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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hanging on to Reality by a Thread

I sat down to do a craft with my girls yesterday just as Jilly, my four-year old, skipped out of the room.

Me: "Where is Jilly going?"

Belly: "Oh, to watch TV with Soup."

Me: "Soup????"

Belly: "Yeah, it's her imaginary friend. She has three: Soup, Spoon and Cup."

Me: "Oh???"

Belly: "The first time I met them, I was like, 'I'll bake you some soup', and Jilly said, 'NO!' because that was her friend, so I said, 'OK, I won't bake your friend'.

. . .silence. . .

Me: "Jilly's had many imaginary friends. I don't think you've ever had any."

Belly: "Oh, I have hundreds of imaginary friends. I just don't see them very often because they live in California. We write to each other on secret email sometimes."


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Philanthropy Thursday: 'Tis the Season

When I hear Christians say that they want to put the "Christ" back into "Christmas", I get it. After all, without the religious aspect of Christmas, what I am left with is that big fat guy who brings my kids lots of presents. Presents, presents, presents. Nothing chills my blood faster than hearing one of my kids whine, "I want this!!!" while holding up a toy catalog.

But, here is the rub: we aren't Christians. And while I make sure my kids hear the story of Jesus' birth, it isn't the focus of our holiday. For us, the focus of the holiday is about family--our family and those families around us. We have all sorts of silly traditions that we do in our home and have added one "unsilly" one this year: we have adopted a family.

If you type "adopt a family" into Google, you will see a long list of organizations that promote this concept at the holidays. What we did was to email a friend who works for a local battered women's organization. This organization provides shelter to women and their children who are trying to escape an abuser. Many of these women leave their homes suddenly with only the clothes on their back and their children by their sides. The holidays must seem so strange and lonely for someone who is in hiding and trying to begin a new life with no money, no possessions.

"Our" family is a mom with two girls. All we know about them is their age and their modest wish list. Reading their wish list makes me want to cry. There is no mention of ipod or wii or High School Musical. There are only 'practical' items along with one doll request from each girl. One doll; that is all.

So, while we will continue to stuff dollar bills into the ringing Salvation Army worker's metal bucket and will drop off games for Toys for Tots, we will also begin shopping for a very special family we will never meet. Wrapped up in those boxes and stuffed into those gift bags will be our love and hope that the next Christmas will find them in their own home, with a Christmas tree, colored lights and freedom from fear and want.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Future Mensa Members

My poor sister-in-law aged about twenty-five years during her visit over the Thanksgiving holiday. Here was a typical exchange between her and Jilly, my four-year old:

"Hey, Grammy, come here and look!"

"Jilly, I'm not Grammy! I'm Auntie N. . ."

(puzzled silence)

"OK, Grammy, but come here and look!"

Things improved as the week wore on until Jilly was simply calling her, "Auntie Grammy". Now this would all be understandable if Jilly had never met her Aunt or her Grammy, but N was here in March (for Jilly's birthday!) and Grammy was here in September, and we talk of them all the time.

The kicker was when we were out walking after Thanksgiving dinner. Jilly picked up a leaf, handed it to N and said, "Bring this to Pop-Pop". I looked at N and added, "Yes, bring it back to Pop-Pop, your dear sweet husband". Now, if we ever get Grammy and N in the same room, Jilly will be mighty confused.

On a similar note, D, our three-year old son, is having a hard time understanding that Halloween is over. D is what I would call the "strong and silent type". A speech therapist would call him "delayed". But, nevertheless, he has been making great strides in his talking, and we are thrilled every time he says something new.

So, when D announced "Happy Halloween!" the day after the holiday, we were thrilled. "YES! Happy Halloween to you too, Mr. Multiple Syllable Words!".

Maybe we were too enthusiastic because we are still toasting to Halloween. Thanksgiving? "Happy Halloween!" Decorating the Christmas tree? "Happy Halloween!" We may even be hearing it at Fourth of July. This all from the little boy who was crying before he made it to the first house on the night of trick-or-treating because the decorations were too scary.

Makes you feel good that I'm responsible for shaping three young minds for the next generation, doesn't it?

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hi There, Stranger!

Me = chicken with head cut off. Sorry I've been so absent.

I did get something written today, but it is over here.

Hope you've eaten up all your leftovers.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ho! (cough, slut), Ho! (cough, tramp), Ho! (cough, trollop)

I may now have heard everything:

It is being reported that Santas in Sydney, Australia have been instructed to laugh "Ha, Ha, Ha" instead of the more traditional greeting because it may be considered offensive to women.

To which I say to those offended by the "Ho's":

"Nyah, nyah, takes one to know one!"


Monday, November 12, 2007

Sure Beats Raffi

When we finally bit the bullet and decided to buy a minivan back in '04, we were asked, "Do you want the optional DVD player?"

I looked at my sweet girls who were pleading "yes, yes, yes" with their eyes, turned to the salesperson and said, in no uncertain terms, "Hell, no!"

Most of you know that I am not a "TV hater". I admit that I am conflicted about television----laughing uproariously with "America's Funniest Home Videos", basking in the quiet of three children watching "Curious George" and tsk-tsking the antics on shows like "Keeping Up With the Kardashians".

Highbrow, I am not.

On the other hand, I wish my kids didn't want to watch TV as much as they do. My oldest negotiates her TV intake as if her life depends upon it.

I knew a DVD in the car would be an endless source of whining, begging, pleading and general pain-in-the-ass frustration. My idea of using it "only for long trips" would turn a trip to the Target down the street into a "long trip". So, I nixed the idea right away.

However, after months and months of children's music CD's, I was ready to shoot myself (most of the CD's I like have a pesky "Parental Advisor" stickers on them; we tried the Classical Music station for a while, until I developed a twitch).

So, I turned to something we all seem to enjoy: books . . .or, more specifically, audio books (which I stubbornly still call "Books on Tape" even though we only listen to CD's). With our library card, we have borrowed hours and hours of great literature that is read over the speakers of our car stereo.

In honor of Children's Book Week, which will run November 12-18th, I will run down the titles we have heard, along with some comments. These books are listen in the order of when we listened to them.

The Little House Series: If you want to commit to audio books, this is a great way to start. Beginning with Little House in the Big Woods and ending with The First Four Years, we listened to ten separate audio books about Laura Ingalls and her family (one of the books, Farmer Boy, covers Almanzo Wilder's younger years). This is pretty safe stuff for young kids to hear; some mild corporal punishment and loads of drama---after hearing The Long Winter, I vowed that I will never, ever complain that my car does not heat up fast enough on a snowy morning.

Charlotte's Web: Even if you know this story inside and out, or have seen the movie on the big screen, this is well worth a listen. Read by the author himself, E.B. White has a wonderful voice that brings his characters to life. Belly and I both wept when Charlotte died.

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew: I probably would not have been able to sit down and read this as a chapter book. However, as an audio book, its 'quaintness' and formal speech are easier to digest; we really did grow fond of this story. However, remember that language has changed quite a bit in the past 100 years and do not take a slurp of coffee as the narrator reads, "Joe ejaculated . . ." In this case, "ejaculate" means "to exclaim". Now get your mind out of the gutter.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: This is where I wish I still had a brain. Nothing like putting in a CD and wondering, "hmmmmm. . .what age is this book written for?" just as the "N" word is uttered into the confines of our minivan. "Ejaculate, I mean, eject that disc rightaway! Sorry kiddos! Nothing to see here". . .

The Trumpet of the Swan: How is it that I made it to the age of 40 and never even heard of this book? Another E.B. White title that is read by the author, The Trumpet of the Swan is the kind of story that gives me goosebumps when I think of it. The premise sounds ridiculous: a Trumpeter Swan named Louie is born without a "voice", i.e., he cannot trumpet. Despite this rather large handicap in the swan kingdom, he goes on to achieve great fame and fortune, and plays a pretty mean trumpet as well. You must hear this story.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle: A sweet, short story about a mouse who communicates with a little boy. Oh, and there is a motorcycle, too.

The Secret Garden: Starts off with a very unlikeable main character who goes through major transformations after being orphaned. Beautifully written and unforgettable.

The Magic Tree House Series: Book Listening Lite. Easy to understand with likable characters who time-travel in a tree house. Got a bit sick of hearing the lead character say, "Oh, Man!" every time he was amazed, but my kids were entertained.

Peter Pan: I was surprised at how much I disliked this story. First, it is WAY too graphic for young children---people are threatened with death, stabbed and even killed in large slaughters. Peter Pan speaks about mothers in a very derogatory way, and comes across as a little prig. I had seen Peter Pan performed on stage when I was 6 (Cathy Rigby was Peter Pan), and remember it as delightful. The book itself? Not so much.

A Little Princess: By the same author of The Secret Garden, there are a few similarities in this book (both star an orphaned girl from India living in England). I knew my daughter would love this book based on its title, but the heroine in this story is more kind and quirky, than royal and aloof.

We currently have The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread all queued up and ready to go in the van. If there are any other books you can recommend, I'd love to hear about them.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hello, Goodbye

I have a post at the "New and Improved" New England Mamas site. Come, sit down and stay a while.


And, goodbye to my beloved, furry friend of 15 years, Zack. He died in my lap just before 10:30 tonight. He will be missed greatly.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Youth in Asia

Zack is walking with a wobble now. He is skin and bones. He eats little, drinks little. However, he does not seem to be in pain and loves to be held in my lap while he purrs and stretches out.

But, I know, the end of his life is not far.

My question is, do I end things for him now? Or, wait to see if he dies on his own? This question is torturing me, especially on those hopeful days when Zack walks slow circles around the kitchen or grows excited at dinnertime.

This weekend I caught the tail end of this piece being read by David Sedaris on NPR. He talks about the death of his cat, Neil, and I found the text in an article published in Esquire. The story also appears in his book, Me Talk Pretty One Day. I've selected the few sections that hit me particularly hard.

"I took her for a second opinion. Vet number two tested her blood and phoned me a few days later suggesting I consider euthanasia.

I hadn't heard that word since childhood, and immediately recalled a mismatched pair of Japanese schoolboys standing alone in a deserted schoolyard. . .

The doctor's voice called me back from the Japanese schoolyard. "So. The euthanasia," he said. "Are you giving it some thought?"

"Yes," I said. "As a matter of fact, I am."

In the end, I returned to the animal hospital and had her put to sleep. When the vet injected the sodium pentobarbital, Neil fluttered her eyes, assumed a nap position, and died. My then-boyfriend stayed to make arrangements, and I ran outside to blubber beside the parked and, unfortunately, locked car. Neil had gotten into the car believing she would live to experience the return trip, and that tore me up. Someone had finally been naive enough to trust me, and I'd rewarded her with death. Racked by guilt, the Youth in Asia sat at their desks and wept bitter tears.

A week after putting her to sleep, I received Neil's ashes in a forest-green can. She'd never expressed any great interest in the outdoors, so I scattered her remains on the carpet and then vacuumed them up. The cat's death struck me as the end of an era. The end of my safe college life, the last of my thirty-inch waist, my faltering relationship with my first real boyfriend--I cried for it all and spent the next several months wondering why so few songs were written about cats."

"The end of an era". I understand this. Zack is 15. I was 25 when he joined my life. I knew it wouldn't last forever, but I sure would love a few more years.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Googling the Kids

"Have you tested the Googleability of your name?"

Alpha Dogma asked this question, and I was curious. What would I find when I first typed in my name and then the kids' names (putting quotation marks around each name)?

There were a couple of surprises, such as the old Tripod website I had set up for Belly when she was born (and thought I had taken down).

And, I found this photo of Jilly and D:

The photo was taken by a community newspaper photographer at our CSA pickup spot. The CSA was celebrating local foods at a Family Fun Day; this little calf, Strawberry, came from a raw-milk dairy in the area.

I love the look on Jilly's face, and the tiny "o" D is making with his mouth. And, I love Strawberry's silent "moooooooooooo!"

Let me know if you find anything of interest when you Google yourself.