Monday, December 21, 2009

Caution: Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear

Sucky fact: Georgia gets migraines. If she's too hungry, too hot, too tired, too anything, she gets sick and ends up hurling. On Monday after school she went to her book group (the Chipmunk Hotel)and I get a call an hour into it telling me Georgia wants me to come get her. I race down there, scoop her up, and try to race home before the inevitable. "Let me know if you are going to puke," I say as I drive. Two minutes later, about a block from our house, she says, "Mom, I think I'm going to BAAAAAAAAA...!" There is no where to pull over, no window to roll down, and as I glance in my rear view mirror I literally see the hurl coming towards me. She is directly behind me and has awesome projection. It hits my head, my shoulder, my arm. And once she starts, she can't stop. And did I mention that she screams as she vomits? Very loud, gurgley cries. I get her home, stripped, and in the tub and then head back out to the scene of the grime. The worst part? You know that pocket on the back of the front seats for storing maps and such? I don't think I'll ever be able to use mine again, now that it's been a spew receptacle. I scrub and wipe and clean until my hands are numb from the cold (it's 20 degrees)and then proceed to do laundry for the rest of the night. So how was your evening?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

That [Manic] Time of Year...

(imagine what I'd do to a dog...)

This time of year is insane for me. Of course the holidays are crazy for every mom, but wedge in 2 birthdays and a huge church party and you too may find yourself mentally rocking in a corner in the fetal position.

Yet hosting 20 people for Thanksgiving turned out to be the eye of the storm. The fact that I had time to make festive gerbil headgear on Thursday morning speaks volumes. The key is inviting the right people. And making your friend Lindy set and decorate your tables. We had 3 turkeys (smoked, deep fried, and brined), mounds of sides, piles of rolls, and enough pies to induce diabetes in an elephant. We played games, read gossipy magazines, slept, laughed--in short, it turned out to be an amazing day. And Anne did all the dishes (she insisted, seriously she did).

On Friday my real work began for our church's annual wreathmaking party, which Dave calls Belmont Ward Prom (see my last year's post). I am in charge of food (pause for laughter). I think they called me because they are (once again) trying to scale things back and figured that putting a Hobo in charge of refreshments is one way to keep things from being too high-falutin. I really had to resist the urge to use a recipe that involved Velveta and Dave wanted me to serve squirrel. I don't speak Foodie, but I am well versed in Comfort Food so I planned on meatballs and bacon laden mini quiche and 450 mini cupcakes and every bar you can imagine (blondies, brownies, gingerbread, oatmeal bars, apricot bars, lemon bars, peppermint chocolate bars, coconut bars, caramel bars...). Tons of people helped so it was doable. But very exhausting.

I conned Dave into making the little cupcake trees for me and tossed the whole decorate the table stuff to Lisa and Christine who know how to work a pomegranate. So although we started out swearing we'd simplify things, it was just as fancy and over the top as it should be. But in my defense, I did do away with all utensils. No forks or spoons needed. Just toothpicks which again, are kinda Hobo.

Seriously there is a whole other post in my head about the "Anti-Wreathites" (tm Becca) who hate this annual party and almost succeeded in derailing it this year. And as my hand was cramping while decorating mini cupcake #411, I started to go to the dark side myself and had very Grinchy thoughts but I drowned them with a Big Gulp of Diet Coke. And then when the second giant batch of marshmallow whip cream frosting wouldn't set up and we added 2lbs of powdered sugar to stiffen it and it still fell and now tasted like a sugar cube dipped in Fluff, I was very discouraged and cursed my Boston Foremothers for instituting such a time consuming tradition. But then Brittany drizzled chocolate on the top and lo and behold, a Wreathmaking Miracle occurred. They were not only passable but by far the favorite cupcake. "How did you make this frosting?" "These white ones are delicious--I can't get enough!" Oh the bad frosting that was turned into manna. I can't believe I ever doubted.

Now that the huge Mormon Ladies Winter Extravaganza is over, I should be turning my attention to that little holiday coming up, what's it called? Oh yeah, CHRISTMAS. This weekend we got a tree and decked the halls watched Miracle on 34th Street, Mr. Kruger's Christmas, Frosty, and The Grinch (cartoon, not Jim Carey).

But before I can really wrap my head around Santa, our Millie has a huge milestone. On Friday she turns 8. For us that means she is old enough to be baptized an official member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My mom is already here and Grandma Dava and Grandpa Russ arrive this weekend along with Steph et al from Jersey and Lee et al from Albany to participate. Mills is really excited and so are we. If you're in the Belmont area on the 12th, show up at the chapel for a nice little programs and some yummy treats after. Probably some bars. Nothing too fancy, I promise.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Little Women/Little Men

My house has been filled with magic. Much to my delight, we've had house guests for the past few days and the ensuing chaos has been so enjoyable. Don't you just love it when some of your favorite people get their bathroom remodeled and turn life into a big sleepover? The magic is how well these kids get along. Ellie, Gigi & Bells blend seamlessly with my girls.

They pass their days playing Harry Potter, casting spells and working on their British accents. I'm not going to pretend it's been perfect. On Saturday I kept finding white powdery stuff all over the carpets. It turns out they used confectioners sugar as "floo powder" for magical transportation. And today they emptied 4 bottles of shampoo in their "potions" lessons. But it's all worth it when the 3 oldest have string practice. That Gigi is amazing on the cello, and I got all teary listening to Georgia and Ellie play "Away in a Manger." Of course attention hogs Bells & Bea had to then sing for us...endlessly. I felt like Marmie March watching Jo et al with pride & joy.

Jonah has loved having Peter here, sharing his room and his nerf guns skills with joy. But the spell was broken when Danny returned Monday nite with their new puppy, Thatcher. Jonah is so jealous he wouldn't even speak to me that nite. He puppy sat today for a while, and thinks he is wearing me down by repeatedly pointing out how cute Thatch is.

Which leads me to my next story. Monday morning Bea said to me: "Now that the Snows have a dog, they should get a cat. And the dog will get bigger than the cat, and then the dog will attack the cat and hurt its leg. Then Danny will have to shoot the cat, and it won't die, so Pop will need to go kill it. Then he'll pop it in a bag, bring it home, skin it and cook it so we can have cat for dinner. Won't that be yummy mom? Won't it?!"

I sat there wondering what evil carnivore had taken over my precious baby who was salivating over a house pet. I know where this came from. It's the damn squirrel thing. Danny shot that squirrel which didn't die, so Dave finished it off before serving it to the kids. Now she thinks everything is fair game. Dave is delighted. Having lived in Hong Kong he adopted the notion that anything lower than homo sapiens is fare food game. When we lived in China a kid we knew showed up one day with two fuzzy ducklings in a shoebox. I tentatively asked what she planned to do with them when they got big. She looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "I will cut off their heads and eat them of course." The implied "duh" was almost audible.

"Sweetie," I said, "we don't eat cats. Ever." Bea's face fell and she replied, "When I'm big, can I kill a squirrel and eat it all by myself?" I sighed, resigned that my Grizzly Adams husband had a tiny convert. "Yes. You can eat squirrel." She ran off happily, probably going to practice choking a stuffed animal.

But we are all a little warped in our house. It comes with being Hobos. This evening Georgia came into my room and said, "Mom, I found this in my hair." I literally lept off the bed and my scalp began itching uncontrollably. I saw something black between her fingers. When I got it under the light I sighed with relief, "It's just a tick--not lice!" What is wrong with me that the threat of Lyme disease is somehow preferable to having cooties?
All I know is that this Hobo Mama has loved the magical chaos of our temporary commune. Anyone else have a bathroom in need of remodelling? Come on over!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hits & Misses

Hit: Exotic meat. Tonite Dave killed, skinned, gutted & cooked a squirrel. The girls went crazy for it.

: Vermin. I tried really hard not to vomit just thinking about it. I barely do dark poultry meat.

: Lilyrose Florals ( is the flower business my friend Linda is starting. Not only should you check out her gorgeous arrangements, but those lovely models as well... If you live in Boston, hire this woman for your next event.

Miss: Sting-a-ling-a-ling. While at Target the other day, I saw that Sting had a new funky Christmas album out, "If on a winter's night." I was so excited (my first concert was The Police's Ghost in the Machine tour of 81/82--thanks Hon!). Until I listened to it. Has Sting started smoking 15 packs a day? There are one or two that don't suck. Made me want to cry. Not in a good way.

Hit: The new shows that we are lovin are Community (I could not stop giggling about "Mexican Halloween") and The Middle. Great acting. Great dialogue. The jury is out on Flashforward (it makes me miss Lost already). Too many Brits with fake American accents (I am NOT talking about you Simon Baker--I love how your Aussieness occasionally sneaks thru)
Miss: Nasty old ladies who ram into your car in the library parking lot, even though you honk like mad before she makes contact, and then accuses you of hitting her rust bucket.

: When people in uber liberal Cambridge use Republican as a swear word. For example, "You are a nasty piece of work and I bet you're a Republican to boot!!!" It's the "R" word.

Having kids get the swine flu. I know why it's called that. You spend so much time attending to whiny, needy kids that your house turns into a pigsty.

Hit: Getting everyone well enough to trick or treat and eating so many homemade donuts you feel like Homer Simpson.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ghosts of Halloween Past

Here's a little piece I wrote back in 1999 about Halloween.

As you can see, October is a busy month. Those of you planning on making Halloween costumes for your kids better get started. I know that many Mormon mothers have an aversion for store-bought generic costumes (let's not even get into the "mask" debate here). There is something that goes against one's pioneer heritage in schlepping to Bradlees or Toys R Us and simply buying a Cinderella or pirate or whatever costume. So many of us feel it is more--dare I say "industrious?"--to buy fabric and have needle and thread or hot glue gun at the ready to hand make our little pumpkin suits or ladybugs.

When we were kids, my mom would NEVER buy a costume (nor would my mom buy Skippy peanut butter, not matter how much we begged, instead she bought the bishop storehouse tin can kind that had 3 cups of oil on the top and ripped the bread when you tried to spread it--as if my very salvation depended on my not having that extra spoonful of sugar in the Peter Pan that made it so delicious). But she didn't make our costumes either. So we always had to find stuff that we could turn into a costume, like a black leotard would make you a cat, or a swinging skirt and cashmere sweater a 50s girl (this was when Happy Days was all the rage). But I secretly LONGED for a store bought costume. I lusted over Jill Yamin in her ready made Tooth Fairy get up complete w/sparkly wand. I envied Janie Nordblad her Saloon Girl outfit so much that I borrowed it the following year and loved every second in those smart and sassy duds.

Now some will claim it is cheaper, and hence, more thrifty to make a costume. A friend of mine recoiled at the Disney store price for a Sleeping Beauty costume so she set out to make one of her own. In the end, not counting her time or sanity, she spend $10 MORE on the homemade version than if she'd bought the store one. But there is something special in a one of a kind, homemade costume that (even if the kid could care less) makes you feel proud. And many women LOVE to sew and find great satisfaction in these creative endeavors. I can't sew at all. Now I know many of you say the same thing but secretly you DID have a home ec class in 7th grade and have made aprons or "tres facile" dresses. I've heard many a woman swear she can't sew and then I find out she not only has a machine but knows how to do zippers and linings and buttons--oh my! But when I say I can't sew, I mean I have to get the instructions out every time I need to thread the darn thing and still have to wind bobbins by hand (this is the one time a year when I drag out my sister's old Singer to make a costume for Jonah). But even so, I still feel compelled to MAKE a costume for him.

Last year he was a lion and I spent 20 hours and 3 yards of felt trying to get his hat/mane right. Then on Halloween I go to put it on him, he cries and rips it off his head and I say, in all seriousness, "You will wear this or I will BITE you." He cried even harder and I finally had the sense to bribe him with Smarties to get it on. Am I evil or what? This year when I asked him what he wanted to be, I hoped he'd say something that I could get off the rack. Homemade schmomade, I'm pregnant and working and I can't sew. Please say Winnie the Pooh I was thinking. But no, he tells me he wants to be a bird. Maybe he wants to be Big Bird, I think, maybe there's a Sesame Street store... But no. Jonah announces in the next breath he wants to be a Blue Jay. A Blue Jay for heaven's sake. My husband Dave is an avid birder and has been training Jonah since birth to be the same. By 2 Joe could identify morning doves while I still thought I'd heard an owl.

Okay, I think, I can do this (he is my first and only so I am still too acquiescent to his wishes). So I drag out the many bird encyclopedias we have and look up blue jay and draw a simple sketch. Enter Dave, master birder. "Um, Heather, that's nice and all, but the head is shaped more at an angle, and the beak needs to be pointier and shorter. And be sure to remember that Blue Jay's feathers are iridescent so the fabric will need to shimmer." Next thing you know I am in JoAnn fabric in the BRIDAL section looking at chiffons and taffetas for a 2 1/2 year old's Halloween costume that he will wear once (that is unless he refuses to wear it...).

Once the fabric is cut it is too late to turn back and so now I am trying to figure out how on earth to do this thing. So far I have some blue felt pinned together for the head with a toilet paper roll cut to resemble a beak but it just looks like a toilet paper roll with black felt on it. I am too scared to attempt the wings at this point. I will most likely wait until the 29th and do it in a rush when there is no time too worry if it looks good enough and no time to do it again if it doesn't. So if any of you out there were thinking of making a costume, think long and hard and then run to Party Needs while they still have your kid's size. A sewing free Halloween sounds like quite a treat to me.

Ten years and 3 kids later I still work very hard to acquire ready made costumes. This year was mostly a success. Jonah wanted to be a scary clown. All that he needed from me was creepy make up. Bea wanted to be a black cat, BLESS HER!! Georgia gave me trouble by deciding she needed to be Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter, the whining chick who was killed by the Basilisk while in the loo. I did end up in JoAnn, but it turned out to be almost pain free to make a Hogwarts robe for a ghost. "Frayed edges look spooky," I assured George as I refused to hem any of it. Me too Millie opted to be Hermione which was not tough at all, given how easily her hair can be frizzed. Here are the results:

(Jonah was helping run the spook alley and I couldn't get a good shot with the strobe light.)
(She insisted on crawling for full cat effect.)

(Moaning Myrtle & Minerva McGonagall)

(Hermione, with a fever of 102, who we didn't let attend the ward Halloween party,
but did let show up for the outdoor Trunk-or-Treat)

(So here's a glimpse of a Mormon spook alley. I love the juxtaposition of imagery.
Papa Boka Rocks!)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

How Embarrassing!!!

My friend Anne directed me to a great blog, The first post I read was about an embarrassing moment in sacrament meeting. While we Mormons go to church for 3 hours on Sunday, the most important part of it all is the 15 minutes when the bread and water are blessed and passed around to the congregation. It's sort of like communion except for that whole transubstantiation thing (for years Jonah thought Catholics were cannibals). Visitors and babies are welcome to partake--it's not forbidden for the uninitiated. Only when you're doing some serious repenting do you take a pass. Basically we reflect on our baptismal commitments and think nice thoughts about Jesus.

Of course the more serious an event is the greater potential there is for irreverence. Which means most of us have embarrassing sacrament stories. When my friend Jen's son Walker was two he was convinced the whole thing was like a mid-meeting treat and shouted out once, "I LOVE the Snackrament!" I wish I could say my most embarrassing church story was because of something wacky the kids did (I need to shout out to my sis-in-law Sarah who mooned the entire Primary when she was 3). But it wasn't the kids. It was me.

A little background. Sometime in 2000, we discovered that Dave had developed a sesame allergy. So if he bit into a burger that had seeds on the bun, or any Chinese food that had come in contact with any seeds or oil (basically all of it), he'd get itchy then red then his throat would start closing. You get the picture. Well one Sunday we're sitting in church wrestling 3 kids and I mindlessly grab a piece of bread from the sacrament tray and chew it. Mmmm. Savory. Crunchy. And then it clicks that I'm tasting sesame seeds. I look over at oblivious Dave who has the bread half way to his mouth and I dive across two kids to smack his hand away and shout in a stage whisper, "Don't take the sacrament!!!!"

Everyone in a 6 foot radius goes stiff and silent. In the pew ahead of us are the Temple President and Matron. She steals a glance at us and shakes her head. Dave was the president of the young men's organization and the boy holding the tray for our row looked like he was going to cry as he imagined what sordid thing Dave must have done for me to literally knock the bread out of his sinning hand. I turned beet red and felt like I was going into anaphylactic shock. Being the center of attention is just fine by me, but being the center of a scene--I was mortified. Dave loved it. Thought it was hilarious.

And there's no way to gracefully dig oneself out of embarrassing moments. I am still cursing my sis-in-law Sue for getting me into trouble with our delivery man. Sue refers to the UPS men as "brown Santas" because they bring presents and wear brown. So this summer I hear a loud knock and I open the door to find a package there that I'd been dying to get. I scoop it up and shout across the road, "Thanks Brown Santa!!!" And when I look up I see an African American UPS guy shaking his head at me in disgust. What am I then supposed to say? "The brown refers not to your skin, but your uniform." There's no extraction at that point so I slink back in the house and order things via FedEx for a while.

Sometimes I think a little humiliation is good for the soul. Especially as a parent. Kids routinely delve into humiliation--wetting the bed, crying in public, falling off monkey bars with the whole playground watching. Then when they come cryin' to me, which they always do, I can nod my head and say I understand. And mean it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scenes From a Playgroup

Bea, almost 4, has a playgroup once a week with her BFFs Lauren & Emmy and her "boys," twins Henry & Owen. Jen, whose turn it was last week, emailed us the following exchange of their version of "house:"

Lauren: "I am married to Owen"
Owen: "I am not ready to get married yet. We can get married in a few weeks."

Henry: "I am married to to Emily." (Unlike his brother, not afraid of commitment.)
Emily: "I like that."
Bea: "But there are not enough boys!!!" (said with serious emphasis)
Henry: "Don't worry, when I am done with Emily I will do marriage with you."

Henry (to Bea): "That other dad wants to hold your baby, is that ok?"
Bea: "No, I don't let other dads hold my babies, they are not careful...never mind, I don't think I want a baby, I am just going to have a dog."

Later that same day Jen reported that some "drama" and spouse swapping had gone on:

At some point Lauren told Bea to laugh at Owen, and they both did. Owen was devastated. He went into the other room and cried inconsolably. Emmy (who I am pretty sure had been biding her time all along-if you can't have the one you love, love the one you are with!) wandered over and hovered quietly until he stopped sobbing and looked up. She said: "I will go with you upstairs to watch a movie." (He had been sobbing 'I just want to be alone and watch a show'). They walked upstairs, but as they passed the living room Emily stuck her head in and triumphantly said to Lauren: "Now he is married to me!" Well played Emily!

Also, in a moment of piqué some girl was overheard saying that she wouldn't invite Owen to her birthday party. Henry said: "Then I won't come either, and you can't come to ours". Owen added: "We already had our party--but you have to give back the hat and the squirt gun if you don't invite me"

Heaven help us when they're teenagers!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Five Fall Really Bad Ideas

1. Do not buy Halloween candy in September. Just because Target already has 4 aisles of Halloween candy, doesn't mean you have to fill your cart. It will be gone before October even starts no matter where you hide it. Pre-mature candy purchases leads to fat butts and tooth decay faster than you can say "fun size."

2. Don't put all your summer stuff away when school starts. If you do, the weather will surely get warm again and your kids will come home sweaty and grumpy and curse you for making them wear "too hot of stuff." I know it's a pain to keep 2 seasons out and accessible, but just do it.

3. Don't over volunteer. When you head to back to school night, only volunteer for one thing. I don't care if the sign up sheet looks all sad and empty and the teacher starts to cry. You will regret it. If you can't resist the urge to say "yes" when asked to do something, call me and I'll be your sponsor at "Volunteer's Anonymous" (something Jen & I made up last year--I swear I had to do an intervention with that chica at least once a week. Some of you are too good for your own good.). Don't think of it as saying no, think of it as you allowing other people to grow and gain blessings. Now that's unselfish.
4. Don't buy new school clothes just for the kids. Buy yourself a new "uniform." You know what I mean, that outfit that you throw on when you are too tired--too rushed--to bloated to put together an "ensemble." You're probably wearing it in your Costco photo. It's cute, it's comfortable, but your friends are sick of seeing you in it. Go to TJMax and splurge.

5. Don't forget to have some fun. Fall brings homework and lessons and sports and all sorts of other good things that can take over our lives and make us grumpy taskmasters. Screw soccer one Saturday and go pick apples (which really means go eat cider donuts & Cortlands dipped in caramel & peanuts); yank kids out early from school and go to the park with friends; ride bikes along the Charles before it's too cold; turn a blind eye and let the kids dig up part of the grass to make awesome mud and acorn pies.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's Baaaaaack

Sometime in mid August my blog disappeared. Vanished. Gone. Warning people of danger and toxic malware. For days I tried to figure out how to bring it back, and even got my people involved. Dave B. contacted friends who work for Google. My Dave spent hours posting on tech trouble message boards and trying to remedy things. And still nothing. My email girlfriends started to contact me: "What's up Hobo Mama? Where is your blog?" Jen sent out emails trying see if anyone had copies of my ramblings and started to piece things together. One friend brought me dinner because she knew how devastated I felt. I'm pretty sure one of my more spiritual friends actually fasted and prayed on my behalf. I imagine her supplication was something like this: "Dear Lord, please restore Heather's blog because writing helps her process things and she's getting screwed up and cranky. She's a bitch if she can't blog it out. Amen."

Then last night at a women's retreat on Cape Cod, Parry whisper-shouts at me at 1am, "Hey, hey, I just got your blog on my iPhone. It's an Exponent Miracle!!!" And when Becca told me the same thing, I could hardly believe it. I did a whoot whoot when I got online tonite and found my little pink page. Kinda scared to trust Blogger, but for now, it's just good to be back.


To say my mom has a lice issues is like saying Oedipus had mommy issues. When you spend a better portion of your life Cloroxing wooden spoons, brushing your teeth so often the gums recede, and buying ammonia in bulk, the idea of filthy flesh colored cooties crawling on your head makes you kookoo bananas. Fact: my mom has NEVER rested her head back on a movie theater seat; refuses to wear helmets while renting bikes unless SHE Lysols it; has never used an airplane pillow or tried on a hat/scarf/muffler in a store. It was torture for her when we all got it as kids. But what put her over the edge was when she got lice in return for taking in two LDS sister missionaries who had been living in a filthy apartment whose windows were shot out by gangs (no good deed goes unpunished...).

Dave & I lived in China for a year and I was so homesick for normal food. A typical meal there was soggy bread, sea slug, and cow tendons. I was so desperate that we even took the train 14 hours to Beijing just to go to McDonald's. I wrote my mom and begged her to send me some Swedish Fish. Two weeks later a slip in our mailbox that there is a package for us downtown. "Treats!" I think and we take two buses down to Zhongshan Lu, wait in one line for 20 minutes to pay 5 yuan for another slip of paper that let's us wait another 20 minutes to turn that one in for my precious padded envelope. When I saw my mom's handwriting my heart skipped a beat and I tore it open to find...a bottle of RID shampoo. "Dear Heather, You may need this in case of lice. Love, Mom." I cried a little as I cursed her and her OCD ways. Dave took me to the market to search for something familiar and comforting to buy. The closest thing we could find was Tang--but lychee flavored. Yuck.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve 2006. I am sitting in church, soaking up the music and Nativity scriptures and admiring my Georgia's beautiful thick hair. She snuggles closer and I run my fingers through it...and see something dart across her part. Upon closer inspection I discover several more critters and start to channel my mom. I can't hear the music anymore, just the thump thump thump of my heart as I realized that my kids, my house, are vermin infested and it will take herculean efforts to rid us of these beasts. And we will be branded as the "Lice Family." We do indeed have cooties. Georgia might as well have leprosy.

The rest of the vacation was a blur of shampooing, combing, washing bedding, combing, olive oil treatments, combing, soaking brushes in bleach. (For a hilarious essay on the stages of dealing with lice, read Marion Winik's at I even resorted to microwaving pillowcases and hoodies. The "Christmas Miracle" as we call it was that Millie, who shares a bed, brushes, and basically everything with Georgia, never got lice. Bea, Jonah & I were also part of the Passover. But Dave, who poo pooed my cleaning frenzy and rolled his eyes when I manically scratched and doused my head with the shampoo made from Agent Orange, got lice.

We survived and went on to watch it pass thru and ravage our friends houses. In fact, it became the Mormon plague. We got good at louse archeology. By examining the nits & nymphs, we could determine roughly when a kid had first become host and it turned out that Sunday was NOT a day of rest for lice but the high holy holiday and our church pews the vector. So while we thought that taking our kids to Sunday School was filling their souls with Christianity it was really filling their heads with parasites. So we bought lint rollers and religiously attempting to masking tape to death any bugs left by the previous congregation. We refused to use the communal coat racks and adopted the fake hug that keeps you free of hair contact. We became my mother.

It's been almost 3 years without another incident but I keep RID on hand and heaven help the kid who scratches their head. Every time I see the school's number on caller ID I pray, "Dear Lord, please let this be ANYTHING but a lice call." I've had kids break limbs and get hospitalized with RSV. And lice is worse because it makes you paranoid and ashamed and nobody conspiratorially says, "Ooooh, that's the family with the broken legs. Don't play with them."

So this year when I starting working on my song for the Exponent Retreat talent show (I'll admit it, I am the Mormon Weird Al), I decided to dedicate it to all the mamas out there in the trenches who battle this scourge. It's set to the tune of "Ere you left your room this morning." We used combs, magnifying glasses, and electric clippers as props. And the stuffed lice that Denise and I loathe but also had to buy. I have to say that we, Coco, Neese, Parry, Sande, Libby & I rocked. And with Parry & harmozing Libby, we actually sounded good for once.

1. Ere you groomed your kids this morning,
Did you check for lice?
Were there any creepy critters?
Even dandruff gives me jitters
Check, not once, but twice.

Oh--nitpicking makes me weary!
Washing sheets from all the beds,
Malathion makes me teary,
Perhaps I’ll shave our heads.

2. Before you put them on the school bus,
Did you check for lice?
When you see your daughter scratching
Does it mean the eggs are hatching
Nymphs the size of rice.


3. After having a sleep over
Did you check for lice?
Don’t you know that at their friends’ house
They might pick up a stray louse
And now you pay the price.


4. Ere you go to church to worship,
You should check your pew
Cooties on the benches flourish
Then on your kids scalps they nourish
Try some RID shampoo.


Here's wishing a louse-free year to you and yours!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Displaced Family Home Evening

One Monday in April we drove past the LDS Temple here in Boston on our way home from taking Dave to the airport. It was almost 8pm and there were virtually no lights on. The girls commented on this and I explained that Mormon temples are closed on Sunday and Monday. "Why Mondays?" Millie asked. "Because of Family Home Evening," I guessed. [For the uninitiated out there, Mormons are advised to set aside one night a week, usually Monday, to get together as a family. There is often singing, a religious lesson, and most importantly, a treat.]

Georgia said we forgot to have FHE last week and needed to do it tonite (she is our rule follower). When we got home I put Bea in bed, lured Jonah upstairs with the promise of "Chuck" after, and we all piled onto Georgia's double bed with the latest issue of the Friend magazine. Millie picked a story about an 8 year old boy whose parents divorce. When the mom remarries and has twins, the kid feels neglected and displaced. The metaphor for it all is the family walking to church, mom and dad side by side, each holding a twin, and the son trailing behind trying to keep pace. It was actually very depressing but led to a great discussion as Millie wanted to understand why the boy was so sad.

In the spirit of that whole new "let's connect this to me" literary movement, I explained displacement to the kids. I told about how Jonah, age 2.9, reacted to Georgia's birth. While he never took his angst out on the baby, anything new made him really mad. When I switched the dresser in his room, he flipped. When we got a bigger car, he threatened to "dump oil on it and smash rocks on it and bite its tires!" They all giggled, imagining our now 12 year old being to enraged. Next I told about little Georgia, just 22 months when she was kicked off the Baby Throne, leaning over and pretending to kiss Millie and then biting her with all her might, leaving dental records on poor Millie's forehead. At that they all laughed really hard.

Now came the hard part: addressing the arrival of Bea and the impact on Millie over 3 years ago. Millie was 4 and lived the role of "Baby" the same way that method actors like Daniel Day-Lewis embody a character almost to the point of madness. Every time I nursed Bea, Millie looked like she too was desperate to latch on. Gingerly I commented that unlike Jonah and Georgia who never remembered life without a younger sibling, Millie did. And she was Jonah's pet (see Exhibit A below). Until the new one arrived. I then turned to Millie and did what I should have done a while ago: I publicly acknowledged her pain. "It was hard for you when Bea came. You feel like Jonah doesn't love you as much and it hurts." Millie collapsed into sobs and out of her mouth rushed 4 years worth of displacement pain.

Exhibit A: Joe habitually snuck into Millie's crib.

And then the sweetest thing happened. Jonah took her in his arms and told her how much he still loved her, would always love her, and that now that Bea was getting older and into his stuff, she was the irritating one and he actually preferred Millie. She stopped crying, "Really? You're not just saying that?" He patted her head like he would a dog's. Jonah replied, "Nope. I kinda can't stand her right now." Millie beamed and threw herself back into his arms. At which point Georgia joined the hug, laying her head on Millie's shoulder. I wanted to dog pile them all, but felt like this was their love fest. When they stopped hugging, Millie commented that it wasn't fair that Jonah's birth didn't bump anybody. That's when I told them that though their Pop would thoroughly deny it, Jonah's arrival wasn't always easy on him, and sometimes he felt edged out. The girls' jaws dropped. Jonah grinned.

I also got personal about some of the drawbacks of being the baby: feeling left out, hand-me-downs, being the last one in a booster seat... I asked Millie why Bea was in the other room asleep while we were all hanging out chatting. The light bulb started to go on. "Oh..." she said. "Big kids get to do stuff babies don't."

We skipped the song, said a prayer, and then they asked if they could all sleep together that night. I tucked them in and they giggled themselves to sleep, treats and "Chuck" forgotten.

I'd love to report that our sweet FHE miraculously transformed my family. It didn't. Just tonite Millie socked Georgia in the stomach because her big sister had "tooted on me on purpose!!" But I do sense less jealousy towards Bea, and more solidarity between the big 3. Jonah has taken to including Millie more and she just glows under his attentions. I have always known that my kids really love each other. Now I know they know it too.

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Mama-say Mama-sah Mama-kusan!"

Pretty Young THING

Okay, I have to echo every person I hear in the media and say that Michael Jackson's music has been a soundtrack of my life. My sister Angela and I were hooked on his music from the first time we watched that oh so cheesy Jackson Five cartoon that came out in the early 70s, courtesy of Bass-Rankin, the folks who brought you Rudolph & the Snow Miser ( Michael was so cute and so talented. I felt very disloyal, liking him more than I liked Donny Osmond. But there you have it. I even saw "The Wiz." Ouch.

Even the songs we didn't like somehow loom large for us. For example, Angela still tortures me by singing that creepy song "Ben," which was all about an evil rat. I'm serious. Look it up if you don't believe me. ( I liked "Off the Wall" but it was the "Thriller" album that really got me. Ange was working at Miller Outpost at the time and used some of her money to get us MTV. This was 1982 and the video world was exploding. Sure bands like Journey just filmed themselves playing in an abandoned wherehouse, but cutting edge groups knew this medium could change everything. And Michael Jackson was the king.

I remember going to my girlfriend Amy's house in December 1983 when MTV was premiering the "Thriller" video/mini movie. We watched it over and over and had the dance memorized by the next day. [see guide below] I still do a great zombie and thoroughly embarrassed my kids whenever I hear that song. Or "Beat It." Or "The Way You Make Me Feel." Michael makes me dance. And dancing makes me happy.

And growing up in LA, Michael Jackson was more than just a pop legend, he was a local boy, a Jehovah's Witness who just might show up at your door with a "Watchtower" pamphlet, dressed in a yellow suit with a matching yellow umbrella even though it was June. [I am still so jealous that he came to Amy's house. She even got a picture of the back of his Jheri curled head.] I once fought over a pair of cowboy boots with his baby sister Janet, Miss Jackson if you're nasty (I won). Here is a photo from 1984 that captures the times so well. I'm flanked by Stephanie & Amy and we are on our way to go dancing at some skanky club in Santa Monica or Hollywood.

Of course his whole freakiness took over, surgery after surgery, monkeys and Elephant Man bones and then feeling so embarrassed for Lisa Marie Presley (She had no idea?!) and then the baby dangling incident. Seriously? Top it off with the whole Peter Pan lusting after the Lost Boys and he lost us. We distanced ourselves. We called him Wacko Jacko equated him with the National Enquirer. But alone in our cars, we still sang along, still wanted to HEAR his music if not SEE his unrecognizable face wearing masks long before the swine flu made them vogue.

Now that he's gone, it'll be easier to remember the good times.

One last link that kills me every time I see it. It's from the show Psych about a fake detective. This one they go undercover on an American Idolesque show and perform "Shout" from Tears for Fears but bring a Jacko quality to it. It reminds me why I stayed up all night watching MTV, waiting for "Beat It" to come on. Sham-on!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day Cards: When You Don't Care Enough to Send the Very Best

I heard a comedian once doing a bit about going to buy a birthday card and being freaked out by the overabundant variety of categories. Aside from the obvious birthday, wedding, anniversary and thank you cards, he went on to mention wacko categories like "I'm sorry your cat died of feline AIDS" cards and "Congratulations on the new hairpiece" cards. Ha ha. And I admit there are some odd occasions in the stacks of greeting cards. But today I had the opposite experience, and stared at rack after rack of cards and couldn't find anything that fit.

As you all know it's Father's Day this Sunday. Just ten years ago I had to buy for 6 dads/grandpas, and now I'm down to 2. Aside from Dave (best dad ever, whoot whoot) I also eagerly get a card for Russ, Dave's mom's husband who is the only grandpa my kids really know. My dad passed away last year and had been in poor health for a while and couldn't really visit. The kids know him in pictures, but don't KNOW him. And Dave hasn't talked to his dad in years. Estranged may be the term, if you assume indifference and not enmity on Dave's part.

I found a wacky one for Dave and a lovely one for Russ, and then, for nostalgia, tried to figure out what I would have sent to my dad. I always went to the funny ones, because while I could buy my grandpa one with a long poems about sacrifice and heroes and unconditional love and mean it, my relationship with my dad wasn't close enough for that. We were more comfortable navigating this distance between us with humor. It took a few tries but there it was. Something about a TV remote. It conveyed affectionate teasing. No false gushing. I mentally sent it heavenward and turned to go.

Then my damn inner-Christian had to get involved. "You really should send a card to Dave's dad. It would mean a lot to him." Sigh. "Fine," I said to Nice Heather. "I'll do it. But I won't lie." I can't buy a card unless I mean every word of it. So I set out to find a card that would wish him a happy Father's Day but NOT present sentiments that we did not feel. I knew the "For My Father" ones with fishing poles were out. I switched to "Grandpa" thinking that would be safer. But they all said stuff like, "We love you grandpa you are so fun you make me feel like number one." Well, my kids couldn't pick him out of a line up, so that's out. Under the "For Everyone" category, the cards all expressed deep regard and respect for the type of man he was. This is where I got one for Russ. But Dave's dad is literally and figuratively not in the same category. I was drawn to a Darth Vadar one (if you know the history it's obvious why), but the inside said, "To a Dad who's out of this world!!!!" Ummm nope.

Frustrated (and running late) I went around to another aisle in the more generic "Thinking of You" and "Friend" sections, hoping to even find a "blank inside" option. Way way too much gushing. Where are the cards that acknowledge someone as part of our lives without breaking into "Wind Beneath My Wings?"

I just can't believe we are alone in our ambivalence towards some key players in our lives, so here are some section headings I'd like to see Hallmark add to its Father's Day line: "Emotionally Absent Dad: Even though you loved golf/work/church more than me, you never beat me. Thanks." or "Sperm Donor: Thanks for the thick head of hair!" or "Good Enough Dad: You did your best and I'm not too screwed up" or "Feeling Magnanimous: Thanks for being there during a chunk of my life before abandoning us all--Nobody's mad (expect Mom)!" or "Drunk Daddy: Without the sauce you rocked!" Maybe Shoebox could do funny cartoons about garnishing wages or meeting the "other" family. And those new musical ones could open up and play "Cats in the Cradle."

I left the store feeling really bad. I want to acknowledge the man who donated half his genetics to my sweet Dave, who at one time was a dear friend to me, who, if he only made an effort, could be a true (and not just biological) Grandpa to my kids. Maybe I should have looked in the "Condolences" section, because honestly, he would be devastated if he knew how much awesomeness he was missing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Zen Citrus, Indians, & Neon Casts

Jonah's school requires several hours of community service each semester, and we decided to finish them off with a good old fashioned lemonade stand last Saturday. All proceeds would be donated to Heifer International which gives livestock to folks in developing countries who then raise them and give in kind to others. Everyone was so excited! The kids made the signs, the lemonade (or lemonaid) as we so cleverly spelled it), and set up shop around the corner (our street is too busy). Bea was the money collector, Millie and Georgia took turns pouring, and Jonah, who had a friend over, quickly abandoned the venture. (In return I'm making him do their chores this weekend.) Business was slow at first but picked up.

At one point I left the stand to Dave and the girls and ran back to the house. I had to grab my camera and capture a bit of the magic. My sister Angela and I ran endless lemonade stands, often the door to door variety aided by our red wagon. And whenever I see kids selling homemade drinks, I feel compelled to stop and support them. It's like reaching back in time and reconnecting with my 5 year old self. Life feels simpler, happier and more fun. I am obviously not alone in my nostalgia; most of the people who stopped were so delighted to see others reenacting some forgotten part of their childhood. So it seemed very appropriate when I was heading back to the girls that I misread the sign we'd put up.

As you can see, the "H" in "charity" sort of looks like an "L," which made me read it "Lemonaid for Clarity." Seeing my kids having so much fun raising money to buy rabbits and ducks for kids in far away places made me teary. And when Dave showed up, he got so into it he extended our "business hours" an extra 90 minutes just for the pleasure of handing over cold drinks to strangers. Even the mean neighbor coming over and accusing us of messing up her rock wall (which we didn't) couldn't mess with my high.
But our "high" could also be from all the drugs we're taking. Dave & I both have been sick--he with flu & pneumonia, me with flu & bronchitis. We fight over the codeine laced cough syrup. Luckily the kids are all in good places right now and very happy. Knock on wood.

Here is Jonah a couple months ago at his birthday. He has been amazingly helpful to me, especially when Dave travels. We get the girls to bed and giggle together watching "Malcolm in the Middle."

Georgia begged me to sign her up for softball. I was reluctant after two seasons of her begging to do soccer and then REFUSING to ever go on the field. But she loves it. Loves the chanting at the opposing team, loves playing catcher ("best position ever"), loves her purple glove, loves eating peanuts while on the bench. ("You can throw the shells on the ground!!!")

Millie broke her ankle two weeks ago on the trampoline (technically Jonah and Bekah broke her ankle but nobody's mad). So she rightfully is entitled to be grumpy but it's like she won some handicapped lottery. She LOVES her cast. She LOVES that the nurse insisted Millie use the wheelchair while at school. She LOVES the attention and still wears her E.R. bracelet. She has never been more pleasant. If I'd known an injury could turn her into Mary Sunshine, I'd of busted her foot years ago.

And here is Bea with her buddy Emmy, turning cream cheese into "nake-up." She is getting so grown up and it breaks my heart a little. Poor thing will always be my baby.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Nobody's Mad..."

Several years ago we went on a trip with Dave's sister Steph and her husband Jeff. There she introduced me to one of my favorite phrases, "nobody's mad." She'd use it in potentially tense situations where she was trying to get/give information without escalating emotions. For example: "Nobody's mad, but did we just miss our exit?" "Nobody's mad, I think we forgot your mom's birthday." "Nobody's mad, but that's my Diet Coke you're drinking and I have the swine flu."

Language works on so many levels. So while on the literal level a question like, "Did you feed the kids?" means "have the children eaten?" But for many of us, the question is less about food and more about accusation and blame: "You didn't feed the kids did you, even though I asked you to but of course if I want anything done right I have to do it myself." But sometimes you really ARE just trying to get the information, no judgement. Nobody IS mad.

So Dave and I use this phrase all the time, and the kids have adopted it. Now when Bea spills/breaks/ruins something, the first words out of her toddler mouth are "You are not mad. No one is mad, right mama?" The other day she knocked something over at Dindy's house and looked at her with a little panic and said, "Nobody's mad, right?" It's actually very funny when I am mad and tell her so. She kind of freaks out. Her next line is, "My [primary] teacher says Jesus says you can't be mad or he'll be mad!"

Then there is my mother who, when I tried to explain the phrase to her last Thanksgiving, could not grasp it. "So if I'm making the gravy and run out of something, I'll say, 'Is there more corn starch because the container is empty. Nobody's mad.'" And my mom said, "Oh so you ARE mad." "No, I may be frustrated or sad, but I don't want that to be misconstrued as anger. Get it?" "Yes. You're mad." At this point I WAS mad because she is so passive aggressive she would state the exact opposite of her feelings just to grind in the guilt. And the phrase can be used as a nice little shiv for emotional stabbing. One of my girlfriends used this phrase a lot in the early years of her marriage. She'd end an argument by saying, "I'm not mad, I just know you better now." Ouch ow owie. I love it. And have used it on occasion myself.

The phrase is catchy, and now I hear Stephanie's words coming out of dozens of people's mouths. Just last month a friend used it when speaking at a baptism "Nobody's mad that it took you 15 years to make this decision" (okay, so maybe she was a tiny ticked off but still, she trying NOT to be mad, and that counts for something). Another friend used it while we were out to dinner when the waiter got the drink order mixed up (when I say drink order I mean Diet Coke with or without lemon) as a way to get things fixed but let the guy know that it wasn't a big deal. And I used it at the ER when trying to figure out how much longer it would take for radiology to read Millie's ankle x-rays (Jonah & Becca doubled bounced her on the trampoline but nobody's mad).

Maybe I'm deluding myself, but I swear I've had smoother interactions since learning this phrase. It allows you to be direct without being a jerk. Unless of course, you really are mad.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Heeding Barbie's Sage Advice

[From time to time I blog for The Exponet ( Here's the one I did last night.]

So I have issues with iPhones. My husband will tell you it’s because I’m a techno-phobic Luddite. Which is true–but isn’t why I resist getting on the iPhone/Blackberry bandwagon. Let me illustrate.

This spring some girlfriends and I went to NYC. One afternoon we are all on the boat to Ellis Island and Sande and I are having view-gasms at the sight of the Statue of Liberty. The Lady is just gorgeous. We turn to share our emotion with our companions…to find them texting away or reading Facebookor whatever, totally oblivious to the 150 ft goddess towering above us.
“Excuse me ladies,” I say, “but to quote a line from Barbie’s Princess and the Pauper, ‘Be present, be pleasant, and be proud.’” I clearly say it louder than I’d intended because on the next row of benches two men turn around and one asks me to repeat the quote as his boyfriend whips out his electronic gadget and types it in: “’Be present….be pleasant…be proud.’ Barbie you say? Jonathan, we need to remember that.”

The phrase, the first part at least, reflects a real struggle in my life. Frequently I am not where I am supposed to be. Physically I am at church, or a meeting, or the dinner table with my kids, but mentally I am elsewhere, often aided and abetted by an electronic device. While the kids chatter about their day I am straining to listen to “All Things Considered” on NPR. I’m ashamed to admit how often I talk on the phone to my girlfriends or sister when I have a real live child of mine near me who will never be exactly that age again.

My kids used to cringe when they saw me bring out my camera because they know I disappear behind the lens. I get so obsessed with capturing a moment that I cease to be part of it; with my camera I am a historian not a participant. It’s been a real challenge but over time I’ve learned that if I want to really remember an event, from the inside out, I have to leave my camera behind. So some family times that are most dear to me are never recorded. But I remember them in a way I couldn’t have if I hadn’t been truly present.

If I get this distracted by the radio, a camera, and a simple cell phone, I’m terrified what an iPhone would do to me. I’d be the person in a movie theater, missing half the show because I’d recognize a face and have to IMDB the actor to figure out where else I’d seen them. Many times while out to dinner with my husband, I’ll make him look something up for me on his phone—what is Ben Kingsley’s real name (Krishna Bhanji) ? Who was the prostitute in The Brother’s Karamozov(Grushenka)?

Last weekend was our stake conference. I attended the Saturday night session but didn’t hear much of it. I was too busy getting text messages from friends. I felt like I was in junior high again, passing notes, making jokes about the speaker, wondering where we should go eat after, explaining why we were late, etc. And as much as I hated myself for it, and even though it takes me forever to pluck out a message (I can’t even do that predictive thing), I could not stop. I could not be present. Or pleasant. I was not proud. The next day I left my phone in the car. The kids were distracting, and some of the talks were boring. But I was there, body and mind.

So I struggle. I’m a social creature. I want to share my thoughts instantaneously with my people. I want to be in the know. But I also want the people who are with me to know I am trying to be there for them, physically and emotionally. So I resist getting a frickin iPhone. I want to be present. Some people can do both. I can’t.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Magnum Al P.I.

Last week Emily CC tagged me to do the following:
1. Go to your documents/pictures
2. Go to your 6th file
3. Go to your 6th picture
4. Post it, and blog about it
5. Tag 6 people to do the same
6. Name your picture

So I went into my files and the sixth folder only had two pictures in it. I went to the next folder. It had four. So I am ignoring the directions and posting some of the pictures I have been working on this last week.

Many of you know our good friends Lindy and Al. They are like grandparents to our kids, godparents to us. Just dear, dear people. Al even volunteered to pay for Bea's wedding (she is his favorite, and I suspect he thinks we will give her a hobo reception in the gym with hoop-a-flage and cheap cake unless he intervenes).

Al is what we LDS call a "dry Mormon," meaning he attends church, does all the Mormony things us Mormons do, except he has never been baptized (ie just add water). So imagine our shock and delight when last week I get a FRANTIC call from Linda telling me Al is joining the church. Screams, tears, hyperventilating ensued.

I immediately went into party planning mode and decided to do a slideshow for Al's baptism. I know baptism slideshows are a bit ridiculous ("let's take a 20 minute pictoral review of your loooong 8 years accompanied by that fat Hawaiian singing the Rainbow song..."), but I LOVE them. I love pictures. I love any excuse to go thru my millions of folders and cull the best ones and juxtapose them with the right pictures.

I told Linda my plan. She told Al. And he vetoed it. He hates to be the center of attention. Initially Linda and the missionaries were the only people invited to attend. But just as I knew Al would relent and invite his close friends to attend, I also knew he'd love MY slideshow so I immediately got to work. I soon realized that Linda had no pictures of young Al. Not a one. This is a problem in a slideshow where you are attempting to capture the scope of a life. But I would not be daunted. Enter my best friend, photoshop.

I was up until 1am several nites last week googling, cutting, pasting, and generally Forrest Gumping Al's face into a childhood and young adult life he never knew. Here are my favorites:
Everyone over a certain age has one of these pony pictures. Al's sister actually thought this one was real.
Ah, meeting the President. I used a newsprint finish to get the grainy look.
How fun to imagine a Woodstock moment. I think I need one of these.
"You can tell by the way I use my walk I'm a woman's man, no time to talk..."

I don't know about you, but I LOVE me some Magnum. My sister was a huge fan and loved to go to the USC volleyball games with her boyfriend Bill because Tom Selleck's kid was on the team and he was usually there. One time Ange was waiting outside the men's room for Bill and out comes Tom Selleck. A minute later Bill emerges and says to my sister, "Well, they don't call him 'magnum' for nothing."

Although I am a PC girl, I must say that Dave's imovie program made putting the pictures and music together to simple and so much more effective than traditional means.

The baptism was lovely, very moving event. After we went to their house for a celebration. We played the slideshow and it was a huge hit. We laughed, we cried, two thumbs up. I'm still on a high. Maybe I should ride the wave and get started on Millie's slideshow. She turns 8 in December which means I only have 7 months left.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Proud Moment in Hobo Parenting

Last Friday at the park I sat chatting with friends as Bea ran around playing. Periodically I glanced up and made sure I knew where she was. Imagine my pride when I see her walk over to a tree, pull up her dress, take off her undies, squat, pee, stand up, take off her shoe and drain the urine out of it, put it back on along with her undies and run off again.

I know some of the mommies were horrified at my daughter's vagabond behavior. But I could not have more delighted. So she smelled like a nursing home. So what. I had some quality time with my friends as my 3 year old solved her own problems. Isn't that what life is all about?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

March Madness

While it's always a little crazy at our house, this month was absolutely manic. Not sure why. Here's a montage of some of our Hobo-Hijinx.

Spending the day running errands with the girls and ALL of us wore our bunny ears the entire time. Kept forgetting and wondered why I got weird looks from people.

Bea decided to wear my Indian wig and goes all Blue Steel with the raised shoulder.
Noelle visits and everyday is a crazy playdate filled with bubbles and Barbies and tattletaling and "I'm-so-excited-I-just-peed-my-pants-even-though-I've-been-potty-trained-for-months!!"

We turned Mini-school into Noelle's third birthday. Too busy making up silly games to bake an actual cake.

Freeze dancing to "It's Raining Men." The girls wear fairy skirts and the boys knight capes courtesy of Rachel who can sew in her sleep.
Millie remembered that ages ago I speculated that Minky would turn one around this time of year and kept insisting we have a full on first birthday for her gerbil. Lucky for me, Lisa S. dropped off a bag of party supplies for our annual Cinco de Mayo party (all are invited) that happened to be rodent sized. So when 8 members of Dave's family arrived last week threw an impromptu Gerbil Fiesta. Ole.

Bea and Uncle Doug help fill the tiny pinata with sunflower seeds. We gave them toothpicks as sticks, which they enjoyed more than the popcorn. Go figure.
Sarah gnaws a hole in the burro. Rhino poops on a party blanket. Casey tries to escape. A good rodent time was had by all. Not pictured is the party we had two days later for Eloise's 3rd. We had pizza, games, a pinata, cake and ice cream, all in less than an hour.
Our dear niece Lizard is a huge Red Sox fan so we got tickets to tour Fenway Park as a surprise. Part of the surprise was also that Dave had accidentally said there were 8 of us, instead of 14, but whose counting?! There were almost 2 less of us as Millie kept having to go to the bathroom and in Boston, public restrooms are a rarity so she and I raced to a beer hall down the street and barely made the tour. I was ready to kill her until it occurred to me that she probably has a bladder infection and can't help it. We spent the rest of the day at Urgent Care and then buying gallons of cranberry juice. Poor thing.

Millie, Jonah, Flat Stanley, Maddie & Lizard at Fenway. Georgia was too busy listening to every single word the tour guide said to stop and be in a picture. I'm sure she spent the last two days regaling her friends with tidbits about the original color of the green monster and why the #42 is in blue when all the other retired numbers are in red.
I am now counting down the days to Spring Break when I can spend a good chunk of my day reading or sleeping or drinking Slurpees. My mother-in-law called to ask if we could celebrate Jonah's birthday while we're there. Inwardly I cringed but I know myself. Give me a couple weeks and I'll be stuffing another pinata and trying to find a good theme for the celebration.