Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm like Groupon, only better. Well, today anyway.

Readers of Holly Goes Lightly in the Rochester area are being offered free movie tickets!  (My apologies to you non-New Yorkers.  Not only can gays marry here, but we get free movie tickets!  Life is sweet!) The first 40 people to follow the link below will be sent two movie passes to the film, Zookeeper, starring the affable Kevin James, and some animals.  Looks like a zebra and a lion are featured.  The screening will take place at Regal Henrietta, which is right there in Henrietta.  I forget what the road's called.  It's down the street from the Walmart. 

The screening takes place July 6 at 7:00. 

I nabbed two tickets, so technically there are only 39 offers left.  Upon my honor, I will not use a different IP and e-mail address to get two more. 

To receive the tickets, go to:  WWW.GOFOBO.COM/RSVP

Then, type in the RSVP confirmation code:  4VIP92C8

Tell your friends!  

Summer Commenceth

So. Summer vacation.


I love my kids. Really. I do. I love them. And I love spending time with them.

But sometimes, they are irritating little poops.

This actually came out of Caleb today, a dramatic litany spoken in but a single breath:

“I don’t want to go outside any more because I lost my two best hitting balls and my bat is dented and when I swing, Kiah tries to bite my feet and Kiah won’t chase the ball or the Frisbee, she only does that with dad, and I get too hot and there are wasps by that bush and my boomerang always gets stuck in the tree and also the neighbor says bad words when he’s on his phone and I’m afraid he’s going to drop his phone into his pool when he’s in there and get electrocuted and also… you really need to pick up the dog poop.

"Can I play Wii?”

And this is only day #2. I’m screwed.

Caleb also has a developed a tic- not of the lyme disease variety, but of the Inspector Dreyfus in the original Pink Panther movies variety. He compulsively looks upward, almost like he’s rolling his eyes, which has gotten him in trouble with some of his friends. I’ve looked up childhood tics on the old internet. To gain an understanding of people who have uncontrollable tics, one child health site said to imagine keeping your eyes open and willing yourself not to blink. As time goes by, it gets harder and harder to keep those eyes open. Eventually, you just have to blink. This is what it feels like to the child (or adult) who blinks uncontrollably, jerks their head, or has some other compulsive movement.

Caleb’s cool about it- not that self-conscious. He will gladly explain to you why it happens, with a shrug and a “that’s just what I do,” kind of pragmatism. I worry, of course. I mean, he’ll be fine, but society in general is not generally kind to those with neurological hiccups.

I’m hoping that a nice, long, relaxing summer of bugging me to play Wii will help. After all, Caleb is an introspective sort of person; very serious, very thoughtful. When he’s completely relaxed, there are fewer tics. To be honest, and I don’t mean to get braggy, the tics are probably a sign of genius.

Society is also not kind to the four-year old who talks in gibberish and still isn’t quite potty-trained. (We’re SO close!) Or rather, they are confused. In their round-a-bout ways, curious observers want to know: “What is WRONG with your child?”

I don’t know. I don’t know why, when I ask her what she had for breakfast this morning, she answers: “Breakfast. Yeah.” Why she can’t say, “I had a waffle.” As I write this, she is shredding a napkin at the table. If I don’t get up and intervene, soon the napkin will be all over the kitchen. And, there it goes. My homemade confetti machine at it again.

Lovely chaos.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Now we are six

Yesterday was Ben’s last day of being five. Five is my favorite age. I know Ben was once four, but I think I will always remember him best at five: hair still blonde, skin still smooth, eyes that still twinkle when they happen to catch mine. Five is uninhibited, yet somewhat civilized. Somewhat.

In the school hallway, Ben’s class stands in a squirmy line, some kids rocking back and forth, the boys unable to keep their hands to themselves, the girls giggling in high-pitched squeals. Just on the cusp of losing the remainder of their baby fat, they smile with dimpled cheeks when I walk by. Some wave. Some recognize me as Ben’s mom. Ben beams. He is wearing his birthday crown.

A month ago, I received a phone call from the school nurse.

“Ben has a fever,” she said. Twenty minutes later, I walked into the health office where Ben sat on a small cot, arms crossed with a scowl on his face.

“Where have you been?” he cried. “I have been waiting here for two to five hours!”

Time, to a five-year old, is a long, fidgety, incongruous line, much like the line of kindergartners coming back from their music class. In April, when I told Ben his birthday was about 60 days away, he joyously marked the number 60 down on a piece of paper. Yesterday, one day was much too long.

“My birthday is not for a million years,” he whined.

“I wish MY next birthday was not for a million years,” I retorted.

“What are you even talking about?”

(Five-year olds are a very, very self-absorbed group of peoples. They make up for this by being completely potty-trained.)

Five-year olds still play happily with members of the opposite sex. Next year, the girls will start chanting, “Girls rule and boys drool!” and the boys, offended, will start to prohibit the girls from playing ball with them during recess. Today, there are no gender disparities yet. There is wide-eyed innocence, some selfishness, and a lot of running.

Recess is a tangle of legs and arms on monkey bars, noise that reminds me of ice cream- joyful?-and teachers gossiping with other teachers on the periphery. This is where Ben’s classmates are corralled, under a tree, to eat donut holes and sing happy birthday to Ben. A little girl from another class approaches me and asks for a donut hole.

“Sure,” I say. This was a mistake. Twenty other children swarm around me and I put the donuts down and get the heck out of dodge. When they disperse, there is nothing left in the container but a small trace of white glaze, the same white glaze Ben carefully licks off his fingers.

“Now I am six!” he says to his class. I kiss him goodbye.

“I’ll see you soon.”

“How long?”

“Just a little over an hour.”

“Oh. That’s sixty minutes.”

Goodbye, five.

Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne

When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new

When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more

When I was five I was just alive
But now I am six, I'm as clever as clever;

So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fresh Tomatoes

Marriage, you may have guessed, can be incredibly difficult. Case in point: John has incredibly low standards in the movie department, and I have to live with it. Different taste in movies is the #2 cause of divorce, right after finances, so the odds are definitely stacked against us. Yet, we tarry on.

I am addicted to the website Rotten Tomatoes. If RottenTomatoes.com does not give a movie a fresh tomato rating, I don’t want to see it. 9 times out of 10, I defer to the good people behind Rotten Tomatoes. John, on the other hand, snubs most “fresh tomato” movies in favor of movies with (and I quote Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix): “Guns. Lots of guns.”

So last night, John and I watched the pop-up AMC version of The Matrix on TV, which is really useful if, for instance, you’ve always wondered what song they play at the end when Neil flies into the sky looking very, very cool. It’s “Wake Up,” by Rage Against the Machine, which the pop-up feature told me was “fitting.” Thank you pop-up feature!

Until about two years ago, I thought Neo’s name was Neil. I was teased mercilessly for this.

“Yeah- a computer hacker who can choose any alias in the world chooses… Neil. Ha ha ha ha!”

I still submit that it sounds like his little leather-clad chums call him Neil.

“He’s the chosen one! And his name is… Neil! Ha ha ha ha!”

Recently, John made fun of me for calling Adobe… Adobe. Rhymes with lobe. Apparently it’s Adob-ee.

“A-dobe. Ha ha ha!”

You can see what I’m up against here.

Last week, John went to the Family Video because, and he said this so sweetly, he “wanted to rent a movie for me.” I was incredulous, but off he went. He came home with the Denzel Washington flick, Unstoppable.

“Wait,” I said. “I need to check Rotten Tomatoes.”

“It’s Denzel Washington. You’ll like it.”

“I’ll be right back.”

“Holly, let’s just start the movie.”

“It’ll only take a second.”



John’s eyes usually get wide at this point. Our marriage is totally on the rocks.

Lucky for him, Denzel generally makes only fresh tomatoes. And in case your marriage suffers the way mine does in the movie department, you should know that The Matrix is a fresh tomato, too.

Friday, June 10, 2011


I have a deadline today, as evidenced by the 45 minutes I spent learning this song on the stupid Google guitar:


If you can't tell what song this is, all is lost.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Nice Post

On my way out of the neighborhood this morning, I paused to let an opossum cross the road. She was carrying eleven (I counted) babies on her back. From a distance, she looked somewhat alarming: a large, rat-like creature with what appeared to squirming tumors all over her body. I inched closer and pointed her out to the twins, who gushed, "oh that’s sooo cute!" All I could think was I should run them over now and save the world from twelve potential car accidents.

I don’t like possums.

Ella babbled about the baby possums to her speech therapist.

“Did you like the baby possums?” she was asked.

“They so nice!” replied Ella.

Which brings us to our Jane Austen lesson of the week (the first and probably last): an etymological look at the word "nice." It comes from the gothic satire Northanger Abbey. The dashing Mr. Henry Tilney is espousing his opinion on the word “nice” to the young, naive Catherine Morland.

Catherine says:

“But now really, do you not think Udolpho the nicest book in the world?”

“The nicest; by which I suppose you mean the neatest. That must depend upon the binding.”

“Henry,” said Miss Tilney, “you are very impertinent. Miss Morland, he is treating you exactly as he does his sister. He is for ever finding fault with me, for some incorrectness of language, and now he is taking the same liberty with you. The word “nicest,” as you used it, did not suit him; and you had better change it as soon as you can, or we shall be overpowered with Johnson and Blair all the rest of the way.”

“I am sure,” cried Catherine, “I did not mean to say any thing wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should I not call it so?”

“Very true, said Henry, “and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for ever thing. Originally perhaps it was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or refinement; people were nice in their dress, in their sentiments, or their choice. But now every commendation on every subject is comprised in that one word.”

Henry Tilney is an impertinent know-it-all, but he makes an excellent point.

Have a nice day!

Monday, June 6, 2011

End of School Year Rant

Some mother of one of Ben’s classmates has got it into her head that what Ben’s kindergarten teacher would like more than anything else, even more than that a gift certificate to Kohls (to Kohls!), is a handmade quilt featuring pictures from all of her little students.

Now, I’m not an elementary school teacher, but if I were, I know I’d prefer the Kohl’s gift certificate, thank you very much. Heck, I’d take a Starbucks certificate over a non-functioning, purely decorative, handmade quilt featuring mediocre artwork from 20 little kids who turn summer vacation into a two-month recovery mission, and I don't even drink coffee. (I’m sorry, but I’ve been in that classroom and, aside from Ben of course, this is not an artistically gifted group of kids.)

Ben was supposed to draw a picture on his piece of cloth and hand it in last Friday. This didn’t happen. I completely forgot about it. If it’s too late and Ben’s picture is the only one not included in said quilt and, as a result, Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher subsequently forgets Ben was ever in her class, I think I’m okay with that.

Seriously, though. It’s June. Does this mother think we don’t have enough to do? I don’t remember being asked if I wanted to participate in this quilt-making process. Maybe I’m opposed to quilts on some moral level. (I’m not.)

It’s the principle of the thing. I’m annoyed. Unreasonably so. Because I’m stressed. And the quilt square could have been the straw that broke my proverbial camel’s back. My poor camel! It wasn’t, but it could’ve been. The lady might’ve received an over-the-top response to her request, like the quilt square sent back to her with an image of a bird on it. Not, like, a robin or a pigeon. The other kind of bird.

My laptop is broken. The dryer was out of commission for several days. We all had strep. My copywriting load is heavier than it should be, as is my butt. The lawn guy left the gate open last week, which led to me cruising the neighborhood in my rusty minivan yelling desperately for Kiah. When I spotted her, she literally said (to a nearby squirrel): “I will now play the fun game where I let my mother chase me through a swamp!” (Later that same day, Kiah accidentally killed a toad. I think it was an accident. That’s what I’m telling myself.)

At least I found her. I was fully expecting to get a phone call informing me she’d ended up in Toledo or somewhere.

I got stung by a bee when I was cutting lilacs from a bush. (God does punish people who wait for their neighbors to leave before they steal lilacs from their yard.)

I have an asymmetrical mole that needs to be removed.

I’ve finally gotten rid of Daniel’s wart, which was on the bottom of his foot. I had to file the sucker down each night before I put salicyclic acid on top of it. Then, I had to wrap it in duct tape, to keep light and moisture out. All of this went over really well with Daniel.

“Where did he get the wart?” I asked the doctor. “How- how- how did he get it?” I have an odd habit of making completely ridiculous statements to or asking preposterous questions of medical staff. I think this is because when I finally admit there might be a reason to haul my kid off to the doctor, I become so completely confounded and annoyed by a diagnosis that my already shaky common sense is further compromised.

“I know he only has a cold, but I don’t see how antibiotics could hurt at this point.”

“You’re sure I shouldn’t be more concerned that he has Scarlet Fever? Because Beth in Little Women died thanks to Scarlet Fever. I don’t know if you knew that.”

“I am handicapped. I simply refuse to believe my statement is unprecedented. A twin pregnancy is a definite handicap, and I would like a sticker for my car.”

I’m feeling busy, but unimportant. Overwhelmed, yet restless.

And if Ben’s teacher is feeling anything like I am in these last harried weeks of the school year, the last thing she wants to open on an 85 degree afternoon in late June is a quilt.

She wants a gift certificate to air-conditioned Kohl’s, where she can purchase a lovely little sundress to lounge in during her long recovery period.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Taste of Honey

I started spontaneous storytelling during Caleb’s baseball game two weeks ago.

It was cold. Ella was cranky. Ben wanted to go home. Caleb was hitting doubles and looking generally adorable on the field. I stuck the younger three in the car and turned on the latest craze in the Jennings’ minivan: the Beatles’ debut album Please Please Me.

It is Beatlemania all over again. My four-year old son can sing all the words to “I Saw Her Standing There.”

Everyone’s favorite song, however, is “A Taste of Honey.” Every time Paul belts out the title lyrics, they laugh hysterically. Personally, I don’t get the joke. Apparently I lack their refined sense of humor.

The baseball progressed slowly, and after the CD had looped through 1 ½ times, the car battery died. I guess I only turned the ignition half way. And lucky for me, John was out of town and my cell was… that’s not really important. Suffice to say, it was not on me.

It started to drizzle.

My plan was to look pathetic and ask the parents of Caleb’s teammates for help once the game was over. In the interim, I had to find a way to amuse my demanding children with the refined senses of humor since the fabulous four had left the vehicle.

So I told them a story, one I made up off the top of my head. And they sat there, quiet, for twenty minutes, and took in every word. And the coach of the team had jumper cables. On the way home, I sang “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” and they sang the background vocals, which consist of “oooh oooh oooh” and “ohhh ohhh ohhh.”

Overall, I deemed the evening successful.

Tonight, on the way home from my dad’s, Ben demanded another story. And let me tell you, it is hard to think up a plot on the spot like that. I took inspiration from their favorite song and told a story about a world without… honey.

The population of honey bees has disappeared. A fabulous foursome including Caleb, Ben, Dan, and Ella, live at the edge of a great forest, because every good children’s fairy-tale starts at the edge of a great forest. The gist of the story is as follows: Children find the world’s last remaining beehive, and it’s as big as a Buick. It’s the middle of July, but the children need protection from the bees in order to extract honey from the gigantic hive, so they sneak into their own house as their mother is doing something domestic and important.  The put on snow pants and winter jackets and buckets with holes for eyes over their head so that the bees won’t sting them. The children climb a great oak tree and successfully extract the honey without getting stung.

Little do they know that a lone bee follows them home, and when the children remove their winter gear and feel the cool breeze come in over the trees of the great forest, the angry bee stings Caleb on his hand. He is so startled that he spills some honey. The honey lands on his hand, and his wound is immediately healed. Not only is it the last honey on earth, but it’s magic honey.

The children rush into the house to tell their mother about the magic honey. Instead of being happy, she is angry they sneaked off to do something so dangerous. She tells them all to go to their rooms, but to leave the honey with her. While they are upstairs sulking, she makes herself a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and eats it alone.

I thought the ending was funny. Caleb didn’t like the ending.

“I don’t like how you got mad. It wasn’t fair. We brought you honey and you put us in time-out. Why did you do that? Did you even save honey for the rest of us?”

Daniel added an epilogue.

“I KILL all the bees.”

“But then you would never have honey again,” I said. “So I don’t think you should kill all of the bees. You wouldn’t want to run out of magic honey, right?”

"I kill them, he whispered.

Ben fell asleep.

Ella broke out into song: “A TASTE OF HONEY! Doo doo doo doooo!!!”

Caleb sulked, Daniel schemed, Ben slept, Ella sang.

Mom fell asleep early. She had a lovely dream about 1960s Paul McCartney.