Thursday, April 29, 2010

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Or, Samantha and the purple dry-erase marker...Are you familiar with Harold? He draws his story with his crayon as he goes...



So...I am here in TX, with my three. We just made it through a week of illness, one with pneumonia, all with high fevers and me trying to get the house ready for market so we can move to North Dakota to reunite with Dad come June.

Yesterday, Samantha was working hard on her dry erase book at the kitchen table for the better part of an hour while I cleaned the kitchen. I was called off to assist Bubba or Stump and then she:

scribbled the table cloth
scribbled her chair cushion
scribbled the cabinets
scribbled the shutters and walked across the living room to the hall and
scribbled a line that followed the chair rail molding (convenient height) all the way down the hallway into the family room to the entertainment center and finished with a beautiful abstract scribble conglomerate that covered the open cabinet doors by the tv

It was a three-room and a long hallway purple scribble-o-rama.

All of this was accomplished in less time than it took me to type it

My apologies for lack of pictures. I grabbed the cleaning cloth and started wiping because the real estate people were coming today! And unless you closely inspect the chair rail, I think all the evidence is gone...

Posted by The Editor.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Recipe for Forever

Recipe for Forever
Gather all of the ingredients together, so that they are close at hand! Get a clean cloth and wipe the bowl clean of any lingering dust from the past.
Take maturity, respect and friendship, and stir gently.
Add unlimited amounts of compassion and kindness, and mix well.


To this, add caring by the handfuls and fold in trust.

Continue stirring gently, adding listening, honesty, and large amounts of communication.

Slip in some dreams, goals, and firm pieces of keeping promises.

Bake in a home filled with peace, beauty and serenity.

Before you taste the finished product, sprinkle liberally with patience, love, and a touch of spice.

Serve very hot, with imagination on the side.


Author Unknown

I found this recipe on the internet. It says ‘author unknown’, but I think it was written by a child. Who else but a child would have such a firm grasp on all that is good and pure?
I look at my kids and I think that my heart might explode from loving them so much. They are so soft and sweet and innocent and full of love and kindness—and then it hits me—my mom probably used to look at me like that, too, before I grew up and became a cynical, jaded adult.

And so I think it would be best if we, as adults, forgot about all that we have learned over the years. I think it would be best to return to that place called Childhood where everything is still possible and within reach, where we can touch our dreams, and live a life untainted by worry, stress, limitations, or fear.

I think that by looking ahead of us to role models, we are overlooking the best role models in this world—the pure of heart, also known as our little children.

Joy and Marlo are full of all that is good and kind and sweet and pure.

I’m hoping one day to be just like them.


Posted by The Editor for Busy Body

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BGPs


With a 4 year old and a 17 month old, showers are (have to be) strategically planned events. I either have to (a) shower at night when both are asleep, or (b) get up at the crack of dawn before either one is awake, or (c) catch Hubs when he is going to be home and not otherwise engaged for 15 consecutive minutes, or (d) bribe Joy to just chill while Marlo is napping. It gets very tricky to say the least.

Marlo has been hosting a nasty cold for the past week. Otherwise she is a champion napper, but with this cold, all of her routines have been a little off. Friday night neither kiddo slept very well so my night shower was out. Saturday I was not able to get up earlier than the girls. They were filling in for the roosters. Hubs was off and running so I couldn’t count on him. So that left a slot during Marlo’s naptime. Joy, however, had too much integrity to be bribed this particular day. Instead, she convinced me that those precious few moments that Marlo was asleep would be best spent playing Barbies. (So, I concede , this was probably more fun than showering, but not in the best interest of my personal hygiene.) Anyway, the plan was to play Barbies for a few minutes and then go shower. It just so happened that it was salon day for the Barbies and all 72 of them (17 were mine from childhood, 21 are her older half-sister’s, 16 are hers, 7 are Marlo’s, and I’m not sure where the rest came from) HAD to have new hair-dos. And so it happened that before the salon day was finished Marlo woke, prematurely, from her rest. And my hopes and dreams for a shower went down the drain.

Marlo is basically down to one nap a day but since she’s been under the weather and most of her naps are for shortened amounts of time, I have been trying to force the 2-naps-a-day issue. As luck would have it, this was a day that this tactic actually worked. The heavens opened up and shined upon me and gave me a second chance for a shower. It was only 3 pm, after all—I guess better late than never! So, I got Joy all situated watching some mind-rotting cartoon with a chocolate ice cream cone and I sprinted upstairs to take a quick shower.

***If talking about women’s underwear, or nakedness embarrasses you, I apologize (and for you, there will be no point to this post, but) please stop reading at this point, otherwise, read on…***

Glory, hallelujah! I accomplished the most difficult task of the day! When I got out of the shower to get dressed, the bribery had worn off and Joy was waiting on my bed. Now, for some reason, (probably because when she gets out of the tub we pat her bottom and say, “Spanky spanks!” before we dress her) she thinks it’s funny to give me ‘spanky spanks’. At that point I only had time to dry off and get my underwear on. Today the underwear happened to be a thong.

After a few spanky spanks she looked at my thong and said, “Mommy, your BGPs* don’t fit your bottom.” I told her, “Yes, they do.” And she said, “No, they don’t. You have naked bottom back here.” So, again I said, “Yes, they do, these are so you don’t see any lines under your clothes.” She looked at me like she wasn’t buying it, and then finally asked, “Do little girls wear these too?” (Oh, my stars NO! NO! NO!) So I told her (calmly), “Nope, not until you’re a Mommy.” And—thankfully—that was enough explanation…bottom line.

*BGPs=Big Girl Pants



Posted by The Editor for Busy Body


The Editor Advises that you never let Joy learn how to knit, otherwise she might get this into her little head and make her own BGPs to match her momma's.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mid-Hill Farm



I live near a farm. It used to be a dairy and crop farm, but times are a-changing. The owners have sold most of their land. Part of it has been turned into a driving range. The fields where they used to do corn field mazes every October has been sold to the county to be converted into a park. The family lives at the top of a small hill in a sprawling ranch-style home which I would love to live in. It is beautiful. The family is amazingly friendly and welcomes visitors.

A few years ago we were at an event that our community holds every year called the Fall Festival. They used to hold this at the farm. At this event I met the man in charge of taking care of the machinery. His name is Marvin and he is a cross between Santa and Merle Olsen. This gentle giant told me that the dog that normally ran loose in and around the property was harmless and so it would be perfectly safe for me to bring Joy to see the animals. The dog’s name was To-Be because he “just wants TO-BE loved.” And loved him Joy did.

And so, for the past 3 years, we have visited the mid-hill farm to see the animals. There are donkeys, alpacas, watusi, deer, ducks, and geese. We take apples and carrots and bread and cereal and peanuts to feed the animals, probably every two or three weeks. Joy especially loves the donkeys. They are loud and bold and their teeth make her laugh. She gets a little skittish at the very last second that they are taking food from her hand and she usually drops it on the ground. They don’t mind in the least.

The alpacas are very curious, but very shy and easily scared. Marlo likes them the best because they are quiet and gentle and calm. They never eat any of the food we try to feed them—at least not while we’re there—but it doesn’t stop Marlo from trying. If I forget to give her some “pet food” to give to them, she doesn’t mind. She shares from her personal stash of gold fish or graham crackers. The kid’s got quite an arm.

The ducks are very animated and the geese are mostly just mean. It is fun to see them fly away, honking…and we always know when they return from their trips. The deer named Spike is easy to feed because he is missing teeth and he can’t bite. That’s always a plus.

We always come home, reluctantly, from our visit to the country in the middle of our city with wind in our hair, fresh air in our lungs, and sunshine in our hearts. What an amazing gift to give the girls—an up close and personal look at these animals. And what an amazing family, these former farmers, who own this land. They welcome visitors onto their property to enjoy their animals. They invite the community to church and community sponsored events that they hold in their “yard”. In this day and age, they certainly don’t make neighbors like that anymore

And To-Be? Marvin told us that To-Be kept running out into the street and was finally picked up by animal control, never To-Be seen again. Joy remembers him every time we go to the farm or pass it on our way to some other destination. Both girls wave at their “friends” and Joy says, “Mom, remember To-Be?” I’m dreading the day that the girls might say, “Mom, remember the animals that used to live here?”

There just isn’t enough stuff like this anymore, at least not where I live: generous neighbors, green fields, farm animals at our fingertips, and friends that just want to be loved. I know the day will come that the farm house will disappear and the animals along with it. I’m hoping it won’t be for a long, long, long time. When that day arrives I will have to just recall the words of J. M. Barrie…”God gave us memory that we might have roses in December.”

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Words to Live By

It will be gone before you know it.
The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher.
Then suddenly they disappear.

Dorothy Evslin

Friday, April 23, 2010

{this moment}

A Friday ritual.

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...

Joining Amanda.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Joyful Sleep Solution


Joy, my first-born, was THAT baby that would not go to sleep unless you held her. Then, when you tried to put her down, she’d wake up. I know what you’re thinking—“Oh, she’s one of THOSE moms.” In my defense, let me just say that I think Joy read all of the books with expert advice on how to get a baby to go to sleep on her own—and then she wrote her own book. I tried the whole “let her just cry it out” thing. After two weeks of screaming for hours on end, I just gave up. On good nights I was able to nurse her, read her a story, rock her to sleep to her music, and softly place her in her crib. On the not-so-good nights I ended up sleeping in her crib with her (yes, you read that right) just so that I could get some sleep.


This lasted until the child learned how to inch her little pink toes up the side rail of the crib while gripping the edge, then flinging her little 15 month old body over the edge. Let me tell you, that little tiny body makes quite a thump when it hits the floor. And so we began putting her to bed in the Pack n’ Play. I tried to make it as comfortable as possible. My thinking was that it was still a semi-enclosed sleeping facility and the mesh sides provided much less traction for little climbing toes. That worked for a few weeks. Then the monkey in her re-emerged. At that point we were forced to put her in a bed. A BIG GIRL bed. The thing about big girl beds is that they don’t have any seat belts, harnesses, sides, or wall-scaling prevention devices. (The bed rails we got to keep her from falling out didn’t do anything for keeping her from climbing out.) And that was the beginning of my nightly proclamation of “I’m putting Joy to bed.” I would fade into the dark recesses of Joy’s room for the sleeping ritual. That first bed was very low to the ground and made an awful noise if I tried to sneak out after she fell asleep. This was all fine and good IF I was ready to go to bed at 8pm (which, if you know me, I rarely am). It was all less fine and good when I was pregnant with Marlo. It’s hard enough to sleep in a twin bed with an over-active sleeping toddler. It’s worse when you are trying to sleep with an over-active sleeping toddler and an over-active not sleeping baby in utero.


About a month before Baby Marlo arrived, I bid farewell to my “Scrapbooking/Craft Room” , put all of my hobby stuff into boxes and had it shipped, via US Postal Hubs to the attic, and we made the room formerly known as MINE into Joy’s new BIG GIRL ROOM. We painted and decorated and made it into the princess’s royal quarters, complete with a new bed. This bed was much more comfortable and higher up off the ground. The bed rails were transferred from her old bed to this one. We got her new bedding and put twinkle lights up around the room to make it look like stars. She LOVED her new room. She just did not love sleeping in it by herself. So the saga continued, and continued even after Marlo arrived. It was quite a juggling act for the first 6 months of Marlo’s life. And suddenly, one day at the library, I found a book called “The Sleep Easy Solution” by Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack.




This book changed my life. I put Marlo onto sleep training and she is now (at 18 months) an expert sleeper. The book also had tips for toddlers who have already developed bad habits (read: MY Joy). Part of the advice said to make a book about your child, incorporating them into the story of how bedtime should go with them sleeping in their own bed and how it’s beneficial for everyone in the household. And being the diligent, caring mother that I am, I made a book for her, complete with illustrations that look as much like her as my illustrating skills will allow, and we read it. A LOT. Many times, over and over. And everyday she would say, “OK, Mommy, tonight I will sleep by myself.” And every night she would re-neg, into the wee hours of the night until she finally wore me down and broke my spirit and I ended up holding her until she fell asleep, most nights for the duration of the night.


March 28, my friends, was a MOMENTOUS day for us. Joy announced that she was going to sleep by herself that night. (I thought, “Yeah, right—I’ve heard this before), but I SAID, “Wow! What a big girl you are! That’s great.” That day I overheard her reading a book to Marlo. She told her it was her ‘Sleep Solution’ book and it had the “spell” for sleeping like a big girl. At dinner Joy told me the plan: “After dinner we’ll take a tubby, play for awhile, brush our teeth, go potty, read a story, say our prayers and make a wish, and then you can go out and I’ll go to sleep. Does that sound like a good deal?” I agreed that it did and so we got down to putting this plan into action.
Sure enough, after the wish, she told me I could go. One drink request, 17 kisses, 15 hugs, five cover-straightening sessions, one additional night light, and three stuffed animals added to the mix later (at 11:05 pm) she finally went to sleep BY HERSELF. The next night, after the wish, she was asleep before my first 15-minute check.
The night before Easter we were running a little late because of the egg dyeing, and letter writing to the Easter Bunny, and so when it was time for her to get into bed, she actually asked to skip the story and ordered me to get out of her room. I assured her that prayers were still necessary, but then I promptly left. Not even three minutes later she was sound asleep.


We’ve had a couple of nights since that have not gone so great, but for the most part she has done a great job sleeping like a big girl. One night she got a little scared about fires—not that we’ve had any at our house or even near our house—but that night she asked me to do a ‘visit’ with her while she fell asleep. And I agreed to the cameo appearance because I know that a chapter of my first-born baby’s life is coming to a close and I know that I will miss it. Not the frustration, discomfort, or irritation of her needing to be held while she fell asleep, but I will miss her warm little body snuggled up to mine, feeling her heart beating, hearing her breath move in and out, and feeling sleep take over her busy little body.


Oh, Joy—the Sleep Solution spell’s got nothin’ on you, girl!


Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who's Sleeping Everywhere?


I read (with fascination) one time that in order for lawyers to memorize all the things they need to know for the bar exam, they build knowledge houses in their heads. The way I understand it, they visualize a room and attach facts to all the objects. Then, when they need to retrieve it, they mentally walk into that room to that object, and there it is! I don't know if they all use this method but it gave me an idea.

Updated to add: After some Google research, I found this is called "The Method of Loci" aka The Memory Palace.


One night at bedtime, instead of a story, we started this pillow game: Who's sleeping everywhere? It wasn't originally called that, the name just evolved. The idea was to verbally walk through the house and see who was where. We used our house and the boys' favorite characters. It started small and has grown into a predictable pattern. Both Bubba and Stump can name all of them when I prompt with the location. So, for posterity, here we go:

Who's in the closet? R2D2
Who's in the shower? C3PO
Who's in the tub? R14 (what Stump calls one of the other Star Wars androids)
Who's in the hall? R5D4
Who's in the vent? Shimmer and Bounce (from Miss Spider's Sunny Patch)
Who's in the ceiling fan? Astro Boy's robot mosquitos
Who's in the other vent? Mr. & Mrs. Spider
Who's in the pool? Ponyo and Quack
Who's in the chair by the pool? Chewbacca
Who's patrolling the yard? Johnny5
Who's in the tree? Daphne, Curious George, and Chirp
Who's on the front porch? The Backyardigans
Who's at the kitchen door? The Little Einsteins
Who's in the van? The Wiggles
Who's on the roof? Wall-e, Eve, beautician-bot, painter-bot, gopher, punching-bot
Who's in the tv room? Freddy and Caillou
Who's in the computer room? Kipper
Who's in mommy's room? Velma
Who's in the kitchen? Shaggy, having a snack
Who's under the kitchen table? Scooby-doo
Who's under the train table? I don't know
Who's in Samantha's room? Just Samantha
Who's in Bubba's room? Astro boy
Who's in the closet under the stairs? Peep


If a 5-year-old can retrieve this amount of information, I think, as a method, it is a success. Stump has started adding information, like, listing all the foods that Freddy and Caillou might be eating in the tv room, but I'll save that silly list for another day.

Posted by The Editor.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Felony Couch



Why does it seem like when you have the least amount of money everything starts to go downhill? For example, all within the last two months our dryer went out, our toaster broke, Hubs’ car desperately needs a tune up, my cell phone fell apart into two separate pieces, my computer is on its last leg, and my couch, oh my couch.

We got our couch about 6 years ago. We replaced a sofa and a love seat with this couch which is a sectional. It’s awesome because it seats so many people. It runs the length of our family room and there is a detached ottoman at the end, separating the family room from the kitchen. It’s green, which is fine, because it blends in with our d├ęcor. The polk-a-dots on the couch, however, are not original. They have accumulated over the past 6 years. It has withstood two babies, three children, one cat, one puppy, one very crumb-droppy, spilly Hubs, countless birthday parties, karaoke nights, 5 Super Bowl Sundays, play dates, sippy cup malfunctions, and a well-intentioned washing of the pillow and cushion covers.

I warned Hubs that washing the covers was not a good idea. I even thought that if I refused to participate it would deter him from wanting to go through with it. It didn’t. To make matters worse, I told him to replace the freshly washed seat cushion covers FIRST (because as we all know, these are the hardest to do) but of course, what do I know? He started with the pillow covers and was extremely pleased with his handiwork, and it was so EASY. But, of course, when he got to the cushions, it was another story. After about an hour of grunting and sweating and mild cursing, he finally conceded that he should have listened to me. And, of course, I got roped into helping him finish the job, which, of course, was most of the job since he had only succeeded in getting half a cover back onto the first cushion. For about a week the covers were, indeed, cleaner, but the couch now looks like we put the whole in its entirety into the washer and dryer. Somehow one of the zippers even managed to break, so that cushion looks especially droopy.

Even so, our couch is the envy of all of our friends because it is SO comfy. It is so comfortable, in fact, not a single friend who has spent more than an hour on our couch has been able to resist falling asleep on it. (And no, we are not boring—people fall asleep on it in the middle of LOUD parties, during out of tune karaoke crooners who could make your ears bleed, and Fourth of July fireworks even.) Hubs and I usually fall asleep on it every single night before we sleepily stumble up to bed in the middle of the night. Our friends call it the Felony Couch—because it’s a crime how comfy it is. I guess that makes it easier to overlook the decorations that have been added over the years.

The couch is on my list of things that need to be fixed/repaired/refurbished/deep cleaned. And when this darn economy picks up, I think we will have it reupholstered. It would be a crime to get rid of a piece of furniture that has so completely proven its worth. We will be smarter this time, however. The “face lift” will include micro-fiber somewhere in its definition and a Scotch-guard treatment—probably everything just short of plastic covers.

I am sitting on the couch as I write this. I think I need to go…I’m getting a little sleepy!




Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My topless dancing experience

Oh, my stars! Should I be concerned that my 18 month old CONSISTENTLY and DELIBERATELY wants to wear only pants/shorts/skirt/diaper/bloomers
read: anything for her bottom half, but relishes running around topless? And to make matters worse, her favorite topless activity is dancing in front of the sliding glass door—please! Someone tell me this is a phase!

(I need to know…Joy never did this. Her thing was her belly button and she LOVED to pull up whatever it was that she was wearing so she could hold it. Onesies didn’t solve the problem, either—onesies to Joy were like straight jackets to Houdini. THAT phase lasted the better part of a year.)

Please let it be a phase!Please let it be a phase!Please let it be a phase!Please let it be a phase!*

*A short one!


Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

Note: Heather Armstrong of Dooce has the opposite problem with her daughter, Leta:

The interview lasted all morning, and then they returned in the afternoon so that they could get footage of us hanging out with Leta. When we picked her up from school we told her that a photographer was coming over to take pictures and then spent the next hour saying, no, Leta, you cannot take off your pants. But she wanted to take off her pants, she always got to take her pants off after school, and I was all, I know, I hate wearing pants, too, but she was going to have to find the strength somewhere inside her to remain clothed for at least the next half hour. So she said, "If I leave my pants on can I have four treats?" And I was all, of course! I don't see anything wrong with rewarding such hard work.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Words to Live By

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that
one is constantly making exciting discoveries.
A. A. Milne

Friday, April 16, 2010

{this moment}

A Friday ritual.

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...

Joining Amanda.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Take some time to smell the roses


On the days that I don’t work I have trouble getting the girls motivated to do anything. I guess they think that since I am home, they are, too, and they should spend as much time at home (literally) as possible.

I have grand and glorious plans for when I am at home, but three stories, two cartoons, one looooooooong breakfast, four wardrobe changes, 8 negotiations over hair, two bed-making fiascos, and one tired mama later, my grand and glorious plans have dwindled down and have become very limited due to Marlo’s nap schedule.

This morning we were going to take our babies to the park and have a picnic. Instead, we had to settle for a walk around the block with our babies in their strollers. At a slow pace, with no intermissions, or snack breaks, or photo opps, or wardrobe malfunctions, or rest stops, you can walk around the block in about 6 minutes. With two little girls pushing their babies in their strollers, the same walk takes about 48 minutes.

Joy decided that her ‘baby’ of choice today was her pink “My Pretty Pony”—which she loves, incidentally, because it has a tattoo. (Isn’t that just great?) She settled her pony into her stroller, tucked a lap blanket around her, and packed a diaper bag complete with a bottle, some wipes, a brush, a toy, and a pacifier—all for the pony. She then grabbed a pair of purple sunglasses and she was ready to go.

Marlo got her mid-size baby, stuffed her into the stroller, put on a pair of pink sunglasses (upside down) grabbed her sippy cup and dragged everything out the door. The baby was in the seat sideways, with two legs and an arm inches from dragging on the ground. No worries, though. Joy stuffed a toy in the stroller (“so Marlo’s baby won’t be lonely”) to wedge her in nice and tight. Further accident prevention was made possible by setting Marlo’s sippy cup on the baby’s head—to counter balance the rest of the baby’s body hanging outside of the confines of the stroller.


And away we go. Joy takes the lead to scout the area. She looks for dog poop, squished snails, yucky gutter water, litter, and sticks that might impede our path. From time to time she runs back to us to warn us of the impending dangers up ahead. She also reports on what she sees: “Mom! There are bees in those flowers making nectar to take to the hive!” or “Mom! Those people need to clean up their garage--it’s a mess. Should I tell them to shut their garage door?” or “Mom! Let’s go up these steps and look in their door—it’s glass so we can see in if we put our faces on it!” Of course, all these reports are made in her clearest, loud-enough-to-broadcast-to-the-whole-neighborhood voice. Meanwhile, Marlo assumes the rear of the procession. She waves at all of the barking dogs, the trees, the flowers, cars driving by, the sidewalk, and MUST touch every reachable inch of the mailbox banks that we pass. (There are three on this particular route.) She also has to stop to pull her sunglasses down her nose to examine something very interesting that catches her eye—e.g. sidewalk chalk drawings, lady bugs, weeds growing in the cracks of the sidewalk, etc. Every 26.2 steps she has to stop to take a drink from her sippy—we wouldn’t want her to get dehydrated now, would we? And in between all of these tasks, it’s almost more than we can handle, keeping that stroller on the sidewalk. Today I also noticed that all of the fast and furious coloring that was going on in the loft while I was attempting to get dressed did not just include coloring in the coloring books—Marlo’s legs also got their fair share of hot pink marker embellishment. (Strangely, I am glad that if she did have to color on herself that at least it matches her outfit.) Moving on…

We got the mid-way point today and a car came down the street. I noticed that it was my neighbor, Jessica. Before I could raise my hand to wave (my semi-free hand that I use to carry the garage door opener and my cell phone and to retrieve any items that break free from the strollers), she stopped her car in the middle of the street and got out to say hello to the girls. She thought it was funny that Joy was prancing ahead of us, like a proud mama, while Marlo was sauntering behind, practicing her best princess wave.


So, in the middle of our walk, we took a break, in the middle of the street, to chat with Jessica—about new shoes, painted toe nails, making cookies, doing yard sales, and all the other middle-of-the-walk-in-the-middle-of-the-street-chat sort of things that girls out walking their babies talk about. Joy then gave Jessica a hug and a high five and was off and running again—chasing butterflies and taking the pony on some wild rides on neighbors’ lawns. Marlo gave her two hugs and one slobbery kiss, then sauntered away—pushing with one hand while waving with the other--and promptly ran into a fire hydrant.



Both are now taking naps. I am writing this down so I don’t forget. Every day they teach me that there’s always time to stop and smell the roses.

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The (formerly) Silent One

My middle child, Stump, didn't talk much when he was two. He made noises and gestured, and indicated. But the talking...not so much. Gigi evaluated him when she came to visit and decided that, even though he wasn't saying words, he was comprehending them. Maybe it was the binky? Maybe it was the new baby? He could communicate clearly enough so we could meet his needs but there were no discussions with him. My eldest was discussing electronics and robots and construction vehicles at that age, among other things. Stump just called everything Buh! for awhile, then on to other sounds and words. Fast forward to age 5, and now he is telling me things, talking to me, having discussions.

I am finally hearing the things that have been locked inside that curly blond head. I have been waiting for this and love to hear him tell me things like, "I dreamed about stars last night," or "Those tall buildings are skyscrapers, mama," or "I want to be hug-ded me so I can fall asleep," and, whispering to the cat just before falling asleep, "You darling kitten, you shall have some pie."






Posted by The Editor.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Easter Pies

Have you ever found yourself doing something simply because it is a family tradition and thinking, why am I doing this? Or, whoever thought of doing this? I read an anecdote about a family who always asked the butcher to cut off the small end of the ham, which they placed beside the larger portion to cook. When one of the daughters married, her new husband asked her why she cooked ham this way. She replied because it is the best way...my mom always cooked it this way. At the next family gathering, he queried the mother as to why she cooked ham in that manner. She affirmed that it was the best way because her mother had always done it that way. The next time the man saw the grandmother, he remembered to ask her why she cooked hams that way. She laughed and responded that her roasting pan was small and that was the only way the ham would fit!

I love pie, but hate to make piecrust. When I was first married, I was enthralled with the picture of the piecrust in the Betty Crocker cookbook. I have wasted hours of my life trying to make the perfect piecrust. And so I would only make pies for very special occasions or holiday. Since most of the other holidays had their own sweet dishes, pies became THE thing for Easter. A wonderful friend gave me an easy recipe for fresh strawberry pie and together with lemon meringue, they were necessities for our family celebration. We probably have more pictures of the girls stirring and then slicking the bowls of the Easter pie fillings than we have of them dyeing their Easter eggs. We didn't have pie at the end of the meal, because we couldn't properly appreciate it while we were so full. We would wait until just about sunset and then mark the end of another memorable Easter by consuming a huge piece of pie.

One Easter, we were not in the mood for the usual sit-down formality of a meal and so we put the ham and potato salad and rolls in a picnic basket and drove a few miles to the backside of nowhere and picnicked and then flew kites all that windy afternoon. We weren't quite prepared, however, to completely break with tradition and so we got home in time for sunset and the Easter pies.

As the years piled up and our family changed, we opted to make Easter dinner into Easter brunch. The Editor would make an unbelievable number of waffles that we would sometimes eat as we walked from the kitchen to the dining room so they would not be less than piping hot as we consumed them. Busybody taught us to eat fresh strawberries dipped first in sour cream and then in brown sugar, and so we no longer needed the strawberry pie. For several years, there were only adults at these get-togethers and they changed quite a bit to accommodate the composition of the family. Usually, one or more daughters would need to leave to visit the other family that now had share rights and the sunset pie was no longer a whole family observance.

This year it was only me and the Norwegian at home for Easter but I still felt compelled to make an Easter pie. The crust didn't seem so difficult--maybe because there was only need for one. And then, because the Norwegian was gone for the day and I had more time than usual, I happened to take note of the microwave instructions on the box of the lemon pudding and pie filling. I would never have departed from the tried and true stirring-in-a-pan method if we had been having guests for dinner. But, I can give up some points on taste in order to gain convenience and, really, is a husband going to notice? Surprisingly, it was easier! I licked the bowl--myself--trying to determine what made those scraped up bits so delectable to little girls. And now I know!

The celebration is over, the pie is gone, but memories have a way of hanging around. Maybe that's why we start traditions, steadfastly maintain them and pass them on.


Posted by The Editor for Gigi.

Monday, April 12, 2010

We had eggs

I never was a big fan of the dyeing of the eggs at Easter. Maybe I was when I was little, but I can remember dyeing eggs as a teenager at Gigi’s and not being very fond of it. I always liked the way the paper towels (I used to dry my hands or the eggs on) turned out more than the way the eggs did. And Gigi ALWAYS wanted us to wear gloves on Easter to cover up the dye on our fingers—no eggceptions (Maybe she always wanted us to dye eggs so we would stain our fingers so we would HAVE to wear gloves. Gigi?)

I am beginning to realize that a lot of my aversions stem from holidays at Grandma’s house. Every Easter when I was little we would go to church, then the entire extended family would convene at Grandma’s for an Easter feast. All of the cousins would bring their basket of eggs for a gigantic Easter egg hunt and then we’d sit down to eat. Our gross boy cousins would then crack and peel several of their Easter eggs, slather them with ketchup (of all things!) and stuff the whole thing into their mouths, with crumbly egg and ketchup oozing out of the corners. I’m not eggsaggerating.(Waiting for the gag reflex to pass…) Who eats eggs like that? (My cousins, that’s who, but besides them?) My guess is no one in civilized society.

Fortunately for me, Marlo is not eggsactly interested in dyeing eggs yet. She IS into furiously coloring them after they are dyed. Joy, however, could hardly contain herself all day long (on Saturday) in anticipation of dyeing the eggs. I tried to minimize the time spent on this endeavor, but there is only a certain amount of corner cutting you can do…the boiling, the mixing of the dyes (we used food coloring this year), doing a scavenger hunt for the egg dippers, covering the table and the kiddos with stainable clothing/table cloths. Finally it was time—and do you know how much time it took Joy to dye 18 eggs? 4 minutes. I guess if I actually liked the dyeing of the eggs, I’d be a little miffed. All that time and energy spent on the preparation and build up for 4 minutes?

So here it is: I don’t mind that it took the better part of a day to prepare for a 4 minute activity. Joy was proud of her work. Marlo embellished to her little heart’s content, and 4 minutes later I was thrilled that it was over, eggstatic even!

Good-bye, Peter Cottontail…see you next year!



Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Words to Live By

"A hole is to dig...mud is to jump in and slide in and shout doodleedoodleedoo...and hands are to hold."

Ruth Krauss: A Hole is To Dig: A book of first definitions

More words to live by here.








Friday, April 9, 2010

{this moment}



Joining Amanda

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sonic Pirates, the saga continues...


The latest bedtime story installment for two little boys, one with chocolate eyes and cinnamon hair and the other with blue eyes and blond curls... See here for previous chapters, as well as explanations for the members of the dread crew.

It was a cold, gray, cloudy day in the month of April. The ocean mirrored the sky and the air was still. No wind to fill the sails or make waves. The two pirate ships, captained each by a Captain Brown-Beard-Peg-Leg was drifting at the very edge of Ocean Number Two.

Suddenly, the lookout, Captain Skelty yelled, "Arrgh! Ahoy! Seaweed, dead ahead!" The pirates scrambled but it was too late to change course and both ships sailed straight into the giant bed of muck.

The seaweed on the surface was almost invisible, matching the color of the ocean and sky. And if you know anything about seaweed, if you see a little bit on the surface of the water, there will be vast rope-like streamers hanging way down into the depths. Under the water, however, the seaweed was purple, and green, and black with sparkling gold diamond sparkling shimmers, because it was magic seaweed.

This particular bed of seaweed marked a lair of the Sea Witch, who sometimes lived in a cave on the bottom of the edge of Ocean Number Two. She had been waiting for this day--for both pirate ships to sail into her trap. She had prepared by attaching bells to the ropes of seaweed outside her cave and by putting a spell on the seaweed to ensnare the pirates. When the bells started ringing, she cackled with glee. The seaweed started growing (because of the spell) and wound around the bottoms of the two ships, their rudders, up the sides and over the decks. It climbed up the masts and wound around each pirate in its path, first one leg and then the other leg (unless it was a peg leg and then it wound around the wooden leg), around one and then the other arm, the head, the face, eyepatch and mouth of each pirate. They were stuck! What would they do?!

The spell of the Sea Witch, however, only covered the ships and the pirates she knew: 7 Captain Crackerishes, 2 Captain Brown-Beard-Peg-Legs, an astro-tot, 2 Captain Skeltys (the skeleton pirate who was electricified), Frye the pirate pet ferret and Limey, the pirate parrot, and an alien pirate. What she didn't know when she cast the spell was that two new members had joined the crew: a squid and a starfish, so the seaweed did not wrap around them at all because they were not included in the spell.

Captain Skelty yelled (as the seaweed was blocking his mouth):
"SQUMMM! STARFFFD! WRMM IFF UUGGH, AARGGFFHH!"
(Translation: SQUID! STARFISH! WRAP IT UP, AARGH!)

So Squid and Starfish used all their arms/legs to wrap up the seaweed into a ball, superfast, quick as a flash, lickety-split and throw it overboard. Once Captain Skelty's mouth was cleared, he yelled, "AARGH! over you go too, and PUSH!!" So Squid and Starfish jumped into the bed of seaweed, that had no effect on them, and started pushing the boats out of the seaweed as fast as they could. A strong wind blew across the water and lifted the sails and they zoomed away.

Down below, while the seaweed wrapping was going on, the bells by the Sea Witch's cave were ringing like crazy. And then they stopped. The Sea Witch came out of the cave and shook the bells to make sure they still worked, and they did. She then turned on her jet air packs and shot straight to the surface and popped out of the water just as the pirate ships were sailing out of view. The Sea Witch yelled, "Ohhh, meeee, I have lost! Again!" and dove down to her cave to hide for six days.

Meanwhile on the pirate ships, there was much singing and dancing, "Ahoy, Aaargh! We got away from that old Sea Witch. Now let's have some soup! Aaargh!" So the pirates were served soup from the new soup machine delivered by the lego mars mission crystal leaper crew. Each pirate ate three bowls of soup, burped three times and then ate three more bowls, each. Then they went to their bunks to sack out and dream of another day when they could defeat the Sea Witch for good.

THE END.

Posted by The Editor.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The People on Your Street


We moved to our olive-colored house during my last month of first grade and we didn't move from there until the year before I graduated college. Some of the neighbors were there before we came and may be there still. We invented fanciful names for all of them and sometimes exaggerated stories. You have already heard of Paty, who lived right next door on the corner. We were the second house on the right, with a big pine tree in the front yard. Third house, on our other side, was a family of four, and the dad drove a Mercedes, which was a big deal on our street. We called them (secretly), the dad: MercED, the mom, MerceLINDA, the elder son, MercErry, and the baby, MercASON. The dog was MercIGGSY. You may have realized by now, we made up our own fun, a lot.

The other side of the street on the corner were two brothers who always wore diapers with cowboy boots (when they were toddlers!!). Straight across was a newspaper editor and his wife, he would come home and have a beer and pretzels and share with us, the pretzels, I mean, not the beer.

Next to the newspaper man, a sea captain and his wife moved in and put in a pool (also a big deal on the street). We tried to make friends so we would get invited to swim, but somehow, she never wanted two pestery little girls in her backyard, so we called her Mary and did endless imitations of her squatting to water the lawn (why they put in a pool and not sprinklers, I don't know)...the funny part was imitating the cigarette she was always holding (no smokers in our family, it was taboo and therefore instantly funny) and her gravelly voice when she would yell at her dog, Skipper, when he would try to run out of the yard, "Skaaaaypaaaah!"

Next to her was Uncle Sam, who was nice and always brought us fresh plums from his tree in season. Just like we would share our bountiful harvest of oranges every year from the tree in the backyard. Uncle Sam had several high school age children, one son, Chris, who I thought was my true love and caused much embarrassment for me on several occasions.

Further down the street, it gets a little murky, because we weren't allowed to play out of Gigi's eyesight or range of her voice. There were a few other people, Merona and her sister on our side, four houses from the other end, and Karen across from them, who went to school with Paty.

We also had a lady mailcarrier for awhile, which was foreign to us, all our childhood books clearly showed that was a man's job(!) So, we were convinced she was an infiltrator, especially when she parked her mail jeep in front of Paty's house and she got out and sat in Paty's yard with a brown paper bag and cracked something on a tree trunk in code (later inspection after she left showed it was just hard-boiled eggs for lunch).

Such was our childhood cast of characters.

Then, Busy Body reminded me that:
I forgot Jimmy the milkman, Richard who stepped on my kite (the one I got as a reward for reading at school, blue, with a green gingham tail), in the houses behind ours: Brian R. and Becky M. (who was Mormon and couldn't have caffeine), Terry who ate dog food on a dare, Kelly G. who was wild and nasty (according to Paty) and therefore forbidden as a friend, the perfect Cathy O. (seriously, she always looked like a barbie or a mouseketeer), and of course, Jo and Danny--the developmentally-challenged girl and the bully whose dad was meaner than a junkyard dog...OK, maybe not, we never really met him, but his front yard looked like a junkyard. There was also that little kid who lived at the end of our street (between Paty's and Trevor's) whose grandpa (the neighborhood molestor) sat in his pickup truck all day long. And that little boy, Mony, who moved in next door to Jo and Danny--which I bet gave them the shock of their lives!
Remember Mary and her daughter Sandy were going to take Jo in and "fix" her and then Danny threw his skateboard at Sandy's car and there was almost a riot on the street because the Junkyard Dog-dad had to come over to talk to Mary about it? Also, don't forget when two sets of step-brothers and sisters moved in next door, peeping tom-ed into busy-body's window every night while blaring music to profess the eldest brother's love for her, and then the eldest sister stole half of our lemonade stand money when she just sat in the lemonade stand all day and contributed nothing.


Did anyone else grow up in such a colorful neighborhood? Or did we just have overactive imaginations?

Posted by The Editor.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Here is a little mouth to kiss

“Here is a little mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worth all it will cost, since it is an abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother’s heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, to her most tender cares, to her life-long prayers! Oh how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blessed!”

~ Elizabeth Prentiss’ Stepping Heavenward

Marlo just turned 18 months. (How did that happen? I remember being a kid and the summers seemed so LONG. We always found plenty to do, but inevitably, there were always a few days when we got bored. Now I cannot find enough time in my day. Bored? Never. I can always find more than enough to do, and then some.) I just don’t know where the past 18 months have gone. In celebration of her half birthday, we put a pink candle in her ice cream after dinner and sang Happy Birthday to her. She tapped her toes and bobbed her head side to side. I think she spit the candle out and then ate it. (Wax can’t hurt you, right?)

I celebrated this milestone by looking back at all of the pictures we have taken of her, from the day she was born to today. How lucky I am to have this perfect little person in my life. How lucky I am to have been blessed with such a treasure. She has always been completely her own little person. I cannot wait to see what she will do next. In the musical “Annie”, Miss Hannigan sings, “Some women are dripping with diamonds, some women are dripping with pearls. Lucky me, lucky me, look at what I’m dripping with—little girls!” She sings it sarcastically, but I sing it sincerely.

I am truly blessed to have Joy and Marlo—the little sweeties of my life!


Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.



Monday, April 5, 2010

Ballet Revisited


When I was three Gigi put me in ballet. I loved it. It was fun and interesting because my teacher had a Spanish accent and I had a lot of trouble understanding her. Gigi would ask me after class how I liked it and how the class had gone for the day. I would tell her, “It was fun, but Miss Blanca likes to clean a lot. She’s always talking about Lysol.” Gigi was very confused, until she heard Miss Blanca say ‘Let’s all’—which (in my defense) did sound a lot like ‘Lysol’.

I loved the leotards and tights and ballet slippers and tutus. I loved the bar exercises and all of the moves and music. I loved it all—at least that’s how I remember it.

I do remember that there were parts that were VERY challenging for me. Skipping almost put me over the edge. I could do one knee up, but not the other one. Gigi had to walk me to class and home for a couple of weeks to help me learn how to skip—with both legs.

And then there’s the whole left-right thing. I have always had trouble remembering my left from my right. It’s very tricky when it comes to a lot of things like following directions, driving, dancing—and when I was three, it was very tricky for ballet. It made it even more complicated for the recital. I was really worried about messing up because of this problem. And so Gigi came to the rescue. She made me a wrist band, out of a ribbon, Velcro, and a flower, to put on my right wrist so I could remember. It’s a good thing, too, because when the recital rolled around my class of 12 or so dwindled down to 2 and the other girl refused to go on stage. My teacher stood behind the curtain and did our “I’m a Little Tea Pot” routine with me. If I hadn’t had that wrist band, I couldn’t have remembered which was my handle and which was my spout.

That was the end of my ballet career. Other things came up, there wasn’t time or money or whatever and I just never took classes again. And I guess that’s why it’s so much fun to watch Joy in her class. She was DYING to take ballet for the longest time and we finally got her into a class in January. We got her the required attire, we prepped her (mentally) as best we could, and took her to class. And she was very serious and dedicated for the first class and a half. And midway through the second class she decided that there was more to ballet than just being a serious student.

Parents are not allowed in the room, but we can watch through the window. I can’t hear what she’s saying, but I can see her talking—almost the entire class. And I see the teacher saying, “OK, now let’s…” and then Joy starts talking again. I think she talks more than the teacher. And then they start their warm ups and exercises. Joy must think that flinging herself onto the floor or making wacky faces is a way to show the teacher (and probably me) how passionate she is about ballet. She spends more time falling on the floor than she does doing plies. (And, mind you, I only get to watch the class in 20 second intervals because I am chasing Marlo around the studio.) But in those 20 second snippets, I see Joy doing belly flops on the floor, eating her snack, spilling her drink, whipping her hair around, and hanging on the bar “I Love Lucy” style.

There are a few things that remind me of my former dancing days. For one, she gets confused with her right and her left. Miss Kris has to get her to do her individual exercises (usually) more than once because she’s on the wrong foot. That doesn’t bother her in the least—just ask her, she’ll talk you through the whole thing, and give you the play by play, then recap it about 20 times just in case you missed something. Another thing that brings back some memories is that there are certain things she has trouble doing—not skipping, because they don’t skip in her class, but other things cause her problems. And I smile because I know eventually she’ll get it.

Sometimes when she’s acting like a goof I am thankful that I have to run around after Marlo because I can pretend that I don’t see what she’s doing. Other times I try to get her attention to get her to stop messing around and pay attention to the teacher, but she catches sight of me out of the corner of her eye, and then she purposely ignores me. There really are no words—what can I say? She’s 4 and she loves life and she loves to dance. And I love her.

What else is there to say?


Posted by The Editor for Busy Body.

Friday, April 2, 2010

{this moment}


Joining Amanda

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Polished Off


The problems of aging are many and one is the problem of perception. Things are not always viewed with flexibility and adaptation, but are structured by the past.

I usually just wear clear fingernail polish. This is one step above the example set by my mother who never wore polish. Last week, I took off my old polish and then neglected to replace it. On the way to Busybody’s I looked down and observed my hands and thought, “Oh, well. No one will notice.” We had been there about twenty minutes when Joy came over and whispered, “Gigi, if we get through in time this afternoon, I will polish your nails for you.” Good. A four year old noticed. Either she has much more time in her schedule, is more perceptive OR every adult I have encountered has noticed but been too polite to comment.

When my Mom was just entering the shadows of Alzheimer’s, but still able to walk around and attempt some limited tasks, she needed a full-time caregiver but resisted much of the help offered her. Through the week, I would pop in and out to check on her (and the caregiver) and deliver stuff, but Sundays were our days together. I would do many of the things that she refused to have the caregiver perform. Her nails seemed to always need care. I couldn’t stand that little –sometimes-bigger—line of grime that she wouldn’t submit to letting the caregiver remove. On Sunday afternoons, we would sit with a pan of warm, sudsy water on one our laps and chitchat until her nails were Mom clean again. Even from me, however, she balked at any attempt at manicuring, and it was a real challenge to keep her looking cared for.

One Sunday, I thought it would be fun, because the quest of life is for the good, the true, the beautiful and the fun, to take Mom out for a real manicure. She was always mistrustful of leaving the house because I might be tricking her into doing something she had specifically instructed me not to do, but then again, we might be going out for ice cream or pie or boxed candy (from a candy store) and so she went with me, but made it as difficult as possible. At least, I thought it was as difficult as possible until we reached the nail salon, and then I encountered what as difficult as possible really was.

She didn’t want to extend her hands to the manicurist but would turn towards me and grab my dress with both hands and, being far too ladylike to raise her voice, would entreat me with the most pathetic of looks to pleeeaaassseee, get her out of there. The manicurist had to firmly hold one hand while I held the other while she took off a snippet of nail. Mom then forgot being a lady and yelled, “ouch, ouch, ouch.” “Did you feel that?” “Well, no, but I thought I was going to”, she explained to me—the manicurist was either invisible to her or so far beneath her contempt that she would not talk to her. “Well, just wait until you do feel it, please don’t yell about “going to’”, I requested. My request went unheeded. As the snippets came off the second hand (it had to be snippets because Mom was jerking her hands so spasmodically, that the poor girl was afraid to do more) I said, “ Just dry her hands and slap on one coat of polish, we’re leaving” with a glare at the misbehaving mother. As I outrageously tipped the frazzled manicurist, Mom found her inside stage whisper and instructed me, “Don’t give her money for trying to hurt me.” The door had barely shut behind us when she burst out crying with huge crocodile tears running down her cheeks. I was truly fearful that someone would make a 9-1-1 call for elderly abuse while I was trying to get her back into the car.

I clicked her seatbelt with finality thinking I might leave her in for there for the rest of my Sunday visit, tried to cool off as I went around the car and got into my seat and turned to her and said, “What was that all about?” She was too absorbed with her sobbing to tell me. Her little, stooped shoulders heaved with the utter sorrow of her plight and I was helpless to be with her in it or to remove her from the immediacy of the situation. I had cooled down: There was ice around my heart and my hands were ice. THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!

Finally, she said, “I don’t want to die this soon.” I tried to keep my voice normal, “Why do you think you are going to die soon?” She said, “Well, aren’t you trying to make my hands look nice for when they’re folded?” Ohhhhhhhh, I exhaled that as an eight-syllable word. All her opposition to basic hygiene had really been, to her, her fight for life.

Last week, we didn’t finish playing restaurant, or school or talent show in time for Joy to polish my fingernails, but tomorrow when I get there, we are going to spend a blissful few minutes letting her tend to me while I can still refrain from grimacing, grabbing and downright yelling. I may, however, sneak into the bathroom and remove the polish that goes onto other areas than my nails. Grandmas, you know what I’m talkin’ about!


Posted by The Editor for Gigi.