Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Want Me That!

I am a sucker for infomercials. If it has the "As Seen On TV" sticker on it, I am irresistibly drawn. I have those space saver bags (they do work, but rip too easily), a cookie press I HAVE NEVER USED, a magic broom that actually does work nicely as either a broom or a mop (I can't find it though- probably lost it in the great move of 2008) and those perfect bra clips. My recommendation: if things are so bad you need magical bra clips, it's time to visit the lovely ladies at Victoria's Secret.

Today the twins and I were watching Dora the Explorer when I saw the most wondrous product. It is called the touch n brush. It is a toothpaste dispenser that can be mounted on the wall. You put your toothbrush underneath it and it squeezes out the perfect amount of paste from any store bought toothpaste container. No mess. No squeezing the toothpaste all over the sink and the counter top. No dropping it on the floor. No disgusting hardened toothpaste around the edges of the bottle. AND it purports to use every last bit or toothpaste in the bottle. No getting a hand cramp trying to squeeze the remnants of your Colgate Total onto your brush.

So, I was on the fence about this product. It is 19.99 plus S&H (which I'm sure is about ten times more than what it will actually cost them to ship it to me.) Then they hit me. A commanding voice said "order now"... pause... "BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!"

I must be a person of very little brain because this ploy never ceases to surprise and thrill me. More??? Really??? I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED ABOUT MORE!!!

The touch n brush comes with a brand new Sonic Toothbrush that will keep me cavity free FOR LIFE. (They didn't say that, but that's immediately how I identified with this new, exciting bonus.)

It Daniel hadn't chosen that moment to grab my tea and dump it on his head, I would have run to the phone and purchased it right then.

Of course, I feel I have a genuine need for this item. Those of you who know what I have to live with on a day to day basis can understand that, right? Less mess=happier Holly. I am curious though...

Do any of your husband's have such a difficult time dispensing toothpaste?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Luke, I am your father...

Today I found myself on the computer googling these words: Why would Darth Vader die without his helmet? Let's put an end to this mystery once and for all. Here is the cogent answer from Wizards.com:

Darth Vader wears a unique suit of dark armor. It is the equivalent of padded battle armor and imbued with dark side power through Sith construction techniques. The dark armor provides Vader with damage reduction 6, and it contains a life-support apparatus that maintains Vader's breathing and his shattered body.

Tomorrow, if Ben remembers, he will be asking me for the answer. I plan to just read him this statement and see how he responds.

Did I tell you, by the way, that I am starting my thesis this summer? I was going to write about turn of the century American Literature, but now I'm seriously considering a new approach entirely. The working title of my forthcoming paper is (for now) "How damage reduction 6 contributed to the demise of Alderon." It's intense.

I want to take the opportunity to especially thank my friend Janet for allowing her children to pass on their talking Darth Vader helmets to my kids. Now I have the pleasure of listening to the voice of James Earl Jones utter the famous words "you don't know the power of the dark side" about 50 times a day. Oh I know the power of the dark side, mister. It involves a screwdriver and the removal of some batteries and a four year old boy in hysterics.

Ben is now four! Last Sunday we had what I believe was his third Spiderman birthday party. Star Wars is very big with him right now, but Spiderman still reigns supreme. Here is a pictorial overview of Ben's big day:

We had cousins in attendance! This is an especially rare occurrence! The first and fourth from the right are not mine. They are my sister's. I would keep them, though. No one would have to ask me twice.

The gift-giving portion of the party. In this picture, Ben has just received the annual gift of cheese.

Four-year-old spit is sweeter and therefore tastier on your cake than three-year-old spit.

An extremely hard to come by picture of this blogger and her elfin daughter. It was a most lovely day. I got sunburned, of course.

As happens so often at a Jennings' family gathering, two children broke out into a sword fight.

Caleb lost.

Some crazy lady made all of the males in attendance don Spiderman masks and pretend they were "webbing."

The last of our family-members leave... much sadness in our home for about two seconds. Then, all remembered there were presents to be played with.

And thus begins another chapter in Ben's life. What a privilege it is to be a part of it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Great Dad Lives At My House

On Sunday we celebrated both Father's Day and Benjamin's fourth birthday. Now, you may remember that I, as do many other mothers, celebrate Mother's Week. Unfortunately, John only gets one Father's Day and this year, it was overshadowed by Ben's birthday. It is not anyone's (namely my) fault that there is not a Father's Week, it is simply a cultural phenomenon.

I could write pages about why my hubby is one of the world's top-notch dads, but I would hate for anyone to feel resentful or even, God forbid, jealous. I will just say this: every morning, John rouses all of the children (there are four, in case you had lost count) out of bed, gets them dressed and feeds them breakfast just so that I can sleep until 8am. He puts Caleb on the bus and leaves the house dressed in a stiff Brooks Brothers suit while I sit languidly at the table eating my Wegmans Honey Wheels, still in my pajamas.

Sometimes I stay in my pajamas all day. If John gets home and I'm still in my pajamas, he doesn't say anything about it at all. And it's not because I wear sexy pajamas, mind you. My pajamas are generally a lovely combo of my old maternity sweats and one of his t-shirts. You may argue that there is nothing sexier than a woman wearing a holy t-shirt that says "the sports team from my area is superior to the sports team from your area" but I'm sure John would beg to differ.

He does these things not only for me, but also because he works long hours and actually, get this, wants to spend all of the extra time that he can with his kids. Really! Sometimes I have to force him to say goodnight to Caleb and Ben so we can put them to bed at a reasonable hour. He would stay up goofing off with them all night if he could. Is this because he's a wonderful father or because he's just a big kid himself? I'm not entirely sure, actually. Probably a little bit from column a, a little bit from column b.

Regardless, Mr. John Mark Jennings, if there was such a thing as a Happy Father's week, I would wish you it right now. Since there is not, and I reiterate that this is NOT MY FAULT, I will just say thank you. You are an unbelievable dad.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rest In Peace, Zack

I had wanted to give an update tonight on our Father's Day/ Ben's b-day weekend, but that will have to wait until later because tonight there is something very heavy on my heart. You will all be saddened to know that our beloved pet, Zack, has passed on.

Zack came into our lives about three weeks ago when my son, Caleb, found him crawling on a leaf. Zack was a common tent caterpillar. Caleb and Zack formed an immediate bond. They spent the first few days together frolicking in the backyard. Well, Caleb frolicked and Zack chilled out in the mason jar we provided him.

We fed Zack leaves, since he seemed to enjoy them. I consulted my caterpillar reference book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by ecologist Eric Carle. I fed Zack sausage, strawberries, and watermelon. These were suggested by Mr. Carle to grow your caterpillar nice and fat. Sure enough, Zack soon formed a cocoon!

You might think that watching a caterpillar cocoon himself is a beautiful and moving experience. It is not. It is kind of icky. Nevertheless, we were very excited to witness Zack's transformation into a beautiful... moth. We consulted our reference book and discovered caterpillars can stay in their cocoons for up to two weeks before they come out.

Three weeks went by. This past Saturday, I told my sister Joyce about Zack taking his time becoming a moth. She looked at him, looked at me, and shook her head. It was then I knew. I think I had known for a while, but I didn't want to admit it. Zack was never going to hatch. He had died... in cocoon.

Was it my fault? Did I not feed him enough? Was his small home too confining? Did we smother him with our love and affection? Should I not have fed him cake?

I will never know the answer to these questions.

You are probably wondering what I am going to tell Caleb. This is a wonderful opportunity to have a deep discussion about life and death and the difference between souless caterpillars and soulful humans. It is a great opportunity to explain that sometimes bad things happen to good caterpillars, and that Zack would have wanted us to move on. What an opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with my first-born son.

I thought about it, however, and I've decided against it. I've decided that Zack emerged from the cocoon and flew away before I could say chrysalis. He is now living somewhere in the backyard. Everytime we see a moth, we will wonder, is it Zack? Only I will know the truth.

Yes, I sleep fine at night. Why do you ask?

Zack and Caleb during happier times.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Portrait of the Zombie in Classic American and English Poetry

I have decided to jump on the literary zombie bandwagon. Zombies are hot right now and I intend to cash in. So keep an eye out for my book, Portait of the Zombie in Classic American and English Poetry, forthcoming probably in 2011.

Here are some excerpts:

Fire and Ice and Zombies

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor zombies.

For zombies perish not once but twice,

I think I know enough about survival

To say that for destruction

Fighting in a zombie apocalypse

Is pretty great

And would suffice.

This is Robert Frost, possibly America's greatest poet. He also was a wife-beater, so I have no qualms about making some creative changes to his poetry.


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear

And there were fewer zombies lurking there

Other than that, time had worn them really about the same.

(You get the general idea.)

Let's make this a collaborative project! Please submit your classic American or English zombie poem below. Those who become followers of Holly Goes Lightly will get a cut of the royalties. This book is sure to be a smashing success.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jane Austen is rolling over in her grave

John is finally reading one of my favorite books of all time, Pride and Prejudice. You've probably heard of it. I should probably mention that he is enjoying a slightly revised version of the story. The title has been altered to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Yes, I'm serious. This is a real book with actual pages, and a popular one too. I know of others who have read it. It truly maintains the essence of the original novel; however, as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are toying with one another's affections, they are also fighting off zombies (which are an apparent result of a mysterious plague that has run through England.)

The novel begins: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." I agree. Zombies do seem to love to munch on brains.

The book is complete with illustrations. One depicts the five Bennett daughters at the first ball that takes place in the novel, the very one where Elizabeth FIRST meets Mr. Darcy. You will never believe it but zombies crash the party. Mr. Bennett, who has trained his daughter in the ways of swordsmanship and musketry, calls to his daughters across the ballroom as the zombies invade the premises: "Girls! Pentagram of death!" Each daughter pulls some sort of weapon from her underoos as she forms a pentagram with her sisters. Then they vanquish zombies with cunning expertise.

(I am trying to convince John to have just one more child so we too can have our very own pentagram of death. It's always wise to prepare for a coming zombie apocalypse.)

There are discussion questions at the end of the novel. Here is my favorite:

Is Mr. Collins merely too fat and stupid to notice his wife's gradual transformation into a zombie, or could there be another explanation for his failure to acknowledge the problem? If so, what might that explanation be? How might his occupation (as a pastor) relate to his denial of the obvious, or his decision to hang himself?

I'm not saying I'm amused, I'm just saying that was my favorite question.

As I skimmed through this book, I felt a longing to pull out the real novel, or at least to drool over Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the A&E film version. I can guarantee someone will make the zombie version into a movie and the chick from Alias will probably portray Elizabeth. She has that dual personality going: prideful (coquettishly adorable and unwilling to admit her affection for Mr. D) and prejudice (against zombies.)

I wouldn't go to the theater to see it, but I might rent it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Picnics are Great, Allergies are Not

Ahhh June. The days are still getting longer! I am totally pumped about summer. I can't wait until I don't have to pack Caleb's lunch anymore. That's pretty much going to be the most awesome thing about summer. I will no longer suffer from panic attacks at 11pm because we have run out of juice boxes to put in Caleb's lunch. Caleb is a boy who likes his routine. Give him milk money and he'd go nuts. "What if I lose it? What if they don't let me get in line? What if I don't like their milk?" "They" tell me he's perfectly normal. Yes, I've asked.

I can't believe someday I'll have to pack FOUR lunches. I'm seriously thinking of homeschooling for that very reason.

I have a bone to pick with trees. Yes, trees, specifically cottonwood trees. We were at a teddy-bear picnic on Saturday and that stupid cottony fluff made my mascara run. I was a raccoon with severe allergies. It's strange; all winter I long to be outside and when summer officially comes, I'm whining to go inside, out of the hot sun and away from allergens. It was the most gorgeous weekend though. I got my fair share of vitamin D, thank you very much. Here are some pictoral highlights: good times and lots of noodle salad...

Caleb's end-of-the-year Kindergarten program was on Thursday. I have circled him so you know where he is. I put an arrow to where he stood when he gave a moving oration of the Gettysburg address. Okay, not the GA, but he had LINES that he delivered with dramatic flare, I thought.

Ella and Daniel behaving for once at the teddy-bear picnic. If you look closely, you can see the cotton fluffy icky stuff laying like snow in the background.

Later that day we went fishing. There was a lot of goose poop about. The twins were keen on swimming, but we went for a walk instead. By "keen on swimming" I mean they ran toward the water like loony-birds while I screamed "stop stop stop stop!!!" to no avail.

After the park excursion, everyone was good and dirty and stinky. Ella loves to wash Daniel's hair. She really gets his scalp squeaky clean.

The next day we spent the day outside and there were smores involved. I seriously don't know why we bother bathing the children. At the end of the day she smelled like sunscreen, bug spray, chocolate, and someone's perfume... she gets passed around like a doobie since she's so small and therefore very portable.

Hello Romeo. Daniel picks up babes wherever he goes. Yeah, literal babes! They look a little guilty here, do they not?

Strangely, no Ben pictures this weekend! That's okay. He had a funky rash on his chin you would not have wanted to look at.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thoughts about Killing Crows and other Suburbanite Daydreams

The lawn is a constant source of irritation to me. Our house was empty for a good year before we bought it, and during that time the poor yard was not taken care of. Weeds were allowed to grow freely and the grass was allowed to diversify itself. Our neighbors, I'm sure, felt better about their manicured lawns since they bordered the lawn that God had forsaken. We moved over labor-day weekend, and except for occasionally mowing, we decided to wait until this spring to get rid of the weedy invaders.

I now know why organic bohemians flock to the city. You cannot be a proper suburbanite and NOT put dangerous chemicals on your lawn to kill the weeds. I've got thistles in my lawn. THISTLES. People have been known to bleed to death after stepping on a thistle.

After our first kill-the-weeds-chemical application, the lawn guy (LG) came to my door with a worried look about him. He said that we had especially aggressive weeds, and that this application would probably only kill about 60% of the weeds and that it would probably take a full season to get our lawn into shape. We both gazed across the street at the lawn that looks like a golf-course, with matching grasses and perfect landscaping and not a dandelion in sight. At our first meeting, I had pointed to that lawn and said, "That's the cut I want!" as if he were a hair stylist. Oh how I covet that lawn.

After LG informed me not ALL of the weeds would instantly vanish, I took a hard look at him and I said this: "Excuse me? What do you mean it's only going to kill 60% of the weeds? Maybe I should only pay 60% of the bill, then, if you're not going to do 100% of the job. I mean, this is ridiculous. I want to talk to your supervisor. Who's your supervisor?"

I'm kidding, I did not say this. But I think that's what LG may get a lot because I have learned that suburbanites can be, well, jerks, especially when it comes to their lawn. I, on the other hand, was thrilled to piece that the dandelions would die ASAP. They made me sneeze. And Ben kept bringing them to me in little yellow sneezy bouquets to put in cups about the house. There were always tears when the weeds inevitably withered and died, sometimes within hours. Now that we live in a dandelion-free zone, Ben has taken to finding clovers. He runs over to me so I can closely examine each one. Will it be a four-leaf clover this time? Not one yet. It is hard to get any magazine reading done when Ben is on a clover hunt.

I have a theory that my next-door neighbors wait until we mow our lawn before they mow theirs. They usually pull their mower out the day after we do. This way, their lawn looks better than ours does six out of seven days of the week. This is the sort of petty thing suburbanites do. My one neighbor spends an immeasurable amount of time fixating over her flower gardens. I was proud that we finally got all of the fall leaves out from our front landscaping. I put almost no effort into our lawn, yet I inexplicably worry that everyone who passes our house judges us based on how well we maintain it. At the same time, I am completely baffled as to why people turn their sprinklers on to water the grass, ensuring a supremely large water bill. Don't they get that if their lawn dries out, they do not have to MOW IT? I think crispy golden grass is lovely in the sunshine.

It's such a beautiful day out, but we must wait until the chemical lawn application dries before it is safe to frolic in the backyard. Is it wrong that while I watch beastly crows search for worms I am fervently hoping that they are poisoned and die as a result the chemicals?

This is my dream, people. A backyard devoid of thistles, dandelions, and crows. And goggy poop.
I dream big.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oh to be trendy and hip...

Do you like my new blog layout? I've been playing web designer. I can call myself a web designer now because I actually edited html. I did! I went online and learned how to turn a two column layout into a three column layout! AND I learned how to make my own header! I like the girl on my new header, although I can't decide if she's pregnant or is just sticking her stomach out there for the fun of it. I also can't seem to locate her second arm. I'm afraid it might be down her pants. She's a funky chick who is sticking her tummy out with her hand in her pants. OR she's a one-armed pregnant lady. I don't care. She's hip and trendy, and that's totally the image I am going for.

I got a new haircut. It's quite short. I can no longer pull my hair back into a pony-tail. My hair continues to fall out, although not nearly as much. The idea behind the cut was to lessen the gross-out factor by reducing the length of the hairs that come out in droves. (It's disconcerting to see what looks like a bird's nest hovering at the drain when you're done taking a shower.)

I liked my haircut. I thought it was hip and trendy. I got mixed reactions from friends and family. I got tight smiles paired with the words, "it's nice" and big grins paired with "I love it!" The reaction I was most concerned about, of course, was John's. I know he likes my hair long, but he's always been up for a change. When he saw it, he said, "it's cute," so I immediately knew he didn't love it.

His true feelings came out later. I mentioned to him that I had received mixed reactions about my new look. I asked him in a pitiful, whiny voice, "what do you really think? Do you hate it???" To which he responded, "it's cute." Then there was a pause. He said, "I think I know why you received negative feedback about your hair." This statement certainly caught my attention.

"Go on..." I said.

"It's the sort of haircut that women get in their mid-thirties when they just don't care anymore."


"You can pull it off, though. It looks cute on you."

The sort of haircut women in their mid-thirties get when they just don't care anymore. His words. Verbatim.

So if you see us in the next couple of weeks and wonder why he seems more like my man-servant than my husband, you will know why.

Oh, and 31 is definitely NOT mid-thirties. Sheesh.

Monday, June 8, 2009


I'm a protestant Christian and therefore do not believe in purgatory. In fact, I don't even know the true definition of purgatory and am too lazy to look it up. I'm going to be COMPLETELY sacreligious and tell you what I imagine it to be like: some place where you are waiting, uncomfortably, though not in physical pain, to be admitted into heaven.

I imagine purgatory is different for different people. For my husband, purgatory would probably be some place where he was forced to listen to Enya while sorting cherries. For me, it would either be having to suffer through a lifetime of dinners with my four children, or the following:

Wandering the floors of a hospital with Benjamin, the twins, and a broken stroller. On Wednesday, I had a surreal experience at Rochester General. Ella had an appointment with her urologist. We arrived ON TIME. I had Ben and Daniel in tow, as well. I put the twins in the double stroller which, I should tell you, has a broken wheel. The wheel is no longer attached, per se, to the stroller. It can, however, be briefly maneuvered into place where it will stay for very short periods of time until it pops off. Then I have to stop the stroller, give it a good kick back into place, and continue. In the meantime, every person I pass feels the need to tell me my wheel is about to fall off. I feel like a boob telling them, "I know... I'm just making due because I'd rather push a broken stroller through the hospital than let my toddlers walk. They're BAD walkers." By "bad" I mean they tend to walk in circles so that it feels like I have two giggling satellites orbitting me. This is pretty much the way my life is like at home, too. Giggling, orbitting, drooling satellites.

We made it to the doctor's office where we were informed that we were supposed to be at radiology. I missed this somehow. It was probably my fault, but I'm blaming them. I did NOT receive the memo.

Radiology is a horrible place. The last time Ella had her kidneys and bladder x-rayed, they literally stuck her in a tube where she could not move so that they could get accurate pictures. She was only a few weeks old at the time, and I could not believe I was actually ALLOWING some person to stick the baby girl I had so longed for in a plastic tube.

From Ella's doctor's office, radiology happens to be on the complete opposite end of the hospital. To give you some perspective, Rochester General has two separate parking garages: one next to the building we were at, and one next to radiology. I dutifully pushed my sad stroller back into the elevator we had just arrived on. The twins munched on pretzels as Ben pushed the emergency button. A voice came suddenly from above (this happens a lot in purgatory) and I quickly yelled, "my kid did it! It was an accident! Everything's good here... how are you?"

Except for stopping several times to fix the stroller and taking a brief respite at the hospital oasis (i.e. the water fountain), our journey was fairly uneventful. We arrived outside radiology where a large man with a shaved head, a tattoo of a fire-breathing dragon, and a Yankee's baseball jersey sat on a bench packing his cigarettes. Ben looked at him, narrowed his eyes and said, "the Yankees are stupid." At that moment, the wheel to the stroller popped off and landed at the man's feet. He stared at me. "I'm so sorry," I whispered. I grabbed the wheel and then Ben and somehow we all made it through the door and into the waiting room without getting shot.

Now I would have procured babysitting for the boys if I had realized I was going to have to hold my daughter down while people I have never met before stuck a catheter into her urethra. Really. Hearing Ella scream like she's dying while she looks at me plaintively is not a picnic. Ben and Daniel sat outside the room with the nicest nurse in the world drawing pictures of Jedis and wavy lines, respectively.

After the x-rays were taken, we were supposed to head back to the urologist's office to discuss the results. I felt we could discuss them just fine on the phone and took my kids and my broken stroller and headed for the parking garage... on the other side of the hospital. On our way out a woman in hospital garb chased after us... "Miss! Miss!" I stopped and turned around. "Your wheel is about to fall off!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Life of the Dugout

On Saturday afternoon, John walked out the front door and spotted our child, Benjamin, at the end of the driveway, pants down around his ankles, taking a mighty whiz right where Caleb stands to wait for the bus. I don't think anyone saw. I do not know what was going through his head. We had a nice little talk and I don't think he'll be putting on a show for anyone anytime soon.

Speaking of shows, I took Caleb to t-ball this evening. The coaches have started this new thing where they pitch to the players three times before they pull out the tee. It is very satisfying to be the mother of the only boy who hits the ball on the first try.

In t-ball, every player get a turn at the bat each inning, so the boys spend a lot of time waiting around in the dugout (i.e. the grass next to the baseball field.) Now, Caleb takes more after me than John in terms of personality. We are a shy people, generally hanging around the outskirts of any large group waiting for someone to invite us in. So I was surprised this evening to see an extremely lively Caleb in the dugout, chatting up a storm and saying outrageous things in order to get his friends' full attention. Here are some tidbits of what I heard:

Hey! Did you guys ever eat grass?

Let's all say go Dylan go Dylan!!! (Dylan was batting.)

My brother ate a penny once! (That is true. When John asked him why he ate a penny, Ben struck a he-man pose and said, "because I'm STRONG!")

My brother likes to pee in the driveway!

Now, the way Caleb worded this statement made it sound like this was a regular occurrence in our driveway. Not so. This was the one and only incident and it has rained since then so there isn't even any evidence that it ever happened. I found myself explaining to this to the parents around me so that they would know I do not condone peeing on driveways.

After I was done rambling about my child's usual bathroom habits, I called Caleb over. He bounced toward me gleefully, oblivious to any social faux pas on his part. I asked him if he had taken a hyper-pill before we left. He replied, "A hyper-pill! What's that? I don't know what that is!!!!" And then he started bouncing in a circle making me fairly certain he had indeed taken a hyper-pill, perhaps two.

I was never the life of the dugout. I was a little bit in awe of this sudden outward display of social behavior. So I told him to calm down a bit, sent him back to his friends, and watched happily as he goofed off, cheered on his teammates, and participated in more toilet-humor conversation. A little later, he hit a pop-up into left field and everyone cheered loudly. When the game was over, we all got to drink Capri-Suns and eat Teddy Grahams in little baggies. It was a great night to be a mom.