Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The nine-year-old boy twin was nowhere to be seen at bedtime.

He usually sleeps on the floor between his sisters' beds in their room.
He's done that ever since we moved and gave him his own room.
He sleeps flat on the carpet, with absolutely nothing underneath him,
just a blanket on top, and somehow we've let him continue this because:

a) He says he's perfectly comfortable and
b) For five years now it seemed like it was going to be a temporary thing.

So I was surprised to find he wasn't in the girls' room
and I popped my head into his own darkened bedroom.

"Are you in here?" I asked the darkness.

Silence, and then:

"Indeed," the darkness answered back.

I rolled my eyes and went back downstairs.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This Counts

It's all in the details, of course. And our details may be the most creative and artistic, or they may be humbly messy and lopsided. But either way, we understand that sometimes it is the very smallest thing that has the most value in the world of a child.

Like today.

Twin girl packed her purse before church, and then un-packed it for me to see.
She was delighted with herself because she had packed:
lens cleaner and soft cloth
a small flashlight
and a house key on a keychain.
As she re-packed it before getting into the car, she smiled and shrugged quietly, saying, "Well you never know."
She was prepared for anything.

And when we got back home, do you know that the door was locked?
(How did I know that it was gonna be locked...hmmm....)
We never lock the garage door, but there you go.
The teenager came back to the car looking put out, "It's locked!"
I heard a gasp from the back seat.
"Mom! Mommy! Wait! Wait! I have it---"
She was climbing over the seats and almost fell into my lap, breathless.
She pulled out her key and handed it to the teenager.

She smiled at me, eyes shining proud, oh what a smile.

See now, that counts.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I went around turning off lights that had been left on today, flicking them absently.
I reached in and flicked off the bathroom light, and stepped out.
I stopped.
Stepped back in, flicked the light back on, and saw this:

I raised my eyebrows, flicked the light back off and went on about my day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Okay so we have a new expression.
This is my serious attempt to get the following saying into circulation.
Go and spread the word:

"My itch is gettin' wiggy."

It happened tonight at the husband's store where a big Halloween kick-off event was going on...I took the children to see it all decked out, and before long they were donning costumes and walking around with buckets of candy to offer to customers.

So middle child walks up to me wearing a huge Hannah Montana hairdo that is going askew, and she says it:

"My itch is gettin' wiggy."

We looked at each other and burst out laughing. The teenager overheard and says in his newly deep voice, "My itch is definitely gettin' wiggy." He passes it on to boy twin who doubles over in laughter...

Later in the car we discuss the actual definition of this new, fine phrase and everybody takes turns trying it out aloud. It feels really good to say and it definitely describes a feeling of inner itch, whether you're wearing a wig or not.

You can say it when you've just had enough and you're ready to go home. You can say it when there's a tag bothering you and you just have to change clothes.
You can say it when your patience is wearing dangerously thin.
You can say it when you've abruptly changed your mind and the only reason you have is that niggling feeling inside that something isn't quite right.

My itch is gettin' wiggy I gotta go to bed.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Uncrustables, Way Cheaper

Use soft bread, put peanut butter and jelly in the center.

Use a glass to cut a circle out of the center of the bread

Pinch edges closed.

Place in sandwich baggie. Store all sandwiches in a large baggie in the freezer.
When the children need a snack or make their own cold lunch, they just pull one out!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Road

by Cormac McCarthy.

This is one of those books that stays with you.
It comes creeping up into your consciousness at odd moments,
your heart sinks and you look around yourself in solemn thanksgiving
for all that you have.

I love books and I have to admit that I enjoy "escaping" into them...
forgetting about things for awhile to live in a different world.

But this one I had to read with one foot planted solidly in the here and now,
because it was too frightening, too hopeless, and too real.

**Addendum to this post: This is not a book recommendation.
Proceed with caution my friends.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


At Christmastime, when they bring the pine tree into the house, my eyes start to itch. Actually, not my eyes themselves, but the skin around them. It's a mild allergy, and doesn't cause me too much trouble overall.

But a couple of times this summer, my itchy eyes have flared up. This time, it sort of drives me crazy - it's much worse. I've tried all kinds of concoctions to soothe it, but nothing helps, and then it disappears again mysteriously. Nobody in the family can figure out what is triggering this reaction.

Which brings me to my revelation.

Yesterday I decided that the overgrown cherry tomato plants on the side of the house might be to the point where somebody should do something about them. I took a pair of kitchen shears and began furiously trimming away excess foliage. I attacked those plants like a mad scientist and worked until after dark, clipping and tossing with no regard for my own personal safety.

And then the itching started.

I came inside and studied my eyes in the mirror.
Suddenly, an incredible sense of well-being swept over me.
Through no fault of my own, but according to the wishes of Mother Nature herself,

I am allergic to gardening.

Glory, Hallelujah

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

He Is So In Trouble

So I go into the library today to pick up a book I had on hold. (Has anyone read Cormac McCarthy's The Road? Anyone? Anyone?)

Anyway, if there's one thing that you don't want to see when you go to the library, it is the librarian gasping when she looks at the computer screen that shows your record.

Now in the next paragraph I am going to use the word, "literally" in the correct way. I'm just preparing you not to be suspicious.

The librarian asked me if I'd like to also pick up my eldest child's books and I said, "Sure." Then she pulled up his library record, and her eyes bulged and she literally gasped.

She started blinking rapidly and moved away from the desk to confer with another librarian, and then seemed to think better of it and wheeled her chair back up and I just knew this was not going to be good news.


I, however, could not seem to blink at all.

I am really learning this trick of not displaying my emotions to every person who comes along to whom I owe hundreds of dollars. It takes practice but I seem to be getting good at it.

I said this, after the vein in my forehead stopped throbbing visibly:

"I'll bet you're not going to give me his books, huh."

She just looked embarrassed for me.

I left the library quickly and now I am waiting quietly here, just thinking about what is going to happen when this child arrives home from driver's ed in a few moments.
And he didn't wear his retainer today.
He is SO in trouble.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Mumma Jubba

This is no lie, today I ate:

Numerous Peanut Butter Cremes
Half a box of Whoppers.
Two Cherry Twizzlers (Peel Off version) that tasted like plastic but I ate them anyway for the sugar content.
A bag of microwave popcorn.
A Smuckers Uncrustable that was not quite thawed. (I couldn't wait)
Two large wedges of Spinach Quiche.
Again with the Peanut Butter Cremes.
3 or 4, okay 4 pieces of pizza.
The rest of the Cherry Tomato salad (I just ate it out of the serving bowl).
and an orange.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Game On

Oh yeah.
Oh yeah.
Oh yeah.

I just baked a loaf of bread.

Oh yeah. (insert hip shimmy)

My mother has devoted her life to the kitchen, to the family, to cleanliness, to God.
My mother bakes pies and vacuums the carpet in a cross-hatched pattern.
My mother changes sheets even when nobody has slept in the bed because after a while she thinks they don't smell as nice anymore.

I bow in deference to her unattainable virtues.
The husband daydreams about her coming to live with us.

Get it?

One day I said something about her homemade bread and how awesome it was.
She looked at me askance, as if thinking to herself.
Then she threw down her dishtowel and crooked her finger,
"Come with me."

I followed her down into the basement to the 2nd freezer, the one that can pop back open if you don't jam your shoulder up against the door and hold it closed for a second before gingerly letting go.

She opened up that freezer with an arm flourish.
She stared at me, daring me to say something, her hand reaching inside while her eyes stayed locked with mine.
I was rooted to the spot as she drew out the bag and held it in my face.

Frozen bread loaves. I gasped.

Then she got this wild look in her eye, raised the bag over her head and threw it down to the cement at her feet.
I jumped aside - my eyebrows were ceiling level.

Suddenly she became her old self again.
Sweet, soft-spoken. I think she giggled.
She picked up the loaves and told me that sometimes they stick together in the freezer and that's the best way to get 'em apart.

I leaned hard against the freezer and watched her sashay up those steps,
her secret divulged, a devilish smile on her face.

I have been in awe of her since.

Fresh bread toniiiight.
100 percent whole graiiiin.
I let it riiiise.
I greased a paaaan.

Oh yeah.
Oh yeah.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Death of an Herb

The relatives were over Sunday for an indoor picnic, and for the most part it went fabulously. The food was excellent, the house was neat (thanks to the husband), and the children were well-behaved.

Enough of the Garrison Keillor intro - I want to tell about my moment of domestic failure. Yesterday it was about dead plants. Other times these moments include anything that would elicit a hidden inner groan of parental failure from my mother, were she to know of them...including, but not limited to:

*Burning frozen pizza (think about it...for 20 minutes, even to feed them this, you cannot pay attention?)
*Stapling a hem with a stapler, and never ever planning to actually sew it.
*Letting weeds overrun the landscaped front of the house, to the point that you must avert your eyes upon driving up the driveway. (I did don gloves and walk out bravely one morning to heave unsuccessfully on a huge, tree-like weed, and when it did not budge, I peeled the gloves off and walked back inside the house, without even a backward glance.)
*Raising my children to expect that the trip to school each morning or for a practice is always always a hair-raising thrill ride of suspense and danger. For one reason or another, but mostly because we are late.

But yesterday it was dead plants.

I was in the middle of presiding over the lunch preparations, playing the role of a Daughter-In-Law Who Has It Together with surprising panache, when I noticed the wilting basil on the counter. Actually, a few living pots of basil, several gasping-for-breath varieties, and 3 pots of Completely Dead ones. The thought flashed through my mind that I could say I was 'drying' them, but...no.

You know how you clean like crazy for company, but later during the visit you notice some glaring thing that has been such a fixture in the landscape of your home that you have just completely missed it?

That was the basil - several pots in varying stages of obvious decay, lining the counter.

In a weird moment of flailing out to continue the illusion that I was in complete control, and with a flickering of remembrance concerning my in-laws legendary dominance over all green living things ever to sprout in and around their own home, I casually grasped three pots and set them on the windowsill. While chatting, I thought I might water some of them, hoping that during the next hour or so they might perk up a little bit and save me some embarassment...

So I chatted and poured, exuding confidence, as if I did this every day. Upon turning my back, the husband yelled out and dashed towards the windowsill, which had become a veritable waterfall of drainage from the pots, leaking out of their bottoms because I had forgotten to place a dish underneath them. I seriously almost set down my little pitcher of water to walk outside, down the walkway, and up the road, never to return (or at least until the guests were gone). I couldn't though. I had to grimly stand in front of everyone and sop up all of the water that had pooled onto the ground.

Nobody said anything and that made it even worse. I felt like the biggest dolt - here was perfect evidence that I had no idea how to care for a plant and had probably never attempted to water one before. It's hard to explain how something like this can be a big deal, but small comments here and there, the "flower graveyard" in front of the house with pots full of the skeletal remains of my optimistic horticulture in May, heavy silence as I mop up the water from three neglected plants....

Stuff like that just can level me -- it's so weird. So what if I'm bad at plant-care? So what? Why does it matter?

Oh well.
Add it to the list.