Friday, December 30, 2011

Winton: Birthday menu

Me: "Winton, what would you like to eat for lunch on Sunday when "Mefaio Badaio" (Nathaniel)  comes to play and have Birthday lunch with you?"

Winton: "Uhm.  Chocolate cake.  And vegetables!"

Still Viral

Thirteen days and I am still sick enough to have woozy, hot flashy moments.  I'm weary of it.

What?  You say a drive from Baltimore city to Sycamore Illinois (13 hours each way) isn't conducive to healing?
Or a stay at the in-laws?
Or an extra drive to Princeton Illinois on Christmas day?

Perhaps not, but the upsides were: mother-in-law compulsively laundering everything, as well as keeping her house clean so that no chores were my responsibility AND more people in the house to wrangle kids so I actually had a chance to nap now and again.

Oh, and Husband did all the driving, even on the way there (we did the whole trip in one day on the way out; two days on the way back).

We just got back yesterday afternoon.  I still have that odd feeling of being in motion even though I am not.

Every year, after the Christmas trek, everyone feels hungover here on Dec 30 (which is, sadly, Winton's often under-celebrated Birthday).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gone Viral

Haha.  No, don't worry my dedicated readership of 5 or so people.  It's not going to get crowded here at momosyllabic. I am just into day nine of a flu that still has me hacking up my lungs most of the day and launching a seasonally appropriate fire of heat, unfortunately with my blazing fevery face, every afternoon between about 4 and 7.  I'm viral.

As I type, Winton is in his grandparents' living room demanding dinner.  It's 11 AM.
Grandma is playing with Clara's new interlocking gear game.  Clara is making her new toy inchworm navigate the tracks of Winton's new train set.  Grandpa looks grey from sleeping in the basement, and Husband is compulsively reading the TV guide, as one bored and seeking desperately to be transported to a place with a cup of coffee and a good weighty biography of a British politician.

Merry Xtide to you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Clara: Party Foods

Clara got up this morning all focused on a pretend party she needed to throw for Pink Blankie before school.  On the menu: salty cake.  But, to be healthy, this was to be preceded by "Kale, because that's the most healthy food.  And asparagus, because that's the most healthiest food ever."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Flu and MLA humor

I have been flattened by the flu.  Full-on.  With fever.  Who has time for this?

While home with Flu, I have also been booking job interviews for the candidates to meet us at the Modern Languages Association Convention just after New Year's.  I have been on the interviewee end of so many of these phone calls that it is tremendously exciting to be the interviewer this time round.  It's nice to hear the excitement in people's voices when the realise you are not a telemarketer but rather a potential employer.

The MLA has a well-deserved reputation  for SNAFUS on the interviewer side of things.  Interviewees collect disaster stories like prized scars.  Once, for instance, I was interviewee when a fatigued interviewer, meaning to ask me how I intended to recruit students for my courses, instead declared "Well, you'll have to teach in a missionary position."

While merely phoning candidates, my friend Flu has been a great resource in furnishing such stories for the up and coming set of interviewees.  Yesterday, for instance, I told a nice-sounding gentleman  to please "knock-up a syllabus for us."  Sigh.  Professionalism, thy name is momo[phlegm]abic.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

back to grumpy

I'm back to my normal mood of beleaguered irritation:

Winton would not confess to having pooped, and though I sniffed his diaper, I didn't realise until we were in the car en route to preschool that it was dirty.  I dropped him off and *horrors* did not change it myself, but rather left him miserably clutched in Miss Kim's efficient grasp.

Then Clara, on part of this same drop-off and acting, I presume, out of jealousy, insisted I take her to the bathroom before I left.  I did, grumbling under my breath the whole time that she was doing this to prove a point: she managed to get me to look after her ass, whereas her brother didn't.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


So remember back when Clara had her seizure in October?  The one that resulted from slipping while getting in the bath and banging her head, and then resulted in a CT scan with a worrying blob (cyst)?

Today we finally met with the neurologist.  He's a Big Name at Johns Hopkins Hospital in which the outpatient neurology waiting room is all asplash with print and visual media informing you that "Johns Hopkins Hospital Neurology is ranked #1 in the United States by [Everyone Who Matters]."

He asked a few questions--apparently to feel us out about whether we were the sort to sue if 20 years from now something happens to Clara--and then said he didn't think we needed to do an MRI.  "I'm so unconcerned about this right now"  he said, adding "if it were my child, I wouldn't do an MRI."  Why such big news?  An MRI for a 5 year old means general anaesthtic, itself a risky procedure.  I am so damn relieved we don't need to do one.

In other news, I also met with my hematologist today: my low white blood cell count is indicative of neither lupus nor rheumatoid arthritis, and my anemia is treatable with OTC drugs.  Will I be constipated and cranky?  Yes.  Am I sick with something scary?  No.

AND, Clara's loose tooth came out today, in the car, in a messy bit of tooth flopping and Mummy pulling over to pull the thing out with my fingers.  There was blood.  And a BIG hole.  And I freaked out (as I was then still on edge about the upcoming hematology and neurology appointments).  But it's fine.

It's all just fine.

All four of us went to Petit Louis for an indulgent French Bistro dinner to celebrate.  Screw Christmas.  I felt very "Happy Everyone is basically OK Day!"  Very happy.  I had wine (and I never drink so a little wine goes a long way towards inebriation).  I had wine, and I had my two small blond-haired offspring snuggled up into my armpits.  I was, and am, so damn happy.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Stress dreams for me generally feature my teeth falling out.  Sometimes I pull them out, their dream-roots emerging as long yellowed spirals.  Sometimes I spit them out like unpopped corn kernels.  Sometimes I grind them into ivory shards that stick into my tongue and cheeks so I choke trying to spit them out.

Interestingly, though this has been a stressful semester, I haven't had teeth dreams. 

Instead, in the real world, I've had dental work.  The fissure sealant used by a University of British Columbia dental student to mold my tiny, malformed teeth into something presentable back in 1988 finally wore down on one of my front teeth.  (Good job, Joan Chen, that long-ago dentist!  Sealant is not supposed to last so very long as a cosmetic fix.  Do you still practice dentistry? I hope so.  You were mighty fine, and very tolerant of the fact that I would eat cookies during the 10 minute break in the middle of our 3 hour sessions, requiring you to clean my whole mouth from scratch for the second half of our session).  Recently, I developed a stain that looked like a small piece of newsprint stuck to my tooth.  Last week I had it fixed (and was reminded by my current dentist, not for the first time, that my dental work is older than most of my undergraduate students).  My teeth still look too third world for America, but at least they look tea-stained rather than papier-mache.

In other tooth news, Clara complained a few weeks ago that a friend had accidentally head-butted her teeth.  There hadn't been blood, so the teachers weren't concerned. One of those teeth is now loose, perhaps as a result of the bonk, perhaps because it is time.

My daughter is old enough to be losing her baby teeth.  E-gads.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Oh, who was I kidding?  I am nowhere near having a good shortlist for school applications.  I may be tired of school tours, but I still haven't actually seen the following charter schools: Charles Village Montessori, City Neighbors (which has two campuses), or the Green School. 

Also, who was I kidding when I felt relief this morning?  Yes, my classes are over, but no that doesn't mean fewer deadlines: I am chair.  We are doing a hire.  We are doing preliminary interviews at the Modern Languages Association Convention Jan 5-8.
There are nothing but deadlines to come.

And my car was suspiciously slow to start this morning: is the battery dying?

And there is a list next to my computer which is very long and on which all items should really have been completed about a week ago.

And then there's my email, which is full of items which need my attention; for now I am just ignoring the ones that have scrolled off the bottom of the page.

Time to put my head in a bag and weep.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Momosyllabic's Top Free/ Cheap School Wish List

1) Out of zone acceptance at Roland Park Elementary.
2) Tunbridge Charter School.
3) Baltimore International Academy. (Helloooo?  Please return Husband's calls regarding whether or not you got our application which he, perhaps over-optimistically, sent an an e-attachment.)
4) The Green School (which I haven't toured yet, but they grow plants--no not those kinds of plants.  How bad could it be?)
5) The Arts and Imagination Sudbury School (who would rank MUCH higher if they had just a smidge of science or math and perhaps a few fewer computer games).
6) The Wilkes School (if grandma pays and everyone reminds me repeatedly that priests aren't necessarily pedophiles; it just seems that way if you read the papers).

Number 1 is only if there's space in the school district (a bit like playing the lottery)
Numbers 2-4 are actually by lottery.

C'mon universe.  Give us the school equivalents of snake eyes . . .

Monday, December 5, 2011

School Tours

I did one on Friday and TWO today.

We've looked at two religious schools because, though private, their tuition is somewhat affordable.  They make me uncomfortable.

Today I looked at a Sudbury school, which I found thrilling.  They "unschool": no curriculum, no class schedule.  Just students with access to teachers and supplies.  On the car ride home I sang "I'm such a hippy yes I am, yes I am, yes I am.  I'm such a hippy, yes I am.  Whooooooo knew??"

And yet: how is a five year old to discover she loves ancient Greek if no one shows it to her in the first place?  Or to find that math has patterns?

I stumble on this. 

My main requirement of elementary school is that it not teach my children to zone out and stare quietly at walls.

However, perhaps no structured effort to impart knowledge goes too far the other way, given that human society has on the whole moved beyond hunter-gathering.

I think my ideal school would offer a 6-7 hour day in which 5 of those hours are at a Sudbury school and 2 of them introduce: Greek, Poetry, Math for Practical Sums and Engineering, Piano, Ecology and a Sport of the children's choice.

Where is that school?

How much for the fish?

I was decorating the Christmas tree with Clara and Winton last night.

Every year I make one out of construction paper and tape it to the large, tall, empty china cupboard  (salvaged from a dumpster; doors painted shut; why do we never have time to unstick them?).  I then cut out shapes (yellow stars, red balls, white snowflakes) and the kids glue them onto the tree when not murderously arguing with each other over who gets to stand on the step-stool or tripping over Pepita as she tries to pull decorations back off.

In the midst of the festivities/ acrimonies, a knock at the door.

Behold, a girl.  Eight perhaps? "How much for the fish?"
Me: "Um."
Girl: "How much for the fish?"
Me: "I don't sell fish."
Girl: "The fish on your back porch.  How much?"
Me [thinking: why the hell does she want my Haligonian fish, made of an antique fishing buoy and scrap metal??]: "It's not for sale."
Girl: "Huh?"
Me [closing door]: "It's not for sale." 
Husband: "You should have sold it.  At least then we'd get some recompense.  Now  she'll just take it when we're at work."

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sounds like Enid Blyton

American readers, have you heard of her?  I imagine those of you who grew up speaking English in more colonial or British-ified locations will have.  She writes series(es) of books for children: The Famous Five, The Secret Seven (both involving groups of children solving mysteries and having adventures) as well as the Mallory Towers series (about girls in a British boarding school).

I thought of them this morning when I left my daughter playing with two friends: Clara, Maisie and Pete (a girl).  These sound like Blyton character names when you put them all together.  The Thrilling Three: an adventure in the icy mulch.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vancouver Hangover

People say "Oh kids, they bounce back so fast!" 

This seems not to be true in the case of almost-3-year-olds transported from Baltimore to Vancouver (a 15 hour journey) and back, with an intervening, exciting, stay at Oma's and Opa's.

Winton has dark circles under his eyes and cried when I left him at preschool today, despite the fact that his friend Nathaniel was there.

I pulled my car up under their room's open window when I left to check if he was still crying.  He was.  So hard.
I will never "get used to" how awful it feels to leave one of my children somewhere when they don't want to be there.
I feel, again, ripped in half.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dear Santa

Last night, after a long first day back at work/ preschool, I was trying to throw dinner together for the kids.  I was rushing.  I needed them not to want to "help" this time.  So, I got them paper and crayons and installed them at their little table with instructions that they each draw a Christmas list for Santa, one which we could talk about over the dinner table.

Once the dinner (whole wheat spaghetti, a lemon olive chickpea sauce and broccoli) was on the table and we were messily eating, I brought out their "lists."

Clara had drawn a Christmas "sock" (by which she meant stocking full of toys), a violin and bow, and a spare pink blankie.

Winton, echoing Baldrick in Black Adder ("I'd like a turnip of my own in the country"), had drawn a big blue potato and then, as afterthoughts, a rainbow, and a pink blankie like his sister's.

Monday, November 28, 2011


At the Doctor's this morning, having my slightly low white blood cell count scrutinized in excessive detail, the Doctor looked up from my file, pointed to a bloody scratch on my nose and asked "You have a cat?"

Why yes.  Yes I do.  One that is so happy I am back that she wants to play all night.  Best way to wake me? Scratch my lips and nose, hard.
Failing that, scrabble under the covers, up under the T-shirt in which I sleep, and bite me firmly, assertively, on the belly-button.

If I am still not game to play after such loving advances, she brings on subtler but equally effective tactics.  Key among them is heading off to bite Clara's foot and then lie, purring loudly, on the girl's pillow, so that my daughter comes to get me up in order to remove the cat which is by then, purring and smug about having gotten me to pay full attention to her, finally, at 4.28 AM. 


Thursday, November 24, 2011


1) Continuous rain?  Check
2) Surprisingly cold temperatures?  Check
3) Blue lipped children harvesting shells on the frigid Crescent Beach beach?  Check
4)  Live mussel discovered in Winton's coat pocket 24 hours after beach excursion?  Check
5)  Lunch of pierogis at crowded Granville Island market?  Check
6) Children dancing to busker fiddling on Granville Island?  Check
7)  Capuccino at Joe's on Commercial Drive?  Check
8)  Phone call from my brother explaining why he stood us up at Joe's?  Check
9) Visit to Museum of Anthropology to look at totem poles in the rain?  Check
10)  Bubble tea at mandarin-speaking Richmond public market? Check

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Family Dinner

We're visiting my parents.

They have a dining table that seats four.  Located in what is really their entry way, it is pressed up against the front door,  with the front wall of the house on one side, a desk on another, the stairs on the third side and the kitchen on the fourth.

We (including my mother in a wheelchair, Clara, Winton, Mitch, Myself and my Father) all sit uncomfortably around the thing, tangling our legs with table and chair legs and banging into each other.

Dinner involves close proximity to all of the following: 
two small children, smeared in peanut butter
Husband (large, uncomfortable)
my father's hand, replete with 8 weeping stitches, which his Dr. has instructed him to leave open to "breathe"
my mother's inability to keep food down and tendency to throw up unexpectedly onto her dinner plate.

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am MUCH slimmer than I thought I would be . . .  Have you seen the BBC series Clatterford?  It's all very like that here, except no one is intending to be hilariously disgusting.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Longer post coming, but in the meantime

Here are some things the children have said.

Winton: "When I grow up, I'm going to be a fire truck."
Clara: "When I grow up, I'm going to be a dead cat."

Winton: "I hate broccoli!"
Me: "No you don't."
Winton: "I love broccoli.  I hate Broadway!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Door, Car

In getting the children out of the car at school, while holding two backpacks (both sliding off my shoulder) and a half eaten English muffin with cream cheese AND while trying to hurry up so that we could walk to the building with Clara's friend Ingrid and her family (who were waiting impatiently for us after much more efficiently disembarking from their car), I banged the back of Winton's head with the car door.  It made a "toingk" sound (not a "WHANGGGGG"), but nonetheless he cried.

Who authorized me to be a mother?  I am far too careless for it, and generally terrible at holding multiple items and a conversation with a child's friend's father at the same time.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Things I'd like to have taught the children already

How not to wear a diaper, ever.

How to swim.
How to ride a bicycle.

Beginner's dance. (We made our dance teacher cry 6 months ago and gave up)
Piano. (We don't have one)

That's not so bad.  It's only a 5 item list.  I feel much better now.
I am much further behind at work.

Clara and Un-Love

Clara: "Mummy, do you know why I said 'I love you' just now?"
Me: "Um.  Well.  I thought it might be because you loved me.  Was it not?"
Clara: "No.  I had meant to say something else, but I forgot so I said 'I love you' instead."

Friday, November 11, 2011

How Clara woke me today

Clara at 6.15 AM, holding her Guide to Ancient Egypt and pointing agitatedly at a map:
"Mummy, is this Africa or West Africa?"

Me: "Actually, it's East Africa"
Clara : "Oh.  Grrrr." [heading back to bedroom]

I was pleased: this was a nice, erudite way to be woken by a five year old.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


After getting home from preschool, to his father:
Winton: "I have food in my pocket!"
Husband: "You do?"
Winton: "YES.  It's, um, broccoli, and tofu and um, CELERY!"
Husband, to me, over Winton's head: "Did he have any of those in his school lunch?"
Me: "No, those must be pretend pocket foods."

Winton, on Elmo cell phone, to his sister, on cupped ear cell phone:  "Hello?"
Clara: "Hi Poopy-Head!"
Winton: "I don't like that.  Don't say Poopy-Head!  I love you very much, bye bye." [hangs up]

And then hysteria at bedtime because I wouldn't go fetch his sunglasses for him to wear to bed.

Monday, November 7, 2011


There was a brief, surreal, window of time in which I was a British school girl, replete with uniform tie and uncomfortable blazer.  At that time (age 14), the cultural norms dictated that the most effective way to ostracize a peer was to "send them to Coventry" which meant  no one spoke to them, and that they themselves might as well not talk.

I have lost my voice.  Apparently, I can't write if I can't talk as it has been days since I posted.  I am in Coventry . . . except I am in Baltimore, quite sick, behind a desk stacked with layers of to do list and underwhelming student essays.

And I'm stressed that my Department is doing a job search and our ad has only just gone to the Modern Languages Association website.

Back to grading, silently, as one humbled in punishment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Claraism du Jour

My imagination-bag is my head.

Winton's dream, the one he awoke from shaking in fear

Winton: "There was a crocodile in my bed!"
Me: "What was it doing?"
Winton: "Just walking.  But there was also a green centipede on Neh Neh"  [Neh neh is his blanket; "centipede" is a big middle-of-the-night word for a 2 year old]
Me: "Oh.  Would you like to snuggle?" [Mummy is desperate to snuggle]
Winton: "No.  I just want to go sleep in the pack and play."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Winton Said

Just last night I said to Husband, post-candy revelry, "I think I need a Winton date."  The boy  at 2 and a half, long since weaned and well past the nights when he got to nurse and then sleep next to me, still loves to snuggle, and I love to snuggle, and it's not going to last.

Winton is clearly on the same page in terms of craving soon-to-be-over physical closeness, for this morning as I lifted him out of bed he hugged in close and whispered in my ear "Mummy, you smell like boob."

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I came late to the game of blogging.  It was already done, and done well, by the time I decided to try my hand at it.  And I am such a piker, resolutely keeping things on this site low fi.  Pictures?  Nah.  Fantastic recipes?  Wonderful links?  Gorgeous artwork?  Cunning design? No, no, no and no.  It's just me and my words, and I stubbornly persist, thinking that perhaps this appeals to someone.

It does appeal to me.   Hypocritcial and oxymoronical as it is, having a low-tech blog gives me perverse pleasure.

So, it has been a surprise to have readers, and to have made contacts with some wonderful fellow-bloggers.  That too (the making of a community) was a well-established blogosphere cliche long before I started writing.  Yet here I am in Welcome to My World, alongside some very talented writers who do this kind of thing and make a living off it.

Also, I was given the chance to get a FREE new pair of prescription glasses.  As an academic, this is shocking.  What?  Goodies in exchange for work?  Unheard of!

So, I ordered new glasses, for free, from 1800specs.

I've known for years that it's cheaper to get one's eye doctor to hand over the prescription and then shop around for frames.  They have to give you your prescription, you know.  They can also tell you your prescription if you let them have a good look at your existing glasses with one of their machines.

I went online, chose frames, plugged in my prescription and voila, 14 working days later: new glasses in the mail.

Now, you should be better at this than I am, for I have delusions about my appearance, apparently, and chose a set of frames several yards too wide for my face.  That ought to be blamed on me, though.  I do the same thing if I buy clothes online.

Aside from the fact that the frames are too big for my face, the glasses are perfect, and 1800specs was easy peasy to deal with.  Their shtick is that they charge 1/3 the price of normal eyewear shops.  The glasses I got would have cost under USD $100 for frames, lenses and shipping if they hadn't been free in exchange for this review.  That's pretty damn good, no?

So. I feel better knowing that the next time Winton enthusiastically swipes my head, knocking my glasses into the gutter under our car, it's not a crisis in the category of "Oh crap, I totally can't afford to replace those right now . . . or possibly ever."  What a relief.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Claraism du Jour (yes, she's back in form!)

Mummy, I can do whatever I like with my butt, because my butt is magic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This time yesterday (our ER visit)

At this time yesterday (6.35pm), Clara had just slipped getting into the bath, fallen backwards and knocked herself into a seizure.

Whatever delusions I had about being calm under pressure were unfounded: I vaguely recollect being so panicked that the air seemed to be green, as did Clara's face, and her eyes as they rolled upwards.  My reaction had Winton shrieking in fear, and continuing to shriek as Clara, confused, came back to herself and said to me accusingly "Mummy, why did you take me out of the bath?" clearly recollecting nothing of the intervening 15 seconds or so of her flailing.


What followed, thankfully, was Husband's arrival on the scene, and my bundling Clara into the car to head for an emergency room.  We went to Sinai, reputed to have pediatric intensive care, had trouble finding the right entrance to ER and then had to park so awkwardly I bushwhacked in the dark up a hill to get to the absolutely packed lobby.

All while Clara behaved completely normally: "Mummy, it's dark out!  Why are you driving so fast?  I've never been here before.  Why are we in the bushes? Why is that man wearing a red towel on his leg?"

Appalled by the population density at Sinai and the wait to simply get to the front desk, I ran carrying Clara back to the car and drove up to GBMC--parking directly across from the ER and a much less daunting waiting room.

We spent 40 minutes getting to an ER, which is ridiculous.  Next time--godforbid--I'm calling 911.  And then we spent 7 hours in ER, having a consult, waiting, having a CAT scan, waiting, having another consult, waiting, having a pediatrics consult, waiting, and finally giving up on the radiologist (also called for a consult but unresponsive) and leaving with a sheaf of paperwork just shy of 3 AM.

Those night hours also featured: endless games of "I Spy," numerous efforts to count to 100 (I am slightly more proficient than Clara . . . but perhaps only slightly when stressed, tired and distracted) and a joint effort to "rest" spooned on a narrow hospital bed in a freezing examination room under fluorescent lights.  For me, impatient by nature and hyped-up on adrenaline, it was an instructive set of hours, schooling me in the art of letting my time be in someone else's hands (perhaps as an academic, used to aggressively shaping my time, this is an especially unpracticed skill).

It was far easier to spend quiet moments thinking about time than thinking about the moment in which I realised my daughter was not flailing to annoy me, and in fact was flailing only as a body, with nothing of my daughter's self about those movements or rolling eyes, as if she had already left.

Today: CAT Scan sent to neurologist at Hopkins for follow-up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What I forgot to do today . . .

To call the vet.  Husband and I hold out vague "hope" that Pepita might have a bladder issue that a magic pill could solve, thus making it possible for us to have absorbent furnishings again.  Scare quotes on "hope" because it seems somewhat possible that the  cat has diabetes and that would be a long, expensive problem all of its own (though mitigated by the possibility of having throw rugs again).

Monday, October 24, 2011

You know you're thinking slowly when

it's already 2.15 pm and you have just accomplished item one on your to do list (while idly wondering whether to google "symptoms of mono").

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bleak House

I have mused before that the ideal way to sap someone's will to live is to inflict on them a series of small but significant mishaps/ hardships.  For instance, as my last 24 hours have demonstrated: needing to fast for a bloodtest, discovering that someone has egged my car, being grumpy at preschool drop-off and then feeling bad, being repeatedly interrupted at work, having a meeting run and hour and half late, having tired children who scream the whole ride home, coming home to see Pepita pee into the downstairs curtains, noticing, abjectly, that we have rid our house of couch, carpets and most soft items because of cat pee, and then starting off the weekend  by attending a school open house, thus reminding myself of the herculean effort it will be to find a school place for Clara that we can afford.  Yay life.  Our small house stinks and is uncomfortable, the children need more than I can give them, and I have forgotten what is supposed to feel good about all of this.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alarming incidents

1) Pepita emerged from the basement last night with a small squirming snake in her mouth.  This is the second small squirming basement snake in as many weeks.  Do they live down there?  Thank-god Pepita, who is otherwise a rowdy little trouble maker, is coming good on this.  I hope she is catching them all.  I hope there isn't a "them."

2) Winton woke me in tears: "I can't find Neh Neh [his blanket]!  "O, no, Mummy!  I dropped it"  On closer inspection, Neh Neh was under his head, where it usually is. Cause of distress?  Winton dreamt he'd dropped Neh Neh out of bed.

3) A policeman came to talk to Clara's class yesterday about what police officers do.  This morning she is all about making pretend 911 calls with me as emergency services.
Clara [into a toilet paper spool] "Hello?  911?"
Me [into my tea cup] "Yes, this is 911.  Fire, ambulance or police?"
Clara "Fire and Veterinarian, please."
Me "What seems to be the trouble, Ma'am?  We don't usually do veterinary emergencies."
Clara "My kitty has fire coming out of her ears."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


What I often call Winton: "Little Man" (it looks pejorative in print: it's not meant to be)
What Winton said to Husband last night: " Thanks for dinner, Little Daddy."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

field trip

With Clara's class, to a field, with pumpkins, llamas, an emu, hay bales stacked into an inventive playground, rabbits, apple cider, a mock "bring your produce to market" area, a very dirty horse, and a bouncily thrilling hay ride in the flatbed of a pick-up truck.

For her: fun, some chagrin over not being in the same playgroup as her close friend Ingrid, and fresh-air induced hunger.
For me: relief once providing transport for a mother and her son, both of whom are even more socially awkward than I, was over, and anxiety provoked by chatting with other parents about the surplus demand for kindergarten options for city residents.

hack hack wheeze wheeze.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Immune systems

How is it that Winton is the only one of our human household not currently sick?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The elements redefined in terms of work

Earth= sh*t when it comes from below
Air=Hot Air, sometimes my own.
Water= sh*t when it rains from above
Fire= Fires.  Whenever I put one out, a new one erupts.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Clara and Winton: Preoccupations

Winton [after farting, and then staring intently at his lap for probably 2 entire minutes, to the tune of "Shoo Fly, don't bother me"]:
Bum burps don't bother me
Bum burps don't bother me
Bum burps don't bother me
'Cause they belong to everybody!

He laughed his head off, and I think he quite deserves to laugh at his own joke.  This is a good adaptation of a tune for a 2 year old to have come up with on his own, no?

Clara: "Mummy, my room has P in it"
[to me this sounds like "pee," of which we have had altogether too much recently thanks to contentious felines and a potty-training Winton]
Me: "Oh no!  Where?  Which cat peed?"
Clara: "No, not pee, P: there's a picture, a painting, a pink thing and a piece of paper."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dear Rachel,

Dear Rachel Aydt,

Thank you for your essay "Robot Moms in the Closet" in the e-anthology Welcome to My World.  On Friday I said I would review it (then motivated by the aptness of robot moms), but life got in the way and now it is even more apt.  So, sorry I'm late (not my first apology today), and thanks for helping me think through some stuff.

What grabbed my attention about your essay in the first place was the terrific idea that one could have a closet full of situationally-appropriate Moms waiting to be deployed, among them "Bill Paying Mother," "Cooking Mother," and "Patient-Kind-and Generously Spirited Mother."  That last one I really need with my kids, especially at around 7 pm when the unending rout of "I need potty" and "I'm thirsty" begins.

You pit the Robot Moms against "that highly regrettable Temper Thing": I love how the caps make this thing a monster, like Beowulf's Grendel.  In my life, I have a Temper Thing too, I call it The B*tch with Seven Heads . . . I think I must be 7 times less good at containing my ire than you are.  Yours is a rich and wonderful premise that someone should make a movie of.  I'd watch the Robot Moms battling a hairy snarling Temper Thing.  The moms would surely win, right?

Where your essay has helped me in the last two days is in thinking about how sometimes eleven-day school breaks or other ostensibly routine interruptions to routine (mine has been departmental chair business intruding on the business of balancing teaching and mothering) can turn one's life "inside out" (another fantastic image . . . for that is just how I feel today: like my slippery innards are on the outside for anyone to poke at). 

It is then that the "reactive" Temper Thing gets a bit of an edge, no? Innards in the right place, and the debt collector from the library (please do elaborate on that story--it, like the snippets about your son's teachers, are intriguing, compelling details), is a small deal.  Inside out and it's hard to keep tabs on Mr. Temper.

"Reactive" characterizes well my last days.  I need to shift from thinking of myself as the sh*t, and recognise that I am the pipe through which the sh*t flows.  In fact, I think I might get a piece of plumbing pipe to have on my desk as a paperweight, just to remind me.

However, being reactive is precisely what gets me blogging.  I come to this little window to compose the posts that allow me to compose myself.  That's what I love about reading other mommyblogs as well: I get a snippet of how other people react to empty fruit bowls (your substitution of fruit leather is sensible) impossible schedules and dirty school uniforms.  Those insights into how other people can be reactive too save my sanity, they really do.

It's inspiring how you balance everything as a writer working from home (and sometimes not getting paid!  Shame on you, reprobate publishers.  That's not right!!), even when there aren't enough moments and the ones we have are flying by.

Thanks for your essay.  I'd write more, but I've got to go get my kids now.



Friday, October 7, 2011


Hardie, our phlegmatic basset-hound mix with droopy ears, has a yeast infection.  In one of those massive ears.  Can you even imagine?  He must be near insane with the itchiness.  He's been prescribed an ear drop called "Momentamax."

Doesn't that just demand an exclamation after it?

And it sounds all wrong for a canine ear medicine.


Momentamax! For her pleasure.

Momentamax!  We'll help you manage your time better.

Momentamax!  Faxing documents via your iphone!

Or even:

Momentamax!  A house and time division schedule that will keep your angry cats separate from one another (such schedule just instituted chez nous).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I yelled

The regret and guilt are instant.

We were 20 minutes past bedtime.  I had a late afternoon faculty meeting, so the children had been at preschool later than usual, and then dinner was later, and we were all tired.
I got them bathed, and toothbrushed and pottied and hairbrushed and storied and in bed.

Then I went to answer work email and Winton shrieked that he needed to go to the potty.  Though I knew he didn't, I am really trying to encourage potty usage, so I took him.  And he didn't pee.

On putting him back in bed, Clara asked for a glass of water . . . and I lost my biscuit.

I believe I stamped my feet as though I was even younger than them, and yelled at a volume our row-house neighbors could probably hear, "Yrrrrrrgnzf!  You two are making me  SO DAMN FRUSTRATED!"

They both then shut up.

And I felt instantly guilty and awful and went about kissing their heads and apologising.


A Sorry State of Affairs

As indicated by this subject line in my morning email to Husband:
Peeday (oh wait, they are all pee days)

Particularly sad?  I am referring to an ongoing turf war between our cats, not to incontinent children.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Claraism du Jour [annotated]

Mummy, I'm going to sing a song. 
[Not unusual]

May and Noodles went up the hill, up the hill, up the hill.
May and Noodles went up the hill to see what was on the farm.
[Unusual: 18 months ago we had a month of pet death.  May, my beagle, and Noodles, my elderly cat, both passed away.  I haven't mentioned them recently, BUT Husband's elderly cat seems not to be thriving.  Perhaps Clara senses something?]

On the farm they walked and walked, walked and walked, walked and walked.
On the farm they walked and walked, and then laid down and died.
[Um.  Unstinting acknowledgement of home truths.  Are four year olds supposed to be so matter-of-fact about death?]

Monday, October 3, 2011

Claraism du Jour

Clara [on seeing a bunch of balloons flying so far overhead they looked like wee black flies]:
"Mummy, wishes came out of my eyes and turned to glitter and then turned to balloons.  There they are.  Those are my wishes."

Friday, September 30, 2011

I thought he was too young for this kind of thing

Winton: "Mummy!  Look at my penis!"
[As he jams a whole carrot lewdly up the leg of his shorts]

Significant pieces of paper

1)  The UPS receipt which indicates my manuscript on third culture literature is off to McFarland&Co, its publisher.

2)  My eyeglass prescription because Sarah Bryden-Brown (a dynamo of all things e-publishing and bloggery) has arranged for a number of us bloggers to write reviews of a new prescription eyewear service.  Stay tuned.  I am excited.

Last week Sherman Alexie spoke on campus about his experiences of growing up on an Indian reservation: among other things, he got government eyeglasses with thick lenses and Buddy Holly style frames.  He pointed into the audience of student hipsters and said: "You have them, and so do you, and you too!  You think you look cool.  I think you look poor." 

So the question for me will be: adopt the trend and look like my "cool" students, or try to predict the future in eye fashions?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Clara, Winton and I watched Ponyo for the first time about a month ago, and I loved it.  The director is Hayao Miyazaki, and the version we saw was dubbed in English.

It is anime, replete with characters with freakishly large eyes, but OMG, magical seascapes.  My favorites things are the beasties: prehistoric fish, giant squid, incandescent jellyfish, crabs, lobsters, and whales.  It made me miss the sea, for though we live in Baltimore, it feels so very far from clean water here.  Standing outside my house on yet another drizzly morning, it is inconceivable to me that there is ocean anywhere near us.  And yet in Halifax, where I lived in 2003 and 2004, the parking lot outside my apartment building sounded like the sea, so prevalent was the feeling of being in the maritimes.

Anyway, I was utterly absorbed by Ponyo, and netflix just took it off its streaming service.  So, I went online and bought the Studio Ghibli box set of Hayao Miyazaki films. 

I can't wait til they arrive!

Who the hell am I? 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


By Clara, at 3 AM, again (or perhaps "as usual").  It takes me a long time to fall asleep, so a "quick" Clara problem ("I need to pee and the bathroom's scary" or "Pepita is in my room" or "I have a cough, can you help me?") results in me awake for at least an hour, and usually longer.

Last night's interruption was especially irksome as she woke me out of a dream in which I (whose stomach hasn't tolerated coffee in almost three months) was having a cappuccino at a cafe in Berlin (I've never been to Berlin, but my dream version was very nice and came replete with the cool, dry weather that Baltimore is categorically not enjoying this season).  O cruel!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Welcome to My World

Is out. I have an essay in it!  It's an e-book giving both sides of the working-as-mom Vs working-out-of-the-home debate.  By bloggers.  Contributions paid for (that never happens in academic publishing . . . so.  Y'know.  VERY exciting) by a company called Giggle, which looks like it runs a tres chic site for those with wee babies in need of good gear.
Ebook available via Amazon.  Giggle's at

Here endeth the promotion, for I need to 1) stop freaking out about trying to finish my academic book by Friday (will likely pay less and have fewer readers than Welcome to My World) and 2) go do a bit of yoga on the college basketball courts so that the pain in my lower back goes away.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

This Weekend's One-Liners

Clara [referring to mustard greens, with slight but comprehensible inaccuracy]: "Mummy, we bought ketchup salad."

Winton: "This spoon's name is Just Be Quiet."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Morning

On the Agenda: Quiet focused proofread of book manuscript.
Actually happening: Student interruption every 6 minutes (just enough time to refocus between interruptions without actually making any progress: I have been on page 47 for an hour now).

BTW: my OFFICE HOURS are Mondays and Wednesdays, not Fridays.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ups and Downs, Campus life

Down: I got a parking ticket on campus because I parked Husband's car (which I was driving yesterday) in visitor parking.  Problem apparently is the expired college decal on his car.  No decal?  It would have been a genuine "visitor."  Car with decal which expired in August 2007 in the visitor parking lot?  Please pay us $25.

Up: I was at an event at the college President's house yesterday evening (which was why Husband needed my car with child seats in it to pick up the children from preschool, and why I drove his car up to campus and left it *horrors* in the visitor parking lot).  At the bar, I was carded when I asked for a glass of wine.  I am forty one and tired: the bartender must have been thrown off by my attire, or blind.  But still.  Up.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lyrics: a la Winton

"The wheels on the bus say 'I don't care, I don't care, I don't care.'  The wheels on  the bus say 'I don't care' all through the town."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Advice for Cold and Flu Season: 1&2

1. Be prepared for your child to wake up congested on a day when you have absolutely unavoidable work commitments.  (Eg today Winton: congested; Me: chairing my first department meeting.)

2. Remember, when cleaning the bathroom on your always-too-short weekend, to have the floors and toilet clean enough that you could rest your cheek upon them should the dreaded stomach flu arrive in your home. (So far, it has not.  But it's good to have those floors and ceramics clean enough for lying upon, just in case.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

I miss my kids

I'm at work, half an hour earlier than absolutely necessary.  This is because yesterday Winton's teacher looked at me askance when we rolled in at 9.45, having missed his 9.15-9.45 gymn session entirely (Clara's class has the same gymn teacher, but later in the morning).  I busted my arse to get them in by 9.15 this morning so that he wouldn't miss music.  BUT.  No sign of the music teacher, and indeed no evidence that there will be music at all today.  All this means is that I've missed out on half an hour of time with my children.

This summer (diligent book writing) and this September (meeting bookdeadline, being department chair, teaching extra classes in the theater department) have been exhausting, but worst of all is that I miss my children.  Really.  Terribly.  Grievously.  It can't go on like this.  It shouldn't be like this in the first place. 

It's nice that I am now nearer the end of the month than the beginning, but I am still much closer to the middle than the end.  I miss my children.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tonight's Stories

"There was a princess, and a mermaid.  They were getting married, and all the other little mermaids were sad because their friend was going to turn into a princess too.  And then there's a song."

"I have friends in my class.  And I went to the Dr [he didn't].  And Miss Kim went to the Dr, and Miss Karina went to the Dr, and Mafanio [Nathaniel] went to Dr, and Maya is not in my class, but I see her on the playground and I love her, and all my blankets went to the Dr."


I used (before children) to covet those fancy alarm clocks which have a soothing light which gradually brightens as wake-up time approaches, and a gentle "gong" sound to wake you.

Now I have a hound dog who starts shaking his head--flapping his long, drapey ears so they wrap round and slap each other loudly--exactly half an hour before the children wake up and start screaming.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bloody Children


Clara had a streak of dried blood up her back this morning when I dressed her.  Hard to say from what: no visible wounds.  Successful mosquito swipe, perhaps?

And Winton face-planted dramatically in the preschool parking lot this morning, making for a colorful entrance: "Hello!  Winton's bleeding.  Do you have band-aids?"  I can see this made his teacher feel much as she did yesterday (I'm fairly sure she was crying behind sunglasses when we saw her on the playground late afternoon).

I washed W's knee liberally, which made him cry so hard he started to shake.  And then I sat with him for a couple of minutes.  And then I left, which made him cry/shake again.



Clara has decided to protest everything and anything by dint of screaming like a malfunctioning pile-driver ("WAAAAH  WAAAAAH" at high pitch for minutes at a time).  EG at 1AM when I wouldn't let her sleep in my bed with me. Also at 7AM when her father tried to brush her hair. And at 8.30 AM when I tried to get her ready to go on a dog walk.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Afternoon

I'm at work.  Mine is the ONLY car in the parking lot.  Husband is home watching football (I assume) with the friend of his who is visiting from New Mexico.  The kids, after a vigorous morning, are, hopefully, sleeping.

I can't begin to tell you how glad I will be when I can take both weekend days off again . . .

Anyway.  That wasn't the point I had in mind when I sat down to use a post here as my opening ceremony prelude to learning how to superscript numbers and then re-enter my footnotes, as per my publisher's request.

No no!  I had actually meant to ask you all about the meaning of a strange thing I saw this morning when out walking the dog and children. Our neighborhood is already pretty exciting (drug busts, murders and muggings oh my!), but today we went to look over the fence at the yard of the house which keeps chickens.  The chickens are a big thrill: brown, large and oddly silent in their small coop, the door of which is held shut by a naked Barbie.  The yard beyond the coop features the naked, upside-down lower half of a mannekin.  Today's visit/ peeping tom-ing was cut short by my desire that the children NOT see the item clothes-pinned to the wire fence: a cleanly gutted kitten, head and tail still attached.  WTF?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Claraism du Jour

After collaging a number of heart and flower fragments onto a piece of paper with most of a bottle of Elmer's glue:

C: "Mummy, I'm going to hang this picture upstairs in my office."
Me: "You have an office upstairs?"
C: "Yes.  It's the Baltimore, DC upstairs broken saxophone department."

[n.b. we don't own a saxophone, broken or otherwise.]

Friday, September 9, 2011

Winton has a new friend

Winton's new friend is a slight blond boy with a perpetually runny nose and as much desire to run around screaming as Winton has himself.
The friend's name is, I think, "Nathaniel," though Winton said good-bye to him yesterday like this: "Bye Bye Fanny Banny!" [big kiss on snotty lips].

Professional Attire

After several days of hot, humid rain, it's hard to get excited about dressing well.  The week's precedent has been that anything below the knee gets rained on, the children want to be carried and rub wet sneakers on my thighs, and areas covered by my raincoat are sweated through by the time I get to work.

So, today I am wearing a skirt that is 6 years old and has a bite taken out of the hemline (by the washing machine?), a grey v-neck t-shirt the neck of which is losing its shape, water damaged sandals, and chipped toenail polish.  This would be fine if I could hide in my office all day, BUT I am teaching extra classes, as a favor to the theater department (wtf?  what the hell was I thinking??).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Pressing items on today's agenda:
-cubby conference for Clara.
-do class schedule for English department's Spring 2012 classes.
-prep my own classes for tomorrow.
-faculty meeting.

In the midst of these pressing concerns, I dismissed today's weather as "rainy" until driving down a six lane road reduced to 2 lanes (one each way) by a rising tide of water, passing several suv's stalled by high water, arriving at the college's parking lot to discover most of it aswirl with swift running water (I found a spot that seemed out of the direct path of flooding) and watching facilities maintenance struggle to redirect water flowing directly over the lintels of the building that houses our performance hall and gallery spaces.

To get to my building required walking through 2 ankle-deep rivers (formerly sidewalks).  Quite dramatic.  I fear our leaky roof at home is not faring well.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Monday

At work.  The hall outside my office smells strongly of vomit, and that smell, oddly, is not emanating from the bathroom on this floor.  I'm opting out of further investigation.  Yay the undergraduates are back (grumble grumble).

Yesterday, to give Husband a break from his labor day parenting marathon, and to give Clara pleasure-overload, we had a playdate at Henry's house.  It was a good day to be inside: humid and hot, with grey skies through which spears of uncomfortably bright sun shot through at unexpected intervals.  And Henry's family has a nice house with lots of room for kids to play, and lots of compelling toys.  And I love a chance to catch up with Henry's mother. 

Despite my having fed Clara and Winton before we left home, they ate prodigious, embarrassing, quantities of apple.

Among the highlights: Henry gave Clara a Spiderman ring (Nonchalantly: "Here, I have tons of these.  You can have one").  He then suggested that he and Clara should go take a bath together.  So innocent and adorable . . . and, through the filthy lens of an adult mind, hilarious.  First the ring, then the bath.  What manners the boy has!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Really, how do folks fit it all in?  This month is worse than most (any, ever) for me in terms of work commitments and I'm currently wearing my hair shirt o' guilt over the following things:

-I don't have the children in swimming lessons, and am not in fact taking them swimming enough that I am actually teaching them myself, as I had planned.
-the children are also not in dance classes, or music (except the preschool's once weekly music classes).
-they don't own bikes, or balance push bikes and so don't know how to ride them.

The internet (fast source of anxiety-provoking mis-information) proliferates with information about everything being better if you teach it to your kids between the ages of 0 and 3, or 0 and 6.  Clara will be 5 in a few months, and Winton will be 3.  My god?  Is the window of opportunity skills-wise disappearing?? (Surely not, right?)

Husband has been off with the offspring for the last two days while their school is closed. I have been at work.  This is a long weekend: Monday is a holiday.  I will splurge by taking Saturday (today) and Sunday off despite the niggling niggling niggling of all the paper piled on my desk.

Here, to cheer-up an unfunny post:

Winton, seeing a lawn mower: "Look, Mummy!  A lawn-blower."

Clara: "When I grow up, I'm going to have a baby just so I can let it watch Ponyo every day."

Clara: "My favorite thing in the whole world are buffloes!"
Me: "Oh.  What do you like about them?"
Clara: "Jerky."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Winton Tells a Story

And then Mummy went to doctor,
and Daddy went to doctor,
and Hardie went to doctor,
and Pumpkin went to doctor,
and Brisss [Briseis] went to doctor,
and Pepita went to downstairs doctor.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Unfunny Jokes About A Minor Ailment

The persistent, unsightly lump on the back of my right hand?  NOT a spider bite but rather an organizational hematoma.
Insert "Bu-dum, Tsh!" after each of the below.

Well, at least your blood is organized.

Hey, a bruise!  Now in 3-D, with no monthly fee added to your cable TV bill!

Why did your organization do this to your hand?  Didn't they like your work as chair?

I thought latinate disfigurements were serious; that's just a big bump.

Hey, are you growing a spare brain?

Is that where you store your acorns for the winter?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The students are back

And now that I am department chair, it seems like they are all in the hallway waiting to stream into my office.

In other news, Winton is asking to sit on toilets these days.  This would be even better if he were actually eliminating while on the toilet, but it is promising--though, after 40 minutes of his insistence that he "need[s] to poopy!" without producing anything other than a dry fart, also quite frustrating.

Class in 3 minutes. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Good things

1)  I got the last space in the parking lot near my office's building.
2)  The children's preschool had power and was open today.
3) BGE reconnected our power at 8.45 this morning, and some things in our fridge were still cold.
4) It was cool last night, so even though we had no electricity, I had a very good night's sleep.
5) The cats caught a mouse this morning and Husband and I managed to pick Pepita up (the one who was at that point holding the still living mouse in her mouth), hold her face over a tupperware box, enjoin her to let it go, succeed, catch the living mouse in the box, slap a lid on it, take it out back and release it.  Maneuvers that optimistic and rife with the potential for tumult don't usually go so very smoothly.

I love the weather events that make our neighborhood quiet.  I'm a little sad about the noise that will come tonight as everyone reoccupies their houses.  Last night on the back porch was tranquil, peachy-skied and quite lovely.  Mind you, at 11.40 pm I heard what sounded like 2 gun shots in the total darkness out there.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


My birthday today, sandwiched between an earthquake and a hurricane.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And now,


Things to be thankful for:
1) The dog only has earmites, and I think there are over the counter treatments which I'll be able to buy sometime between my afternoon meeting and retrieving my car.
2) The loaner car I'm using while our car spends our meager savings for us is VERY swank and nice to drive.
3) The weather is gorgeous today.
4) The earthquake yesterday didn't damage anything.
5) I can tell when Clara's clingyness on drop-off is false, so I don't currently feel tortured by guilt.
6) Winton's classroom includes a toy set of cupcakes in a cupcake tin, and Winton is instantly, completely absorbed when presented with it.
7) The scratches from the cat-fight that erupted in my bed last night are hidden by my skirt.
8) The look on the mechanic's face when I removed the child seats yesterday (in order to transfer them to the loaner), revealing 5 years worth of cheerios on the back bench seat.  My god, it's amazing the car doesn't have rats.  Disgusting.  Mechanic: clearly concerned our car will make him ill.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Riding it

Still same day as last post: we had an earthquake, the car needs $950 USD of repairs, I scraped the loaner's hubcap against the curb (just a little but enough to cap off a stressful day with a heaping of self-loathing: why can't I even drive??).
Because of the earthquake the children didn't get to nap at school and they are now acting like confined squirrels.
I should be washing lunch boxes and cooking dinner.

I understand now why people drink.  And do drugs.


See if you can prioritize the list below.  I could do with some help.

Though I have cleared my desk, the onset of semester has my head full of competing teaching chores (none of which I have started work on), unfinished book bits, and nervous energy around being department chair and getting our new curriculum reviewed asap and figuring out the details of chairing a job-search committee.
I've also taken the car (pulling to the left strongly enough it can almost do a u-turn all by itself) to the mechanic, and consented to have one of the two other expensive pieces of maintenance done.  I feel the need to hold money in reserve because our damn roof started leaking again on Sunday.  Damn.  Must contact roofer.
Everything feels urgent.
Winton skinned his knee again this morning.
My spider bite hasn't gone away (it's been over a month).  I should show it to a doctor, I guess.
And I'm hungry, but forgot to bring my favorite kind of chocolate with me (not a crippling crisis, thankfully, as I do have back-up chocolate).

Paralyzed by options, I shall continue to stare at my computer (which isn't working right and which I'm waiting for IT to fix).

Monday, August 22, 2011

One of those days

The cats kept invading Clara and Winton's room last night, forcing open the squeaky door and waking Clara up by sleeping on her feet.  Clara kept waking up Winton by screaming that I come remove the cats.
Eventually I shut the cats in the basement.

This morning's tiredness hang-over accentuates other irritants: dog vomit on the kitchen floor; tired children fussing over breakfast; Winton smearing yogurt on his legs; internet down.

And on the dog walk we got busted stealing figs off the tree that overhangs the alley.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Baltimore City School Dilemmas, Part One

Clara will need to attend kindergarten starting Fall 2012.  We live in Baltimore city.  We makes heaps and heaps of money, but have heaps and heaps of debt too, so, you know, we're doing fine but aren't, for example, fixing the wrongly plumbed bathrooms or re-grading the back-yard after the sewer replacement five years ago.  School's gonna need to be free, or as close to it as possible.

The school we are zoned for is Waverly Elementary.  This morning's dog walk featured a detour to their playground (from which one can see the back of the school quite clearly as one is right next to it) and prompts the following observations:

-Parents dropping kids off at daycare?  Very friendly. (Plus)
-Daycare's windows featuring spray-painted lettering on the inside of the building. (Minus)

-Side of building features a mural which says "The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet."  Correctly attributed to Aristotle (Plus) but ominously punitive-sounding (Minus).

-Playground has elaborate equipment and that rubbery flooring that seems ubiquitous these days (Plus).
-Playground also features broken glass, bits of garbage, lids to soda bottles, miscellaneous scraps of paper and unidentifiable crap (Minus).
-Playground also clearly set on fire at some point as some of the molded plastic is melted into Gaudi-esque formations and handles on some plastic things have been broken off leaving hard plastic protrusions (Minus).

-Next to playground is a bush under which is a vast rat warren (Minus).

But the parents were nice.  But but but.  That's not enough.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Claraism du Jour

Clara [concluding a multi-part story about a little girl and her blanket]: "And then the little girl died back into chocolate."
Me: [pause]
Me: "So, when people die, they turn into chocolate?"
Clara: "Yes.   Not mud or anything dirty like that."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Scared of School

Drop-off is tricky now that Clara and Winton are both at the same school. 

C's new class is usually outside playing when we arrive, which means a playground good-bye (always more prone to emotional malfunctions: somehow the open space opens up all kinds of possibilities for little girl distress).

Once she is Ok, W and I head inside to take C's bag to her classroom on the 4th floor.  W loves this part as C's new class features a big white rabbit that actually LIKES to be petted by children (though I swear she tried to pee on me).

Then W and I take the elevator to the ground floor and start his drop-off.  He seems mostly over his distress, but still clings a bit.  Today he needed a teacher to hold him when I left.  She said, unintentionally unhelpfully, "Hey Winton!  I'll hold you up to the window to wave good-bye to your Mom, OK?"

Problem: window faces into playground.  To wave good-bye to W meant I had leave via the playground, thereby re-encountering C.

That may have been just as well this morning as Clara seems to have realized (on her 3rd day in her new class) that she doesn't get to play with her friends from her old class anymore.  She was crying when I emerged on the playground. 

So, Winton got a quick, falsely exuberant goodbye wave from me with my most furrowed and anxious facial expression (how much of that do my sunglasses hide??). . . and got to see that I was carrying a bawling Clara.

Winton is getting into the new routine, but is still scared of school.  Clara is just realizing she's going to have to get to know a bunch of new girls because Henry sometimes wants to run with the feral pack of little boys: she's scared of school.  I still have a book to finish (it's shockingly plausible that I will eventually finish, actually), but the halls here are slowly filling with people, and irksome meetings are starting to pepper my schedule: I am scared of school too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


1) Winton did NOT need to be prised off me this morning at preschool, and was in fact playing happily with a toy when I walked out of the classroom.

2) Clara announced, when I left her with the 4s and 5s, "Mummy, I'm going to have another GREAT day today!" and then gave me a kiss on the lips and ran off with Henry.

3)  My erratic inner workings kicked in today, 3 days later than usual, revealing that happily I am merely old, not knocked-up.

WHAT a good start to the day . . .

Monday, August 15, 2011


After months of hot (excessive) and dry (the kind that makes the red dirt crack deeply, as if recently subjected to an earthquake), Baltimore has turned itself into a thunderous place.  The skies are heavy and dark, the roads run with deep, swift water. Cars are drowning in flash-floods.

I am hoping this is not pathetic fallacy (when the weather mimics the psychological state of characters in a work of fiction: eg Shakespeare's King Lear mad on the heath in the middle of a thunderstorm).  If so, it is very ominous. WHOSE psyche is being dramatised outside?  Hmm?

It seems too vengeful to be Winton's mood, for though he cried again this morning, he seems resigned to my cruelty.  I will walk away and leave him at preschool.  He knows it.  My kisses, back-rubs and reassurances that indeed it is scary to start a new school, but it will get better are inadequate comfort.  He's sad, scared, but not thunderous.

And even Clara is in a surprisingly good mood today, despite starting in a new, unfamiliar class.  This is 100% due to the presence of Henry.  Her FAVORITE friend in the world, and she gets to be in the same class as him for these last two weeks of summer camp.  She's freaked out by having to use a new bathroom, but happy to be with Henry.

So, we'll see.  I'll be attentive today to whose mood it is exactly that the skies are throwing around.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Claraism: further to the cats she wants to get when she "grows up"

Me: "Why will they have to live in a cage, Clara?"
Clara: "So that Pepita doesn't chase them and bite them."

(Ah the continuing kittenish scourge of Pepita: increasingly affectionate, but sustaining her daily number of violent attacks on anything that moves)

Winton Preschool, Day Five

Winton [in car, crying as we pull into the preschool parking lot]: "I don't want to go!  I want to go to Clar's class.  I want to go to Miss Susan [Clara's teacher]."
Me: "Why?"
Winton: "I scared."

Me, in my head: Well, duh!  This is in fact the first major new experience he's ever done on his own.  Before he has always joined Clara and had her there for support.  No wonder he's freaking out now: he's not in  Clara's class, so though he is "at her school," he has to get to know his new teachers all by himself.  I never realized it before (because his confidence has always been buoyed by Clara's precedent), but Winton is shy.  Who knew?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Claraism du Jour

Clara: "Mummy, when I grow up I'm going to get a cage and have a Mummy Cat and Baby Kittens in it."
Me: "Ok.  When do you think you are going to be grown-up?"
Clara: "uuuhhhm.  I think in the winter."

Winton, Preschool Day Four


Tears and wailing on the way to the classroom ("I don't want to go in there, Mummy")
Violent rejection of teachers through his tears ("I don't like you either!")
I sat with him for 40 minutes and then prised him off my chest and passed him to  one of the teachers he "doesn't like" today.

God.  Is there a worse feeling in the world?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Winton, Preschool Day Three

The return of guilt.
His teacher suggested he stay for lunch today: I had been planning that he would stay for lunch and nap.  He WILL stay for lunch and nap, but now I feel terrible.  I am a bad mother.

I am back to wishing that I could take both my children home and smother myself with them.
I am aware that as they get older, their need for me decreases (so, by working, I wasn't there as much in the early years when they needed me most.)
And the third culture literature book? It ate my summer and meant that Clara and Winton have had a mere 10 days vacation over the whole stretch.

Guilt Guilt Guilt Guilt.
And some more Guilt.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Winton, Preschool Day Two

Less easy.  He needed me to sit with him while he ate his grapes (s-l-o-w-l-y). 

Sometime after I eventually left he apparently relieved himself of all the poop he held in yesterday morning as, when I picked him up at noon, his backpack included a loosely wrapped package of festering shorts.  Yum.

It is now 1.44pm and he is NOT sleeping.  He should be.  He's very tired.  He's telling Basil bear to "stop iiiiiiit"; I wonder what the hell the bear is doing.

In what part of my brain did I think I was going to be able to get them to sleep (Clara is home too), practice yoga, eat a leisurely lunch and then, when they awoke, spend a fun afternoon at the tulip garden kicking soccer balls into flower beds? 

I must have been on crack.  Instead it took forever to get them home, fed and in bed.  By that time the floor was covered in soup.  By the time I cleaned that up, I needed to eat.  Now I am too full to bend over, and the kids aren't sleeping (so, no yoga).  And when we give up the pretense of napping at 3, they will be too loudly, crazily, red-eyedly tired to take out anywhere, even to the tulip garden.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Winton, First Day

First day at preschool:

Me: "Ok, Winton.  Do you want to sit at the table with Miss Katrina and eat your grapes?"
Winton: "Yes, Mummy."
Me: "And then I'm going to blow you five kisses and leave, Ok?"
Winton: "Yes, Mummy."

[settling him at table with tiny pot of sliced green grapes, blowing five kisses]

Me: "Right then, Bye!  See you at lunchtime."
Winton: "Yes, Mummy."

[Mummy walks away.  What?  Really??  Yes.  It WAS that easy.  I wonder what tomorrow will be like.]

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wrapping up the past to put in the future's cubby

Today is Winton's last day at daycare. Though monumental to me, it is just like any other day this summer (too hot, too full of NPR news about how the climate, and fiscal climate, are irretrievably broken).  It feels imperative to tie up loose ends.  To that end, this is today's agenda:

1.  Drop Clara off at preschool, pausing to mediate as she returns Sadie's towel and apologizes for having stolen it.

2. Drop Winton off at daycare, pausing to hold him on my lap and feed him ice cubes in a reprise of yesterday's injured-lip debacle.

3. Stop at Panera (the one I used to go to when I was a bachelorette newly arrived in Baltimore--I don't think I've been there in the last four years) and read my writing buddy's work for this afternoon's meeting.

4. Walk over to Target and buy $190 of diapers (size 6--what an embarassment of un-potty-trainedness), new backpack so Winton has one for school (girly enough that he'll like it, hopefully not so girly he'll be teased), gear for trimming the children's hair, new undies for me (Hanes: tres chic--ha), and Dora towel to replace the one we returned to Sadie.

5. Home to de-loot the car, write this and eat a quick lunch.

6. Load car with Maria's good-bye present (the chocolate and wine will have to go in a cooler so they don't spoil in the heat), and diapers/ wipes.

7. Writing meeting at a local cafe.

8. Go to Clara's school, pick her up, give her a tour of the classroom she will be moving up to in two weeks AND also drop-off the diapers and wipes Winton will need starting Monday in what will be his new classroom.

9.  Buy flowers for Maria.

10.  Go to Maria's with Clara to pick up Winton, drop off Maria's present and flowers, tearily say good-bye and try to steal the baby doll Winton has been so keen on the last few days.

And the lump on my hand persists.  And my hair keeps falling out.  I am loveliness and calm incarnate.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Rattlin'

My head's all a rattlin' because I need to finish Chapter Four today to get it to my writing buddy in time for our meeting tomorrow.

Tomorrow is also Winton's last day at Maria's.  He starts at Clara's school on Monday.  I've been taking one or other of the kids to Maria for four years.  I think I'm about to find the transition very hard.  I am agonizing extensively over the appropriate goodbye gift.  Really what says "thank-you for doing what I couldn't and probably pulling it off far better than I would have"?  A card seems inadequate.

And I need to screw up my courage to be a pain in the ass and ask Clara's school if she can be in the same group as her friend Henry for the next summer camp session.

And I have a painful lump on my hand (bone chip?  spider bite?).

As if sensing my need to slow down and take a minute to breathe (pah!), Winton had his biggest wipe-out ever this morning.  In an effort to jump up Maria's steps when we arrived, he instead tipped forward and slammed his head onto the concrete, while biting his lip.  Blood on his face, his shirt, the step.  I spent a good amount of time in Maria's kitchen daubing blood off his bit lip and musing on whether this was an emergency room visit.  No.  Not.  Bleeding stopped.  Winton got to eat a lot of ice which kept the swelling down.  When he got up and demanded his Dora doll, I figured we were in the clear.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Clara stole someone else's Dora towel from school over a week ago, smuggling it home by wrapping it up inside her own towel.  She has presented a variety of stories: A.J. gave it to me; it was in the "found" box; Miss Pam gave it to me; it was lost. 
I have let her keep it because . . . well, honestly because I wanted to avoid the melt-down that would happen when I took it away. 
Yesterday Husband discovered that on the back side of the washing instructions label it says "Sadie."  Ah.  O sh*t.
It appears Sadie was away for a week, and Clara stole her towel.
We shall have to return it. . . as soon as I can schedule a good time for Clara's EPIC meltdown at preschool.
Question: When and how did Clara get so good at subterfuge?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Winton, Clara: "parenting" styles

Clara, herself a dodgy sleeper at the best of times, spends a lot of time trying to get her toys to sleep.  She makes them nests of rolled up blanket, hides them in quiet corners, darkens rooms and then tiptoes away.  Should a stuffed cat or Dora doll disobey, Clara's punishments are severe: no parties for you, green cat! No cupcakes!  You cannot come to my show!

Winton borrowed a baby doll from daycare yesterday, one of the ones with eyes that open when the doll is upright and close when it is prone, and a little pursed mouth to accept a toy bottle.  Though he enjoyed the effect when he stood on the doll's neck, he also spent much of this morning feeding his baby, wrapping it in a blanket, and holding it lovingly.  He'd look down into its plastic face and say "Awww, baby! So cute" and then hug the thing to him gently, tenderly.

And I say, "Awwww, my baby, you are so cute."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Claraism du Jour

Daddy: "Clara, that's a lot of toys.  You're going to make a mess."
Clara: "But it will be a clean mess, Daddy."
Daddy: "What's clean mess?"
Clara [gesturing to indicate a circle with her arms]: "It's one pile Daddy.  A mess mess is lots of balls."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Haiku re: Clara's crappy morning

We arrive during
the preschool fire-drill.  Oh no!
Routine disrupted.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What Winton Said

Me [fastening his car seat belts]: "I love you, Buddy"
Winton: "I don't love you, Mummy!"

Winton: "Mummy, in the car I told you I don't love you."
Me: "I remember."
Winton: "Oh, OK then."

Gross things, OTHER people

It generally feels like I am the epicenter of all that is disgusting and requires onerous clean-up.  Perhaps that's narcissism.

I feel happily peripheral just now, for last night it was Clara, not me, who slid messily through a large, viscous puddle of dog vomit, landing on her back in the midst of it and winding up with semi-digested kibble in her hair and between her toes.  Granted, I had to clean Clara.  But still, ordinarily it would have been me lying in the puddle.

Also, remember the Iguana Playground covered in glass?  Husband called the city about it (I was too defeatist to bother).  We went by to check this morning and, behold!  Cleaner.  Still glittering with small pieces of glass, but the large shards were gone.  "Yay City!"  I thought.  "Go Baltimore!  You have exceeded my expectations."

Or at least that's what I thought until the hipster dad we see there sometimes showed up. Turns out this young man in his owlish 1950s glasses (all the rage right now: wish I was bold enough to wear them) and Tokyo T-shirt swept up the glass himself (and it was a lot of glass--many many bottles' worth) with his 16 month old son on his back.  Glittering bedamned!  His kid was crawling around the grass there in seconds while he drank coffee out of a sake flask (my kids had been told they could use the slides but nothing else because of the remaining glass fragments--thousands--I was slowly picking up and putting in a baggy).  Good for him.  I'm awed.

Still too much glass for my comfort, and Baltimore still sucks.  But that man cleaned the f*ing playground!
I'll be back with more ziplock and gloves to do small shard duty in the coming days.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


1) Yesterday: A tick in Winton's ear, one of the variety with potential to bear Lyme disease.

2) Over the last weeks: though I'm playing at "calm," my stomach won't let me drink coffee anymore and I think my hair is falling out.  Stress, anyone?

3) I am equally scared of not finishing the third culture lit book by my deadline and of finishing it, because what if I finish and it's crap?

4) It is far more manageable to stress about Winton contracting Lyme disease than it is to close this page and confront "Chapter 4, aka conclusion."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Winton, self-diagnosis

Me: Winton, you sound like you've caught your sister's cold.  How are you feeling today?
Winton: Uuuuuumm.  Naughty, Mummy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Heatiness, Testiness, Tenacity

A Singapore "Singlish" thing, heatiness is: any ill-defined malaise resulting from being too hot, from eating foods that are too rich and generate "heat" in the body, or from becoming emotionally agitated.  Underwritten of course by Singapore's climate: hot hot, equatorial, hot.

The mood that characterizes Clara's teachers these days as the contrasting organizational and aesthetic styles of the two of them clash repeatedly.  Also a mood that results from heatiness.

Something Clara excels in.  viz. the two hour long yelling/ crying/ singing/ combative laughing jag that characterized last night's bedtime.  OMG.  When the kid is still aggressively yelling "Down by the Bay" when it is past my bedtime, after a variety of punishments clearly more exhausting to me than to her, it has been a bad, bad, evening.

More positively, Clara also continues to be tenaciously attached to Henry.  His attendance at summer camp has been sporadic, though he is there for this 2 week session.  Agonizingly, he is in a different class, so the two don't get to play together.  Clara, tenacious as ever, needled me so extremely this morning (I am feeling heaty and am still emotionally hung-over from last night) that I agreed to ask her teachers if she could play with Henry for part of the morning. 

I hate being the Mom who wants special dispensation for her indulged children . . . but I am that Mom today.  To my surprise, the teachers agreed . . . testily.  Which makes me think Clara has gotten away with something very much against the rules and that the teachers are letting it happen as a way of baiting each other.

When I left, Clara and Henry were examining a handful of ripped up grass closely, scientifically, her blond head the same in profile as his raven one.  I can't believe that after a year in separate classes, with scant chance to play together, she still considers him her best friend.  O tenacity!  I am immensely relieved that Henry is willing to requite.

Friday, July 22, 2011

In lieu of dog walk

We stayed in this morning, out of the heat (already almost 90F at 8 AM) and danced to Tatu (Russian techno from the 1990s) and Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band.  I love my children for their taste in dance music.

It makes up for having to watch two episodes of Dora the Explorer every morning on roku (an experience which will, in time, result in my brain slowly leaking out my ears).  But hey, I'm even thankful about Dora: she's not a princess or a barbie, she has never mentioned wanting to be married to a handsome prince, and she wears shorts that are orange.  Insipid?  Yes.  As terrifyingly gender stereotyped as some?  Thank god.  No.  I just wish I didn't know the words to all the jingles.

On Writing

There's a line from a poem that I can't place:  "Her dark is a bag/  with a man in it"  Possibly Matthew Sweeney.  Can you help?  It's driving me nuts.

I'm thinking of it today because it so effectively captures nighttime anxiety: darkness becomes like fighting with someone in a space that itself seems to be clinging to you.  There's a hint of kittens in  bag dropped into a river about the lines too.  Darkness, Struggle, Menace.

I feel like that about having to face the next chapter of the third culture lit book.  I'm in a bag with Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible and my lap top.  Darkness, Struggle, Menace.

Let's see who's alive at the end of the month, shall we?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Inflation, Winton style

There's lots in the news these days about how terrible it would be if interest rates rose here in the US.  I am financially clueless, but apparently Winton is all for inflation.

Winton: Mummy, 5 kisses?
Mummy: OK.  Mwa, one. Mwa, two.  Mwa, three.  Mwa, four.  Mwa, five.
Winton: And one more Mummy.  One more is five kisses.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

City Life

A few weeks ago neon graffiti appeared in the alley behind our house.  I was relieved, on inspection, to discover it said in a childish hand "Trevor Loves She'ana" rather than something like "RIP Devonne"(which would have been gang related, and we have had gang graffiti in the alley before) or "Hatin the white-Ts" (racial, and I'm just waiting for the day we get some of that).  Anyway, nice innocent boy loves girl in what looks like fluorescent orange paint stolen from a BGE gas pipe marking crew.

Better than the day a boy (nineish?) set fire to garbage in the alley.
Better than the craps players who were hanging out in the alley last summer.

But city life doesn't let you get too relieved.

This morning I took the children to what they call "The Iguana Playground."  Clearly part of a neighborhood improvement project, this is a vacant lot which has been transformed into a surprisingly nice preschooler playground: slides, climbing frame shaped like an iguana, fancy recycled tire flooring material. We often go there in the mornings because Hardie dog can come, so it is dog walk and kid outing all in one.

This morning?  Iguana playground covered in shattered wine bottles.  Evidently someone decided to use the contents of a recycling bin for smashing and crashing fun.  But this renders the playground utterly unusable.  Even if I go down and sweep, there's glass embedded in the rubbery tire flooring.  There's glass in the grass around the perimeter.  Not just a little.  Perhaps a dozen wine bottles worth.  It needs a professional clean-up crew to be crawling-child safe again and chances are there's no money for such a thing in the city budget.  It needs a monster street vacuum to hoover everything up, and then dedicated handpickers to remove remaining shards.  Aint gonna happen, I bet.  I might try a bit of cleaning on my own, but . . .  how depressing, daunting a project clean-up is.

It makes me just want to leave.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's been a while

since I ranted about the cats.  You must be dying to know that Pepita (the stray kitten, now about 7 months, who infiltrated our home in June) now insists that Clara nuzzle noses with her when we get home from school.
Also, Winton still calls her "Black Catty-Oh."

She purrs now, which is lovely.  And her coat shines. And she is an utter b*tch with her love.

EG Last night Husband and I were watching Midsomer Murders on roku while the airconditioner roared and the cats draped themselves strategically around the room.  Pepita walks up to Pumpkin (big, orange, male) and begins to lick the inside of his ears, vigorously.  This looks like affection.  Pumpkin seems to take it as affection.  But then Pepita slides her front leg over the back of his neck and begins to bite him, inside an ear.  And Pumpkin shakes his head to get her off.  And Pepita slides her body down so she can bite his jugular.  And Pumpkin propels himself, ungracefully, up and out of Pepita's embrace, lands heavily, dishevelled, and stalks off towards the kitchen.

That is how it is to be loved by Black Cat.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Winton, Weeping

Things that make my boy cry, a lot:

1) Changing his bedsheets.
2) Changing his bedsheets to Winnie the Pooh bedsheets (previous ones were plain green).
3) Having a runny nose (inevitable once he is on a good teary tantrum about the sheets).
4) Getting snot on his hands.

*As you can see, bed time last night was an ever-escalating series of traumas.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bathtime Heroics

Clara [playing]: "Oops, everybody!  I'm sinking!"
Winton [extending arm around his sister's waist]: "It's OK, Clarrr. You're safe now."


1) End the "let's try putting the children to bed half an hour later" experiment: they are irritable and grey under the eyes and, with shocking symmetry given the chaos of our mornings, I'm getting to work exactly half an hour later, which I don't like.

2) Figure out a way to keep Pepita off my feet at night because it SUCKS that even though I have children who sleep through I'm woken 3 or 4 times by a small cat gnawing lustily on my feet.

3) Develop a plan for night time anxiety so that I don't fall into the habit of (as I did last night) imagining if/how I would cope if my children died.

4) Make the heartburn go away so I can drink coffee.  My head hurts for want of sleep and caffiene.  My stomach hurts from trying to drink the caffiene my head wants.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Clara, PS

[I have a tendency to what I refer as "post-scriptionism": if I could add a post-script to every social encounter, explaining what I REALLY meant, and how I had INTENDED to act, and apologizing for bits I got WRONG, I would.  Email means that I sometimes do.  The intensity of relating to kids, and the various ways I am too irritable for the job, means I feel PS-y all the time.  Here is my PS for Clara today]

PS, Clara.

Sorry I was cranky this morning.  I shouldn't have made such a big deal out of you getting a heavy winter blanket to take to school, even though I had specified that you should take a light summer one.  You are, after all, only 4 and a 1/2.  Likewise, I shouldn't have been so irritated when you only put on one sock and one shoe and then waited for me to put on the other ones.

And at drop off: did I look annoyed during our goodbye ritual?  If I did, it wasn't at you.  I had been eavesdropping while a teacher from another classroom ripped your teacher a new one over playground schedules and your teacher's disinclination to adhere to them because of the code orange and red air quality alerts that have been a feature of our week.  I was annoyed at the teacher from the other classroom. I love you, and I want our goodbye ritual to leave you knowing that.  I like that we stick our tongues out at each other as I leave--going to school should seem like fun most of all.  I wish Winton didn't fuss so as we are trying to say goodbye.

Anyway, it was a less than perfect morning because my mood spilled over it like foul effluent backing up out of a sewer pipe.  Perhaps, however, you remember listening to jazz scat in the car on the way to school?  That bit was nice.

Love you,


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What the children said

Clara: [keen botanist, trying to remember "Crepe Myrtle," and point out one in full bloom]
"Mummy, look, the Al Qaeda tree is all pink and flowery!"

Winton: [making trenchant observations in the back of the car on the way to daycare]
"Mummy, you have a big mouth."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Animal House

I'll restrain myself from a major rant about American healthcare.  Let's just put it this way: I had a check-up this morning and Look! It's already almost 1pm.  (I thought the expense, paperwork and convolutions were supposed to mean excellent service for those of us with the privilege to afford health care?  And then there's the "if we don't call, your tests were fine" policy which works great  until you find out that last year's tests went missing so they may or may not have been fine.)

Moving on: it's 1 pm and at 2 pm I have a meeting with my writing buddy at a cafe nearer home than work, so I'm here, home, in the middle of the day.  The ac has been turned to a low setting, so it's hot. The blinds are all drawn to keep the sun out, so it's dark.  The kids are not home, so it's quiet.

Quiet but for the whimpering of Hardie, who keeps circling anxiously ("Where's the kids?  Where's the kids?  Where's the kids?").

Calm but for the intrusions of Pepita (whose ass is on this keyboard more often than my fingers are).

I realize that the three animals I have been responsible for bringing into our home (Hardie, Pumpkin, Pepita--though I generally blame Winton for having brought her home) all feature exactly the same shade of orange fur (Pepita on her chest, Hardie on his head, Pumpkin all over).  And they all follow me around when I am home alone.

I'm tired, so this all seems like it should be loaded with significance.  (Why so tired? Well, there was this morning, about which I already ranted despite saying I wouldn't, and last night, during which Pepita repeatedly attacked my hair and earlobes.  I could shut her on the other side of my bedroom door, but then she'd shove Clara and Winton's door open to hassle them.  It's better she hassle me.)

So.  And off to talk writing soon.  I can recommend having a writing buddy, by the way.  We exchange work (she reads my literary criticism, I read her fiction--clearly I have the better deal there as reading fiction is actually fun). It keeps me going to know I have to produce something for her.  Also: we meet at a congenial Baltimore cafe (go away Pepita's ass, I'm trying to type) so there's a social component.  As the months have gone on, I've started to rely on my writing buddy for therapy as well as advice regarding structure and clarity.

Pepita is prising apart the blinds now.  Must go.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Things Awry

They must be for I argued all morning with Winton over a pair of thick red fleece track pants which I have insisted are too hot to wear today (90F and 90% humidity).  He cried for more than 40 minutes about those damn pants.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Book That Makes This Blog Redundant

Seriously.  Everything that catalyzes momosyllabic, all the reasons I write momosyllabic, all the desperation and self-loathing and tiredness that have me collapse at the keyboard in the evening hoping for catharsis, are stated succinctly and illustrated lavishly in Go the F*ck To Sleep.
To any parent with potty mouth: read this and laugh your head off.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Clara and Winton share a room.  Ever since our trip to the Poconos in June (honestly, it started way before then) they've been keeping each other awake in the evenings.
"Clarrr, Wan talk?" asks Winton
[Maniacal laugh] responds Clara.

Because this can go on for hours, I have separated them.  Winton is now in a pack and play which he outgrew about a year ago, in the room in which I sleep.  He's yelling, at top volume, "Swiper no swiping!"

Clara is gargling with her own spit and laughing maniacally.

Efforts to shut them up escalate rather than calm (that counts for me too--I get ever angrier).

Suggestions?  Anyone?

In the meantime, to the tune of "Trailer for Sale or Rent":

Children, for sale or rent.
Cheap as 50 cents.
Blankies, and toys and pets.
Buy them with no regret.

But truth is:

Two hours of screaming loom
in their darkened bedrooms.
For they're loud and restless, screamers.
Kids get my goat.

Stormy Weather, Math

Humidity + moderate exertion on dog walk= rampant sweating
Humidity+ dogwalk= uncooperative children
3 day weekend+ return to school=fits of "I don't feel like it, Mummy"
Rampant sweating+ uncooperative children= cranky Mummy
fits of "I don't feel like it, Mummy" +  school drop off= cranky Mummy
Rampant sweating+ cranky Mummy= Yelly, Stinky Mummy, Crying Clara, Clingy Winton

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hardie Party

Clara and Winton both have birthdays within the weeks after Christmas, so I have resolved to host a small annual summer birthday party (ostensibly for the dog).  So.

Today we had Hardie Party.  The dog received a cooked bison bone for his fourth birthday, and I hosted a mere 3 extra children and three extra adults.  We had store-bought cake, cheese and crackers, watermelon, lemonade (the latter two brought by adult guests).  We played on the porch with bubble-blowers and sidewalk chalk.  Winton got the Dora doll he so badly wanted, Clara an Angelina Ballerina.
The living room is full of tiny, torn, pieces of tissue paper (evidence of happy child destructiveness).
Winton got to run around naked and managed to poop on the side of, in and next to the potty in the space of half an hour.

There is no reason for me to be as tired, greasy and haloed by hair-frizz as I am now, given the small scale of the day and occasion.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What Winton Said

To his sister, who was chasing him around the living room, flapping a large pair of pastel butterfly wings (left over from her Halloween costume) in his face:
"Sod off, Clara."
Me: "Winton, did you just tell your sister to 'Sod off'?"
Winton: "Yes, Mummy."
Me [chastened, for this implies more dire things about my vocabulary at home]:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reading Freud

1)  I am writing a book of literary criticism.
2) I live with a 4 year old girl and 2 year old boy and the two bathe together meaning we frequently discuss genitalia.

Freud writes that "the little girl" compares herself "with a boy playfellow" and "perceives that she has 'come off short,' and takes this fact as ill-treatment  and as a reason for being inferior.  For a time she consoles herself with the expectation that later, when she grows up, she will acquire just as big an appendage as a boy."  She also thinks, according to Freud, that at some point "she had a member which was just as big and which had later been lost by castration" (Collected Papers II).

Now, Freud could really have done with some more time hanging out on the rim of the bath tub, 'cause he's a total ARSE about this for the following reasons, if you take my children as representative:

1) Winton (the boy) thinks Clara may have had a penis (or indeed that I may have had one) and has, once, asked if we lost them somehow.  Clara has never asked this question.  
In other words, the little boy perceives the girl as lacking.  The little girl, however, feels just fine and perceives no lack.  It is the boy, folks, who assumes things about how the little girl must feel (and then some little boys grow up and write psychoanalytic theory, projecting their assumptions onto little girls).  Clara in fact thinks Winton's penis is an object of ridicule.  I have had words with her about not teasing her brother, and especially about not thwacking him in the crotch with bath toys.

2) "just as big" is an interesting choice of phrase there, Freud, for little boy penises are little, as both Clara and Winton have pointed out. Eg, as Winton would have it, "Mummy, Hardie [our dog], has a big penis.  I have little one."  AND Clara is aware that she will one day likely have boobs, which tend to be bigger in terms of overall size/ weight/ conspicuousness than penises.  And, hello!  Have you seen a pregnant woman?  HUGE.  So, if we must do the size thing.  Well.

Righto.  Back to work.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Parental Language and Conduct Fail

I think Husband came home just as I was screaming "J*sus H. F*cking Chr*st" as Winton peed into the carpet by his sister's bed, mere moments after upturning the bathroom footstool, climbing into it and peeing in there.

I was busy cleaning the footstool as he started calling "Hey, Mummy.  Pee pee.  I'm peeing."

He's now in bed yelling "Swiper, no swiping!" at his sister, so he doesn't seem to be traumatized.  But I'm sure the potty training books caution against vehement, explicit language at high volumes.

Husband hasn't emerged from downstairs yet: he's probably afraid.

Sometimes I really really suck at this parenting gig.  So it's good they're at daycare, right?
Hah! For, But.
There's a big, permanent, festering sliver in my heart about my life's fiscal limits (I think I should be home with the kids, should always have been home with them, but never could afford to be).
 I am, if you'll pardon my language, completely f*cked: heartsore AND incompetent.