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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm Not That Important

OK, here's the scoop:

I'm going to unplug (sort of) for a few days because we're going camping. Tent camping. It's a two-roomer, so don't feel too badly for us. Unless it rains, and then please feel really, REALLY badly for us in our two-room tent with three bored children.

I say "I'm going to unplug (sort of)" because Fairly Odd Father is bringing his laptop, so the temptation will be great. He is bringing his laptop because the kind folks at his school decided that, although this is his measly two-week break from the MBA program, they had to give an assignment due Monday night. Yes, MONDAY night, as in the night of Labor Day. Technically, I guess in Business-School-Land, the night of Labor Day is not a holiday anymore since you've probably already shut off the grill and put the kids to bed.

My deal is that I will not check the internet until Wednesday. And then, I will not check again until Friday, when we return home.

So, Internet, do not do anything too exciting while I'm gone. There will be no guest posters because, well, go see the title of this post.

And, if you really need me, just follow the smell of burned-black marshmallows. It's the only way I'll eat them.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Patient or Lazy? You Decide.

"You must have so much patience" is the most inaccurate comment I hear when people find out I homeschool the kids. I would like to assert here that I do not have any more patience than that woman down the street. Instead, I think I choose the Path-of-Least-Resistance method of parenting.

Exhibit A:

Daughter #1 was born via unexpected c-section. (My) pain + her never-ending nursing = baby in my bed.

We tried putting her in the crib for, oh, one night. But, she cried! And, I had to get out of my warm bed! So much work and noise.

She spent the next two years in our bed. Ditto child number two. Ditto child number three. At the age of (almost) four, we have finally got #3 out of our bed, and into his (sister's) room (you don't think we actually have finished his room yet, do you?). And for the past month or so, Fairly Odd Father and I have had our big king bed to ourselves, although we still cling to our own sides as if there are little warm bodies in between us, hogging the coveted middle.

Exhibit B:

Daughter #2 spent the ages of two and three channeling Linda Blair in the Exorcist, especially between the hours of 2am and 4am.

Almost nightly, she'd wake up thrashing and screaming, Screaming, SCREAMING!!!! It was so bad that our oldest slept with ear plugs, and I said goodbye to any hopes that I'd hold onto my hearing past 60.

I meant to take her to a sleep specialist to see what was wrong with her, and I even made the initial call, but I never followed up and she never saw anyone. Thankfully, she outgrew these nightly acts of torture and now only screams during daylight hours, like any normal kid.

Exhibit C:

Oldest daughter turned seven last January and could not read. OK, she could read "cat", "stop" and "the", but longer words or actual books? Nope.

What made this harder to comprehend was that language had come easily to her. At the age of five, her vocabulary was better than anyone on MTV's The Hills.

What made this harder to admit was that I was her teacher. I tried not to panic, but panic I did. I was convinced that it was all my fault and if you saw how many phonics programs I own, you will know that I paid my penance in cold hard cash.

And, you know what? None of it really mattered. This summer, with absolutely no reading help from me, she has started to read on her own. Maybe the absence of my pressure made her willing to learn or maybe she needed something to "click" in her head; I'll never know.

Exhibit D:

Youngest, our son, has taken his own damn time to do everything. He was born a week past due. He didn't walk until well past 14 months. At three, I nervously brought him to a speech therapist for evaluation (but balked at the twice-weekly speech therapy sessions they recommended, so we never went back).

Our last major hurdle in the transition from "toddler" to "little boy" has been the all-mighty diaper.

It isn't easy to have a tall, almost-four year old, in diapers. I met one person who gasped when she heard (as if!). But, you know, we've been busy, I hate pee on my floor and it'll happen someday, won't it?

You know how this ends, don't you? Yes, for the past two days, he has been diaper free and doing (almost) perfectly.

So, is it patience, laziness or just dumb luck that these things have resolved on their own? I'm not certain, but I sure hope I can get through the teenage years like this.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Just One

Last week, both girls were in day camp, and I had some time alone with my little man. He was born just 18 months after his sister, Jilly, and within four years of his big sister, Belly. It is not often that I have alone time with just D.

One morning, I decided to take him on a hike. On the grounds of a local college, there is a toddler-friendly hiking path that can be done in under an hour, even with a meandering almost-four year old.

Alone, it is even more apparent to me how much he has grown. The boy who I dragged to a speech therapist last year for never speaking, now never stops talking.

Without big sisters to boss him around, he turned into a little leader, having to be in front all the time. He was constantly telling me to watch out for sticks and pointing out the route markers painted on the rocks.

I've said that whenever I am with just one of my kids, it feels so much easier than when I'm juggling all three. When I say this, I'm not referring to the physical part of mothering, but the part of me that wants to be there for my kids when they have a question or when they need my undivided attention. Having three who I chose to teach at home means that we are often together and the kids have to share me.

I obviously think our particular lifestyle is worth these challenges, but sometimes it is so nice to have just one, even for just a few hours of walking in the woods together.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

One Flew Into The Cuckoo's Nest

My last post was a bit of a downer (sorry). This next one starts off rough, but the day did get better.

First, I slammed three of Jilly's fingers in the car door. We were in the YMCA parking lot trying to make it to her last swimming class. Needless to say, we did not go to swimming class. Instead, Jilly had Tootsie Rolls, a lollipop and a few cartoons for breakfast. Injured fingers are doing just fine.

Later, I entered our screened-in porch to find a little brown bird flying around it. I quickly close the door behind me and started to open the porch doors to see if I could shoo the bird out of doors. Curious as to what the heck mommy was doing, the kids opened the door to the porch and walked in, leaving the door wide open behind them.

Of course, the bird flew through the door and into my house. He landed on his back on my fireplace hearth. As I searched for something to capture him with, he disappeared.

I now had a small, possibly dying bird in my house. And, I have a cat.

Searching for this little brown creature was futile, so we gave up and went on with our day. I figured I'd find him in a few days, stiff and dusty in a corner.

It was almost one o'clock when I heard D yelling, "Mommy! In the weeds! In the weeds!" He was pointing to a window seat in our family room on which I keep a bunch of plants. Sure enough, the little critter was hiding in my house plants. I grabbed my daughter's butterfly net and tried to catch him.

Petrified, the bird flew over my head and directly into the kitchen where he bounced off the screen in a window and landed---bonk!---in the kitchen sink. Stunned, he kind of floundered about long enough for me to get him into the net and out the door.

As he few away, he chirped twice. I think he said, "Later, Suckas!"

All's well that ends well.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

What Happens to the Kids?

"Did you hear the news?", my neighbor asked, breathless, on the other end of the phone. A small plane had just crashed near my home, into the supermarket parking lot I had been planning to visit to pick up some groceries.

I turned on the news and tried to piece together what had happened. It was an Angel Flight: a pilot had donated his time and plane to take a cancer patient and his wife to Boston's Dana Farber Cancer Institute for treatment. I imagined a sick old man and his wife, holding hands, and felt terrible for them and the pilot.

The next day, I learned that the patient wasn't a sick old man, but a 43-year-old father of 4-year-old twins. In a flash, two children were left without, not only their father who had been battling cancer, but their 37-year-old mother as well.

I can't stop thinking about those twins who are around the ages of my Jilly, who is 5, and D, who is 3. What do they know? What do they understand? I hope that extended family has swooped down around them to love them and take care of them.

About four years ago, Fairly Odd Father and I got around to making our will. In doing so, we had to designate guardians for our kids should both of us die. It was an awful feeling, imaging our kids growing up without us, but the choices weren't difficult. Honestly, I'm not sure we'd even need a will for a judge to know where the children should go, but we wanted to be sure that the family wasn't torn apart should others come into the picture and want to lay claim to our kids.

How about you? Have you figured that out yet? It sucks to think about, and I hope that we'll never need it, but this week's events really drove home the need to consider life without us.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This is Scary

Dropped into the local Target today for a few things.

Stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this sign:

Hmmmm. . . what holiday could this be? I mean, I haven't even gone on my summer vacation yet, and they are promoting, what? Labor Day?

Um, no:

Oh, yes, that would be Halloween-themed clothing. Thankfully, I did not see the fun-size candy out yet, but it can't be far behind.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Back-To-School Means Something Different Here

In only four Mondays, summer vacation as we know it will end for the kids in our town. And, while I should just be enjoying the summer, I am starting to sweat the start of our school days.

Why? Let me count the ways:

1. The "start of school" means I go back to some sort of schedule of teaching my precocious, stubborn, lovely, moody seven-year-old.

2. I meant to do "School Lite" all summer so that she wouldn't forget everything she learned last year (especially math, blah). "Meant to" are the operative words.

3. This fall marks the start of Kindergarten for #2. And, while Kindergarten is not mandatory in our state (meaning I do not have to report her work to the school district), I would like to do some basic math and reading with her. This means juggling two kids around our kitchen table.

4. Oh, and I have a third to keep occupied during these hours. A third child who wants mommy to drop everything to "build a road and a house" out of blocks. Now.

5. Our homeschool coop will start up in September. As will Sunday School (I teach), Brownies & Daisy Scouts (resisting the call to lead a troop), dance class, gymnastics, swimming (thankfully, I do not teach any of those) and some social activity for D if he will ever allow himself to be potty trained and dropped off somewhere for a few hours.

6. All the while, I'd like to get washboard abs, cook homemade dinners nightly, enjoy my new job, write here and here, and hopefully see my husband from time to time as he juggles his crazy life.

The nicest thing? No more mad dashes for the school bus. Now, excuse me while I go to rouse everyone for Camp Week Two. We have a bus to catch.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Hoping History Doesn't Repeat

I am a crier.

I cry at many movies (even Clerks II), television shows (anything on Animal Planet) and while listening to music (Jungleland live did it).

But, I didn't really think that I'd cry no less than six times while at a G-rated movie with my kids. A G-rated American Girl doll movie. How lame am I?

The movie, Kit Kittredge, was much funnier, smart and enjoyable than I expected. It was also heart-breakingly sad in its depiction of the Great Depression and what it did to 'ordinary families'. Fathers left their wives and kids for work and then disappeared, leaving children confused and sad. Homes were emptied of their contents in front of the weeping occupants by debt collectors. Wealthier children made fun of their poorer classmates for selling eggs or wearing grain sack dresses. Fathers snuck into soup kitchens for a warm meal but told their family that business was doing fine.

I may have been PMS-ing to be so emotional, or perhaps it was because I had recently heard that neighbors had left their home abruptly in the dark of night rather than wait for foreclosure proceedings to begin. Or, maybe it was the thought that heating prices this winter could get so high, we could be facing "New England's own Katrina disaster".

My kids did not shed a tear (although they did love the movie). To them, it was a tale of some long-ago time, back when women wore dresses and typewriters used ribbons of ink.

Come January, however, the concept of Americans really struggling to make ends meet not seem like a historical tale. I just hope that it never hits too close to home.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Yellow Bus Means GO!

I don't know how you do it. I just don't have that kind of patience.

Those words? I've heard them more times than I can count.

But, today, I turn those words back to you who will soon be getting up before it is bright to wake a bunch of sleeping children and then get them (go-go-go-go-go!) off to school.

This week, Belly started day camp. Day camp with a bus pickup and drop off. The first morning, she was so excited, she got up before my alarm and was dressed before my coffee was made. I still almost had a coronary trying to get the kids dressed-fed-out before the bus visited the end of our street.

I know we've gotten settled in our ways (our s-l-o-w morning ways), when all this activity before 8am makes me want to take a nap before noon (I did take one, yesterday. oh yes, I did).

And, then, there are all the details. Is her lunch ready? (no) Does she have two clean bathing suits and towels? (no) What did those papers in her backpack tell me to do? (can't find) Did she brush her teeth? (she's not even up yet lady)

You'd think that once she's on the bus, I'd breathe easier. But, no. I then start thinking about what I can get done before the bus brings her home.

And then, it's 4pm and she's home, hungry and tired. A full-day of camp has been kicking her little seven-year-old butt. By 7:30, she can barely keep her eyes open; by 8, we usually have exhausted tears as she realizes that she needs to walk ALL THE WAY UP her bunk bed ladder to reach the pillow.

Does she love it though? Oh, yes, she does. And, I think it is worth the trouble which is a good thing since Jilly has already asked to be signed up for next year.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The End of the Secrets

For you New Englanders, check out
New England Mamas' series on Secret Spaces---we're just wrapping things up tonight and will be selecting one commenter to win some prizes from us women.

I've written about my favorite spot in the world, and also the place I go to get dirty.

I ate delicious lobster rolls on the Cape and then got my informant to tell all about where they were sold. She was fearful that the Cape Cod Mafia may come after her, but I scoffed. Cape Cod Mafia? What would they do? Slice her with a razor clam? Tie her up in whale-embroidered belt? She saw the light.

Finally, I also passed on info on a couple of playgrounds that another friend was also not afraid to share.

Hope you get a chance to visit.

(and, by the way, does my formatting look screwy to you? hope to get that fixed someday. . .)


Tongue Twisted

She was sullen all morning. Argumentative.

"She's been away for three days. Let her be," I told myself as I steered clear and tried to avoid a fight. She was clearly in the mood for a fight.

Funny, though, that when she is in this type of mood, she wants to be near me. Like a dog nipping at my ankles, waiting for me to kick.

I got into the shower, turned on the water and faced my back toward her as she slunk in the doorway.

"Do you believe that there is a Santa Claus?", she asked, barely audible above the noise of the shower.

"What? Do I believe in Santa? Sure. . .but, what did you hear? Do you want to talk?"

"No. . .nothing. Forget it."

"No wait, I just need to rinse my head. I'll be right out!"

She walked away.

A minute later, dripping in a towel, I sat and talked to her but the moment was gone. She says she will stay up Christmas Eve until she sees him. If he doesn't appear, she's decided it is actually mom or dad.

I nodded, trying to clear my hungover, tired head to say something of importance, of meaning.

"I started thinking the same thing at your age", was all I mustered.

She sighed, smiled, and slowly became my little girl again.

Seven years old and another step forward.

For me, perhaps another step back. I think in words all the time. Why do they fail me at times like this?

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