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 http://www.myonlinewellness.com/topic/nitsessay) 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!