I leave it to you to guess which pieces she insisted on and which pieces Mom gently persuaded her into.

I plan to assert myself when it actually snows, though. She WILL wear socks with those flipflops, if it’s the last thing I do.


p.s. Dick was thinking to himself this morning (early, as he leaves the house at 5:30) and he realized that the camera is an important part of my blogging, and that since he’s missed seeing pictures in my last few posts, he would have one more look-see in the cushions of the couch for the missing camera (last seen the night I cut my hair). I’d told him it had to be in the couch, but apparently we hadn’t delved far enough into the couch’s innards over the weekend. So Dick went couch-diving this morning, which is much too similar to dumpster-diving at this house, and he FOUND THE CAMERA. So here is a picture post just for you, Dick. Thank you for taking the time this morning to use your Daddy eyes.

Happy Wordless Wednesday!

You can tell a lot about a person . . .

. . . by how they interact with children in public.

I’m not talking about the obvious (and unfortunately ineffectual) abuse that’s so embarrassing at the Walmart. You know, the parents who whack their kids while shouting, “Stop hitting your sister” or “I told you not to use the #@%& word, @#%$-it!” And I’m not talking about those who speak to anyone under the age of 10 as though they’re braindead, either. Because let’s face it, my children are often in a sugar-/TV-/breathing- induced coma reminiscent of brain-dead-ism.

And I’m not even talking about people who treat their friends’ or strangers’ kids differently than their own. Those conscientious parents who’ll go out of their way to answer a question or offer condolence to someone else’s kid while their own flesh and blood howls for a half-hearted nod of acknowledgement. (I do this one ALL THE TIME.)

No, those are all posts for another time.

I’m talking about how we handle kid-sized interruptions when we’re lucky enough to be engaged in witty bantering and sparkling repartee with another actual adult human (where witty bantering and sparkling repartee too often equal hammering out the logistics of our next playdate).

What do you do when little Addison/Aidan interrupts a real conversation?

Do you immediately stop your selfish adults-only talk and turn your body so you’re open to your child and generally treat her as though the President-elect himself has asked for a minute of your time?

Or do you swat them aside vaguely, pretending you can’t really hear that screeching coming from the hordes now writhing on the floor?

Too much or too little? What do you think?

1) Children should be seen and not heard

2) Children are my reason for B.E.I.N.G.

3) What Children?


Comment of the day from Paula:

I think the best way to handle this is to give your attention to the child long enough to take care of anything truly urgent, or to remind them not to interrupt and promise they will have your full attention in a few moments. Then don’t forget to give them your attention at the appropriate time. I’m not in the “children should mold their lives around the expectations/needs of adults” camp, but age-appropriate expectations of politeness are in line.

That being said, most of the time my kids have to be pretty persistent in trying to get my attention before I even notice they are there, LOL.

P.S. I love you, even if your legs are really short
spot rides her bike from jane on Vimeo.

In case you think I sound like I’m twelve years old, the following video should remove all doubt. And also provide some clues as to why our home life is just one big, shiny rainbow.
decorating birthday cake from jane on Vimeo.

Yurelli’s Buddy

Sally has reached that age where she will not reveal what she did at school today. Even under extreme pressure from mastermind interrogation techniques (Mom singing the songs from Barbie and The Diamond Castle), she deflects the conversation to her latest drawing of a unipegicorn and, on a weak day, she’ll only confess that “Serenity is my best friend and Emma H. is a little mean.”

But last week she was positively loquacious on the subject of what she would be missing if we were late. (I don’t know where she gets this compulsion to be on time for things).

If we were late, she’d miss DOL and weather and calendar and jobs. Jobs is especially important, because everyone has a job to do to make the classroom work, and it changes every day.

What kind of jobs? I asked (because I’m an interested parent).  Sally said the jobs are like messenger, eraser, line leader, Yurelli’s Buddy, librarian, lunch count. I asked which was her favorite (because I’m also an involved parent). And then I said, Wait. What’s Yurelli’s Buddy?

Well, she said, Yurelli doesn’t speak English, so if you’re her buddy then you sit by her all day and explain everything to her and if you get your work done early, you can take her around the classroom and point things out to her. Miss Thompson put labels on the “door” and “cabinet” and “rug,” and you can teach Yurelli how to say those things.

But you don’t speak Spanish, I said. How do you explain things to her if you don’t speak Spanish and she doesn’t speak English?

Sally couldn’t really explain how this language exchange works, and apparently Yurelli is still struggling with English, but the kids in the class like getting the Yurelli’s Buddy assignment, and Sally likes it when Eurelli plays with her posse on the playground.

Probably the whole class should be learning Spanish (and German and French and Chinese). And maybe Yurelli should be in a special bilingual program that celebrates her unique heritage, blah blah blah, but I think it’s kind of cool that Yurelli gets a new buddy every day and that the kids enjoy touring around the classroom with her.

If we ever move to Italy or Argentina or Tasmania, I imagine there would be tons of kids lining up to be Sally’s Buddy, if only so she can teach them how to draw a pegicornasus.


Unscheduled Blogging Break: the Good, the Bad, and the Still Dirty House

I haven’t posted in nine days, which in blogging terms is closer to seventy-four years. Didn’t plan it, didn’t resurrect posts from my archive (most of which make internet bulimia look good). I don’t really know what happened, beyond your common-or-Dr. Seuss-variety slump.

A few years ago, Angela from New York sent us the children’s book Hurry, Hurry, Mary Dear by N. M. Bodecker and Eric Blegvad. It’s a poem about a woman in New England who has chores galore before winter comes. “Stack the stove wood, string the beans, up the storms and down the screens.” Round and round and in and out she whirls, while Hubs lolls in bed and then waits for his tea in his rocking chair.

Dick isn’t that bad, we live in an apartment, and if ignoring your children were an Olympic sport I’d be the Shawn Johnson of mothering. (Finally a gold in something!). So other than the adequately-helpful husband, easy access to mass-manufactured canned goods, and kids happy to watch movie after movie, my life is exactly the same as the under-appreciated, over-worked Mary Dear.

That’s my excuse for not blogging, anyway. Of course, probably you managed to find other means of entertainment in my absence (Just kidding! — of course you sat and moped while I slumped and Michael Phelps won yet another gold medal. I mean, after awhile, doesn’t all that winning and breaking world records and million dollar bonuses from Visa get just a bit . . . old?).

Have you noticed how many sports have four events or four strokes, or how much better baseball would be if there were only four innings? So I tried to think up four categories for my blogging break, but there’s a reason I’m not an Olympic athlete, despite doing my best to eat as close to 12,000 calories a day as possible. So I fell back on pros and cons:

Seven Pros and Cons of the Blogging Break

(1) Pro: Fun Outings with the kids (pools, dinosaur museums, parks)

Con: Since Susan (turning 4 in October) will not start kindergarten for 734 days, there are more pools, dinosaur museums, parks and McDonald play places in my immediate future than June Cleaver ever imagined.

(2) Pro: All this swimming = best tan of my life.

Con: All this no-routine-in-general, not-going-to-the gym-in-specific = flabbiest stomach since Spot vacated the premises.

(3) Pro: Gorgeous Utah weather — it’s getting chilly after dark now, and we’ve been stopping at parks on our way home.

Con: That’s on our way home from seeing every single (cheap) house, townhome, and condo in a thirty-mile radius. Apparently we are poor, picky, poor, and soon-to-be homeless.

(4) Pro: Quality reading time.

Con: Spending the better part of two days reading Breaking Dawn = “quality” might be a stretch. (That’s nothing time-wasting-wise though — I read Scarlett, arguably the worst book ever, in 18 hours straight).

(5) Pro: More time for “real life.”

Con: The house is still a mess anyway. “Real life” should not include “clean house.”

(6) Pro: Time with good friends from high school and my sister.

Con: Real-life problems like complicated pregnancies and lousy husbands are much harder to cope with that quirky servers and mean Stumblers and feelings of raging blogging-inadequacy.

(7) Pro: If you don’t post, turning on the computer is much less “what-if-no-one-commented-on-my-last-post” angst-ridden.

Con: If you don’t post, getting fewer comments is almost for sure. (Although I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the emails, tweets, and IRL comments; my acknowledgments page is all ready in case I ever write anything real).

If you wrote a great post while I’ve been gone, let me know. I hate it when people say that. Duh, all my posts are great, and if you weren’t such a loser, you’d know that and whenever you come back from a break you’d be camped out at my blog catching up. Right? Well, let me know if I missed your epic/ramble/etc. I’ll stumble it for you! Seriously. Unless you’d rather I didn’t, in which case tell me why, ’cause I’m planning a post on Adventures in Stumbling.

We’re going to my dad’s family’s reunion tonight; back late Thursday. Had to promise Dick I’d do all the laundry this week in exchange for him getting to go on the funnest camping trip ever with the coolest people ever. ! So if you send me a post url after 3 pm today, I’ll stumble it early Friday. I’d really like to read your post, stumble it, and then get some feedback from you as to what sort of response/traffic you get from the experience. Like a focus group, only better.

Was it the Mountain Dew I drank in the first trimester? Spot has the Other “D” Syndrome

Dick is ready (oh, is he ready) to have another kid. Last week he said for the first time that we need to have another try at making a boy. This is almost a relief to me, because before when he always said the right things about how happy he is that we have three girls, I never quite believed him.

I’m not ready for another kid, and so I talked it over with my good friend Tara, because open communication is important in any marriage. One reason I’m reluctant is that I feel extremely lucky to have three perfectly healthy kids. Why push it? Do you know how many things can go wrong? The odds on having four normal kids seem almost astronomical.

Here’s my baby, Spot. Not such a baby anymore. We first noticed something ‘off’ with her eyes at six months. She’d outgrown the usual newborn cross-eyedness, but her right eye was often not tracking with the left. We hoped she’d outgrow that, along with those strange grunting noises and the diaper-wetting.

At nine months I took her to a pediatric ophthalmologist who couldn’t get her to do her eye trick. Like a recalcitrant car that insists on running smoothly the second you take it into the shop. The cross-eye doctor said her eye muscles were all equally developed and that it was probably just a baby thing that would resolve itself. Don’t you love doctor-speak?

Dick thought we should get her a patch, but I couldn’t imagine her keeping it on. Plus, the doctor hadn’t actually recommended the pirate look.

So now she’s 21 months old, and the mysterious eye thing is not resolved. It comes and goes and I call her cross-eyed baby sometimes. Today we saw a different pediatric ophthalmologist. It took his assistant approximately 46 seconds to diagnose Duane Syndrome. Okay. Can we not call things “syndromes” unless they’re seriously life-changing/threatening/coma-inducing? Also, could we not name syndromes after your beer-drinking uncle who likes to watch NASCAR?

Avoidance? Huh? Anyway, Duane Syndrome means that in the 6th week of pregnancy, her 6th cranial nerve didn’t hook up with the 6th eye muscle that it’s supposed to control. Her left eye cannot turn out past the midline. It’s completely untreatable and means (to Dick) that she will never be great at basketball and (to me) that she will never be a fighter pilot.

To Tara, it’s a good reason to have a fourth kid because, as she pointed out, we no longer have three perfectly normal children anyway.

On the one hand (more like ninety-nine out of a hundred hands), I’m grateful beyond expressing that it’s not something worse. Spot has the most common, least complicated type (I) of Duane Syndrome, and she seems to be compensating well for it. DS is more common in girls than boys (3:2) and not hereditary and usually doesn’t affect quality of life.

Unless you wanted to be a fighter pilot.

When do you tell your kids that they can’t become something when they grow up? Do you ever tell them? Do you take your son aside and tell him he’s tone deaf before he tries out for American Idol? Do you tell your daughter that the tallest ballerinas are only 5’7″ and that since she’ll most likely grow to 5’10”, she might want to pick a different dream?

When do I tell Spot she can’t be a fighter pilot?

Would You Let Your Seven-year Old Read Books Six & Seven of Harry Potter?

First, a confession. I never got past book two of the Harry Potter series. Not because they weren’t engaging, but because I got lazy, I guess. Where an 800+ page book used to seem like a challenge, now it honestly makes me a little tired. And it’s not my favorite genre. That would be romance or romantic suspense or historical romance or romantic mystery historical suspense. You get the idea.

So I was talking to my friend who taught fourth grade. She has read practically every YA book, and especially every single fantasy-type book. This is my friend Tracey who, with our friend Melinda, I used to sit around on Friday nights reading books in high school. You know, when we weren’t out being extremely sought-after at parties.

Tracey loves Harry Potter — I think she said book five is her favorite, but the whole series is smashing! And I bragged casually mentioned how my soon-to-be second grader (Sally) was almost done with that one.

Oh, but with book six and seven, she said, you can definitely tell they’re not for kids anymore. Because the characters are growing up, they start swearing some, and Harry isn’t even really going to school, he’s fighting the bad guy, so it’s pretty scary.

Sally just showed me on the dust jacket of The Half-Blood Prince: “Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love,” hand over her mouth, smirking and rolling of eyes. So it seems Tracey was right about the kissing, too.

What to do? I know this is only the first in a long line of books, movies, songs, clothes, etc that I’m going to have to allow or disallow. Clothes are easy. They’re modest or they’re not. Music is harder because I like a few songs that have questionable lyrics (but really good melodies!). Movies are pretty easy so far, even though Dick periodically tries to convince me that Sally can watch a a PG-13 movie with him. (She can’t. I’m in charge. The End.)

But books? What if my mom had not allowed me to read Wuthering Heights or Phantom of the Opera at 12? It wasn’t until a month ago that I watched the Gerard Butler Phantom and realized he was old enough to be Christine’s father, and just how disturbing that is. And Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged at 13? (though anyone who can get through John Galt’s speechifying deserves a few romantic encounters).

Compared to what most kids see on TV, this probably seems like a really silly question. But, my kids aren’t most kids.

The best answer, dang it, is for me to read the books first, right? Please don’t say that. How about I watch the movies? Is the last movie coming out soon?

What would you do? Have you read books six and seven? Have your kids? Will they give Sally nightmares or scar her for life?

Someday I’ll Go An Entire Twenty-Four Hours Without Saying That

Did you go potty yet?

Did you wash your hands?

No spitting!

WHY are you taking off your shirt?

Blow. With your nose.

Put your shoes back on!

When’s your father going to be home?

Just eat it!


This is the LAST book!

WHERE did you learn that?

Life ISN’T fair.

I’m sorry you feel that way. I could never never hate you.

Don’t throw that!

Do you WANT to spend all day in time-out?

You can have dessert AFTER you eat your dinner.


Quit stabbing your sister with the toothbrush!

Who wants to play Sorry!?

No biting!

I saw that!

Get back in bed. Lay down. Close your eyes.

No more snacks! We’ll eat tons tomorrow.

And, when you can’t hear me:

What is WRONG with you? / Where did I go wrong?

It’s lucky you’re adorable and sweet-smelling after a bath. Because. Otherwise?

And, when you’re sleeping, and you really can’t hear me:

I could watch you for hours, and not even feel silly for crying about how inconceivably, stupendously, over-every-top-there-ever-was much I love you.

Oh, did I forget to say that when you were awake? Sorry.

I love you!

This weekend’s Things That Must Go features a $50 Giveaway from Hanes! (More Underwear + Socks = Less Frequent Laundry Loads!). Go share your Things That Must Go to enter the contest.