching up with you all (as I plow through my 8 million feeds on Bloglines!).

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Have you seen a whirling dervish darting all over the eastern seaboard? That would be me.

What with preparing for the trip, tending to generalized travel jitters (Ack! Haven't been on a plane in 6 years!), tying up loose work ends, tidying up the house in preparation for two sets of babysitters, and contending with some abandonment issues, I've been a bit of a mess over the past few days.

I waited till today to break the news to Sean and Allie. It didn't go over especially well. Allie threw me a bone by saying "I want you to stay with me" before moving right along to more important matters. Sean's taking it much harder. He cried when I told him I was going away for a few days, and no matter what spin I spun (fun with his aunt and uncle, etc.), he wasn't buying it. He's clung to me throughout the day, sighing "But I don't want you to leave" with a catch in his voice, tears welling up in his eyes.

I have to swallow my own tears because I don't want to upset him further.

I know this will be a fun trip, and I really will look forward to it. Starting tomorrow, after I say goodbye.

See you all when I get back!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just because I love Edward Gorey (I still recall the morbid thrill of discovering The Gashlycrumb Tinies in college).

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?

You will be smothered under a rug. You're a little anti-social, and may want to start gaining new social skills by making prank phone calls.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

As seen at Isabella's.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Now Accepting Reservations at Café Freakout

Dinnertime is the nadir of my day. Four fronts collide: Sean eats almost nothing, Allie almost always throws a tantrum, I hate to cook, Jeff gets home too late to eat with us.

Tonight we focused on the second item in that list.

It all started with the menu selection. I've learned not to tell Allie what's for dinner until she sits down at the table -- doing it any earlier just dooms the meal before it even begins. Tonight, then, I told her we were having pizza. She seemed pretty pleased about that, a rare reaction.

I then presented her with my gourmet pizza. (Becki will no doubt be cringing at this Lazy Cook Special: Slather tomato sauce on a tortilla, spread mozzarella cheese on top. Bake. If feeling particularly sly, mix some shredded zucchini in the sauce to eliminate guilt about dearth of vegetables in the diet.)

Strike one.

"I don't WANT THAT PIZZA! I want the pizza from PIZZA [local pizza place]!"

I've also learned to ignore statements like this. Arguing with her never helps. So I calmly inform her that this is the pizza we're having tonight and that we’ll get takeout pizza another night. She is still whining about this homemade crap while I begin to cut her pizza in half.

Strike two.

"I WANT IT BIG! Don't cut my pizza! Put it back together!"

I eat my dinner, ignoring her. After a while, she calms down. She folds the tortilla in half, informing me that she's made a sandwich. "Great! Enjoy your pizza sandwich!" I say. She attempts to eat the pizza sandwich, and then, the horror, the horror. She gets sauce.on.her.hands.

Strike three.

"OWWW! Get it off! AHHH! AHHH! EWWW! Sauce, sauce! Wipe it off!"

I wipe the sauce from her hands. Since the rules of this baseball metaphor dictate that we've technically struck out by now, let's just run a few instant replays so you can get the full picture of how many times she freaked out about the Sauce That Touched Her Hands.

We've been at the dinner table 20 minutes so far, and she hasn't eaten a bite.

I finally propose cutting her pizza into small pieces that she can eat with a fork and thus avoid getting any more sauce on her hands.

"Okay, Mommy!" she says brightly. I cut the pizza up, and she eats half of it. I refrain from beating my head against the table.


Postscript: While getting ready for bed, or, more precisely, while stalling about getting ready for bed and intuiting that my stress level is soaring into the stratosphere, Allie says, "Mommy, I want to see your head explode." Just wait, kid, just wait.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Party Report

I'm taking a quick break from work to report that Birthday Party, Preschool Version, went really well. I think I managed to both herd the cats, I mean kids, and entertain the grownups in a manner jovial yet calm. Okay, okay, it went more like this: at least I didn't make a fool of myself. Still, pumpkin painting was a big hit:

Allie studiously regarding her subject:

Sean gesticulating emphatically that layers upon layers of paint do too imbue his pumpkin with multiple levels of meaning -- it is certainly not his problem that his work is always being critiqued by philistines with untutored eyes:

Friday, October 13, 2006

Validation, Part 2, Plus Miscellany

Allie: Mommy, I'm pleased with you.*

Oh, good. I was worried there for a while.

*Where'd she get this from? You'd think I'd been modeling all sorts of stiff-upper-lip distant chilly British monarch-like behavior...


In front of me on the desk is a half-dressed Little Mermaid not-Barbie doll. Not-Barbie because it's a Disney product (part of a full complement of Little Mermaid gifts from Allie's party), but I find it just as problematic. It's not just the flimsy fabric tail that is guaranteed to be lost within the next 2 days, the anatomically ridiculous narrow waist, the cascading red hair. And I don't mind at all that Sean is playing with the doll as much as Allie is. It's this -- that he has spent an inordinate amount of time taking off and putting on the doll's strapless bikini top. Innocently, of course. But still. I think I need to find Ariel a slightly more modest outfit, preferably one that comes with Krazy Glue.


Tomorrow is Allie's kid party. I've kept it small: four of her friends are coming over to our house for one and a half hours of tightly controlled fun. I have pumpkin painting on the agenda. For six kids under the age of five. If we and the house survive, I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

That's Quite Enough Whining from You, Missy

Inside my head, if you listened closely, you'd hear a tiring litany of woes, none blogworthy, all small-minded. One of these is the charming "Life is not supposed to be completely devoid of fun, is it?"

Yes, the voices in my head are prone to making such absurd, melodramatic statements. Most of the time I try not to pay much attention to this inner drama queen.

The small complaint lurking underneath this over-the-top sentiment is that I don't get out much. I take care of the kids, and I work. That's about it. Now, of course I should be ashamed to admit this -- I delight in my kids, I like my work, I have a great life. Kvetching about the fact that I don't ever go to the movies? Cry me a river, I know.

So. Now that I have completely annoyed you with my privileged middle-class whining, I thought I'd compound it by sharing some good news that will, if nothing else, prevent me from moaning about this particular subject for a while.

Looks like Jeff and I are going to Rome. Alone.

The opportunity just kind of landed in our laps. Jeff has a whirlwind European business trip commencing next week -- London, Budapest, and Brussels. Since there's a lull between his trips to the latter two cities, he came up with the brilliant idea of having me join him somewhere over the pond for a long weekend.

I initially rejected the idea (at least in my head) because of child care concerns, and then over not wanting to leave the kids for four days. I've never been away from either of them for more than one night. But it seemed foolish to pass up this chance to travel, especially since Jeff's and my 10-year wedding anniversary in May went largely uncelebrated. (The ability to cash in frequent flyer miles made it even harder to turn down...) So, we cobbled together a child care team, consisting of my brother- and sister-in-law over the weekend and my mom for the next two days. In a little over a week, to Rome I go!

(The kids will be okay without me, right? Even though they've both developed barnacle tendencies lately and have to give me 100 hugs even when I'm just leaving the house to go to the store?)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Oh Little Playmate, Come Out and Play with Me

Having recently celebrated my four-and-a-half-year parenting anniversary, I feel pretty good, most of the time, about my approach to motherhood. Gone are the days of constant second-guessing and anxiety, of thumbing through the parenting guides at every crying fit or fever.

But some things still stymie me. Lately, for example, I've been thinking about the tension between attentiveness and intrusiveness. My kids are old enough that they can entertain themselves for extended periods but young enough that they can't remain unsupervised for very long. I love that they play together so well, thus relieving me of direct-play responsibilities. I'm not the best of playmates. I will read to them for long stretches, I will paint and draw with them, and I'll play games with them. Just don't ask me to get on the floor and do trains.

But after a while I start to feel guilty about the independent play. Are they playing by themselves too much? Should I be intervening to play with them? I mean, yes, I'm right there next to them if they need me, to help settle a squabble or repair a toy, but I'm not in the thick of things. So then I'll kick into interactive mommy mode: Crafts! Walks! Outings!

(I should add here that this progression from "Oh, great, they're playing, I'll clean/work a bit/putter about/return some phone calls/blog" to "Must interact with kids before they become sociopaths" occurs daily, often several times a day -- it's not a case of several days of "me time" followed by expiation of guilt via full-play immersion. [Nah, not feeling too guilty about this. Why do you ask?])

I guess I struggle with how much of ME they actually need. I want to encourage their independence while at the same time enjoy as much of their young childhoods as I possibly can, without losing my mind. I don't want to hover, don't want to smother -- for their mental health and mine.

If you have young kids, how much independent play time do you feel comfortable with? (The number of kids probably will influence the answer, I realize -- I'm sure I'd be much more involved with direct play if I had just one child.) How involved do you get with playing?

Monday, October 09, 2006


My out-of-town guests are still here, but they're currently taking their granddaughter for a walk. Ergo this precious computer time.

Allie's family birthday party was Saturday. To quote the birthday girl, it was "the best birthday ever!" Which I take as the highest praise. It wouldn't be inaccurate to subtitle the party as "Operation Disney Princess Infiltration." I've mentioned the Disney love that permeates the extended family? Let's just say we were all feeling that love on Saturday. Not that Allie minded in the least -- or Sean, for that matter, who was very eager to open the Little Mermaid beauty and hair playset.

Snark aside, it was a great party. Jeff's family in particular is quite a convivial bunch; I actually credit them with making me slightly less standoffish in a crowd of people. And this time I'd like to think I was not so much the slightly panicked, scatterbrained hostess.

My mother- and father-in-law went with us to drop Sean off at preschool this morning. Sean was bubbling over with excitement -- he introduced them to his teachers and all his friends: "These are my grandparents, Nana and Granddad." I loved seeing his obvious pleasure over showing them each part of the classroom and his art projects. It's school picture day, too, and sure enough his hair began sproinging up in unruly cowlicks right when we got to school.

And now for a quick, abrupt ending that lacks anything resembling a tidy resolution -- time to abandon the computer for at least a few more hours!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Day, It Just Keeps Getting Better

I love my children. To the ends of the earth I would travel for them. Goliath I would slay for them.

But if I hear someone whine "Mommmmmmeeeeee!" one more time today I will bite someone's head off.

Bedtime is soon, bedtime is soon, bedtime is soon.


Not soon enough, apparently. While I was typing this, wails arose from the bathtub. At first Allie merely seemed afraid of the possibility of the water draining from the bathtub. Then I deduced her true concern -- let's just say the foreign object floating in the tub would have been more at home in another part of the bathroom.

So now I have two traumatized children on my hands, not to mention a bathtub plus enough plastic fish to stock a large aquarium to disinfect after they go to bed.

(Tonight's scatalogical follies brought to you by the letters "E" and "W".)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Desperate Doll House Wives

We gave Allie a dollhouse for her birthday. For one composed almost entirely of plastic, it's pretty nice -- lots of cute touches like a padded window seat, awnings, and window boxes with removable flowers.

We have some concerns about the residents, however.

As soon as the four-member Doll family was unwrapped, Mr. Doll began behaving a little peculiarly. Instead of entering his house through the front door, he scaled the outside of it like a ninja, stealthily stealing (all right, crashing) into the top floor bedroom.

The next day I spotted Ms. Doll bundling her twin babies into the back seat of a convertible. Without car seats. And at the wheel? NOT her husband. Oh, no. It was Mr. Incredible, looking far too smug for my taste. The four of them took off for a drive while a cuckolded Mr. Doll remained in the house.

Things have gotten even weirder, because Mr. Incredible now lives in the house with the Doll family. He "sleeps" in the family room, I'm told, but I've seen him in the master bedroom, too.

I just don't think these are OUR kind of people. Hmphh.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Book Browsers Beware

Every now and then I poke about editorial job sites to see if there are any freelance leads worth pursuing. The other day I came across this listing, and I have to tell you that my jaw dropped a centimeter or two:

I am the marketing director for a book publishing company, we are looking for a person or persons to post comments about our books on bulletin boards and book sites throughout the internet. You must be good at searching out sites to post to and able to write short "one paragraph" comments about the book. You will be paid per each comment submitted and can easily make $200 to $300 per month ongoing for only posting 16 comments per week.

Good golly, is there any commercial realm not subject to stealth marketing tactics? Is this a widely known practice? It seems so dishonest and unethical, but this forthrightly stated ad indicates that it's not a trade secret. I don't usually rely on the consumer book reviews on Amazon (I have other, much more reliable sources than that, thanks to my well-read bloggy and real-life friends), but still! I guess I'll be looking even more askance at those Amazon reviews from now on.

And speaking of stealth marketing, here's a link to an article that will just warm your heart -- that is, if your heart is warmed by tales of pharmaceutical company deceit.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Still Taking the World by Storm

Somehow, when I wasn't looking, my sweet little baby girl grew from this tiny infant

to this sweet, funny, adorable (headstrong, determined) 3-year-old.

I know it's a cliche, but how did this happen so quickly?

When I was pregnant with Allie, I couldn't imagine how on earth I could love a child as much as our first. Now I know that my heart simply grew that day 3 years ago, and has continued to grow each day since. Happy Birthday, Allieboo.