Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I wish my kids would do that.
Monday, June 28, 2010
It is hard to keep a clean house when your husband leaves belts places. Also socks, shoes, and other work-attire accoutrements.
Last evening, we enjoyed a raucous night out with my sister Mary and her husband, whom I will refer to as Nate, because that is his name. We went off to a really wonderful Mediterranean restaurant in the city, Eros, which is behind and to the left of the Little Theatre. Not 2 Vine. Go beyond 2 Vine.
Lest this turns into a restaurant review site, I will just say the following: if you happen to have the chance to go out with friends or your significant other and you choose The Olive Garden instead of Eros or Scotland Yard or DaVinci’s, I think you are making a colossal mistake. I guarantee that the food is better, the service more personable, the atmosphere distinctive, and the wait nonexistent at Eros. And the price is comparable.
The Olive Garden is prosaic.
I ordered a cucumber melon soup followed by an entrée of Mousaka with sautéed vegetables, which I ordered simply because I got the opportunity to say Mousaka out loud. Mousaka. What a great word! The soup was refreshing. Mary tried it and agreed it was refreshing.
John ordered a bottle of red wine which he and Nathan enjoyed. This is one of those restaurants where the waiter presents the wine, pours a little bit so you can swirl it and sniff it, and then waits while you taste and approve it. If you are knowledgeable about wine, you can make informative and arrogant sounding comments about the bouquet, and about whether the wine is fruity or dry or whatever. This is what my husband said when presented with the bottle:
“Look! There are monkeys on the label!” I can’t take him anywhere. And he leaves belts places.
(I don’t drink; I am still a recovering alcoholic.)
After eating, John wanted to show Nate and Mary his office at The Firm. I should now mention that my dad also works at The Firm, though in a different department than John. I should probably also mention that on our way to The Firm, I suggested we go up to my dad’s office and “do something to it.” I was vague on the what. I had this idea that since we were all hankering for dessert, we might eat all of his M&Ms, which he keeps in a container at his desk. But when we got there, there were no M&Ms, so we vandalized the place instead. By vandalize I mean we flipped some pictures upside down. By “we” I mean John and Nathan, who worked while I wrung my hands and fretted about the consequences of such an action. Mary sat grimly and supervised.
I’m not sure that this is going to go over well this morning. I expect a phone call at any time. I might add that my dad and stepmom were watching my kids while we were doing this, so the guilt is somewhat compounded.
I'm admitting all of this first thing because I have a very hard time keeping secrets. Not important secrets. Let's just say I would make a very bad poker player. Big, personal, secrets? I'm like Al Gore's locked box. Your secrets are very safe with me. And with my twelve closest friends.
John, who is by nature a loquacious being, becomes even more long-winded after a couple of glasses of wine. He has a tendency to give whole seminars on subjects of interest to him: a lengthy history lesson on the Smiley Face murders, perhaps, or a philosophical diatribe against people who don’t take responsibility for their actions.
Last evening, we were all set to watch at episode of Arrested Development before Mary and Nathan disappeared into the fog (because this is what we do), when we were awarded a long, impassioned speech from John.
Which may have led to an argument between me and John. Which I think I won, because we did end up watching some Bluth family hilarity.
So last night, I crawled into bed, feeling a little contrite, when I saw a long, fat belt, sprawled out on my side of the bed like a python. John lay there, grinning like a Cheshire cat. Unjust retribution!!!
I then I found a long, skinny belt, coiled beneath my pillow like a black mamba.
He leaves belts places. And it drives me nuts.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
“Ella, is this an animal or a food?”
“Very good! It is an apple. Is an apple an animal or a food?”
“Good job! Okay, look at this picture. Is this an animal or a food?”
“Yes, it is a kitty. Is a kitty an animal or food?”
“Nice kitty noises. But I asked if a kitty is an animal or a food…”
“Yay Ella! Okay, how about this one?” I show her a picture of a cow and she stares at it, perplexed, like she’s never seen a bovine creature before in her life. After a moment of contemplation she responds:
“Food.” And I have nothing to say to that because we had hamburgers a few nights ago.
The potty-training is not going well. Ella pooped in her brand new Cinderella panties. Daniel is taking a Custer’s Last Stand approach to the issue. The whole thing has been rather exhausting.
Today is the last day of school. Caleb wants to celebrate. Caleb is very big on celebrations. The other week, he came home and wanted to know what I was planning on doing to celebrate Flag Day.
“I wasn’t planning on doing anything,” I told him. He crossed his arms and scowled.
“You should at least go out and buy a flag.”
I really want to send the twins to preschool next year. Mainly because I crave two mornings of freedom, but also because I think it would be good for them. But I just don’t think it’s feasible. Twins, you know, are expensive. Twice as expensive as singletons.
Last night, Ella and I played "Boy or Girl."
“Is daddy a boy or a girl?”
“Is Caleb a boy or a girl?”
“Is Ella a boy or a girl?”
I think we’ll work on gender recognition before we force the potty issue. Sigh.
Monday, June 21, 2010
One afternoon, while folding socks, I got my first owie contraction. I cleaned the house, went to a piano recital, shipped Caleb off my mom's, and stayed up and watched Gaslight (a classic starring Joseph Cotten and Ingrid Bergman. You should watch it) until it was time to go to the hospital. At about 3am. So I woke up John. Ben came after two pushes, and the nurse delivered him before the doctor got there. John nearly missed it because he wanted coffee. Coffee is the devil. But all was well, and Ben came swiftly and loudly into the world at- I totally forget what time. I have it written down, somewhere.
Good times and noodle salad commenced.
Ben was the most beautiful baby in the nursery. I'm not even just saying that. It was common knowledge among the staff in the maternity ward. He had a perfect round bald head. It stayed that way for almost three years. It never flattened in the back like Ella's did, and it never got covered in cradle cap, like Caleb's did. It was smooth and soft and perfect.
This kid is even cute when he's angry.
He's off to kindergarten in the fall. I don't think this is going to go well. He still needs a nap or he looks like the above picture. Full-day kindergarten is a beast for some kids. I said to John- "Maybe I should homeschool him!" John said, "No." I said, "Whyyyyy?" And he said, "You know why." Because I'm unorganized and... well that's it, basically, I guess.
Oh but I wish we could stay together forever, my lovey. Happy birthday.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Baseball season is in full swing here in our world, and my son Caleb is most in his element when he is holding his black leather glove and his grass-stained ball. He is the smallest but most enthusiastic kid on his team, raising the roof every time he makes a play or gets on base or runs home.
He is on the yellow team- the coaches still pitch and everyone plays the field, regardless of how many kids show up to play. That means, at any given game, there are between 7 and 9 kids in the outfield, and when a ball is hit, they swarm like bees and inevitably crash into one another, and it all looks like a parody of the sport.
Of course it isn’t. It is serious business. These boys (and girl) are just on the cusp of becoming competent baseball players: when a player actually catches the ball, he acquires a look of astonishment and becomes immediately paralyzed from the face down. The crowd screams adulations while the coaches yell at him to throw the ball to third. He eventually comes back to life and throws the ball to second or first or anywhere but third, but it doesn’t matter.
It’s delightful entertainment.
Caleb hits every time and always slides into the bases. Always. Even when the ball is still being chased in far left field. Then he raises the roof while jumping up and down and hooting- the epitome of joyfulness. He waves his hat - his yellow hat that was lost in our backyard for two games but was found covered in leaves and mud by the sandbox.
Caleb played first base for a while today. He stood there, shouting to his teammates while scratching himself, and I thought- this is baseball. The great American sport. My son is itching himself in front of everyone. I hope the camera’s not on him. There are no cameras here. He is seven. I hope he doesn’t have jock itch. I think those pants don’t fit him right- they ride up in the crotch. Why in God’s green earth would they give them white pants to wear? I should put Scotch Guard on them before we go out. Does he have to go to the bathroom? Caleb STOP DOING THAT! (My mind tends to wander.)
He runs back to the dugout, passing me as he goes, pausing for a brief chat. Covered in dirt from head to toe, he finishes my soda and winks at me as he walks away. I grin at his childish gait, his head swaying left to right as he throws his glove down and picks up his bat, and am profoundly aware that I am looking at my own beating heart.
I didn’t know my heart loved baseball so much.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Take a look at these two positions. (These are secular articles written mainly from an evolutionary standpoint. However- both make excellent arguments.)
1. The extreme conservative crowds (fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Muslims) are breeding like rabbits (my case in point- though I'm probably not enough of a fundamentalist to be called a fundamentalist by fundamentalists if that makes any sense) while moderate and liberal families are stopping after one to two or choosing not to have any children at all.
Soon, the overwhelming population of patriarchal-minded conservatives will overtake the postmodern mindset, and we will be living a world similar to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. No, not really. But just maybe...
Check out this video- "How to Beat Your Wife." Favorite quote, "If he beats her, the beatings must be light and he must not make her face ugly." Well. At least there's that.
Longman argues that patriarchy is the reason the human face has not yet become extinct- and why as population is declining across the globe, it will most certainly make a comeback.
What does a patriarchal society entail?
1) Men marrying women of a proper station.
2) Great involvement of family in children's lives.
3) Stigmitization of illegitimate children and single mothers.
4) The idea that the children belong to the father's family, and not the mother's.
5) Families reproducing until they have at least one son.
6) Children are representatives of their father's rank and honor.
7) Suppression of individualism and full submission to the father.
The Return of Patriarchy by Philip Longman
Introductory quote to article:
“Throughout the broad sweep of human history, there are many examples of people, or classes of people, who chose to avoid the costs of parenthood. Indeed, falling fertility is a recurring tendency of human civilization. Why then did humans not become extinct long ago? The short answer is patriarchy.
Patriarchy does not simply mean that men rule. Indeed, it is a particular value system that not only requires men to marry but to marry a woman of proper station. It competes with many other male visions of the good life, and for that reason alone is prone to come in cycles. Yet before it degenerates, it is a cultural regime that serves to keep birthrates high among the affluent, while also maximizing parents' investments in their children. No advanced civilization has yet learned how to endure without it.”
2) Women are taking over, leaving men in the dust, and stripping them of their dignity and manhood.
The End of Men by Hanna Rosin
A scenario in which the all-sufficient woman is taking over not only traditional, nurturing-type jobs suited for women (teaching, nursing, etc.) but white-collar management positions that once went to men. On top of that, (women) are mad at men for not earning enough money to support their dreams of a white picket fence. AND studies point out that the learning styles in schools are geared toward females, not males- office structures are also female-oriented. Men seem to be at a severe disadvantage and women seem a) unsympathetic and b) annoyed that men aren't providing as they should. Are men becoming "the new ball and chain?"
Check out the commercial Rosin refers to narrated by none other than Michael C. Hall, aka Dexter, a man who balances work, family, and his lust for killing really bad people.
Two key quotes from the article:
“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now hold 51.4 percent of managerial and professional jobs—up from 26.1 percent in 1980. They make up 54 percent of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About a third of America’s physicians are now women, as are 45 percent of associates in law firms—and both those percentages are rising fast. A white-collar economy values raw intellectual horsepower, which men and women have in equal amounts. It also requires communication skills and social intelligence, areas in which women, according to many studies, have a slight edge. Perhaps most important—for better or worse—it increasingly requires formal education credentials, which women are more prone to acquire, particularly early in adulthood”
“Throughout the ’90s, various authors and researchers agonized over why boys seemed to be failing at every level of education, from elementary school on up, and identified various culprits: a misguided feminism that treated normal boys as incipient harassers (Christina Hoff Sommers); different brain chemistry (Michael Gurian); a demanding, verbally focused curriculum that ignored boys’ interests (Richard Whitmire). But again, it’s not all that clear that boys have become more dysfunctional—or have changed in any way. What’s clear is that schools, like the economy, now value the self-control, focus, and verbal aptitude that seem to come more easily to young girls.”
Do either of these scenarios concern you? Why or why not?
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Today I took the twins to the library for the Potty Tales program, which is just what it sounds like. We learned to boogie to the potty dance, listened to stories about children who have conquered the potty mountain, and sang “Tinkle Tinkle” to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle.”
On the ride home, I discussed the cultural implications of remaining in diapers past a certain age to Daniel and Ella.
“…so, if you want to someday get married and have children of your own, it is crucial you wear big boy or big girl underpants. Because I can almost guarantee your mate will. So then, Daniel, do you want to sing the potty dance song again?”
“Good! And when we get home, will you make pee-pee in the potty?”
It’s a process, people.
As a born procrastinator, I admit I should have been more diligent in potty training them in the past few months. People in Africa carry their babies around naked, training them to poop and pee over a potty (or hole in the ground or whatever) on command. Two-months olds! Little itty people! When I read things like this, I feel like a complete and utter potty-training dud.
Last week, I told myself I would start seriously potty-training after the garage sale, although Ella and Daniel were adamantly against it. Potty-training that is.
I put Ella on the little potty and pulled down her pants.
“Ew,” she said, “stinky stinky butt.” She loves to say stinky butt. Anytime she smells something foul, she declares it a case of the “stinky butt.” Whenever I change Daniel’s diaper, she comes over to inspect whether or not Daniel has a “stinky butt.” If I happen to run about upstairs in my underwear, she points at me and yells, “stinky butt!” (Which I take offense to. For the record, my butt smells like roses.)
So Ella was on the potty. She immediately got up and ran off yelling, “Ew! Ew! Ew!”
Ben has been training Daniel in the art of pooping on the potty. In fact, the training sessions got a little weird, so I had to put a stop to them. Daniel won’t even sit on the potty and clings to his diapers like Charlton Heston clung to his guns. During the Potty Tales program, we all encouraged our kids to shout “No more diapers! No more diapers!” If it had been a union strike, Daniel would have totally crossed the picket line. He is that attached to his diapers.
“YES diapers,” he muttered. Ella, on the other hand, never gives up an opportunity to yell anything.
“No more DIAPERS!” she shouted with the crowd, and then did a little spin move and fell down. An agitator for sure.
Tomorrow, we’re going off diapers cold turkey. I expect there will be at least four to five accidents. But I’ll put them on the potty ever hour and see if anything happens. I’m betting Daniel actually goes first, because I expect he will be mortified when he has his first accident.
Oh, I don’t want to do this. I’m thinking of moving to Africa, where I can carry my babies around naked in a sling, and live a life of minimalism. I mean, I’m sure most African peoples can’t conceive of having so much crap that they could sell it at a garage sale. (My garage sale was rather poorly attended, by the way.) I would be the palest African in the history of Africans and would live in perpetual fear of the black mamba, but a simpler life appeals to me. Sometimes I think- I know- I make my life harder than it has to be. By accumulating worthless junk. By procrastinating. By picking fights with people on the internet. (That’s a bit off-topic, I realize, but it’s what I’ve been up to lately.)
I want simplicity. It’s something I’m really really going to work on- after I potty-train the twins, of course.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Today I unearthed the thing to make pizza dough. Ben was adamant about helping me make pizza. I loaded the machine with water, olive oil, salt, sugar, flour, and yeast, and put it on the dough setting.
3 1/2 hours later, I went to retrieve my dough only to find that I had accidentally made a rather tasteless and extremely dense bread.
I am still completely flummoxed. (We ordered pizza for the kids and my sister, Joyce, who babysat as John and I ventured off on our biannual date night.)
We are adventurers who ventured off into the coolish evening without a particular destination in mind. We drove down Park Ave and were turned off by the crowds of people who were jam-packed into trendy bistros, so we turned and headed downtown. John took me to a pub on St. Paul that was quiet and cozy. We parked in an empty parking lot at the end of the street and walked into Scotland Yard, which was surprisingly calm for a Saturday night. Too calm, I think.
The restaurant specializes in Wood Fire pizzas, but they also have sandwiches and an array of appetizers and nightly specials. I chose the eggplant parmesan sandwich special, which was delectable. John had a pizza. The service was outstanding. The pub has a classic, old-world interior. It would be the perfect spot to watch the World Cup, though you may have to cheer for the English. There’s also a pool table and darts and so on and so forth. It’s within walking distance of Water Street Music Hall and is open for lunch starting this Monday. You should probably go there. I’ll meet you for lunch if you pay.
If you do go, I would not park at the empty lot at the end of the street. Though it has no signs that indicate parking is not allowed, a meathead in a white SUV told us we were lucky we showed up when we did because our car was about to get towed. This was after the meathead parked his car diagonally, the car’s butt about three inches from the front of our van. He did this while looking at us as we were walking to our van. His parking job perplexed me becausewe were in a large parking lot and there were plenty of other spots. I was giving him the evil eye when he opened his big meatball mouth.
“Yeah. You can’t park here. This is a private lot. We all park diagonally here, so I know when someone parks like you did (in the lines) that you don’t belong. And when you park like that (in the lines) it messes up our delivery system.”
“Sorry. We won’t park here again.”
“Yeah, well, we tow a lot of cars like yours who park who think they can get free parking. You’re in the city. You should always expect to pay for parking in the city.”
“Sorry to inconvenience you.”
“This is a private lot. You can’t just park in a private lot.”
So there you have it. Always expect to pay for parking in the city. Unless, of course, you park in a parking garage during the evening or weekend if there is not an event going on. Then parking is free. Ya jerk.
(I don’t get out much, so when someone is not only rude, but aggressive and intrusive of my van’s personal space, I get very bent out of shape. I spent the rest of the evening thinking of things I should have said to him. Like: So, Meathead, where are the signs that say we shouldn’t park here? Hmmmm? That would’ve showed him. He would’ve been all like… ummm…. And I would've been like... Yeah. I thought so.)
Other than that, it was a lovely evening. When John and I are finally alone together, we have deep deep conversation. It would blow your mind the deep stuff we talk about. Here are some exclusive snippets:
John: I really like the smell of babies’ heads. I think it’s because they’re the only part of a baby’s body that doesn’t smell like sour milk, puke, or poop. We should get jobs in the church nursery so I can smell some babies’ heads.
(As we pass by a group of people sitting outside a restaurant on Park Ave)
Holly: Look at all of the beautiful people in the world.
John: What? No. They’re not beautiful.
Holly: They are! Look at them!
John: No. It’s the cheerleader effect. Whenever you look at a group of nicely dressed people all together, they look good. Look at them individually.
Holly: (pause) Oh my gosh... they're hideous!
John: Told you.
(After Meathead leaves…)
John: Why are you holding that key up in the air?
Holly: We’re going to key that guy’s car.
John: That’s probably not a good idea.
Holly: I would feel a lot better about all of this if we keyed that guy’s car.
As an end-note, since this has been a blog post about, among other things, pizza, I encourage you to check out The Rochester NY Pizza Blog. Run by one “Pizza Guy,” it provides reviews about all of the best- and worst- pizza eateries in the greater Rochester area. I hope he will check out Scotland Yard. Though I hear he’s not always a fan of wood fire pizza. (Josh- don’t read his first review of Checker Flag. Read the second review. You will feel better.)
Did I end up keying the Meathead's vehicle? Maybe. Just maybe.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Which brings me to a complaint. “Pomp and Circumstance” (the song, not the individual words, which are lovely) should be banned from graduations. Someone hums the song and I tear up. To hear it playing while my little baby is walking solemnly down an aisle in a miniature graduation gown is enough to send me over the edge.
I do have alternate processional suggestions: “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper would be good, or maybe the theme to the television show Justified (by the gentleman Tone Z) for an edgy, life is going to get hard keep on truckin’, kid, kind of vibe. (This song has got to be the coolest television theme song ever in the history of the world. And I don’t even like rap.)
Then they can all recess to a Sousa march.
I’m feeling especially weary that Ben is moving on thanks to a recent letter I received from our Superintendent. I will highlight some of the good parts:
… there is an activity some kids have engaged in that involves deliberate fainting.
… serious physical and neorological ramifications. This act depletes the brain of oxygen and could result in injuries due to falling, concussions, severe headaches, brain damage, seizues, and possibly even death.
… the reason for engaging in this behavior is to experience a floaty, tingling or high sensation that results from limiting oxygen to the brain.
… warning signs to look for include: frequent severe headaches, inexplicable bruising or lacerations due to falling, bloodshot eyes and/or Petechiae (tiny red dots) on face, changes in attitude (overly aggressive), disorientation and or/ grogginess.
Oh my gosh teenagers are so stupid. I don’t mean to make a blanket statement about all teenagers- of course there are some who are relatively reasonable human beings- but as a group of peoples, they are dumb.
And as an honest-to-goodness fainter, one who has passed out NOT OF HER OWN VOLITION, I take offense to this behavior. It’s kind of like pretending to have cancer when you don’t. Okay, it’s not really like that at all. Still though.
This is why I don’t teach high school. I’m not sure why I majored in Education. I didn’t like high school when I was in high school. Why did I think I’d ever want to go back?
I mean, what do you say to a kid who is purposefully holding his breath until he passes out for a short tingling sensation? Or deliberately choking himself or allowing someone else to choke him until he passes out? For the love of all that is holy, how could this EVER sound like a good idea?
What do you say to a kid who uses Meth on a regular basis? Because apparently “you’re probably going to need your kidneys and liver later in life” isn’t working.
Once, in high school, a "friend" offered me a can of Butane to inhale. I think I said something like, “Um, no. No no. I’d rather not suck dangerous chemicals into my body this evening. But thanks so much for the offer! Really generous.”
Statistically, most people begin engaging in heavy drinking and smoking and drug use between the ages of 10 and 22. If you make it past this age, you are unlikely to ever develop an unhealthy love of pouring dangerous chemicals into your body. This is because as we mature, we become more rational, wary human beings. It is why young gymnasts do so much better in the Olympics than older gymnasts- they have yet to develop that fear of injury. They are still living in the moment.
Combine this fearlessness with a tendency to succumb to the tiniest bit of peer pressure, and Houston, we have a problem.
It’s why, despite everyone telling me how dangerous the sun is (especially on pale skin), I developed countless blistering sunburns in my youth. And now I am about to get my second basal cell carcinoma removed from my face. (Let that be a lesson to you.)
There was never even a chance I was ever going to be tan.
You know what Ben did the other day? He tried to skateboard down the slide. I nearly peed my pants. Fearless.
Though I’m compelled to keep them in a protective bubble for the next 15+ years, I know that is the fear inside me talking. Somehow, parents have to reconcile their fear with their child’s fearlessness. And therein lies the complicated relationship that is between the parent and the child. Everyone just breathe.
I see them long hard times to come.