Wednesday, September 29, 2010


So, my house kind of smells like a barn. I didn’t realize this until I left and came back in. Not a horrible smell- just like hay. That’s been peed on.

It’s absolute chaos here. Our puppy, an Australian Shepherd, is a herding breed, and herd she does. She does this by chasing the children relentlessly about the yard, nipping at their feet. Aside from the screaming, it's pretty hilarious. And Ella, poor Ella… Ella is small enough that the dog’s mouth fits snugly about her small calf. She's taken to perching atop the couch and tables and other high places, out of the dog's reach.

But, my word, this puppy is cute. She has two modes of being: manic and dead to the world. And she switches from one to the other in a blink of the eye. Which I completely understand. When I spend a good fifteen minutes wrestling a soda can and barking at it, working myself into an absolute frenzy, I pretty much pass out afterwards, too.

Daniel, possibly inspired by the puppy’s potty-training progress, has completely potty-trained himself in 24 hours. Pee and poo. There hasn’t been ONE accident since he first sat upon the porcelain throne. In his pants, anyway. I can’t say that the pee and poo always hit the prospective target, which has definitely contributed to the barn smell in the home.

The house is a wreck. If you are planning on visiting in the next couple of days, please go to the bathroom beforehand as I cannot promise that the condition of my own water closets will be amenable to guests. I simply can’t keep up. I’m constantly doing laundry, extricating my dog’s mouth from my daughter’s leg, making completely non-nutritious foods, cleaning up pee and poo, helping Caleb with his homework, and daydreaming. Lots of daydreaming. I daydream about having a nicely decorated house like this:

Serene blue and white, light and airy, a touch of French country. I look at rooms like this in magazines and scoff, saying, "How impractical!" But a room like this would make me feel calm. Though I could do without the dead zebra carcass on the floor.

I love blue and white. I am inspired by Monet's kitchen (I don't mean to brag, but I've been here):

Cookware as decoration! A marvelous idea. I wouldn't feel like I was being so wasteful with my pots and pans.

Or, I could be quite content with a room like this:

Looks like it would be cozy in the winter. And John would probably fit in better here. We'd call this the library. We would also have a parlor and a drawing room. I don't know what a drawing room is. I read about them in Victorian novels a lot, and I think there might be one in the game Clue.

They all did it. But if you wanna know who killed Mr. Boddy, I did. In the hall. With the revolver. Okay, Chief, take 'em away. I'm gonna go home and sleep with my wife.

In this room, I could easily draw Caleb hanging from the chandelier, Daniel taking a ride down the spiral staircase, Ben being Spiderman on the wrong side of the balcony, and Ella throwing all of the books on the floor. (She threw all of our Ayn Rand books on the floor the other day. Sometimes, she seems so very intelligent.)

I was feeling kind of guilty about my escapist daydreaming. After all, there are people in the world who have to live in yurts. Then I saw this picture:

Holy crap, that's a nice yurt. I've gotta find time to clean my house but good. Did I mention it kind of smells like a barn?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dog People

The other night I found myself in Rite Aid with my arms full of diapers, puppy chow, and vitamins. I felt like a grown up.

Want to know what I never dreamed I’d be doing? Not in a million years? Potty-training twins and a puppy. At the same time. Three creatures. And guess who’s doing the best? She is fuzzy, she is almost nine weeks old, and she is of canine descent.

We have been dog people for one week today. We are all adjusting. I’ve steeped myself in dog literature and could probably lead a seminar on raising puppies. Some worthwhile tidbits you might be interested to know:

- If a dog pees on your carpet, do not use an ammonia-based cleaner to clean it. Because ammonia is a component of urine, to the dog it’s like you’re washing urine with urine. You might as well put up a sign that says “this spot on the carpet is for your peeing pleasure.”

- Dogs will do anything for bacon-flavored treats. My husband took one whiff of the treats and was sorely tempted. Bacon does make everything better. Like omelets.

- I keep reading it is bad to give your dog rawhide bones. Apparently, the rawhide can splinter off and rupture a dog’s stomach or appendix or something. “They” say there are good chewing-toy alternatives. This is a lie. There is nothing a dog loves to chew more than a rawhide bone. We like to live dangerously in our household, anyway.

Some pics from the past week:

Picture's a bit fuzzy, dog's a bit fuzzy.

Kiah and her grandma.

Caleb is really that excited about having a puppy.

The collar's not a big hit.

Ella likes to cover her up. Actually, this is a problem. "Smothering" is a concern.

I want that life.

To sleep perchance to dream... of bacon.

Pretty girl.

Sometimes Kiah sleeps splayed out like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Kiah's a big hit with almost everyone. (Was not a big hit with Daniel when she pulled down his pants with her teeth.) John is more in love with this dog than I've ever seen him in love with anyone. More than with me when we first met, more than his newborn children, more than Dan Marino, more than that girl who loves hockey on How I Met Your Mother.

How to capture what John is like around this dog? Perhaps through song... This one is from the musical The Music Man and was popularized by
the Beatles.

There were bells
On the hill
But I never heard them ringing...
No I never heard them at all
'Til there was you!

Etc., etc.

We're having fun. It's a little tiring.

The comment section below is for you to tell me how adorable my dog is. Don't be shy, now.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On Hiatus

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, ...

Philippians 2:1-30

I’m taking the advice of certain family members and turning portions of my blog into book-format. The happy parts. I’m going to self-publish all of ONE copy for my grandmother, who recently referred to the world wide web as the “internment.” (There may be some deep symbolic meaning there.) Obviously, she has never been on the “internment.” Therefore, if Mohammed can’t go to the mountain, let the mountain come to Mohammed.

I was trying to paste the posts together into a cohesive storyline, filling awkward gaps with the words “In the room the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo.” I’ve since given that up and am creating a book of “essays.” There will be more pictures than words, actually.

I’m going to take a short blogging break. A blogging sabbatical. I’m off to Italy with my sister-in-law, Lisa. (I warned you, Scott.)

I’m kidding, of course. I’ll be at home paying more attention to my house and my kids and less attention to me.

I’m so sick of me. I’m sick of my petty problems: my disenchantment with my role as the proverbial housewife; my constant yo-yo dieting; my insomnia; my overall sense of restlessness; my horrible jealousy of people who seem so damn happy. I’m jealous of their vacation pictures and their tans and their clean houses and their contentment. I am a terrible person!

You can take your arrogant jerks, your narcissistic beauty queens, your know-it-alls who give constant, unsolicited advice, because here's the God's honest truth: there is no one more self-absorbed than the depressed person.

I’m tired of "playing" Sylvia Plath. Because, in the end, I'm a crappy poet and, more importantly, she really failed as a mother.

So, I’m stepping back a bit, going into full-fledged nesting mode for the new puppy, taking my kids outside to enjoy the last remnants of good weather, making out with my husband, and putting wallpaper over all of the mirrors in my house. Seriously.

I’m off to the p-word. Because it just hasn’t been a good summer. And I can’t do another bad winter.

I need to be of one mind.

I’ll be back when the twins are potty-trained. (Give me a couple weeks.)

In the interim, please peruse the archives or check out the amazing bloggers listed on my blog roll. Or, get off the “internment!” You’re probably supposed to be working or spending time with your family or something.

And, finally, because I’ve been meaning to imbue a little culture into my blog, I leave you with what is probably my very favorite poem of all time. It’s depressing. Go figure.

(I so want the mermaids to sing to me.)

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question. . .
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions
And for a hundred visions and revisions
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!"]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!"]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all;
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . . .

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet–and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say, "That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all."

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all." . . . . .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.


In honor of my slight crush on Kristin Chenoweth, and also in honor of my husband being gone for pretty much a freaking week thank you very much, a Glee song:

Yay to the makers of Glee for turning Heart's catchy but slightly creepy song into a kind of sexy duet! Really, the addition of the male singing as well makes a difference. Consider the lyrics:

"I hear the ticking of the clock, I'm lying here, the room's pitch dark. I wonder where you are tonight, No answer on the telephone."

"And now it chills me to the bone. How do I get you alone?"

Probably not by singing him this song, chickie. You're kind of a stalker.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Day

Today, this happened:

Ben is growing up. Yesterday, when we went to his new classroom to meet his young, perky, tan, blond teacher, he said, "I'm Ben. I'm five now. Isn't it nice to meet me?" Later, he informed me his teacher was sooo cool.

"Why?" I asked.

"She is soooo pretty." Ben has always had an eye for the ladies.

And yes, looking at the picture, I am concerned that those backpack straps are going to cause problems.

We met Caleb's teacher yesterday, too. She is quite visibly knocked up. Probably 5-6 months along.

How dare she. I really wish teachers would take their jobs more seriously and plan their pregnancies accordingly. Like, at times when my kids won't be in their classes. My disappointment is palpable. We're going to have words tomorrow at parents night.

(I've already started crocheting a baby afghan. I love crocheting baby afghans!)

Some pics of the long wait for the bus:

Daniel's magnificent leap across a puddle. It was deeper than it looks.

Kindergartner Ben.

I think he has a shot with the teacher. I mean, look at him!

Caleb promised to make sure Ben got where he needed to go. I reminded him about twelve times. He didn't roll his eyes until around the tenth time.

Second grader. Needs a haircut.

The boys with their lawyer/ lobbyist father who this morning said, "This bus better not be late. I have a conference call." Well, excuuuuse us Mr. Busy and Important. (I love Mr. Busy and Important.)

Ben's empty arting table where he does his very best arting projects. Oh my heart hurts this morning.

I better toughen it up at the gym. I'm off to get svelte.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Repentant Yeller

It’s late in the afternoon and I am finally ready to complete a short, 400-word article due ASAP. It’s so hot and I am sweating; my shirt is sticking to my back, my hair to my neck. The air in the office is stagnant. Outside, the rumblings of thunder announce the cold front that is finally moving in. The telephone rings again and again. Ben keeps tattling on his brothers for inoffensive misdeeds. Ella is sleeping, but her brothers keep shrieking, yelling, running around as boys are prone to do. I keep running downstairs to hush them. They look at me with big, innocent eyes.

Ella wakes up. She is understandably irritable. She sits on my lap while I type, awkwardly, with one hand.

Little work is getting done.

Daniel starts dumping toys. From upstairs, I can hear the blocks tumble out of their bin. Then I hear him dragging something else around. He laughs as he dumps what I soon discover to be the bin of legos. I hear Ben squeal and start crying. He runs up the stairs, announcing that Daniel has maliciously hit him in the face with a lego. It could very well be the worst thing that has ever happened to him.

I finish my thought on the screen and run downstairs to assess the damage. Daniel has strewn his toys across the floor. He is casting them over his shoulder, paying no attention to where they land. As I approach him, I step on a lego. I am constantly stepping on legos. It hurts like a bitch.

I yell. I didn’t even know I was a yeller until I had kids. I yell because I am tired of spending too much of my own precious time cleaning up after Daniel. In a house of 6, one child makes 80% of the mess. Daniel, the human tornado, is the most unrepentant toy dumper I have ever met in my life.

I am tired and sweaty and I hate legos. Really, really hate legos. I point at the mess and demand that Daniel pick it all up right this instant. Daniel’s face crinkles and he shakes his head and then he runs up to his room, sobbing.

I let him go.

Furious, I’m tempted to scoop everything up, throw it in a garbage bag, and put it in the trash bin. I kneel on the floor and start sorting blocks and legos and puzzle pieces and mumble about kids in other parts of the world who have nothing. Caleb and Ben look at me, curiously. They know to keep their mouths shut.

I calm down and quietly ascend the stairs, unsure what I am going to do with Daniel. When I spot him, he is standing, his head against the wall, crying softly. He looks so small. Instinctively, I pick him up and he immediately crumples and cries into my hair. His chubby arms hang on to me tight. We go back downstairs and sit on the couch. He buries his face in my arm. Caleb and Ben wordlessly descend into the basement. I hear Ella upstairs, banging away at the keyboard, leaving gibberish beneath the sad start of my article.

Within one minute, the time it takes him to wreak havoc on the downstairs, Daniel has fallen asleep. He has a soft snore and his hand grips my shirt.

We sit there, still, for a half-an-hour, amidst the wreckage he has left behind, the quiet after the storm.