Monday, October 31, 2005

One need not be a chamber to be haunted; One need not be a house; The brain has corridors surpassing Material place.

This is as ghoulish – and hysterical – as it gets. (This is particularly for those of you who not long ago contemplated chocolate-dipping and eating your offspring…) Happy Halloween!

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So the final (at least I hope!) decision is:
Simon – Peter Pan
Jude – Pongo the Dalmatian
Mimi – Tinkerbelle

I have no candy to give out yet and have already had my first fight with Si about the amount of candy he will be permitted to actually eat (as opposed to how much I can sneak by him and pitch in the garbage).

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We went to church again yesterday. We have kept it on the q.t. because I don’t really want my in-laws asking about it and seeing their faces glow with the delight that we are not going to hell after all, and their grandchildren may yet be baptized, even if it is “Catholic-lite” (Episcopal). Si spilt the beans today though. Oh well, had to happen sometime. The music grew on me this week, perhaps because the first piece was Handel, the second hymn’s words were written by George Herbert, one of my beloved Renaissance poets, and I actually knew the third hymn. Also, I really enjoyed the sermon – the usual priest was back from his conference. Bruce and his wife have been good neighbors and friends to us since we moved here; I like the idea of him being our priest as well.

A couple things I want to share:

The reputation of a saint depends upon the silence of his family.

And I love the prayer of St Francis which we say at the end of the service each week:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


This prayer sums up much of what I think religion and being a religious person should be about.

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I *just* saw an ad for the movie of Myla Godlberg’s Bee Season. I liked the book. I even think they could make a decent movie out of it. But is Richard Gere the father, and Juliet Binoche the mom or the daughter Eliza? I think Gere is amazingly sexy – just not sure he’s right for this part. And isn’t Binoche waaay too old to be Eliza?

Did I mention I started Wickett’s Remedy? I will have to read it without reading all the little annotations, they are simply too distracting. Even if they are, according to my coffee-shop book reviewer, what the book is all about in terms of the reliability of memory.

I picked up Amy Scheibe’s What Do You Do All Day? from the library on Saturday and told Gina that afternoon that so far it wasn’t grabbing me. It started like another whiny, whinging book about a poor put-upon stay-at-home mom who leaves a lucrative and glamorous job and just can’t get a grip that maybe her kid doesn’t need to be in 20K per year preschools, and if they are, then what do you expect but spoiled, really rich kids for your child to be with and learn from? You know the books – “Oh, I am the only mommy here, everyone else is a black or Hispanic nanny.” Or “My darling child wants a pony at her birthday party now too, and all we ever did was a cake and ice cream.” But…this book broke out of that beginning rather nicely. It was more introspective than most books written in this vein, and the events more unexpected. The main character does indeed find herself and make peace with mixing her kids and career, for once in these books realizing that it’s ok to want some intellectual stimulation. Although I have never personally found the peace and meditation Jennifer finds in folding endless laundry and playing countless games of Candy Land with her children. . And the husband is not a schmuck. He works long, hard hours, but he’s a decent guy who loves her very much and treats her wonderfully. There were a few too many plotlines, but some terrific characters, especially the other mommies/caregivers Jennifer meets. I am glad I didn’t buy it, but I am glad I read it – thank God for my library.

I also picked up Poppy Z. Brite’s Liquor which I will start next. Gina really enjoyed it so…

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James went to the ped today. He weighs ten and a half pounds and does indeed have reflux. So tummy-sleeping and Zantac for him.

Sometimes I think that hanging out with James is a bit like watching Nathan Lane mime – and I keep expecting him to open his mouth and demand his Pirin.

Wisdom from the priest’s wife: “Some the most unholy thoughts I have come when I am in church with my children.”

I had a lovely hour with Gina Saturday afternoon. We met at the coffee shop sans kids and drank tea/coffee and talked. Despite the fact that we live maybe three miles from each other, we don’t see each other all that much. It was a wonderful way to spend some of the afternoon. I felt so relaxed and almost like a real person when I headed back home.

Emily Dickinson, in case you're wondering.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

What age do I act? (Depends on who you ask...)

I turn 36 in April. Pretty weirdly accurate.

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You Are 36 Years Old



Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.



13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.



20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.



30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!



40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Halloween Costume






Here are some pics. I take NO credit for this--it was all Ted and his dad.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Proud Mama Time

So Teddy and I are walking to the bus this afternoon, and he says, "Oh, yeah. I got a kindness award in front of the whole school today. I have a coupon for free ice cream!"

It seems that the Lower School meeting in the auditorium this morning was about kindness, and the Head of School chose one student and one teacher to call up to the stage an point out as good examples of people who are kind.

Teddy has no idea about the details, but MAN am I proud! :-) I told him I'm more proud about this than I am about the gifted stuff. And it's true!

The Man From Beyond

I got this from the library thanks to a recommendation from Finslippy. I sort of liked it, but sort of didn't. The story is "inspired by" the friendship of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Houdini, and I have trouble with fiction that is "based on actual events" or whatever. If you're going to tell a story involving men who really existed, I sort of think you should be telling a story that really happened. If, however, you think the friendship of ACD and H is a perfect set up for making up some fiction . . . then please create fictitious characters who are based on ACD and H, and tell their fictitious stories. Otherwise, for me, you're just sort of lying. I don't know. Plus there's the problem of throwing characters who are real people into a story with characters who only exist on the page.

Speaking of those made-up characters, I liked the parts of the story involving Molly (intrepid girl reporter), and would loved to have spent more time with her.

Wait, though. What about the series of books about Josephine Bonaparte? I freaking *loved* those! Is that the same thing as the Houdini book? Because I know those books weren't actual historical documents, but they felt real and compelling, and there was a lot of actual, accurate history there.

What's my problem, then? Are Gulland's books just better?

"Easy! Massage the scalp. You're washing a baby's hair, not scrubbing vomit off your Christmas dress, you holiday drunk."

Jude's diaper just exploded all over the second floor, the baby was up all night with colicky symptoms (thank God we go to the ped today – hand me that Zantac prescription and no one gets hurt!), and we forgot that Si goes to school today; he just left with Dan, 45 minutes late. Sigh. So life goes on as normal in this household.

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My husband pointed out (not that he reads this blog – because he doesn’t know what it’s called or what the URL is) that at some point in the future my children might happen upon this, somehow, presumably through the wonder of Google. Despite the fact that I am not using any last names or anything close to my real name, in the interest of paranoia, I am going to start referring to my kids by initials. Hope this isn’t hopelessly confusing for all of you. So S, J, and A (because the J is already taken) debut today. I think you can figure out who’s who. Thanks for your patience.

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Yesterday we went to buy Halloween pumpkins. We did not go the pumpkin-farm route but neither did I purchase them at the supermarket. We drove to a nursery I like very much for its friendly, helpful employees, great plant selection, and reasonable prices, and that S likes because they have garden fountains, generally all full and running with real live water that gets you soaking wet and soppy and then Mama lets you ride home in the car nekkid (I have only done this once. Once, people. In the summer. And it IS a fairly new car.) We picked out an enormous pumpkin for Dan, a medium-sized one for S, a small one for J. The baby and I got teeny-tiny ones – and so did Mimi. Because, as I pointed out to S, if you are going to wear a costume for Halloween, you may have a pumpkin of your own. So our little Mimi Tinkerbelle has a pumpkin. Jesus. Since she resembles Chucky a bit too much for my comfort anyway, we will not be allowing her to carve her own pumpkin. Lock up the knives, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Mimi!

S wanted to know if the baby was going trick-or-treating. I said no, that he was too little, and I didn’t feel like dealing with a costume for him this year. S considered for a moment and then suggested, “Well, he can just get his treats from your belly!” Despite the fact that my four-year-old son’s grasp of the female anatomy is understandably murky, I still laughed.

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We have two cats, neither of whom I am all that fond. They are brother and sister from the same litter, about a year and a half old. Septimus is dumb as a stump and runs around the house like a lunatic for no apparent reason. Emmy is a miserable little wench who likes to go outside and rip the heads off birds for fun. She is this delicate little fluffy thing and he is a big lunk, so you’d think it’d be the other way around. But she is the fearless killer and Seppie is the cat who lets the kids pull his tail and try to ride on him. In fact, in another life, I am convinced Septimus was a dog. Yesterday I found yet another dead bird offering on my porch mat. I know it is supposed to be a sign of affection and all that, but honestly, isn’t it enough that I deal with poopy diapers all day? Must I also deal with dead wildlife? I left it there when I went for my doctor’s appointment because I was running late and deep down inside I was hoping that Dan, who worked from home yesterday, would stumble upon it and clean it up before I got home. Not only did that NOT happen, but in the meantime, Emmy ATE half the bird. That’s right, I left an intact if bloodied corpse and came home to a bird HEAD on my front porch. And then that cat had the audacity to want to climb on my bed last night and curl up with her bird-body breath right in my face! Yuck! Yucky, yucky, double yuck.

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I went to a neighborhood forum featuring our local school board member last night and am now all fired up with my civic duty.

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Billboards I have seen recently and wish to share (mostly because S reads every single solitary billboard as we drive by – *who* taught this child to read? Dammit! Share my pain…):

“Jews for Jesus – isn’t that sort of like Vegetarians for Meat? No, not really. Next question?”

A board for a local supermarket chain: “Down. Down. Stay. Good prices!”

And I have a crush on Craig Restano, a local heating guy who looks so solid and dependable and cute and wholesome on his company billboards that I just want to gobble him up, and get him to come heat up my house! I need help.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"You're just like a man with an erection - all the blood in your body is going to one place."

The boy is in his crib – whoo hoo! Two-handed typing!

A woman posted to our neighborhood email list on Monday that she was having a moving sale, of antiques and ordinary furniture, at reasonable prices. We were hoping for dining room stuff – I’d like a buffet and maybe a nice china cabinet/hutch, to help populate my enormous and mostly empty dining room, for when we have the Queen to tea and all. (Also to give me an excuse to satisfy my china/plate/dishes jones and fill up said china cabinet.) I don’t really do the new furniture thing; I prefer flea markets and estate sales. And as far as I am concerned, we *always* need more furniture, but then I am, as Dan often points out, the mistress of the Highland Park Home for Wayward Furniture.
But her list of stuff looked promising so I called and made an appointment to go see it. She had some lovely things – a huge four-poster bed for $500, with a matching highboy for another 500; a gorgeous old sofa with carved walnut arms and feet and matching side chair; a small buffet. Unfortunately, because it took me so long to get twenty free minutes to get the hell out of my house, everything had been sold (Although I am considering buying a watercolor she had for sale. I’m waffling – she doesn’t know much about the artist and I tend to like to know that sort of thing.)
Dan was at the Son Volt concert with a friend and my mother-in-law was over helping me with the boys. So I finally, FINALLY escape the house for twenty minutes without any of my children for the first time in what feels like ages, and where do I wind up? In an old lady’s apartment - full of furniture and lots of other junk, complete with the requisite cat, and reeking of years’ worth of cigarettes…don’t ever tell me I am not living the high life. Sigh.

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Salon’s new blog, Broadsheet, (ok, I know it’s a hokey name) is worth keeping an eye on.

I started Laurie R. King’s The Game but it is way too contingent upon paying attention to or knowing about Russian/Communist politics for my brain to wrap around right now. I dug out The Thorn Birds which strikes me as perfect brain-atrophying reading material. When I finish that, I will probably move onto The Streets of Laredo since Lonesome Dove is about the closest thing to a soap opera/serial I have ever read. Except maybe those Dana Fuller Ross Westward Ho! Series that I plowed through in high school while everyone else was reading VC Andrews (I missed that particular boat).

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A Halloween joke, courtesy of Carolyn:
Why do ghouls and demons hang out together?
Because demons are a ghoul's best friend.


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Jude and Simon keep asking me to print out coloring pages from the Internet. I am *cruising* through printer paper. It still has to be cheaper than buying coloring books, doesn’t it? (Until I have to buy a new black ink cartridge I guess…) And they can get sixteen identical copies of Gordon the Express Engine to color, if that is their heart’s desire – and generally it is. But now every time I sit down at the computer, I get pestered for printouts. And it makes me nuts. I feel better now that I have gotten that off my chest.

Also, Simon has these nervous habits and tics – clearing his throat, making himself hiccup, licking his chin – that are driving me BONKERS. I’m losing my mind. I understand where his compulsions come from – hell, which parent is on medication? But that doesn’t make it any easier for me to watch and listen to him do this stuff. I am a rotten mother.

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I’ve been on a candle binge lately. I think it’s to compensate for the fact that our fireplaces are not functional at the moment and that particular expenditure is not going to happen this winter. Plus I find candles very calming, and they’re pretty. So I do what I can to remain calm. And light a candle. It’s nice. No, I am not a pyromaniac - at summer camp, we all used to fight over who got to go burn the trash and I could never ever get the damn stuff to light. I remember this being a very stressful thing for me at the age of fifteen.

I am a breastfeeding advocate of the first degree (NOT of the lactation Nazi variety, thank you very much). But WHAT is the deal with these Lilypadz things? They sound horribly uncomfortable. Someone wanna enlighten me?

Camilla, you have sacrificed so much – must you sacrifice your dignity too? Poor girl. If anyone should NOT wear a tiara, it’s Camilla. The things we do for men…

Um, James, darling, that is a portion of my anatomy to which I am literally and emotionally rather attached. Owwy owwy ow ow ow.

And tonight’s episodes of “Sex and the City” are the same ones they showed last night. Humph. Clearly the programming director of TBS has never had to stay up with a nursing/screaming baby. Stupid men.

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I am going to add a recipes link, give me a few days. I wish to share with the world my pie crust recipe : ) And whatever else the world wants, food-wise.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My 1920s Name ROCKS!

Your 1920's Name is:

Vivienne Ivory


Thanks for the link, Carolyn!

Snowflakes that Stay on My Nose and Eyelashes

Okay, so I didn't actually see snow this morning, but my parents did! I am a cold-weather girl, so I'm thrilled! Thrilled, I say! I busted out the scarves and mittens this morning. I'm wearing a turtleneck. I couldn't be happier.

I'm also happy about the fact that my car has been parked in my garage since Saturday. Saturday! I've been kicking myself for a while for driving more than I need to, because I live in the city and one of the reasons I live in the city is so I can be smug about not needing a car. Anyway, I've been biking and bussing and walking, and feeling like God's gift to the environment. (I haven't turned on my furnace yet, either. Sweater and slippers, anyone? Take *that*, Dependence on Foreign Oil!)

In other news, I've been reading some stuff lately. Hana's Suitcase: A True Story is a story within a story about a woman in Japan who wanted to teach local children about the Holocaust. She applied to various museums for some artifacts to borrow for her own small museum, and one of the items she received was a suitcase the belonged to a girl named Hana Brady. The Japanese woman and her students become fascinated with Hana, whose story makes the history dreadfully real to them, and as the book unfolds we learn the lengths they went to to gather information, as well as the heartbreaking story of Hana and her family. This book is sad but fantastic--an honest way to present the horror of the Holocaust to older children in hopes that something like this will never happen again.

Here's the thing, though: It's *so* sad that I don't want to give it to Teddy yet. I don't generally shelter him from too much--he's been to lots of funeral homes and funerals. I make sure he keeps vaguely abreast of current world events, like last year's tsunami and Katrina, and what-not. He's aware of the concept of the Holocaust and the fact that people did and do hate Jews and Black people and gay people, etc. But this just feels like too much. It's so personal. Any thoughts? Am I chickening out and doing him a disservice?

In happier reading, I just read Gidget for the first time. Why? Because The Onion A/V Club told me to. It's very different from what I remember of the TV show--much more overtly sexual, for one thing. This is a representation of the 50s that feels much more real than the whitewashed images I normally think of. And it amazes me that the stories that inspired the book were told to the author by his daughter. These aren't things I'd share with my dad *now*, let alone as a fifteen year old girl in the 50s. If you have 90 minutes or so to kill, you should check it out.

And finally, I grabbed this book as I was checking out at the library on Sunday. You'd think that something called "Theatre for Children: Fifteen Classic Plays" would be something fun and worthwhile. So much for truth in advertising, though! What crap! The version I picked up includes a few different titles, and Ted and I read about half of one ABOUT THE GRINCH STEALING CHRISTMAS last night. We had a blast laughing about how bad the damned thing was, and I'm glad (because again, reading is fun), but it got me to thinking about some of the *awful* plays I was in back in grade school. There was a Christmas play called G.T. (Glad Tidings was the name of the main character) wherein the audience was invited to travel through time and space to observe different Christmas stories and traditions . . . and then a musical featuring cave people named Rock and Martha. Gad. Are there no good plays for kids? Is this something I should start working on? :-)

Anyway, that's it for now. I should actually do some of the work they pay me the big bucks for.

Monday, October 24, 2005

iwwdcgqq

Like Rohrshach tests for bloggers…


Uyamaps
Pggyuv
Ikkyl
Suggestions for these, anyone? Meanwhile here are some words, definitions, and contextual quotes I’ve collected over the past week or so on the word verification front:

Iqlvefet – a new vodka from Finland (on a post about wine preferences)

Impjny – I’m pajamas, New York
Would imctpjny be I’m the cats pajamas, New York?

Your word verification today is gofuxxw. Which seems a bit rude.

Today's verification word is "udhaq" which sounds like one of Saddam Hussein's brothers-in-law.

…psaluplr. Right. It's a psalm about healing lupus

the word verification is uhoptah. Is that a foreign word for hopskotch?
-"uhoptah" sounds like one of those PITA British crossword answers.
-isn't uhoptah the second person conjugation for ihoptah?

Gygyll – celtic for giggle?

The word verification is "voldemort." OK, only kidding. It's actually volddedq. Close enough, though.

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These all remind me of "We are now the Knights who say...'Ekki-Ekki-Ekki-Ekki-PTANG. Zoom-Boing. Z'nourrwringmm.'" in Monty Python's Holy Grail.

Also Mr Manfredjinsinjin in A Fish Called Wanda.

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I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

The silicon chip inside her head gets switched to overload...

My Monday whine, not having one damn thing to do with any sort of books at all. I apologize.

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I burnt my arm trying to mop up the spillover from last night’s chicken pot pie. The oven was preheating for today's pumpkin pies, and I burnt the top of my arm on the rack and then the bottom on the door. If I weren’t so stupid, I would expect some sympathy.

Every time I tried to get out the door this morning, Jude was poopy. And both times, I let him be poopy. I am a terrible mother. If it’s any consolation/punishment at all, I was the one who had to smell him the whole time.

I made lentil soup for dinner tonight. When I tried to open the bag of lentils to put them into the pot, I - of course - spilled half the bag all over the kitchen floor which is already so freaking gross that the lentils had to be just pitched.

When I picked Si up at preschool, he immediately began to whine about something. His teacher wrinkled her forehead and said, “He’s *never* like that here.” Of course not, because you might actually clock him one whereas I as his mother am meant to exhibit never-ending patience and grace.

It is pouring rain; the Mancini’s bread was not in at the deli yet so I had to buy different bread; I have a headache; I put the baby in the Snugli and he threw up down my cleavage. I hate both my cats at the moment and want nothing more than to shut them out in the rain. And I can’t get rid of the damn fruit flies in my kitchen.

Everything that comes out of my mother-in-law’s mouth irritates me, so clearly I am an awful daughter-in-law. Babies CRY – it’s what they DO. It doesn’t make them bad or good. And while I care about my online friend in SoFla (Joke, hope you’re ok), I was annoyed that my MIL called at 830 this morning to let me know that my Perfect sister-in-law and her family were perfectly safe throughout the hurricane. I have not one shred of human decency in this body. I mean, she has been calling to give us practically an hourly update but regardless…not one shred.

And speaking of this body, I am skinnier than I have been in a long time, and am now terrified to eat for fear that I will get fat again. My brother-in-law laughed at me and said, “We’re old married people, we don’t have to worry about impressing anyone anymore.” And that is so not true in my case that I am depressed and angry about being afraid of gaining back the weight.

The library is telling me I lost a book I am SURE I returned.

We have Thermo Pro boilers to heat our house and I cannot find one single person or company to come service them. We were hoping to keep them and just have them maintained as they are wildly efficient, but now it’s possible we will need to replace them to the tune of several thousand dollars. I love my house but I hate my house.

My favorite used bookstore, Bryn Mawr-Vassar, is closing on Friday. Not only am I sad it’s closing, but also I am sad because I never found the time to go pick through all their stuff for their closing sale.

We went to church yesterday, the nice Episcopalian church on the corner. It was peaceful and lovely, but as a former Baptist, I admit I found the music a tad boring.

And it took me four tries to get this post to publish. Damn Blogger.

The good things:

Dan and I watched Network Friday night. I love William Holden, and the movie was brilliant.

Simon and Dan made a movie about trains yesterday, using stop-action filming with the camcorder and all the little Thomas trains. It was also brilliant.

I just got a prime seat to go see Dar Williams on November 12. I can’t wait.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I'm packing your extra pair of shoes, and your angry eyes just in case.

I went to the library today all by my lonesome. Such bliss. I got to peruse the new release, take my time browsing through the books, and I even spent some time up in the children’s section picking out books on trains for Simon. (All the Thomas fervor in my house has translated into, “Mama knows nothing about how trains work.” So I am trying to remedy the dearth of train info in the house.)

In the new releases section, I scored Myla Goldberg’s Wickett’s Remedy; in the interest of reading something fairly light out of concern for my sleep-deprived brain, I picked up a book called The Thing about Jane Spring. Jane Spring is about a successful, aggressive, and somewhat hardhearted attorney who can’t seem to get and keep a man, so she takes Doris Day as her role model because “Doris always gets the man.” She reinvents herself in the pastel and puffy image of Doris Day, complete with sunshine-yellow apartment, pink suits, platinum coif, and whispery voice. So far it’s light and very entertaining. It reminds me a bit of Elinor Lipman’s The Pursuit of Alice Thrift but I like Jane a whole lot more than I liked Alice.

I also bought three books -- for a buck-fifty. (My library sells its weeded-out books. I’ve gotten a lot of good stuff that way.)
The Jump-Off Creek – Molly Gloss. I have had Gloss’s Wild Life on my to-read list for ages. So I thought it couldn’t hurt to check out her other stuff.
Letters from Side Lake: A Chronicle of Life in the North Woods – Peter Leschak. No idea why. I just liked the blurb on the back: “…capture[s] vividly the great pleasures and rugged hardships that form the very heart of wilderness living.” I would have made a lousy pioneer woman (“What do you mean there’s no indoor plumbing and I have to haul cold water from the well to wash? And it’s not my damn job to keep track of *your* horse harness or *your* sunbonnet!”), but it amuses me to read books about the pioneering life.
Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman – Alice Steinbach. This book seems to be in the same vein as another book I read recently, really enjoyed, and which made me think about things I may not have otherwise, Joan Anderson’s A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman. Steinbach says, “I had fallen into the habit…of defining myself in terms of who I was to other people and what they expected of me.” Her travels around the world help her explore who she is and what she wants for herself from life.

Two nights ago I picked up Lisa Jewell’s One Hit Wonder. I read Ralph’s Party a while ago – on my maternity leave for Si, actually – and it was a good novel – at first glance, merely “chick lit” but upon actual reading, a decent book with great characters and not as predictable as you’d think. OHW is the same – I read half the book in one sitting and will finish it up after I finish Jane Spring.

Two recent requests from the library, although there are multiple holds on both of them so it may be some time before I get my hands on them:
What Do You Do All Day? Amy Scheibe
Everyone Into the Pool - Beth Lisick
Unfortunately there are enough other people in this town who also keep up on the latest literary trends and new releases, so I am way down on the list for one, and 2 of 3 holds for the other. The last book I had to wait this long for was Confessions of a Slacker Mom which I never actually got, and got sick of waiting for especially after Gina told me it wasn’t even that good.

I'm So Lucky

I never minded doing homework (until college, when I realized I was *paying* for courses and work that meant nothing more to me than requirements fulfilled, but that's different). My sister, however, could often be found crying under the dining room table because she couldn't do her math. Good times, those.

Teddy seems to be like me in this regard, and I'm thankful, especially now that I've read Ayelet Waldman's new post on Salon, Homework Hell. The thing that makes me lucky isn't necessarily that Teddy doesn't mind homework, but that his teachers have always kept it in perspective. He ends up doing homework for about an hour each evening, and thirty minutes of that is just reading--whatever he feels like reading. I rarely have to get involved, and was in fact informed that I *shouldn't* have to get involved. He's not really learning anything academic at this point, but he's learning study habits and skills that seem appropriate to a kid his age.

I think one thing that sets Teddy apart from Waldman's kids is that I don't make Ted start homework until after dinner. He has time to come home from school, eat a snack and unwind. We take walks or run or ride bikes. He plays. Sometimes he watches TV.

So, yeah, I'm lucky. The kid likes school and doesn't mind homework. What more can the parent of a third-grader really ask for?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Day Off!

Teddy didn't have school today, so I took the day off. I was dozing at about 7am, luxuriating in being in bed while rain fell and traffic bleeped and squawked, when I heard Teddy creep to the bathroom and then sneak his goose-bumped, tighty-whitey-clad self into my bed for a cuddle. The bigger he gets, the more rare those cuddles become, and I appreciate every last one.

Then I hopped up, started the laundry, and put together a ball of bread dough to set to rise. (Any good tips on where to do this? I had it in the (turned-off) oven, but I don't think it's warm enough in there. The bread is tasty, but a little more dense than I'd like. I'll eat it happily, and so will Teddy (we polished off a loaf for lunch), but it's not something I would take with me to someone's house. Any hints/tips appreciated.

Teddy had a friend over, and they covered my upstairs in Lego but didn't turn the TV on once, so I'm not complaining. I lounged downstairs on the couch and finished Mission to America, which reminded me of A Changed Man. Both books look at America in a way that's funny and wry, but still thoughtful, wise and caring. I'd never read any of Kirn's books, but now I'll be sure to keep an eye out for his others.

So I read and sat, and baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies. And I made chicken soup. All while wearing flannel pajama bottoms, slippers, and a grotty old sweatshirt with a broken zipper . . . it looks like someone was looking for a little comforting today, wasn't she? And I got it. I feel happy and peaceful and ready to read Caddie Woodlawn and got to bed.

Yawn.

Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.

In absolutely no particular order –

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Jude’s preferred menu:
Breakfast: Honey Nut Cheerios
Lunch: Macaroni and cheese
Dinner: Chicken nuggets
Anytime, including at 8 a.m. and bedtime and every hour in between: Fruit snacks

Now these are what Jude *asks* for constantly; this is not to say he gets them when he asks. I am a big believer in variety of foods, so he gets what he wants (within reason) but certainly not every day. Both my boys are fairly decent eaters. Simon will eat any kind of fruit you put in front of him, while Jude is my veggie man. They both do fine in the starch and grain department and drink enough milk to float the Titanic. Their juice intake is mostly limited to a glass or two in the morning, otherwise they drink milk or water, and they have never had soda. Sweets tend to be stuff I baked – I’d rather them eat a slice of apple or pumpkin pie, or an oatmeal or even a chocolate chip cookie, than a candy bar.

The meal rules are clear:
-Eat the little amount you start with and you may have more of whatever it is.
-Once you are excused from the table, your food goes away.
-If you do not eat a meal and are hungry later, you may:
1)if it’s lunch, finish your lunch
2)if it’s dinner, eat bread-and-butter.
-If you do not eat a meal, there is no dessert. I don’t care whose birthday cake it is.

So when Grandma starts in with,”Oh, you’re not done eating,” or expects them to clear their plates of the longshoreman’s helpings she starts with, or starts bribing and cajoling, “Oh, just eat two more bites of hot dog” or “If you eat all your hot dog, you can get dessert,” Dan and I start going bonkers. This is noticeable only because I thought it was just me going bonkers until Dan said to his mom a few evenings ago, “Mom. Look at those boys. They know the rules. Do they look healthy? They don’t eat sweets, they don’t drink soda. If they don’t want to eat, it’s fine. Leave them be.”

She looked surprised. Probably because the rest of the family seems to subscribe to the begging/cajoling/bribing method of getting their kids to eat. I refuse. Categorically.

Gosh, we have it all figured out, huh? Hmmm.

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There’s a review of Mary Roach’s Spook on Salon today. I may have to go buy it this weekend.

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Andrew O’Hehir reviews the movie “Shopgirl” on today’s Salon. I’ll bet this is the most accurate observation: You get the feeling he [Steve Martin] saw Bill Murray in "Lost in Translation" and thought, "I can do that." I had that very feeling just reading the review and knowing what I know from reading the book. (For the record, I remember the book being a joyless, depressing little piece of work, but I read it a long time ago.) Parts of this review made me laugh out loud. I will keep my eye out for O’Hehir’s reviews from now on. My favorite quote: Is Ray a damaged divorcĂ© who falls in love with Mirabelle, after his own fashion, but can't express his feelings? I guess that's the idea, but you can't really tell. He could also be planning to add her to his collection of chopped-up girlfriends beneath the pool. He could be a narcoleptic. He could be the reanimated corpse of Richard Nixon, nervously sweating embalming fluid. He could be shot so full of Botox it's a wonder he can speak at all.

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So Katie Holmes claims that she is having no morning sickness. Well, now we know that being impregnated with an alien’s child does not cause one to be morning-sick. I’ll keep that in mind next time. Although the pregnancy-as-weight-loss-strategy seemed to work for me this time, as I can fit into jeans I haven’t been able to wear since before Jude was born. All that vomiting the first 6 months or so. (This rancor is pretty much driven by my disgust at all those women who claim they had no morning sickness and also proclaim, “Oh, I *love* being pregnant.” I hate them all.)

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Britney Spears named her son Sean Preston. If you recall (no, I really don’t expect you to remember), my little brother’s wife had a baby a few weeks before Spears had hers. My brother’s new son’s name is Andrew Preston. Family name, his wife’s great-grandfather. My brother is so pissed off he could spit.

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Ok, my cats *look* like they’re having sex. Although both are neutered and I *think* Septimus really is just cleaning Emmy. Nonetheless, I have the urge to throw cold water on them and scream, “She’s your sister, for God’s sake, you sicko!” I think I need to get out more.

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I am working on my eating-while-holding/nursing-the-baby skills. Poor sweet baby James wound up with a decent amount of chicken pot pie on his little ice-skating-mice sleeper this afternoon. I hope he realizes I did this with the other two as well. And before kids, I did it (and still do) with my books.

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There is now a site meter here on Behind the Stove. Now if I can just stop obsessively rereading posts and checking for comments, we may get some accurate stats.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Brilliance Over at Laid Off Dad

The following is copied and pasted from LOD (Visit him, he's funny!):

Because that's how we get to be parents in the first place

I got the glimmer for this list as I was reading #10 to Robert the other night. After a little trolling, I found an incomplete list of children's book titles that can also be used as pick-up lines:


10. There's A Wocket In My Pocket! (obviously)
9. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
8. Hop On Pop
7. My Truck Is Stuck!
6. Have You Seen My Duckling?
5. Where's Weenie?
4. What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?
3. Everyone Poops (fetishists only)
2. May I Bring A Friend?
1. Guess How Much I Love You

Ghosts, like ladies, never speak till spoke to. ~Richard Harris Barham

God apparently loves me despite everything – Jude decided he wants to be Captain Hook for Halloween, and Simon agreed to be Peter Pan. Mimi will be Tinkerbell. (I have been cast as Wendy. Just because I dressed up as Cruella de Ville last year, the boys assume I will participate every year. Got news for them…) As I already made Si a Peter Pan costume for his birthday last year, and we have a well-stocked dress-up box, I am set. Except for transforming Mimi into Tinkerbelle…God help me.

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Why I love my neighborhood, part 16,234: Yesterday Si, James, and I strolled up to the local coffee shop. I struck up a conversation with a woman reading Myla Goldberg’s new book, Wickett’s Remedy. This book has generally gotten lukewarm reviews from official reviewers. The woman gave me a succinct, informative, and amusing capsule review, over our lattes. This could never have happened in my old neighborhood as no one there ever ripped themselves away from “Stillers” football long enough to read the paper let alone a whole book.

Mary Roach’s new book Spook is a must-read for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Stiff, but then I tend to be a bit morbid and utterly fascinated with death, disease, pestilence, and abnormality. I had a field day with this post from Ayelet Waldman’s now-defunct blog; I am sure the local librarians thought they had a budding serial killer in their midst, blithely and efficiently utilizing the local library.

Is Bookslut going on a hiatus? Or just Jessa? Here’s the blurb I read yesterday that concerned me:
And now Bookslut rests! You can have your Tuesdays back in November and December, catch up on some Nip/Tuck, whatever. I have a vacation (my first in six, seven years!) and some baby visiting to do. We'll be back in January with something a little different. You'll be hearing more about it soon.

There’s an article on Salon about Stephen Colbert’s new show. I think Colbert is hilarious, and even more so after his guest star turn in the 4th-season finale of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” as a loony tourist who curses Larry David. However, sadly we do not have cable so I will miss this program. And tell me, does he not resemble Bob Saget or am I just crazy?

I want this set of the complete Calvin and Hobbes. I always wanted to marry Calvin – or barring that, Hobbes – and since that did not happen, the least I can have is this.

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Here is the Libby’s-label pumpkin pie recipe, for those who asked (it’s not fancy but it’s really easy and tastes good).
Pumpkin pie: It's what's for breakfast.

1-1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 can (29 oz) Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin
2 cans (12 oz each) evaporated milk
2 unbaked 9” deep-dish pie shells

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and then spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shells. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temp to 350 degrees. Bake 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool for at least tow hours.

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Snippets:

My mother-in-law proudly brought me a jar of pumpkin pie spice she’d got for a dollar at some store in the new mall. Um, is it padded with sawdust, ashes, what? Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg, for a buck? Don’t think so. The thought was nice.

I want a keyboard with the space bar split and another shift key in between the two halves of the space bar. It would make one-handed typing so much easier.

My friend Rachel, who lives in London, had a baby the same day I did. Apparently this is how they weigh babies over in Merrie Olde England. Craziness.

I tried to teach Simon how to ride a bike yesterday. (By the way, he looked SO cute in his little bike helmet…) Just remind me of this when he decides he needs someone to teach him how to drive. I will gladly pay someone else to do it.

Joke, are your windows boarded up? Is your car gassed up? Are you stocked up on batteries, water, plastic sheeting, and duct tape? Oh, wait, that’s a different catastrophe. Sorry. No, seriously, be safe and keep us posted.

Bow Down Before Lady Fun and Happiness

Teddy takes a shower every morning, and then uses a comb to smash his wet hair into a glossy, Magic Shell looking 'do. Every morning I tousle him a little, so he has normal boy hair, usually while he's brushing his teeth.

I did it this morning, and he spit into the sink and said, "Hey, Lady Fun and Happiness! Why must you mess with my hair piece?"

Nevermind that the boy doesn't know what a hair piece is, and really nevermind that "hair piece" makes me think of "cod piece"--I may have to make this name change official.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rainbow Book Stand


This is only available in Japan for now, and I'm not sure about the ease of turning pages, but I'm pretty sure I want this.

Decaffeinated coffee is kind of like kissing your sister. ~Bob Irwin

I baked two pumpkin pies on Monday. I admit I used store-bought crusts (I just had a baby, people!) but I bought Marie Callender’s crusts which are really the only store-bought crusts that are any good. Tender and flaky. Except where I filled the pies up too much and the filling slopped over the crusts on the way to the basement to bake them and those parts got a little toasty (don’t ask about the basement stove, either…sigh…) And I had leftover pumpkin filling so I poured it in Pyrex bowls and baked them in a pan of water a la bread pudding. Pumpkin custard! This made Simon “Mr. I don’t-like-the-crust” very happy. My saintly next-door neighbor gave me the recipe (she actually said, “I use the recipe on the Libby’s pumpkin can label.”) and I only called her like sixteen times to ask her questions because I, I am a pumpkin pie moron. These are my first ever real true baked pumpkin pies. My mom used to make something called pumpkin chiffon pie – delicious but not traditional. If I say so myself, they turned out rather well and I had a large piece of pie for breakfast this morning. What? It’s got carotene and vitamins A and E!

By the way, I have an ethical dilemma – if said neighbor offers to walk Simon to preschool along with her daughter so I do not have to waker James up and cart him the half-a-block to the school, but then James wakes up as soon as Si is out the door, is it bad form to then pack up the awake baby and walk up the street to the coffee shop? (What, you thought it was going to be a question of life and death? With my life? Ha. Don’t you know me by now?)

I love the way James raises both hands in the air like he’s riding the roller coaster. “Whoohoo! Whee! This carseat ride is amazing! Aaaaaahhhhhh!”

And the other morning I woke up and looked at the little old toothless man lying in bed next to me. It was the strangest most disorienting feeling. My babies tend to look like little wizened old sages, not plump pretty babies, so this is something I am sort of used to, but really, he was trying to poop and was all red in the face and wrinkled-brow and he looked like a little grumpy, crotchety old fart.

Don’t you hate when you get the confirmation words wrong? I always feel like a moron when that happens. But sometimes I can’t tell the Vs from the Us, and the Rs look like they’re As…or I am indeed a moron. Or a spammer.

Holy crap, Halloween is two weeks away. I better get cracking on those costumes. Simon wants to be a rainbow-colored whale, when he doesn’t want to be a ghost (please, please pick the ghost!!). Jude wants to be a dolphin mailbox. Would I be a bad mom if I just made them wear their Dalmatian costumes from last year?

Blah, Blah, Blabbity, Blah

I'm grumpy and look dumpy and wish I had taken a sick-day today. Curse my parents for giving me a work ethic! I could be back in bed, reading Poppy Z. Brite's Liquor (thanks to Badger). Instead, I'm here at work with bad hair and an ugly outfit, resenting the presence of the sunshine and blue sky. I feel like the weather is flipping me off, which I suppose is a very good indicator of my state of mind: Self-pitying and paranoid, with a touch of mean.

*****

Didn't our interactions with China used to be referred to as US-Sino Relations? When did that go away?

*****

Lois Lowry rocks. I just read Attaboy, Sam!, and it's adorable and sweet, and made me laugh out loud. Val--if you're looking for a chapter book to read to Simon, check this out.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Couple of Things

I just read Merril Joan Gerber's "Glimmering Girls", which was really pretty boring, but for one thing: One of the girls' lit professors defined literature as FLUFF. Friction, Love, Unfaithfulness, Forgiveness, Forever after.

Val and I always say we're reading fluff when we're reading something fun and easy, and the FLUFF acronym is perfect.

*****

A man on TV last night mentioned that he "hit the jackpot" when he married his wife. Teddy said to the television, "No way! You'd have to marry my mom for that!" I do so love having a son! :-)

I saw you talking to Christopher Walken on my TV screen...

Do you ever write a post that you know is lame, but you feel like you should post something because it’s been a few days? That was Monday’s post. Sometimes those meandering ones turn out best of all, but not this one. I apologize profusely for my lameness…and I realize I have read next to nothing for a week. My brain is atrophying.

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Song meme from Peg (Palmyra Sliver) –
List ten songs that you are currently digging. It doesn’t matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they’re no good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying right now. Post these instructions, the artists, and the ten songs in your blog. Then tag three other people to see what they're listening to.

Sweet Baby James – James Taylor
Save It for a Rainy Day – The Jayhawks
Hackensack – Fountains of Wayne
North Star – Dar Williams
May the Wind Take Your Troubles Away – Son Volt
Creep – Radiohead, also High and Dry
Said Harold the helicopter – from Thomas the Tank Engine

I know there’s only eight. I don’t do a lot of noise so my music listening is pretty much limited to the car, or whatever songs Dan’s band is learning at the moment (half of this list is courtesy of their practice last night).

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Women should not be afraid to cry. Good thing, since I cry at the drop of a hat. I am apparently physically unable to engage in confrontation without crying, which I always feels weakens my position but what can you do? I cry over my boys and not just always when they are being impossible. I cry when I hear certain songs. I sobbed and sobbed at the end of On Green Dolphin Street last night, then I went back and reread the ending and cried all over again, which led to a spate of me being all emotional about my boys, my marriage, and the song playing on the CD player at that moment. What a thoughtful, well-written book; I want to read Faulks’ France trilogy now, beginning with The Girl at the Lion d’Or.

I don’t know much about Joan Didion but as usual, I see an article that interests me and I decide I have to read the author’s other stuff before tackling their newest work. Of course, after the emotional ending of OGDS last night, I am not entirely sure I am up for reading a book about someone’s husband’s death. My tear ducts need a break.

I know nothing about Jonathan Cott’s On the Sea of Memory other than what I read in the Salon review, and the fact that I really love the title, but as a fellow depressive, I am interested.

I began Sandra Dallas’ Alice’s Tulips last night; I needed something light after the trauma of OGDS. It’s written in the form of letters to the protagonist’s sister – I could see this getting old soon but we’ll see. And I appreciate the historical research that went into this Civil-War era novel.

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What is it with other people’s kids exploring my house? Do my children wander all over other people’s houses? I hope not.
One time a friend was here with her two kids, and I found her (admittedly strange) daughter under the covers of MY bed. My friend explained that her daughter sometimes needs some quiet time – yes, fine, but not in MY bed!
And I watched another friend’s two-year-old who was not in the least interested in the toys in the library, playroom, dining room, or boys’ room. He wanted to wander around my bedroom and play in the bathroom.
And I don’t want to be mean, but c’mon – what’s so fascinating about those rooms?
I know my terror that a small child will fall into the toilet and drown is pretty ridiculous, but hey, we all have our particular bugaboos, and that is one of mine. (This always makes me think of the graphic on the side of the five-gallon joint compound bucket.) There are no toys in either room, and the doors are generally kept closed when there are other people here. My bedroom is sacrosanct, damn it. I don’t want grotty little toddler noses wiped on my pillows and grimy little toddler hands riffling through my closet. We have 12 rooms in this insanely large old house, am I crazy for wanting ONE to be completely off-limits? My boys have learned that toys do not get left in Mama’s bedroom because when she wakes up in the middle of the night for whatever reason and steps on Thomas the Tank Engine, she is not to be held responsible for whatever profanity issues from her mouth.

Joan Didion's New Book

Joan Didion is a wonderful writer, and I plan to avoid her memoir LIKE THE PLAGUE. I can't remember being in this situation before, but I feel like reading about Didion's tragedy in her careful, clear, extraordinary prose, would crush me as if it had happened to me. And then to know that her daughter died this summer ... There's just no way I can read this book. I've had enough sadness in my life, thanks.

Can you think of other books you've avoided for similar reasons?

Monday, October 17, 2005

I'm Back (Sort Of)

The Pledge drive is over, and now I'm frantically trying to catch up on all the work that piled up over the past weeks.

I have to take a moment to ask, though: Has anyone else seen this? I think Pullman must resent the Christian theme more than he's letting on, because I don't think there's an absence of love in these books. Then again, the only ones I can really remember are The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and The Magician's Nephew. Is Pullman on to something? Anyone?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

"I'm not a bad guy! I work hard, and I love my kids. So why should I spend half my Sunday hearing about how I'm going to Hell?" - Homer Simpson

I read Suburban Bliss on a regular basis. And with a recent post she made me laugh so hard that I cried, mostly because SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS!! and so I feel compelled to share with you:
Today Max has a playdate with a very sweet and nice little boy and I have an Awkward Parental Playdate with his mother…Someone suggested I bring a cooking project over for us to do together. I'd like to just bring a good book and read silently while our kids play quite honestly.

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Pregnant women have been in the news lately. An 8-months-pregnant woman in Ford City was attacked with a baseball bat by her next-door neighbor who attempted to perform a Caesarean on her and claim the child as her own. Fortunately, a passing teenager saw the women and called the police. The woman and her baby are both alive and doing as well as can be expected. The neighbor is in jail. Her boyfriend is swearing she was pregnant already – she’s not. A year or two ago the same sort of thing happened in Ohio, only that woman died. I admit, I spent moments of my pregnancy looking over my shoulder for loonies who were willing to perform street surgery on me to get to my little pot roast. What a freaking world we live in.

In the past year, I have heard of at least two local women who have died in childbirth. I blithely joked about dying in childbirth to Gina and then realized, it could happen. It still does happen. Even though it is not medieval England or a third-world country. Good thing I didn’t think about it when I was in labor. It’s crazy that with all the medical advances we have made, women still die giving birth.

Also in the local news, this story about the superintendent of Bethel Park’s schools and a Baldwin Borough school board member. And we thought the city of Pittsburgh had the market cornered on bizarre school board happenings…

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TV update –

I just watched West Wing for the first time in a year or so. I stopped watching when Aaron Sorkin stopped writing for them, but judging by this episode, they have someone who’s almost as talented, smart, and quick on board now. And Janeane Garoafalo is on too. I hate to *have* to watch a TV show, but I may start catching WW again, now and again.

JD’s song “Pretty Vegas” from Rockstar:INXS was played during a commercial for the show “Las Vegas” tonight. Dan and I were dorkily excited.

A funny thing I heard on “Sex and the City” while watching mindless TV and nursing James:
Charlotte, speaking to Samantha about the length of her bridesmaid’s dress: “You know, everything doesn’t have to be cut up to your See You Next Tuesday!”
Carrie: “Whoa! See You Next Tuesday? Was that a Schoolhouse Rock I missed?”

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My next door neighbor is a saint. Truly. She not only gave us a baby present (and gifts for the big brothers) but has also cooked dinner plus dessert for us three times in the past two weeks. Her latest offering was beef stew and a carrot cake.
The carrot cake was sitting in the fridge Saturday afternoon. Si asked for a snack. I told him he could go in the fridge and get his sandwich from lunch. He ate his sandwich – and also apparently half the frosting on the cake. There were wee little fingermarks all over it. I was mad but mostly I laughed. It was such a non-Simon thing to do, it almost pleased me with its normal-little-boyness. I yelled at him but my heart really wasn’t in it. Of course it helped that there was still enough frosting on the cake….

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Simon and Dan watched football this afternoon. Simon kept talking about the “Pastriots”. I love this. I loved it last season and I love it now. Like the cream puffs and the napoleons are scrimmaging against the Steelers…

And last night we watched some hockey. Have I mentioned how happy I am that hockey is back? Mostly for Dan’s sake but also because I do enjoy it…although I am not the household fanatic. Mario Lemiuex…Sidney Crosby, the hottest draft pick…but tell me, when did LeClair become a Penguin? I am so confused, I clearly have not been paying nearly enough attention. Simon was confused too – he kept shouting Go! Go! when the puck was at the wrong end. Unless he really is a Tampa Bay fan, in which case we must disown him.

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Photos from our day with Thomas:



Friday, October 14, 2005

Belly belly button, you're oh so fine/ Belly belly button, I'm so happy you're mine - Sandra Boynton

The good news is that the doctors are “almost 100%” sure that Dan’s colleague has viral rather than bacterial meningitis. My pediatrician explained that viral meningitis of the type that is most common is actually fairly benign and leaves you just feeling flu-ey for a week or so, headache, chills, etc. Bacterial, while much more serious, is also much more rare. Also, since Dan’s contact with his colleague is “casual” – meaning no diaper changing duties or utensil sharing – we’re pretty much in the clear. So thanks for all your thoughts, looks like we’re ok.

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Last night Dan called me into the baby’s room to look at his (James’, not Dan’s) belly button (my marital obligations only go so far…). It was the weirdest thing I’ve seen in ages – while he screamed, it extruded itself out of his belly, like one of those snakes you light on the Fourth of July, that curls all around itself. We both freaked. The pediatrician said this morning, upon examination, that it was just a little bit infected and that one of the veins hadn’t closed properly, which he fixed with some silver nitrate right there. Here I am, being all cocky that it’s my third and nothing can faze me, and I am running to the ped with a laundry list of things for him to check out less than a week after we last saw him. Oh well, I have never been noted for my calm, and I probably won’t start now.

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The boys each held James for the first time yesterday, mostly because it hadn’t occurred to me to let them do so until Jude asked. So I sat them down on Jude’s mattress-on-the-floor/bed and they each got to wrap their little arms around James and let his head loll over their elbows and smile uncertainly down at him. As usual, my camera was nowhere near. James started crying – wonder why – and Jude obligingly pulled up his shirt to feed James. He’s a swell kid, that Jude. Always at the ready.

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I started reading the Julia/Julie blog, and it’s some really good reading. I enjoy her down-to-earth tone and honesty. I may wait for the book, though, I may enjoy it more in that format.

And I finished The Diary of Mattie Spenser yesterday. Remember what I said about it not being grim? It wasn’t exactly grim, but it was sad. I still enjoyed it, for the most part. I am almost halfway through On Green Dolphin Street, which is a strange yet deft mix of a love affair and political affairs during the Kennedy campaign.

Mr. Darcy has been voted the greatest hero in literature. But Carl MacDougall, an author and presenter of the BBC's Writing Scotland, was unimpressed. "The fact that Mr Darcy is number one says more about Colin Firth than it does Jane Austen…” Yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel. I mean, just because Darcy is a romantic, enigmatic pain in the ass does not make him the greatest hero (even if it makes him – natch - sexy and appealing to we womenfolk). Anymore than it does Mr. Rochester or Heathcliff (both of whom I pretty much want to smack upside the head). I liked Mr MacDougall’s suggestion of Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities.

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Gina, come back from pledge - I miss you!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I think fish is nice, but then I think that rain is wet, so who am I to judge? - Douglas Adams

All this talk of holy water and garlic reminds me of my all-time favorite vampire movie quote, from “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (a visually beautiful movie marred by Keanu Reaves’ complete lack of acting ability and Gary Oldman’s ferrety face):

[MINA: How did Lucy die? Was she in great pain?
[Anthony Hopkins, playing the master of understatement]
HELSING: Ja, she was in great pain. Then we cut off her head and drove a stake through her heart and burned it and then she found peace.

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I found the blog that goes with the Julie/Julia book. And in all my copious free time, I will read it. I wonder if that means I won’t then have to read the book? Will it be identical? I am guessing it will be pretty similar.

I stayed up way too late last night reading Sandra Dallas’ The Diary of Mattie Spenser, a light but well-written novel about life on the prairie circa Laura Ingalls Wilder time. I am really enjoying it. It reminds me a bit of Rachel Calof’s Story but not quite as grim, perhaps because it’s fiction.

We tend to read in cycles around this house. We’ll read a few books over and over until the boys decide they’re tired of them and move onto something new. I am sure there’s some psychological/educational benefit to this practice and my boys are just doing completely normal toddler development things but frankly it makes me insane.
In the boys’ reading rotation right now:
-Thomas and the Big, Big Bridge
-Thomas and Toby
-Dear Katie, The Volcano is a Girl (about the legend of Pele, Hawaiian goddess of fire and goddess of the Kilauea volcano)
-In Search of the Perfect Pumpkin (nonfiction, about...what else...pumpkins)
-Suddenly (I love Preston the pig. I bought this in London in 97, well before children.)

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Snippets:

I just like the phrase “jazz diaspora” although I too am worried that the rebuilding of New Orleans will result in a New Orleans theme park rather than the vibrant, exciting (and admittedly fucked-up) city that it was.

Peggy Fleming is on Mr. Rogers’ right now. She is teaching Mr. Rogers to do spinny things on skates and showing pictures of her cute son - who sports a Dorothy Hamill haircut.

This woman is CLEARLY NUTS. She was featured in Parents magazine a year or so ago, when she only had fourteen children. I think they should do a feature story on people who have *figured out* birth control…

Simon has his first official playdate with a boy from school. James’ mom is taking them up to the park after preschool for an hour or so. Si seemed pretty excited by the prospect; he talks about James a lot. After I had said yes, I realized I was not even sure of James’ mom’s name (it’s Angel). Yet notice how I blithely send my kid off with her. I am in the running for the rotten mother of the year award. They’d NEVER let me have thirteen more.

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Just got an email from Dan. One of his co-workers is in the hospital, waiting for his meningitis diagnosis – viral or bacterial. This is a guy Dan works closely with. We’ve both checked the CDC site and don’t really know what to do until the diagnosis comes back other than keep Dan away from the kids.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"I'm no theologian. I don't know who or what God is. All I know is he's more powerful than Mom and Dad put together."-Lisa Simpson

Simon (intently cutting off pieces of scotch tape from the roll with scissors): Hey, Mom, what is God? Like, is he a person and how does he live up there in the sky?”

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Simon spent yesterday afternoon taping all the leaves he had collected onto construction paper. We identified the obvious – we have a preponderance of maple leaves, for example – and he wrote the names on the pages in glittery purple marker. There’s still an almost-full Tupperware container full of leaf fragments, stems, acorns, and other detritus of fall. I found myself wanting to straighten the leaves, double the scotch tape so you couldn’t see it – wait, no, let’s PRESS the leaves between contact paper. Let ME do the lettering so it looks nicer. And let’s not tape the acorns into the book because then it won’t close. I am proud to say that I controlled my control-freak impulses.

I spent close to fifteen years, by training and trade, as a scenic artist. If I say so myself, I am a decent craftsman. I may not paint my own masterpieces, but I have produced some breathtakingly lovely pieces of artwork in the form of drops and scenery for various theatres. It is HARD for me not to want to do as clean and lovely a job as possible.

Am I the only mom out there who has to fight against these impulses to fix, straighten, clean, add one more detail, or erase one little smudge? I do NOT want to spend his grade school years helping with/doing his homework so it will be perfect but I can already tell that that may be a battle with myself. On a scale of one to ten, in the rating of insane parenting impulses, 1= perfectly normal and 10= hopelessly neurotic, how insane am I?

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Randy Hogue came to my high school when I was in the seventh grade, along with some group of singers called New Life or something equally absurd. I do remember they all wore frumpy red dresses (the women) and red turtlenecks (the men) but my memory could be incorrect, destroyed or repressed by the trauma of the revival week that followed. I’m pretty sure they cannot have cancelled classes for the week but all I remember of that week is sitting in the school auditorium (which was also the church’s sanctuary) screamed at and harangued about the evils of drugs, alcohol, pop music, and dancing, Randy Hogue working himself into a lather, spitting and sweating in his fervor; and spending the entire week secretly convinced that whether I went forward to be saved or not (not that I hadn’t already done that at my own church), I was heading straight to hell, without my mom and dad, my brothers, or any of my friends. I prayed desperately for some sign that I really had been saved – a lightning bolt, a rainbow, who the hell knows what I expected. I was terrified.

Randy Hogue told horrific stories about his druggie friends who had tripped out on LSD and thought the potato someone threw out a window was their brain; people picking themselves raw, suffering from withdrawal symptoms in rehab; nurses having to peel people off the walls and ceilings. Fine, I get that drugs are bad for you but must you terrorize innocent Baptist children?

The other memorable thing about Randy Hogue was his Hellevator schtick. He had his ideas of what hell is like, so he took us on his Hellevator ride, stopping at different levels (I somehow doubt he was a Dante aficionado) to check out the thrills of Hell, the vile tortures that Satan and his minions had in store for us. It was definitely a PG-13 kind of deal, but weird nonetheless. There are most likely more people from my high school graduating class that remember Randy Hogue than remember our teachers. I will give him that – he was memorable. “I am pushing the Down button…we descend…darkness and heat and agonized screams of the damned who don’t have Jesus Christ as their personal savior…” Really, I couldn’t make this stuff up.

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Every time I watch Sex and the City, I am gripped with a raging desire to start smoking again. It’s all Carrie’s fault. I *know* it’s bad for you, I know it stinks, but God I miss smoking. The episode on TBS last night – what do YOU watch when you are awake with a crying baby? – was the one where they go to LA. I have 2 things – 1) Matthew McConaughey is a freak and NOT attractive, and 2) I would date Vince Vaughn in a heartbeat. I’d probably even have sex with him in a heartbeat, but he’s that type of normal-looking movie star that makes you say, “Yeah, we could hang out and be friends.” And he’s sexy. And big – 6”4’. Yum.

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And just because I am tired and haven’t read anything in two days, I offer you this in propitiation. It might not do much for Joke or David, but…hey, I can’t please everyone.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Though a tree grows so high, the falling leaves return to the root.

OK, this entire post is "Snippets":

This book is actually the inspiration for James’ middle name. Si used to make us read it to him over and over again; the little dog Angus is endearing and smart. Long before I found out I was pregnant, Si was lobbying to name the next child Angus. And Dan and I considered all kinds of other middle names, but we like the meaning of Angus, and liked the sound of the whole name. (In our defense, James is actually named for his paternal grandfather.) So, there you have it, folks. Please don’t ever tell my child he was named after a dog, ok?

And what is the opposite of namesake? It’s not really an antonym – what is it? James is his grandfather’s namesake, but what is Grandpap to James? There must be a word for it. That I should be able to discover, being a librarian and all…or I could just ask the Internet which is what most normal people seem to do…

The Booker Prize is announced tonight. I’ve read not a single short-listed book. I feel so barbaric.

I woke up on Saturday and realized that it was my actual due date. And instead I have an almost-two-week-old baby. Pretty wild.

Jude now owns white and navy New Balance sneakers that seem to fit him and that he will wear. Although he keeps tripping over his own feet – but since that’s a family trait I’m not too worried….and I know I swore that the two boys were getting completely different sneakers this time around, but oh well. Soon Jude will be as big as Si and they can just wear their sneakers interchangeably. Depending on whose gets pitched downstairs after Mama trips over them for the gazillionth time.

And in the saleslady at the lingerie store vein, Simon told me last night that my “boobs look like pacifiers.” Uh….thanks. I think I’ll feed James in the locked bathroom from now on.

Si’s having a tough time. He’s trying to draw a tree. He just said, “Oh, ok, I’ll just make a banana peel instead.” All right then. Problem solved.

This week’s topic is trees, we are about to go for a walk and collect leaves to identify. How very pioneering of us. Let’s see, we’ll start with the ubiquitous jagger bush, and then probably move onto some stinky sweet-gum trees.

My life is riveting, I tell you!

P.S. I HATE local newscasts. I normally do not even watch the news. But last night on Channel 4, the anchor said, "Tragedy for local Pakistanians. More at eleven!" I hate this city so much sometimes, which I suppose is biased, as a gaffe of this sort could happen to anyone. But it seems so much more likely here. Sigh.

Ex Machina

Another reason to love Brian K. Vaughn! I picked up the first volume of this series over the weekend, and it's really very cool and engaging. If, like me, you are bogged down with reading you *don't* want to do (I'm slogging through heaps of paper whose trees of origin gave their lives so I could be sedated by reading about metadata), then grab a comic like this--it's the perfect antidote.

Stiffies!

Just . . . wow.

PS-This has to do with men's underwear, so if you're at work (or dealing with kids you don't feel like discussing underwear with) be warned.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

All hail to the twenty-four-hour Dairy Queen

Ah, the lot of the third child. James is attempting to nap, wrapped in a blanket in the aforementioned papasan chair, while his mama types away at the computer and his two brothers and his dad play guitars and drums on the third floor. If he actually goes to sleep, I will be mightily impressed. I remember my mom telling us that my little brother could *only* sleep if there was a racket going on because that’s what he was used to.

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Here’s a little quiz for you.

Which of the following did Dan and I think we could pack up all three boys and go into Squirrel Hill to do this morning?

  • Buy the older boys new shoes
  • Get the 4th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm from Blockbuster
  • Be fitted for and buy a new nursing bra
  • Stop at the Chocolate Moose for some yummy peppercorn chocolate
  • Buy some techie book at B&N for Dan’s latest work project
  • Get this week’s money from the ATM
  • Go grocery shopping
  • Buy a headlight for Dan’s car
  • Buy a new vacuum cleaner belt

If you guessed all of them, you are either as crazy as we are, or not the parent of three children under the age of five.

Dan got the Curb Your Enthusiasm DVD first. Cross off list, feel smug.

After forty-five minutes of hell in the shoe store with the world’s oldest and most incompetent saleslady, I was prepared to gas all people over the age of 70, kill myself when I hit 70, and just buy any old pair of sneakers and get the hell out of there. I did that last thing. So Si, whose old sneakers still kinda fit him, has new sneakers – blue and white Velcro New Balance, size 11-1/2 wide. At least he hasn’t attained his father’s black-Reebok level of nerdiness yet…Jude who measured a 10 ½ wide, and who requested red sneakers, and whose toes are practically poking out of his old sneakers, got to try on a 10 extra wide and a 10 ½ medium, in white or navy. That is, *after* we noticed that the salesperson had first put on him one of Si’s 11-½ sneakers, and then could not find its mate. I felt at the time like the saleslady was one of the Keystone Kops and I was a hamster running on its wheel. As I mix my metaphors or similes or whatever the hell. So I bought Jude a pair of sneakers that do not fit him, refused to let him wear them, and skedaddled the hell outta the store, and we will return Monday a.m., sans Simon, to try again. By which time perhaps said saleslady will have keeled over or moved into the nursing home for the insane where she so rightly belongs.

And THEN I spent twenty minutes waiting for the fitter to help me at the bra store – ok, it’s actually called The Pussycat but who wants to buy nursing bras at a store called The Pussycat? – only to 1) find that, according to the fitter, who repeated herself several times, my breasts are really, REALLY SMALL (like it’s a fucking newsflash or something), and 2) buy the exact same style and size bra I was wearing. Only new. Sigh.

We did manage the chocolate (hey, I have my priorities straight!) and, at the cost of two cereal bars and a package of crumbled Bob the Builder graham crackers, the vacuum cleaner belt. Our smugness evaporated, put in our proper place by two recalcitrant children, we returned home for lunch and naps. Did I mention James slept thru the whole thing?

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Is anyone else addicted to reading the real estate transaction listings in the newspaper (ours run on Saturdays), or am I hopelessly nuts/nosy? (I read the obits too.) And then I go look up online, on the county assessment site, any interesting properties, particularly ones for sale in our new neighborhood and ones that sold for exorbitant sums in our old neighborhood. The Penguins’ right wing Konstantin Koltsov just bought a *townhouse* in Squirrel Hill for an astonishing sum of money – and not one of the charming old brick townhouses but a newish-looking, charmless, modern thing. And it was in the paper for the public to see…and on the website for the perpetually nosy to look at. Because I care where our sports stars live…if only the website had been around when I was stalking Darius Kasparaitis.

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I liked Jennifer Weiner’s second book, In Her Shoes the best of all her novels, perhaps because it transcends its “chick-lit” label and is a strong and well-written novel regardless of the niche into which it is shoved. The movie is getting panned, and none of the reviewers are even taking the source seriously. But when has the movie ever come close to the book? Think Possession, Garp, Prince of Tides, the list goes on and on…most movies made from books are travesties. (Travesties of a mockery of a sham!)
Angels and Insects was a decent movie but only because the screenplay was the novella, word for word. And Bridget Jones was a better movie than book. Otherwise, read the book, skip the movie.

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I had something to say about Norwegians and Swedes, and Larry David confusing the two and calling his golf pro Sven a Swede, and then there was something on Bookslut in regards to some book awards, about the Norwegians being peninsula hogs, and it was all related in my strange little brain somehow, and I laughed and laughed – but that was last night at 2 a.m., and I had a baby attached to me, and so I suppose my judgment was skewed, if I could even remember what the joke was. Aren’t you glad you read this blog, for my clarity and eloquence and erudition? Me too.

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Does anyone know any AC/DC? Because all of Dan’s musician friends are calling my sweet baby James by his middle name…so I should perhaps balance the James Taylor lullaby with something else befitting his middle name…

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By the way, James fell asleep. Even with “Heavy Metal Drummer” being practiced upstairs.

Friday, October 07, 2005

"I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people." - Katherine Hepburn

All right, I am generally a huge Jessa Crispin fan, but how can you NOT GET Jane Austen? I like Bronte and Wharton too (Wharton way more than the Brontes, actually) but really, not to like Austen? She’s crisp and clear and funny and yes, everything ends happily but that’s also social commentary. (Can you tell I took a lit class or two in college? Hmmm.)

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Gina brought James Terry Pratchett’s Where’s My Cow?. It’s pretty funny and I dig the illustrations, particularly those of the “bad guys.” Simon read it through carefully and then said, “Mama? The man in the book reads the book to his son, right? [The main character reads Where’s My Cow? to his son.] So then the guy in THAT book reads it again to his son. And then in THAT book, the guy reads it to HIS son…” Great, the kid is almost five and he’s grasped recursion so much more quickly and clearly than I ever did. Kindergarten cannot come soon enough.

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I borrowed a Thomas video from the library for the boys to watch yesterday, since it was supposed to rain in the afternoon (it didn’t but I promised). We have not seen any of the videos, all our Thomas experience is based on the original Awdry books. The video is cute, it looks like they just set up a scene with the little model trains and shoot a scene, then move to the next scene and shoot that, with voiceovers serving as dialogue. Simple but cute. The boys really enjoyed the video.

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I am reading Sebastian Faulks’ On Green Dolphin Street. It is engaging enough, in that martini-drinking, cigarette-smoking, pillbox-hat-wearing style, sort of like Raymond Chandler, or the literary equivalent of “The Man Who Wasn’t There”.

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My Perfect sister-in-law did something nice for me (actually, incredibly nice, damn her! : )) She sent James a present, and sent *me* a B&N gift card. (If I remember correctly she gave me cozy flannel PJs when Si was born…damn, I hate when people who annoy me are nice to me!). For the past couple times at the bookstore, I have been eyeballing a few Sandra Dallas novels. I read The Persian Pickle Club and enjoyed it because I thought the main character was incredibly sympathetic and the supporting cast was funky but fun. Plus I liked all the quilting details. So I think I will use my gift card to pick up at least The Diary of Mattie Spenser and Alice’s Tulips. They are the kind of comfort reading my brain could use right now. Along with maybe the new Jennifer Chiaverini - who is getting a bit boring but her quilting parts are terrific.

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I also want to read this book about Julia Child and Julie Powell, Julie and Julia : 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. The blog is no longer up, at least not that I could find. Bummer.

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There’s a Jeffrey Eugenides short story in the New Yorker this month. It’s as good as anything else he’s written (and I am not a short story fan…). When is he coming out with a new book? Middlesex came out in paperback in 2003...he's about due.

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Mary Gordon’s Pearl showed up on Bookslut for some reason recently. I want to read it. Also I want to reread Spending as that is one of her books that I remember making an impact on me. I bought it for several people for Christmas the year after I read it.

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Nobody buys into the librarian stereotype anymore, do they? Come on, is this still considered a story? I am sick of reading about it.

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All I can say is, Way to go, and if I should ever rejoin organized religion, I will seriously consider the Episcopalians.

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I *really* need to buy Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust.

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I dig weird sea creatures. I should read The Search for the Giant Squid. I’ll bet I’d find it fascinating. Put it on the list.

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Salon’s recent article on “unschooling” children, a process described thusly: Unschooling is a radical branch of home-schooling where kids control what and when they learn -- free of teachers, schedules and tests. Unschoolers say it's intellectually empowering. Critics call it irresponsible.
How I feel about this approach, expressed much more succinctly than I could, in the article by a homeschooler-mom who is a vocal critic of unschooling:
A child-led approach may develop the child's strengths but does nothing to develop his weaknesses and broaden his horizons.
I just think unschooling is an insane proposition, but what do I know? I am applying to *public school* for God’s sake.

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James sleeps best either in his car seat or wrapped in a blanket in the ancient papasan chair that lives in our library/TV room. Am I terrible for actually letting him sleep in these places - during the day - rather than his crib? I vote no.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I have more but am tired of typing one-handed...

James has gained eight ounces in three days. The pediatrician asked if we were feeding him steak and gravy. (Of course then I proceeded to spray the poor child in the eyeballs with breast milk. Well, I suppose I can look at it as fending off any incipient conjunctivitis.) Then I snuck off to the local coffee shop where the staff, all of whom know me and the other two all too well, admired James at great length and then gave me my mocha latte and toasted bagel while I read today’s newspaper. Ah bliss.

*

For those of you who expressed an interest –
Dolfin chocolate is most definitely not just a cool Pittsburgh thing. It’s amazing imported Belgian chocolate – available at the Chocolate Moose, which *is* a cool Pittsburgh thing (also at Mon Amie Chocolates in the Strip (another cool Pittsburgh thing) but they are sort of snotty there so I only go there to satisfy my HobNob cravings) – Dolfin blends all sorts of spices and herbs with different kinds of chocolates, and I have yet to eat a combo I didn’t like (although the Earl Grey tea bar could be more strongly flavored). My favorite is, however, the dark chocolate with pink peppercorn one, even if the dark chocolate with candied orange peel is the one that got me hooked in the first place. (In fact, I am so addicted to the orange/dark chocolate combination that I have been known to candy and dip my own peel.) Other than Lake Champlain Chocolates’ Five Star bars (my personal jury is out on whether I like the caramel or peanut ones best, but I lean towards the caramel) and the homemade mints from Chocolate Celebrations on the South Side (Dan anted up a pound of these upon the birth of James although sometimes he buys them for me for less momentous events…), the most amazing chocolates I have ever had came courtesy of my little brother who apparently thinks nothing of spending forty bucks for a pound of chocolates. La Maison du Chocolat chocolates are these incredibly delicate infused ganaches – some of the flavors include honey, anise, cinnamon, and kirsch. They blew my mind, it was the best box of chocolates I have EVER eaten.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Show and Tell


This is the phone in my office. It is 2005, and this is my phone. Public radio. I'm just sayin'.

Thank you for hating my family for me. [Laurie Colwin, A Big Storm Knocked It Over]

[Warning: Lots of profanity… I know, how unlike me…]

We had essentially 2 dinner parties here this past weekend. Of course everyone wants to see the baby, but no one seemed to know when it was TIME TO LEAVE. My MIL was just thrilled to have an excuse to scrub my kitchen and do all my laundry, because I am such a slattern, when what I really needed her to do is play with Simon and Jude so I can worry about just the baby and maybe catch a nap. But no, it' s much more important to do all my laundry (now I know why Dan can’t sort his laundry according to color – ergh!) and IRON THE BOYS' SHIRTS!!!! Jesus Christ.

And she was all helpful and offered dinner on Sunday but then called and said she couldn't come over till at least 530. Oh how helpful. Glad to see we are accommodating someone’s schedule, even if it’s not mine and I am the one who JUST GAVE BIRTH. Well, so - dinner not till 630, boys up way too late for the second night in a row (their bedtime is 8), her hounding them to eat (I refuse to demand that they clear their plates - has she not read those articles about obesity? Of course I give them just a little bit at a time (also because Dan is a freak about wasting food) instead of a farmhand helping, too.) and then instead of going home, she felt the need to swab the entire kitchen, empty the garbage cans, God knows what all else. I practically had to PUSH them out the door. All I wanted to do was go to sleep while James was sleeping.

And you know, if you just can’t DO something without asking me a hundred questions (I don’t care where the fuck you put the roll of Scotch tape! Or whether Si’s sandwich is cut in quarters or triangles!), I might just as well get up and do it myself.

Then she wanted to know where my ironing board was. Fuck if I know, frankly. Who irons anything with a 2- and a 4-year-old around? Let alone THEIR clothes?

So yes, I had a total meltdown when the hordes left. Could not stop crying for half an hour and went to the ped yesterday with swollen eyes and blotchy skin. James is doing fine, but I have to take him again on Thursday for a weight check. The little booger is sucking me dry, but he hasn’t put on any weight yet.

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We put in the application for the school for Si for next year – now I just need to wait till December. Ah the stress. And this is the *public school* application process!

And Si and I are embarking upon “lesson plans” because the kid is BORED. So this week we are exploding his clay volcano (remember the grade-school project with baking soda and vinegar?) and reading books about volcanoes and coloring pics of volcanoes.

Next week - he picked planets. I have a feeling my third floor is about to be hung all over with badly-painted Styrofoam balls.

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Oh and yeah - fever, chills, shakes, and my palms itch like a mother. So I am sick but about to come into money?

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Reading, you ask? Haha, I laugh at you. I manage to get the paper read, and I look longingly at Shalimar the Clown every time I go by it, but nada mas right now. Someday my brain will function again and I will catch up on weeks of Salon and Bookslut coverage, and your eyes will glaze with boredom.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Babies, babies everywhere, and not a wink to sleep...

Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio was a very interesting book, with a fiercely intelligent, strong, and determined mother character. I enjoyed it a lot and look forward to catching the movie – probably on video at this point : )

Dan and I started watching the fourth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm last night. The first two episodes were ok – in fact the second was typically painful. But I think nothing can even come close to the third season finale, with the restaurant opening, and so these are suffering in comparison. I am sure they will hit their stride and I will return to alternately laughing my ass off and cringing, unable to watch, as David makes an ass of himself yet again. Brilliant.

My new issue of Brain, Child came yesterday; perfect timing. It’s the only “parenting” magazine I really like, and I read it cover to cover. This month had some timely articles on “lactivists” and also an essay on how much of how you feel about yourself as a person is tied up in how you feel about yourself as a mother. So to add to my natural inferiority complexes, my mothering skills leave me feeling like I am impatient and unloving and unfit to care for small children. (Which is not true – at least not always.) The essay really made me feel some support and understanding, which is nice at this juncture.

We are off to B&N today to pick up the Moomintroll order for Si's Xmas present, purchase a baby book for James, and buy Salman Rushdie's new novel. That's our big excursion for the weekend.

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October 1 was the seventh anniversary (what a macabre use of the word) of my mother’s death. I am so glad James wasn’t born on October 1. But I did find myself thinking how much my mom would have enjoyed her grandsons, and how sad it was that she never got to see any of them. One of the last things she said to me was (very wistfully for someone who had never expressed any interest in grandchildren at all), “I do wish I’d gotten to see my first grandchild.” At the time, Dan and I were at a very rocky place and children were not even discussed; nevertheless, I felt horribly guilty and like I had let her down.

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Dan did his volunteer stint on the neighborhood house tour yesterday afternoon. I managed to see three of the houses, since we had already arranged for a babysitter for the boys since I was supposed to be working yesterday afternoon. I fed James, put him to bed, and wandered off to look at other people’s houses. Such voyeurism, I love it. I got some terrific ideas for my own house and came away feeling both depressed at how little we’ve managed to get done in the year and a half we’ve been here, but also completely inspired, since my house has great bones, it just needs some TLC. One of my friends from my theatre days is working as a muralist at one of the true mansions on the tour, and so I got sort of a behind-the-scenes look at it, which was fun. But what was best was that most of the houses were just normal everyday-people houses, with kids’ toys, and food in the cupboards, and work in progress. It wasn’t all House Beautiful.

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Monday morning is tied up with the peds’ appointment, to make sure the boy isn’t too jaundiced, and with driving to the school of our choice and putting Si’s application in for kindergarten next year. Keep your fingers crossed for us – we do have geographic preference, and weirdly, we should get some preference because we are white. (The public schools like to make sure their schools are diverse, and in this neighborhood, they need more white kids for that balance.) Anyway, like I said, keep your fingers crossed; we won’t find out till December if he’s in. I will pretty much be a mess worrying till then.

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I am probably going to be (mostly unashamedly) self-centered for the next few weeks or months, since I won’t have a whole lot of time to be cruising other people’s blogs. I’ll try to keep up with my usual ones, but I can’t promise anything. (I’d miss you all if I couldn’t catch your blogs at least occasionally…I just may not be as active commenting.) I also hope I don’t bore you all to tears with minutiae about the baby and my SAHM life for the next three months. And thanks again for all the good wishes. James sends some spit-up and slobbers of gratitude.

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I know what you are all dying for is James' pics, but due to our lack of a digital camera, you will have to make do with pics from the beach two weeks ago. James photos ASAP (although our friend Phyllis was all ready to snap a pic of James with her flash camera, while he was sleeping, and I had to threaten her with death if she woke him up, so she decided against the pic...).

Dan and the boys:




Simon guy:




Judeman (in his Wyeth pose):