Monday, December 28, 2009

How We Know Santa Is Real, Plus Baby Jesus Rolls

Two cute stories from the Christmas weekend.  First, as I've written about previously, Elisabeth was terribly skeptical of the whole Santa story this year.  She eventually settled on Santa being real, but Rudolph being made up because, really, what kind of reindeer has a nose that lights up...

Well, in order to test her "hypothesis" (her new favorite word thanks to WordGirl, I believe), she devised a system that would prove once and for all whether Santa was real.  She would leave a note for Santa along with the cookies.  The note would read "For Santa ONLY."  That way, if the cookies got eaten, she would know that Santa was real because only Santa could eat the cookies.  If the cookies remained in the morning, then Santa didn't exist.  She was thrilled to find the cookies eaten.  And I only feel a little bit bad for misleading her.

If one of us hadn't eaten the cookies, it seems likely that the cat would have.  We left the mug of milk out for Santa and came downstairs to multiple puddles of foul, and I mean FOUL, smelling cat vomit.  If you've ever wanted a cat, think again.  And if you still want a cat, I have one for you.

Elisabeth has said multiple times over the past two days, "I KNEW he was real.  I KNEW it.  I'm so happy." It is so sweet and innocent that she has full faith that if she writes something on a note, it will be obeyed.  Well, maybe that's not sweet and innocent, maybe it is an expectation that her parents do as she says.  Hmm...  let's go with sweet and innocent.  Makes for a much better story and makes me feel better about my parenting skills.  I note this as I watch Elisabeth dance around the room to Penguins of Madagascar periodically mooning the TV.  Pardon me while I inquire of the nature of this dance...

OK that is settled.  The adjustable waist band button in her pants was bothering her, so the obvious solution was to pull both pants and underwear down as she danced.  On to Jesus Rolls.

Charlotte, like her sister before her, loves, and I mean LOVES, the notion of Baby Jesus.  Every Christmas song that says Baby Jesus is met with enthusiastic cheering from Charlotte.  She carries the Fisher Price Baby Jesus around the house, perching him precariously on towers made of blocks.  Heck, she even named a new baby doll of hers "Baby Jesus" and she (yes, she) is the sister of Other Amme.

Now change gears a bit.  For Christmas Eve Dinner, I set out to make Parker House Rolls.  These little rolls are made by taking a ball of dough and squishing it flat in the middle so that you make a sort of oval with two thicker ends, then you fold it in two and bake.  If you're so inclined, you can open them up in the middle before you eat them.  Charlotte was so inclined.  And immediately upon opening the roll,  she decided it looked like a manger.  "Baby Jesus in there!"  Hoping she had seen an image of Baby Jesus in a Christmas roll that I could sell on Ebay for the big bucks I looked over only to find her looking at a very plain looking roll.  "Baby Jesus sleeping in here Mommy."  Charlotte then patted the roll gently and then folded it closed.  And shoved it in her mouth with a big, theatrical, CHOMP.

Me:  You're going to EAT Baby Jesus?
C:  NO!  Baby Jesus neaking (read:  sneaking) away!!!  See?  See Baby Jesus neak?  Chomp.
Me:  Oh Baby Jesus, come back!
C:  Me getting Baby Jesus.  Me putting Baby Jesus back Mommy.  Chomp.
Me:  You're eating Baby Jesus again?
E:  I've got Mary in my roll.

So now, every day for three days, we've had these rolls with dinner.  And needless to say our irreverent dinner roll skit has gotten less reverent with each passing day.  So now on every Christmas Eve, I will apparently be serving Baby Jesus Rolls.  And also probably going straight to hell...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advice from a big sister for those considering a second child...

We just got back from a wonderful weeklong trip to Disney with my mom and sister and niece, who is 3.  Elisabeth, Annaleis and Charlotte had a lovely, if not loud, time playing together.  Poor Annaleis, though, by day 3 she did not want to come out of her room after she woke up.  Instead she sat by the door, relishing her last little bit of peace.  That is how crazy my crazies are.  I can understand, believe me, there are many days when I don't want to come out of my room either.

Anyway, my sister is somewhere around 20 weeks pregnant, and I guess Elisabeth thought she needed some advice.  We overheard my 4 year old telling my sister in a very advice-giving tone of voice something to the effect of "you know, babies aren't always nice.  Sometimes they bite."  A sort of "take it from me, I've been there, don't get too excited about this so called 'bundle of joy' you've got growing in there because it will come out and bite you."

Now, given Elisabeth's only experience with having a new baby, this was fair advice.  This week was the first time both girls have had to sleep in a bed together.  The number of times Doug and I had to go in there and yell at them is pretty much uncountable.  And this countless number of times was always, ALWAYS, attributable to Charlotte.  Elisabeth was being a saint.

Twice, Doug went in and Charlotte handed over Baby Ginny and Baby Llama without a fight and said "me mack Zizzy."  We have a video monitor,we know its true.  We'd watch as Elisabeth peacefully tried to go to sleep and Charlotte would breach the pillow divide we created and climb on Zizzy and haul off and "mack" her good.

So all of you considering more children, take it from Elisabeth.  They ain't all sugar and spice and everything nice.  Sometimes they bite.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


For those of you who don't know - Pinkalicious is the in the running for the dumbest kids book on earth. But for some reason, Charlotte (and many, many other kids apparently) LOVES it. So we read it more than we might otherwise want to.

The entire premise of the book is this bratty little girl and her mother make pink cupcakes, and the brat eats so many pink cupcakes that she herself turns pink. They take her to the doctor who tells her that to turn back to her normal color, she has to eat nothing but green foods, which of course are "YUCK."

Pinkalicious' mom puts the rest of the cupcakes on top of the fridge. Pinkalicious is not to be swayed, so she stacks chairs and books and tvs precariously on top of the kitchen counter and climbs up to reach the rest of the cupcakes.

This morning, as I read this book to Charlotte and we got to the part where Pinkalicious is sneaking in and climbing up this ridiculous stack of stuff to sneak another cupcake, Charlotte says, "me neber do that, Mommy. Neber eber eber." So I said "oh good, Charlotte, you should never do that." To which she replied, "Me wash mine hands first Mommy."

Yep, so very Charlotte. I didn't believe her for a second when she said she'd never do something so sneaky.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Is Santa Real?

I must field this question daily. Luckily she still really wants to believe, so I can answer with a "what do you think?" and she quickly drops the question. But a few weeks ago, she engaged me and said "Well, I think he's real." Then she asked "does he really have a sleigh?"

I've wanted to dance the Santa dance without flat out lying to her, but if she already believes in Santa then what's the harm in telling her that yes, he has a sleigh? So I said yes. And she said "Yeah, I thought so. That's how I can tell the real Santa from all the fake ones, like at the mall. The fake ones don't have sleighs."

Then she asked, "but mommy - I don't think Rudolph is real." I said, "why not?" to which she replied, "because, Mommy, NO animal has a red nose that lights up. That's just silly."

Yeah, because that is the unbelievable part of the story. If I'd been on top of my game I would have reminded her about fireflies, but I was in a two-child induced stupor so I just said "oh I know, that Rudolph story is just ridiculous."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Heffalumps and Santa Claus

Charlotte and Elisabeth both love Pooh stories. In particular, they love this little book where Pooh has a nightmare that there's a Heffalump in his house. The Heffalump, in the nightmare, says "Ho ho ho, I'm going to EAT you!"

Sometimes during Charlotte's nap, she'll stand up in crib and say "ho ho ho, I'm going to EAT you" over and over again. So imagine Charlotte's surprise when she met Santa Claus in the mall last week (I'm withholding commentary on the fact that it was two weeks before Thanksgiving when Santa was in the mall). Santa Claus gave them a good "Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas!"

As if Santa Claus isn't scary enough, now he's pretty much a thing of nightmares that says "I'm going to eat you!" Although, Charlotte seems to have distinguished between the two. Just a few minutes ago, as she stood in the bay window eating her breakfast, she hollered out "ho ho ho!" to which Elisabeth responded "ho ho ho!" Charlotte said "me heffalump, you Santa Claus Zizzy." Which, after getting to know the two girls individually seems about right...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why why why why why why why?

We're deep into the "why" phase with Charlotte. The answer to everything you say to her is either "why?" or "no, sorry Mommy, but no." Obviously neither is an ideal answer to most questions that I ask her. My new approach is to say "why why why why why why why Charlotte? Why? Why why?" Or sometimes I intersperse a few "nos" in there too. I continue until she says "top Mommy! top saying why!" I thought this was a brilliant plan until...

Elisabeth innocently asked "why?" about something, in a situation where "why" was an appropriate response and Charlotte got in her face and yelled "why why why why why why why Zizzy? Why? Why? Why?" Let this be a lesson: having two kids changes your parenting tactics and is NOT easy!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween, Disney, Snakes and The Flu

I feel like life is blowing by and when I get 10 minutes to sit down, I spend my time vegging out on useless sites like People of Walmart (be forewarned, if you click you should say goodbye to any hopes of productivity.)
Two year olds are, apparently, useful for some things. I think we could radically decrease the number of telemarketing calls and political campaign calls if we just let our two year olds answer the phone. Charlotte answered a political call yesterday. I was in the kitchen cooking and hollered for the kids not to pick up. Charlotte never listens to anything I say and picked it up anyway. I didn't realize she had picked it up but when I went in there 2 minutes later she was jabbering away on the phone. It was a recorded message but she was yelling various things that she yells into the phone. I'm considering letting her answer all of the undesirable calls, but I know that she'll fold like a cheap piece of paper if someone asks to speak to her mother.
I was originally scheduled to be writing this post from the couch in our cabin at Disney World. Alas, Elisabeth didn't want to go and so she faked the flu to get out of it. She must have learned the old lightbulb trick for faking fevers (except that all of our lightbulbs are the CFLs that don't put out much heat - which must drastically change the lives of no-good teenagers). In all seriousness, she's sick and so we had to postpone Disney until December. The rest of us feel like ticking time bombs waiting for our flu explosion. Notably, she got sick days after we got her vaccinated for H1N1 by showing up at a community health center with most of Fairfax County. Nothing for spreading the swine flu like getting a whole bunch of kids together in a public building.
We did do Halloween, however. Elisabeth wasn't sick for her parade so she got to dress up as Merlin. Charlotte was a spider. Trick or treating was done via the stroller so that Elisabeth didn't breathe on, touch, or really even look at anyone and give them the flu. Charlotte toted two bags up to the houses. Charlotte is serious about trick or treating. She would have stopped at each and every house if we would have let her but, well, Elisabeth was sick. And just maybe the Phillies game started at 8. But when that kid is old enough to understand that "oh they're on vacation" isn't really true for 80% of the houses, we're in trouble.

Charlotte has been having a snake obsession today. This morning, she crawled around all over the place pretending to be a snake and attacking me. Then, come nap time, she didn't go to sleep. She NEEDED to go to sleep. She was being loud and had been up since 5:30am (time changes mean nothing to this kid). Finally, after 2 hrs, she started really crying and so I went up to talk to her. She was almost hysterical because the overalls she had been wearing that we took off before her nap (and threw on the floor - I'm such a good mom) looked - to her - like a snake. She kept saying "snake in here! snake in here!" Which, as you'll remember, she can't say S words so it is more like "nake in here! nake in here!" I tried to convince her it wasn't a snake but when I picked the overalls up, she went flat out bonkers. So instead of trying to convince her it wasn't a snake, I removed the offending article and put it safely in our bedroom (again - the floor. Was I raised in a barn???)
I went back to her room where she made me hold her so that she could tell me repeatedly that "it made this noise at me mommy, hsssss, hsssssssss, hsssssss." (She makes s sounds just fine in this instance). I told her the snake was gone and put her back to bed and she was asleep in literally 30 seconds. I got to thinking about it and she always sleeps with her sippy cup by her head. And those sippy cups make strange air noises for a long time after you drink out of them, so I wonder if that was what made her think there was a snake in her room.
And just in case you think I don't learn from my mistakes, I picked up this rabid raccoon looking pair of pink and purple sweatpants off of the floor before I put her to bed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Top, Mommy, Top!!!

Charlotte can't say anything that starts with an "s." As she says increasingly more things, it leads to some hilarious results. In general, any time I sing I'm met with a very loud TOP MOMMY TOP!
It took me a lot more time than it should to figure out what she was saying when she came running to me yelling "Zizzy DUCK Mommy. Zizzy DUCK!" She pulled my hands, "come heeeeere Mommy, Zizzy DUCK!"

Well, Zizzy was duck. Duck in the dog crate. Who do you think locked her in there? That's right, the 2 yr old force to be reckoned with. Elisabeth was ok though - no worse for the wear. In fact, truth be told I think she was kind of enjoying her chance to play the role of Ginny the Crazy Dog.

And one of her favorite things to pretend to be? No White! I'm No White Mommy! (She also likes to say she's Tinkerbell, but I don't know if she's saying Tinkerbell or Stinkerbell - which is what I call her)

Strangely though, there is one thing she says over and over and over and over and over that begins with an S. She says it with such gusto and downright furor. ME SELF. DO IT ME SELF. She definitely separates the words, and "self" comes out loud and clear.

As an end to my hilarious "Charlotte can't say "s's" post: I know that this is a phase and all kids go through it - but the anger, the rage that this precious little two year old harbors within all comes out if you have the audacity to buckle the top part of her seatbelt. TOP MOMMY! TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP! Me do it me self! nooooooooo! . Our last bout of Mommy vs. the Tyrant, The Seatbelt Wars ended with me getting a big, fat, bleeding lip. And then I had to go grocery shopping, with blood running out of my bottom lip. Grocery shopping with Charlotte is not fun in the best of days.

It took 3 days, but I finally got an "I torry mommy" as she touched my lip. Only after we read "Do Unto Otters" - because now apologizing is cool.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Top 10 Things I Have Learned the Hard Way This Week

In honor (??) of Dave Letterman... the Top 10 Things I Have Learned the Hard Way This Week:

10. Your inaugural trip to H-Mart (Asian grocery) should not coincide with the second biggest Chinese holiday of the year. (Thanks for the explanation, Lindsay!) I've never seen such craziness. Huge buckets of crabs clammoring around with people sticking their hands RIGHT IN THERE grabbing them out and throwing them in bags.

9. Rice cookers emit a starchy steam that covers everything within a 1 foot radius of the rice cooker. This starchy steam is especially bad with brown rice. As a consequence, my computer monitor looks tiger-striped. But I got a heck of a deal on the rice cooker (see #10) - you know if you don't count the money I'll have to spend to get a new laptop... (just kidding, I fully expect this starchy striping will come off with windex and elbow grease).

8. Baby Ginny (stuffed little yellow lab) absolutely must go into Charlotte's crib at night or else you will be on your hands and knees scouring your bedroom floor in the dark for a little stuffed animal just so that you don't have to hear the yelling. The fact that you've remembered to send Baby Ginny to bed with Charlotte every night for the prior six months does not earn you any goodwill with the 2 yr old in the middle of the night.

7. A 1.5 hr tennis lesson, after not having touched the tennis racquet in easily 6 yrs, leads to unfortunate results. First, your racquet grip will literally disintegrate in your hands. Second, when you think your bangs are in your eyes and so you'll just skedaddle over to your tennis bag and scavenge it for a hair band - that also hasn't been used in 6 yrs, you will be quite disappointed when the hair band also disintegrates in your hands. Third, while you might actually still fit in your pre-pregnancy tennis skirts, you do not look nearly as cute as the pre-kids twenty-somethings. Fourth, you will hurt - badly - the next day.

6. I cannot actually control both of my dogs on a walk, even with no pull harnesses, no matter what I tell you. Luckily I learned this in an area with no traffic and with a puppy that Maggie did not actually attack or harm in any way.

5. Rolling sushi ain't as easy as it looks.

4. My nearly year long new diet of more veggies, less meat, almost no red meat has led to some undesired consequences such as my inability to eat Costco hotdogs (although as Wendy pointed out, the problem is that Costco hotdogs are 100% beef and I should stick to the really unhealthy ones that are 100% gross stuff that you don't want to know about).

3. No matter how cute it looked on the plate, Elisabeth would not eat the blue rice that I shaped in a beautiful E with a cookie cutter. "Mommy! My rice is blue! Gross!"

2. When the food coloring doesn't easily come out of the dropper, squeezing as hard as you can is the wrong answer (see #3). I still have dots in my hair, on my neck, my arms, everywhere.

1. Eating a lot of Doritos minutes before falling asleep is a monumentally bad idea.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New School Year

The school year is in full swing, now. We're finally at 5 days/week! Elisabeth absolutely loves it- her new teachers run the classroom a lot like kindergarten. Just like last year, every kid has a job every day. The jobs that I know of are: sponge helper, librarian, line leader, door holder, bathroom helper, pack-up helper, letter finder, number finder, and chime ringer. Last year, the teachers assigned the jobs. The kids ended up rotating through the jobs once every few weeks. This year... the teachers made the jobs first come-first served. We used to leave the house at 8:30 and get to school at a perfectly reasonable 8:42 for school starting at 8:45. But now - NOW - Elisabeth wants to be the chime ringer. Apparently everyone wants to be a chime ringer. So we leave at 8:15 and run as fast as we can to the door only to find 5 other kids IN LINE because the door doesn't open until 8:45.

On Thursday, my crowning achievement as a mother, I got Elisabeth to school in time for her to fake out her 4 other friends in line and sneak in and steal chime ringer. I should probably be ashamed of myself for not pulling her back out of the room, but no. I am immensely relieved that I can deny her the joy of being chime ringer for another three weeks and have a good conscience about it. She thoroughly enjoyed ringing the chimes, as you might imagine. It does seem like the best job, far better than anything termed "bathroom helper."

And Charlotte, my dear Charlotte, she should hang up those signs that you find on bulletin boards with their number on them usually advertising tutoring or babysitting services. She should hang one up offering lessons to other two year olds on the proper form and method of throwing a tantrum - because that kid is good. We're talking flat on her back, kicking her legs, screaming good. In the library no less! All because, well I'm not even sure. I think it was because I made her stop pulling books off of the shelves and throwing them on the ground. I'm really mean like that.

Today she threw a blanket at me and yelled "spread it out" angrily over and over again, in increasing volume levels. And this was when she was in a good mood! But, darn it if that kid isn't the cutest thing on Earth when she tells you, quite emphatically, that she won't be scared when we go to Disney World and she'll walk right up and hug Mickey Mouse! Or when she comes running through the front yard hollering the whole way "DADDY DADDY DADDY! BUG in my wing! Bug in my wing!!!" (she can't say words beginning with "s," and is terrified of bugs).

As for me, I'm really enjoying my new job. I love the part time schedule where I get to spend entire days home with my kids. And, truth be told, I equally love the fact that the day after I spend a whole day with my kids - I get to go sit in a nice quiet office and be a lawyer. I will tell you that on my inaugural walk to the Courthouse, I walked by what was definitely a rabid fox. OK, sprinted. I'm not sure what that says about my future lawyer career, but it certainly was an interesting first walk to the Courthouse. Later that week there was what appeared to be a rabid squirrel outside of our building.

And with that, I am off to watch some mindless TV.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Some Sports Use a Coin Flip...

Thursday evening, Elisabeth got all dressed up in her soccer gear and we played some soccer. First we played outside. Then on the porch. After I forced her to eat some dinner (still in soccer gear), we went upstairs for bath time. We usually let the kids play before bath time, and so obviously Elisabeth chose to play some indoor soccer with her Daddy.

As they're getting ready to play, Elisabeth says, "Daddy, I talked to Jesus. He said that I get the ball first."

Doug asked her how Jesus knew who got the ball first, and Elisabeth replied "He asked God, and that's what God said."

We weren't quite sure how to respond, so we let her have the ball first. And we're hoping her "relationship" with Jesus doesn't continue to revolve around getting stuff.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And.... we're back

Whew - today is my first day home with the girls in what seems like ages! We've run 8.2 million errands, which as I'm sure all of you parents know, kids really love to do. They often beg me mercilessly until I find errands to run. All I have to do is bribe them with milkshakes...

Today's first errand was outfitting Elisabeth with soccer gear for her first soccer game on Saturday. We walked into Sports Authority and wandered around somewhat aimlessly. After passing the shoes, the tennis section, the hunting supplies, the baseball section and the basketball section I heard two mothers talking to each other.

Mom 1: Do these pad thingies go over or under the socks?
Mom 2: I have no idea, I never touched a soccer ball in my life.
Mom 1: Do you know, Ryan?

Ryan did not know. Ryan was 5. As was the other little girl in the store. And there we three mommies stood in the soccer section. Over the course of the next 30 minutes we would become fast friends, and also be joined by 4 more sets of moms/kids all on the annual (?) quest for soccer gear. In Elisabeth's soccer league there are 3200 kids. That is ridiculous.

I helped the other moms out with the proper placement of shin pads. Then I grabbed a pair of the "extra small" shin pads that were part of the "$29.95 everything you need for soccer" deal. The shin pads came to Elisabeth's thigh, which, as the sales person ever so helpfully pointed out, is too high.

Clearly I am not the only mother with this problem, and in fact the other mothers of five year olds near me looked at their kids' legs and said "oh.... that's too high?" So the sales guy said that he thought he had some smaller ones for girls. 10 minutes later he returned with the smallest shin pads I've ever seen - I mean, really, they were sized for a newborn Pele. He encouraged me to at least try them on Elisabeth, who after quite a bit of shoving and pulling finally said "Mommy - these are TOO small and you're hurting me!" Off he went to find something in between 6 mos and 4 yrs in size. Thankfully he came back with something that fits, and is unbearably cute when worn. Oh, and that $29.95 deal? Right, that doesn't actually work if you have to get micro-sized shin pads. Thanks Sports Authority.

Next was socks, which as all of us mothers quickly found out, are still too big even at XS. But not so big that we couldn't use them. We found a size 3 ball, teeny tiny soccer shorts, and thought we were on our way until I decided to research cleats. I thought we'd just borrow some from neighbors who have offered, but since they had 2 pairs for just over $11, I thought I'd look. Turns out that if your kid wears a size 10 shoe, in one kind of cleats they need a size 13, in one kind they need an adult size 1, and in Nike cleats - well they just won't ever fit a kid with a wide foot. So after shooting at a moving target for far too long and never finding a shoe that actually fit the kid, I decided to revert back to the borrowing plan. How hard is it to make a size 10 shoe that fits a size 10 foot I ask you? Apparently very hard, if you're a manufacturer of $11 soccer cleats...

We got out of the store for $40, which I guess isn't hugely more than $29.95. It was worth it to see Elisabeth clutch her soccerball with great affection in the car the entire way home. I felt like it was a right of passage as a Northern Virginia mom. And, at least I knew how to put shin pads on.

(I hereby promise to post a picture of Elisabeth all decked out for soccer...)

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Elisabeth was looking over my shoulders as I typed an email last weekend. She said, "Mommy, do you have any giraffes?" A bit perplexed, I said... "No?" She said "No Mommy, do you have any giraffes? You know, emails that you haven't finished yet??"

I said, "No, I don't have any giraffes" and left it at that. She doesn't say many words incorrectly anymore, and if she wants to call drafts "giraffes" - I am going to let her.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Two pictures

I am going to make an effort to post more pictures. Here are two favorites from the last few weeks:

Elisabeth making mudpies down by the stream behind our house.

Charlotte after decorating her 2nd birthday cake.

Recent Funny Stories

Elisabeth likes to torment Charlotte from time to time -- assuming her proper role as older sister. Our dear little Charlotte is getting a pretty good vocabulary, but talking is absolutely not her strength. She gets understandably frustrated, then, when Elisabeth plays the "You can't do [X] unless you say the magic word" game.

A few days ago, Elisabeth told Charlotte that Charlotte couldn't sit next to her unless she said the magic word. The magic word on this day was.... "Achupichu-pichu-achu-pichu." Quite a mouthful for Miss Charlotte who immediately burst into tears and said "NO SAY achu-pichu-pichu-achu-pichu!!!"

And speaking of magic words... Elisabeth learned a little bit about having a big brother this week. She went to her friend's house, who has a brother a few years older. The brother had them blocked in the basement and wouldn't let the two girls come up, until they said the magic word. Elisabeth apparently got upset and maybe a little scared. She didn't know the magic word. The little boy's mom told me about the exchange when I picked Elisabeth up. She was apologetic and hoped that it wouldn't affect Elisabeth at all.

When we got into the car, I asked her about what happened. She didn't have much to say about it, just that she was frustrated and never wanted to have a big brother. All the while, Boy George's song "Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cry?" was playing in the background. After a few minutes of it, Elisabeth said quietly from the back "he should listen to this song, Mommy."

And in the Mommy-as-chopped-liver department, these two gems:

First, every morning for years now Elisabeth gets to watch two tv shows in the morning - so about 40 minutes total. And every morning I sit in my recliner with her for 5-15 minutes. If for some reason I have to leave early to go to work, she gets teary eyed about not sitting together in the chair. Yesterday morning she said, "Mommy, remember when you said we were getting too big to sit together in your chair? Maybe you should move to the couch."

Then today, I got home a bit early from work and told Doug I would go play in the basement with the kiddos. Fully expecting this to be the best news they'd ever heard, Doug hollered down to the little beasts and said he had a surprise basement playmate for them. Elisabeth came tearing up the stairs - right by me - and kept asking "where where where?" We waited until she figured it out - to no avail. Doug said "It's Mommy..." and she said, "oh. well, ok."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fairfax County Summer Reading Program

One big achievement that we've had here is that Elisabeth completed her Fairfax County Summer Reading Program. She had to read 15 books, and in exchange for reading the books they gave her a book full of coupons that we won't use. Well, ok, I'll take her to McDonalds for a free ice cream - but if she thinks I'm taking her kayaking at the ripe old age of 4... she'll have to think again. Or ask the more willing parent.

Anyway, Elisabeth was (is!) such a rock star. She read all kinds of books, from pretty easy to some long and tough ones! The deal, at least in order for her to get the super special better-than-a-coupon-book prize was that she had to read the books to me, all by herself (with some help when she got stuck), and they had to be books that she hadn't read before. Her longest read was 48 pages (Captain Pepper's Pets), and had some pretty difficult words! I'm incredibly proud of her.

She was really cute taking her list of books to the library. The kid (probably 11 or so) who was manning the table was really nice to her. The kids get to pick out an animal cutout and write their name on it. So, Elisabeth wrote her (very long! what was I thinking?) name on the cutout - it had to wind around the side, and the kid took her to let her pick out a spot on the library wall to hang it. She chose a spot right in between a little boy named Jack and a girl named Abigail.

As her prize, I bought her 34 of the Magic Tree House books. We love reading these books, and I got a heck of a deal on ebay (new ones even!). She was pretty thrilled to open the package. She also got her very own library card. Does anyone want to start a pool on # of days until the library card goes missing??

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

8 more days!

Only 8 more work days as a full time working mommy. Not that I'm counting. I like my job, I really do. But I cannot tell you how excited I am to go to part time (at a new job). I feel like my well of hilarious kid stories has run dry. Not because my kids aren't hilarious, but because (1) I'm not around them enough to know the funny things that they do and (2) I'm too tired to remember what I did 5 minutes ago much less the funny things my kids did earlier in the day...

Charlotte has officially weaseled her way back into Costco outings. This past weekend, I needed to go to Costco because I needed another big vat of tzaziki sauce along with 500 Stonyfield yogurts. Now, usually, I'd leave Charlotte home with Doug. But, Doug had decided - on a whim - to dismantle our kitchen faucet to attempt to fix a broken gasket thing. And, let's just say it did not go so well. At the peak of his frustration, we had it so that pushing the faucet to the off position make the water run at about half speed. It was completely obvious that staying home and "helping" was not an option with two little people afoot. It was also obvious that leaving Charlotte home to fend for herself was not really the best plan either - since she thinks crayons on glass windows are the best thing ever. So I packed the girls up for a trip to the library, then lunch and shopping at Costco. Our last Costco journey with two girls ended in me swearing upside down and sideways that I was NEVER taking Charlotte back (she hit, bit, smacked, wiggled, and was generally dreadful in the cart). This time... she was a saint. A really cute, sweet saint.

I'm pretty sure it was the Coke that I let her drink at lunch. With the pizza and fries. She sat in that cart with Elisabeth and the only time she touched her was to "pat pat" and "hug Zizzy." And, no, I did not stick any prozac or alcohol in the Coke. So... she is not quite on the A list yet, but she's also not blacklisted from Costco trips. In the days after our trip, she keeps talking about going to "Caco."

As for Charlotte's talking - she is really cracking me up lately. She'll come up to you and say a huge number of recognizable words to relay a very simple thought. For example, this morning she came up to me and said: "book Ginny this do go eat there over go GINNY eat mine no eat Ginny table mine mine." She looks you right in the face (climbs up on chairs if necessary) and tells you all of this at a very frenetic pace with such a look of concern in her eyes. Obviously she was telling me that Ginny was chewing on one of her books. Trying to figure out what her 30 second speech boils down to is like a logic game. Charlotte has a great nature about her, too - when you guess wrong instead of getting frustrated she finds it hilariously funny. As I've mentioned, though, she finds everything hilariously funny. Especially timeouts. It is a blessing and a curse.

You'll all be happy to know that our kitchen faucet works just fine now. Even better than it worked before. And we didn't even have to pay a plumber. Doug did good (with the help of a wonderful neighbor)!

Monday, August 10, 2009

ahh, the twos.

Well, it is official, Charlotte is two. And two she is. She is, shall we say, savoring being two. Her biggest joy these days is saying "meeeeeee do it!!!!!!" Well, maybe not her biggest joy. It has to be at least tied with kicking her legs when she's not getting her way, crying like a drama queen when her sister looks at her funny or makes a move for anything that Charlotte at any point in the past or future might have wanted to touch, or smashing food over every square inch of her exposed skin.

Yes, we've arrived at the so called "terrible" twos. I beg to differ, though, unless the threes are called the terrible horrible no good very bad threes. At this point in her life, tantrums are still pretty funny. "Oh, you don't want to put this onesie on? How cute. You're going to kick and pitch a fit until you're red in the face? Well, hold on a minute and let me get the camera..."

She's at an age where she's starting to do some really funny stuff. For example, she got this gorgeous Madame Alexander doll from Gram for her birthday. She hugged it and then we asked her to sing "Rockabye Baby." She rocked that baby and sweetly sang "rockababy rockababy rockababy" as we videoed her and cooed over our sweet sweet birthday girl. Then she threw the baby down with some amount of force and sang "baby fall down." And hopped down from her perch and plodded off somewhere. That lullabye has always bugged me with trees breaking and babies falling to their demise...

Speaking of lyrics, here's a funny "mis"-lyric that Elisabeth sang today. She really wanted me to sing Bare Necessities with her from Jungle Book. So we did. Here's her version:
"Just for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities,
Forget about your worries and your stripes."

I really need to start writing things down as soon as they happen. It turns out my brain only has a certain capacity and this full time job thing plus having two kids has overloaded it. Things pop into my brain and I think "ooh - I want to remember that." Then 3 minutes later - it is long long gone. Not a great skill for a lawyer...

OK, until my next brilliant thought...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Children's Books

Two thoughts on children's books:

First, did you ever know that some children's books have one line summaries on the copyright page? They're really hilarious - at least I find them funny. They sound like a lawyer summarizing stories about muffins and llamas. Reading them is my new favorite library activity...

Some favorites include:

Llama Llama Mad at Mama: A young llama wants to play but must go shopping with his mother instead, and so he gets angry and makes a mess at the store.

Bear Snores On: On a cold winter night many animals gather to party in the cave of a sleeping bear, who then awakes and protests that he has missed the food and the fun.

Goodnight Moon: Goodnight to each of the objects in the great green room: goodnight chairs, goodnight comb, goodnight air.

Skippyjon Jones: Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese cat with an overactive imagination who would rather be El Skippito, his Zorro-like alter ego.

Second, if Make Way for Ducklings' Mr. Mallard pulled his little "I want to go explore the rest of the river and leave you with our 8 babies" stunt in this household - he'd probably not have any tailfeathers, or an ability to have future children. And we certainly wouldn't be meeting him a week later all happy to see him. Luckily my girls have no real concept of gender roles since they have a stay at home daddy (for 4 more weeks!) who does the laundry... and bakes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I've been a long time gone...

Wow, it has been over a week since I posted!! Shame on me. We've just been terribly terribly busy - not to mention sick. I'm not sure that I even have much to say right now, but that hasn't stopped me yet now, has it?

Let's see - oh another thing about NYC. You spend all this time teaching your kids not to cross the street when the red hand is up, only when the white walking guy is showing. Then you take them to NYC and all bets are off.

E: "MOMMY! We can't walk now!"
Me: "Shut up and walk kid - the guy behind us is about to bowl us over!"

We also spend a good deal of time listening to They Might Be Giants sing "Don't cross the street in the middle in the middle in the middle in the middle of the block block block." Again, NYC screws it all up. At least we used "our eyes to look out, use your ears to hear."

Charlotte has hit an unfortunate (for me) phase. She can repeat what you say with great clarity. This past weekend, we went to visit Gram. We all sleep in the same room, which typically works out fine because everyone tends to wake up at the same time. But Elisabeth had gone to bed late and was battling a cold, so when Charlotte declared "done nap Mommy!" I wanted to get her out of there quickly before she woke everyone up. My dear, dear little Charlotte has no concept of quiet - she only knows loud, louder, and blaring. She started out with "done nap Mommy" at a loud volume, at around 6:40am. I got up and began searching for my shoes because, well, I'd have to let Ginny out and then guard the koi pond to keep her from using it as a lap pool. This required shoes.

Of course at 6:45 am when I have not slept very well (due to a 75 pound labrador retriever with a paw in my face), finding my shoes under a pile of junk is not easy. It gets harder when a nearly 2 yr old is yelling cute phrases and just being generally difficult. So I shhshhed her. Which, as I'm sure you can guess, made her upgrade from loud to louder. I pleaded for quiet. I sshhshhhed some more. Louder bordered on blaring and so I said..... "SHUT UP Charlotte! People are sleeping! I am trying to find shoes!" To which she loudly and clearly replied: "NO SHUT UP."

Even worse? Doug wasn't sleeping and I was caught red handed.

Luckily we haven't heard the words resurface. Can you imagine the glares you'd get from people in stores if your otherwise adorable 2 yr old said "SHUT UP?"

As an aside, I'm pretty sure my new least favorite words are "done nap Mommy."

Monday, July 20, 2009

More NYC

We're finally home from our super fun New York excursion. I pretty much mastered the subway, but I'll tell you - as the temperature outside goes up, the enjoyability of taking the 6 train decreases exponentially.

A few weeks ago, I played Wii Fit at my sister's house. I hadn't ever played before and I was pretty sure I'd get on the balance board and it would say "wow, you're as fit as a 25 yr old woman!" What I did not expect it to tell me was that I have terrible balance. In fact, I was certain that it was wrong. In the intervening few weeks, however, I have learned that it may well be true. New York City helped me come to this realization, with its craggly angled sidewalks. Let's just say I didn't scrape my knees or elbows or anything, but my ankles and hips are really sore from a few trips. Fantastic. Way not to draw attention to yourself!

We had a lovely time with the girls in the big City. Elisabeth enjoyed the multitude of playgrounds immensely. She climbed, swung, spun, ran, jumped and monkey-barred. She's a hardened New Yorker, though, at the ripe old age of 4. We went to this one playground where there were just two other kids. One was a little girl, probably six or so. She and Elisabeth ended up at the top of a big slide and the little girl very nicely said "You can go first." Elisabeth was thrilled and hollered down to me "MOMMY! She said I can go first!" I asked if she said thank you (which she had) and Elisabeth slid down. The other little girl then slid down and walked up to Elisabeth and said "Do you want to be friends?" I didn't hear Elisabeth respond, so I said "Elisabeth, that was very nice - she asked you if you want to be friends! You should answer her." So Elisabeth said, "I did, Mommy. I said 'no thank you."

I was mortified. The little girl's parents looked at me with disgust. So I said "Elisabeth, that wasn't a very nice thing to say." And Elisabeth looked at me, perplexed, and said "why, Mommy? I said no thank you." I called her over to me and tried to explain, but then decided that I shouldn't make her be friends with someone. So instead I convinced her to come with me to another playground. Oh the shame.

Our New York time let us take the girls on all sorts of public transport. Bus, subway, taxi - I think that's it. Mostly, though, bus and subway. We took a taxi over to my friend Ed's house for a barbeque. Alex showed Elisabeth how to hail a cab. Wow, did that cab ride ever make me (and Doug) motion sick! The girls loved it, though. Elisabeth played with the tv in the cab that had a big map on it. Charlotte hollered "look, look, tacky (taxi), tacky!" After that motion sickness experience, we took the subway back. Astor Place station was closed, so we had to take the train 5 blocks further north and walk back. This was after a very long day - Central Park Zoo, a picnic in Central Park, then a barbeque. The walk was pretty hard on all of us. However, it was Little Miss Charlotte who seemed to take it the hardest - she had missed her nap. She whined a bit while riding in the backpack. Then we looked back and she had her arm out yelling "tacky! tacky!" I felt her pain, I wanted to hail a cab too at that point...

Here's a picture of girls piled on Mommy on the R train.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

In New York...

So here I am in NYC. I've been here since Sunday, and the kids and Doug and the dogs joined me yesterday. I'm here for some estate planning classes. This class starts at 8 (!!!) and ends at either 6 or 6:30 each day. That is a serious CLE (Continuing Legal Education). Luckily they have wireless internet, so I can have a bit of a distraction when the gunners are asking their annoying questions. Yesterday I learned that unless your estate is above $7M, estate planners consider you to be "middle class." I also learned that the tax code is ridiculously complex and you could go to school for many years and not understand half of this stuff. I further learned that I should get pretty high malpractice insurance...

I used to hate this city. My blood pressure would rise as soon as we got within sight of one of the tunnels. I have to say that after being here for a few days, I can see the attraction. Every day I see something new, even though I traverse the exact same path. Walking around, Doug and I were both struck by how different each restaurant is from other restaurants. How different each store is. How dark and dreary apartment doors look (the grungy street level ones that you buzz up) but how they probably open up to gorgeous apartments. If you then add the crazy people on top of the interesting buildings, you could walk around in wonder all the time.

I did almost get runover by a nasty nasty woman on a bike within 15 minutes of my train arriving on Sunday. The cab stopped in the middle of the road (well to the right of the bike lane, but in the far left lane). I opened the door, got out, got my bags out and LOOKED to see if any bikes were coming and then crossed the street. She had apparently jagged to her left to avoid something and I didnt see her behind a delivery truck. She slammed on her brakes while hollering "WATCH OUT!" I apologized - even though I do not think this was at all my fault, but she said some choice words to me and rode off. The funniest part about this is that she looked like Joan Rivers. Not exactly who I picture as biker lady.

I also feel like I got the true New York experience as a subway rider. I quickly decided that I didn't want to spend $20/day on cab fare to and from the school when it was just a teeny bit slower to take the subway. My friend Mia assured me that the No. 6 train, which goes from the Upper East Side to Wall Street is clean and new and airconditioned. All went well on my first trip, so I committed and bought the bonus pack of tickets. My second ride went less well. I got on in the uptown entrance and had to waste a fare by exiting and crossing the street to go into a downtown entrance. Total rookie mistake. Then I made another rookie mistake and sat in the vicinity of a man who, I'm thinking, has no fixed residence. Aside from the aroma, the downside of my seating choice was the view I got of him going to the space between the train cars, urinating, coming back in without zipping, going back out and urinating again, coming back in and then spending a good 3 minutes figuring out his zipper. Only in NYC.

We also tried to make Ginny a city dog. We went to the dog park by Alex's place. Maggie isn't allowed into such places, since she views little yippy dogs as merely the appetizer course. But Ginny isn't jaded to the world (yet, or at least wasn't) and, quite frankly, we needed to wear her out. So in she went. She sniffed other dogs, made a big circle of the park. Then an evil little black dog that looked like a pot bellied pig came over and attacked her!! Poor little Ginny monster was pretty traumatized and went running over to Doug. That little rat followed Ginny over and attacked her again!!! Someone told the dog's owner that she needed to take the dog out, and she said she was going to, but then she sat back down and watched her little ugly, ugly excuse for a dog go around tormenting others. If I go back, I might "accidentally" kick the dog.

Ginny is definitely a suburb dog. So is Maggie. I think they yearn for grass to poop in - they both had to poop on the sidewalk last night. On the flip side, I think they both LOVE walking around smelling the trash in the street. Ginny got herself a nice leftover bite of ice cream last night on 7th Street. I thought I might pay for that later in middle of the night bathroom trips, but she did ok.

The rest of the week entails a trip to the Central Park Zoo (notably the location of Alex the Lion from Madagascar), a picnic in Central Park, and more than a few trips to the playground down the street, and a bachelorette party that the girls and Doug don't get to come to. Unfortunately I'll be in class for almost all of that time, but the girls should have fun. They might not ever want to leave, since Alex has a Wii and a big movie room.

OK, we're done with ridiculous questions and break, now we're doing retirement planning so I should pay attention. At least this speaker is really funny...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vacation Bible School

I don't know about the rest of you, if you went to VBS, but when I went the theme was something like "God loves you. You're special. Happy happy happy."

Elisabeth is learning about.... the plagues. She came home from the second day and said that she wanted to have a play at our house. She was going to "write out our lines." She got two huge pieces of paper and an orange marker. My piece of paper said "GOD SENT BUGS." Doug's piece of paper said "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO."

So Elisabeth stood at one end of the room and commanded Doug (who was apparently playing the role of the mean old Pharoah) "LET MY PEOPLE GO!" Then she told him to read his lines, which he did saying "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO." She pointed to me, signaling that it was my turn, so I said "GOD SENT BUGS." And then she pretended she was a bug and attacked the Pharoah.

We repeated this with chickens, cows, cow eating cows, and attack owls at which point it was time to brush teeth and hit the tub.

As a side note, I relayed this story to my mother and said "Oh they're learning about the 7 plagues." My mother, who knows more about the Bible than anyone I know said "I thought there were 10 plagues." Not one to argue with her (stop laughing, I know when to pick my battles), I said "oh right, 10."

When I got home, I asked Elisabeth how many plagues there were. She looked at me as though I was the dumbest person on earth and said... "10." I'm not sure what it says about me that I trusted my 4 yr old more than my mother?? But Elisabeth doesn't forget anything, ever.

So, back to the plagues - Doug and I have been considering how we work this into our parenting. The whole idea behind teaching them about the plagues is so that they learn not to fear. God sends the plagues but then he helps the people through it (at least this is what Elisabeth has relayed to me, I'm not certain this is actually the lesson learned from the plagues, but I suppose it doesn't matter if this is the lesson Elisabeth has taken away from it.) In what might be termed the "Fire and Brimstone" discipline plan, we've been considering telling Elisabeth that if she doesn't do X, God might send attack weasels. And, since she now has ten examples of God doing just that, she might believe it.

This might be more powerful than 1,2,3 but I am a little fearful to unleash it. I mean, what if God really does send attack weasels??? They've got big fangs!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Where to start??

I've been so slack lately, you guys have missed out on some really good stories. And the bad part is that they are now purged from my brain and you'll never get to hear them, unless you're one of my lucky co-workers or IM buddies who get to hear my stories sometimes 3-4 times...

Let's see, maybe I'll do an update on each kid and that will include some of their recent funnies.


What comes to mind when I think of Miss C is that she seems to like to blame others for things that they didn't do. The other day, Elisabeth did the unforgivable and smacked Charlotte. Now, Charlotte probably deserved it, but we don't want to encourage sister smacking - at least not outwardly. Being the younger sister, who goes around beating on her older sister without batting an eye, Charlotte earned her Academy Award when Elisabeth smacked her. Tears upon tears. The Charlotte patented pout. Then, the words we would have to hear about 492 times in the next week: "Zizzie mack me. Zizzie mack me!!!"

The event was apparently so upsetting that it haunts her. In the mornings, she will lie in her crib saying 'Zizzie mack me. Zizzie mack me!" Anything that happens to her, boo-boo wise, is Zizzie's fault. Elisabeth can cause boo boos while she is sleeping, at preschool, or probably even if she were 100 miles away. That super hero cape I made her has some serious powers.

Oh and the next episode in the "Charlotte is a Turkey" series is the one entitled "The One in Which She Locks Us Out." Charlotte is a picky little bugger. She wants exactly the right mix of toys in her crib at nap/bed time. You are safer to err on the side of too many things in the crib because extraneous items can easily be de-cribestrated in the pre-nap wind down. Erring on the side of too few things in the crib can be fatal to naptime because it will just work her up into a tizzy.

So we were at the beach this past weekend with Doug's family and I had made the fatal mistake of leaving the blanket and Llama book downstairs (oh the horror, call CPS). Charlotte is able to spread her limbs and prevent you from lowering her into the pack-n-play, and she knows it. So she took a quick inventory of crib items and quickly started hollering "bankee yama bankee yama" while spreading her arms and legs and refusing to get into the pack-n-play. I said "FINE, I will go get your blanket and llama book and then put you in the crib." I set her down and ran downstairs only to hear the door slam. I got the items and went back upstairs... to find the door locked. A few screwdrivers, 4 adults, and a wee bit of irritation mixed with fear later we had the doorknob off and were into the room. Doug then put scotch tape over the handle lock. At that point, our morning wakeup at 5:30am went like this: "Zizzie mack me. Zizzie mack ME! Tape. Daddy. On. Zizzie mack me. Tape. on."


Elisabeth started Vacation Bible School today. She seems to really like it, I've already heard a few of the songs they taught them and seen her art project from the day. She was disappointed that they didn't get to color, which is funny because she doesn't spend even a minute coloring at our house. Some biblical education will do her some good. Yesterday, in the car on the way home from Lewes, she said - out of nowhere - "Mommy, I know what God's real name is." I said "oh really? what is it?" She replied: "Gopal." I had no response, and all I can hope is that she does not repeat that story to her VBS teachers.

Elisabeth has reached a new reading level - she is now reading me books. I made a deal with her that if she'd participate in the Fairfax County Library Reading Program, which requires her to read 15 books, then she'd not only get their coupon booklet with free ice cream coupons, but she'd also get a very special treat from me. We're still working on the treat options, but she is pretty excited. We picked out some Level 1, 2 and 3 books from the "I Can Read" series that she'd never seen before. She read me a Level 1 book (Diego's Rainforest Race) with no trouble at all. Then she read me a Level 2 book (Arthur's Trip to the Farm or something like that) the next night which required a little help with about 7 or 8 words, but otherwise she read it all herself. I'm all for bribery as a parenting method. As one of the two parenting books that I read said, it isn't bribery if you're convincing them to do something legal.

Oh, another Elisabeth funny - the other day we were reading a Magic Tree House book, Mummies in the Morning. I had to explain what a mummy was. I could see something churning in her little brain. She said, "Mommy, what does Constance call her mom?" (Constance is a British friend). I said, "mummy." She said, "but she's not dead and wrapped in bandages..." No, no she's not. "But whyyyyyy mommy?"

Sorry about the mass update. I have a bunch more posts brewing in there somewhere. Complete with pictures. But we've been traveling too much for me to do much writing!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The One Where Mommy Realizes #2 is Going to be Different...

Oh I had a totally different post composed in my head, one I hope to write later this week. But tonight, I realized that the terrible twos with Charlotte are going to be vastly different than they were with Elisabeth. Elisabeth takes scolding, punishment, what have you, to heart. She feels sad, she genuinely doesn't like getting into trouble. Now, I know that I'm probably mis-remembering, but what I remember about Elisabeth being two was that when she'd act up, she'd think it was all fun and games but then she'd quickly that Mommy was very unhappy with her and she'd burst into tears.

Charlotte doesn't have that mode. And, while I know it is probably not very "good mother-like" to say, there is something satisfying about seeing your kid realize that you're not happy and have that make them not happy in return. There is something infuriating about having your kid see that you're not happy and laugh in your face.

From the day we brought our dear little Charlotte home, she has been a real pain in the butt to get dressed. Honestly, from day 1. My mother commented as I laid like an injured beached whale in my recliner that she was wiry and strong and really did not want her diaper changed. Wrestling a 6 pounder is much easier than wrestling a 20 pounder. But tonight, I went head to head with the 20 pounder.

Doug left to take the dog to obedience school and I was left to wrestle Charlotte into her PJs after her bath. It started well enough - she ran over to the spot where we do diapers and said "diaper ON." But as soon as I leaned down she began to kick me and kick me and kick me. I grabbed her little leg and growled "no kicking," and she laughed. And kicked. More grabbing and growling ensued. I counted to three and gave her a timeout and tried again. I had to count to three two more times until finally I realized that she was having more fun with this 1-2-3 timeout routine than she was kicking me. I gave up and left her in her diaper.

Life is one big game for Charlotte - everything is SO! MUCH! FUN! Hitting her sister? Totally fun. Kicking mommy? Totally fun. Timeouts? Best thing ever! I was so frustrated with her that I finally left her in the corner after our last timeout and went to Elisabeth's room to seek refuge. It is so frustrating to be angry and have the object of your anger having the time of her life. Elisabeth, seeing that I was frustrated managed to get herself dressed for bed. The kid is capable of moving the Earth when she sets her mind to it, but her mind is often floating around doing nothing of import.

A cute discussion ensued between the two usually battling sisters while I ran to get "Llama Llama Red Pajama" for Charlotte. I got into Elisabeth's room and the two girls were on the bed. Elisabeth was patting Charlotte's back saying, "its ok Charlotte. I get in trouble sometimes too. Mommy's not really mad. But you can't kick Mommy." I got Charlotte dressed, read her books, and stuck her in the crib thankful for my survival.

So the terrible twos are rapidly approaching. I'm fearful that 1-2-3 Magic won't work as well this time around and have no idea how to deal otherwise... I'm glad that Charlotte is such a happy go lucky kid - maybe the 10pm news won't cause her insomnia like it does her mother, but I guess at this point I'm just hoping I make it through her tantrum phase!!

Next up: our weekend report. Costco, hiking, snakes in the garden all in one great post.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Life is...

Too tired for narrative. Many hours in minivan with 2 kids and 2 dogs and 2 adults is long. Lots of you have asked how the trip went. It was fine, except for the last hour when we had a puking dog and a barking dog. At 3am. After 14.5 hrs in the car. Due to the fatigue, here is a new little format for you for today:

Fresh is... pulling a happy, healthy, kind of cute little slug off of your farm share lettuce and throwing him in the trashcan.

Dumb is... giving away your salad spinner to charity weeks before joining a farm share.

Maybe a little crazy is... thinking about that slug as you wash your lettuce and then giving him some lettuce remnants to munch on in the trash can.

Maybe a little crazier is... realizing that I spent good money on organic slug killer that I maniacally go spray on the slugs in my garden and watch them shrivel while I feel all sorts of affection for this little trash can slug.

Frustrating is... a broken laptop combined with the US Postal Service having some hangup about delivering packages to our house quickly. I just want my new screen!!!

Sad is... I'm no longer "Mama" to Charlotte. She woke up this morning screaming MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY, and Mommy it has been all day. Even Llama Llama is no longer Mad At Mama - he's Mad at Mommy.

Cute is... this email that Elisabeth sent to our neighbors who we love like family (the subject was "Love":

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Journey - part 1

A few months ago, I decided that I'd like to come to Florida and spend more than just our standard 3 nights here. Unfortunately, a few months ago, we also got a puppy. I'm sure that in a few years I won't view Ginny's arrival as unfortunate, but after 2 months of not sleeping through the night and more than my fair share of wounds from her teeth - I'm not yet jumping for joy at our new addition. I'm not even yet jumping for satisfaction.

The puppy arrival meant that we couldn't leave Ginny home with our neighbors, like we do with Maggie, because, see, we actually really like them and want to keep them as both neighbors and friends. We were pretty certain that leaving Ginny with them meant that we'd return to them at least shunning our friendship if not moving away entirely. Therefore the dog had to come with us, which meant we piled two dogs, two kids and two adults into the minivan and drove for 14.5 hours south until we reached beautiful, exciting, rural yet not Valrico, FL.

I got two reactions from telling people of our plan: (1) you are certifiably insane and (2) have you had your head checked? We decided to put the kids in the car around naptime and drive through the night getting here around 6am. Then we'd hand over the kids and dogs and take ourselves to bed.

So we packed up the car and left our driveway at 2:50 p.m. Not wanting to help us out, the universe saw to it that we got some good backups on 495/95S in the DC area. Nothing like starting off a nice long drive by creeping past Potomac Mills. All in all things went smoothly, though. We didn't get the first "are we almost at Grandmommy's house?" until about an hour in. The girls watched 2 videos, then we stuck them in their PJs at a gas station in North Carolina. Then they stayed awake chattering cute chatters for another couple of hours before passing out around 9pm.

Doug tried to take a nap from 7:30-8:30ish. This attempt was hampered by Charlotte, who kept hollering "wake UP Daddy. Wake UP. Nap DONE. Done nap!!!! Done!! Wake up!" in a constant stream. Far from being annoyed by this, we both found it hilarious. She was absolutely adamant that he would not be napping.

So then they were asleep at 9pm and we had about 9 hrs of silence in front of us. We had decided to both stay awake to help keep the driver awake. This is very hard to do when you're sleep deprived and not driving. Poor Doug thought he'd get to listen to a book on CD for those 9 hrs, but I need chattering to stay awake so I made him talk to me for at least 6 of those hours. The Time Traveler's Wife is too weird anyway.

We thought there was no way that we'd make it in less than 15 hrs, since on our best trip without kids we did it in 14.5 hrs. Somehow, we made it in exactly 14.5 hrs and then ended up circling the neighborhood until my parents got up. Somehow we also made it along the same route that Google maps uses, but in about 50 fewer miles than Google promised us. It is, therefore, conceivable that The Time Traveler's Wife CDs do something very strange in the Georgia area and warped us closer. We'll have to see how that goes on the return trip.

It has so far been a very fun trip. We've been in the pool 37 times. Elisabeth is quite the little swimmer now - so long as she has at least 4 flotation devices strapped to her at all times and her face comes nowhere near the water. But she is so comfortable in the water, which is a good step in the right direction.

We went to the Florida Aquarium yesterday, which was really great for kids. We watched the penguine prominade, which is where they wheel some penguins in a wheelbarrow out for all the kids to see. Two penguin trainers (great job, by the way) let the kids ask questions. One kid asked why penguins don't fly. The trainer asked for answers and Elisabeth raised her hand and said "Penguins weren't born to fly, they were born to dive." Take that kid with the interesting question!!

Charlotte identified every turtle in the place. While we were standing there looking at one turtle, a grandmother came up and said "Oh look at this one!! She's so cute!" Doug looked over at her and she was talking about Charlotte. The lady said, "oh, I don't come to these places to see the fish! I come to see the babies!" We held onto Charlotte a little tighter...

They also have a little waterpark at the aquarium. True to their personalities, Charlotte came out of the park soaking wet after going on slides and climbing on things with water squirting on them. Elisabeth came out entirely dry after avoiding getting sprayed with any water. Then, for good measure, we let them both get into the huge sandbox because what fun is getting into the car both dry and un-sandy?

Tomorrow we're heading to the beach for breakfast. Then on Monday we'll do the whole trip home - although this time we're aiming to arrive home at 2:30ish so that I can we can both get some sleep before we head off to work/ballet lessons.

CSA - Week 2

Week 2 of the CSA was a total blur as we prepared for our big journey - the subject of a soon to be written post. But in week 2 of the CSA we got more garlic scapes, a handful of sugar snap peas, some sort of cabbage, red leaf lettuce, regular lettuce, dill, an onion, collard greens and beets. I tried very hard to use the garlic scapes. I made garlic scape pesto and tossed it over some noodles. It turns out, I really dislike garlic scape pesto. It is way too strong for me. I'm going to try and repurpose the noodles into a soup, which ought to dilute the garlic scape pesto enough for me to eat.

The sugar snap peas were easily the biggest hit of the bunch. Elisabeth and Charlotte love them! They like picking out the peas inside and making Doug eat the pod - I think they like the latter part better than the former, but whatever gets greens down the kids I'm in favor of.

I really loved the red leaf lettuce, it made such a good lunch salad - I'm considering getting more from a farmers' market just to have lunch salads! I made a decent cole slaw out of the cabbage, although Doug would have preferred a sweeter cole slaw. Perhaps next time - as I'm sure we'll get more cabbage in the fall. I made the ill fated cucumber-dill dip with the dill. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't used the onion yet, but I am pretty sure it will be ok to use when we get hoe. As for the beet? I'm at a total loss. I'm pretty sure a beet has never crossed my lips, but the point of this whole experiment was to widen my veggie horizons, so I will eat that beet. Melissa said to roast it, so I suppose that's what I'll try.

The collard greens came to Florida with us because my mother was so very excited about the prospect of fresh collard greens. Probably because our children have more energy than most power plants, the collard greens remain in the fridge uncooked. Fine with me, I know that collard greens aren't really my cup of tea. Although, my mom cooks 'em up Southern style (you know the recipe... it starts with "get out your tub of bacon grease") - so they're probably pretty good.

We took a pass on Week 3 of the CSA since we are out of town. Poor Melissa has double the veggies to deal with...

Going to the grocery store is more fun now because I can actually identify and say that I've eaten more of the leafy greens. I can't say I love leafy greens, though, and I'm ready for the more veggie looking veggies.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tsatsiki Sauce - A Recipe

I set out to make Tsatsiki sauce this morning, because we got some dill in our CSA bag this week. I love Tsatsiki sauce. Here is my recipe. You'll note that it is not quite as easy as the one that I took it from on


  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 English hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, grated
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 6 pita breads, cut horizontally in half, then cut into wedges
  • Olive oil


Line sieve with cheesecloth (I used a coffee filter) and place over medium bowl. Place yogurt in sieve. Cover with plastic wrap (didn't cover with plastic wrap, figured that fridge smells would only enhance final dish) and allow to drain in refrigerator overnight.

Mix cucumber and 1 tablespoon salt in small bowl; cover and chill 3 hours.

(Yeah, so I tried to do this at 6:30 this morning when I woke up with Ginny and did not see this "chill 3 hrs, mix with the salt first" business. This will be important later. File it away. Also, one hothouse cucumber, "unpeeled." What the hell does that mean? Unpeeled? Peel on? Peel off? If it said "peeled" - I'd know exactly what to do. So what does "unpeeled" in this context mean? I decided it meant peeled, since I don't remember ever having tsatsiki sauce with peels on the cucumber. This was way more work than my brain wanted to do at this hour. In the course of peeling the cucumber, I removed two of Charlotte's socks from Ginny's mouth. In the course of grating the cucumber, I had to go get Charlotte up, bring her downstairs, change her diaper, wash hands, go back to grating cucumber, remove Cinderella Barbie from Ginny's mouth - too late, she now has a permanentely disfigured hand, good time to teach our children about not commenting on other people's physical challenges, wash hands, go back to grating cucumber, remove Charlotte's hand from Ginny's mouth - I don't want to teach Elisabeth about not commenting on Charlotte's physical challenges, wash hands, go back to grating cucumber, got Elisabeth up, sent both little people into watch tv, oh dear, the TV is on the wrong input and Elisabeth can't find the TV remote, double 'oh dear' (not actual words used) Ginny has escaped and is eating Maggie's food, haul Ginny back and throw her outside, wash hands, resume grating cucumber, hear Charlotte at the gate hollering "IN IN IN IN IN" and realize she is throwing IN the diaper that I just put on her which means she is not wearing a diaper, go investigate, put Charlotte on toilet and let her do her business, re-diaper and give speech about leaving diaper on, wash hands and miraculously finish grating cucumber. Total time elapsed since beginning cucumber ordeal: 30 minutes.)

Transfer drained yogurt to another bowl. Mix in sour cream, lemon juice, dill and garlic. Squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible from cucumber. Stir cucumber into yogurt. Season with pepper. Cover; chill at least 2 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

(While chopping the dill, I had the lovely opportunity to assist Charlotte in putting her pants on, at her request. Said request was summarily revoked for no apparent reason once the pants were on, so off they came. And then she asked for "help", which I went over to give and fabulous meltdown ensued. One meltdown was insufficient so then she re-enacted the whole scene multiple times by saying (totally to herself) "Help. Help pants. Mama help pants. NOOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOO HELP PANTS, NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!" and melting down into tears. Great, the self perpetuating tantrum. Total time elapsed helping Charlotte put on pants while chopping dill and stirring in ingredients? 20 mins)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place pita wedges on baking sheets. Brush with olive oil. Bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Store pita airtight at room temperature.)

(Children were outside for this part. All major catastrophes averted.)

Serve cucumber dip with baked pita wedges.

End result? Well, the "put salt on the cucumber and let it sit for an hour" part is actually critical - the salt would probably largely remain in the cucumber juice which you strain off, and notably not remain in the yogurt sauce. The tsatsiki is really salty. Way too salty. I realized it as I was adding all of that salt, and only added half of what they called for. So that is very disappointing.

I also realized that I need to take whatever the recipe says for prep time and approximately quadruple it if I have two awake children and one awake puppy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Email that I got at work today...

Here is an email chain between Miss Elisabeth and me. I was able to understand almost everything. I'll post the translation tomorrow if no one comes up with it... I really love getting emails from Elisabeth at work. This is 100% her doing, no help from grownups.

From: Elisabeth at 9:29am


From: Me at 9:37am

You and Constance have the same shirts?? That is very exciting!
Are you ok from getting poked?

From: Elisabeth at 10:37am


(editorial: one of our cats is named Silly)


From: Me, at 10:42am

She smacked me yesterday after I said goodnight to you


Obviously, we need to work on appropriate spacing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

CSA - Week 1

This past Wednesday we got our very first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) bag. We're splitting a regular share with some friends, so really we're getting a "mini" share. This is probably all we can tolerate as we're not really veggie lovers. But, after reading Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - I realized that we really ought to be eating more plants. And I definitely buy into the whole "buy organic and buy small farms, as local as you can" movement. I'm reading Food Matters by Mark Bittman right now, and the statistics on big farming's effects on the environment are fascinating. So, for me, buying extraordinarily fresh, i.e. picked that morning, veggies from the farm 2 miles away is a very exciting idea.

But how will I survive in practice? Getting a bag of vegetables every week - stuff that is not broccoli, carrots, cauliflower or greenbeans (the extent of our vegetable repertoire)?? Well, luckily - or unluckily - for you, you get to watch and see.

This past week, we got: lettuce (score, something Doug will eat!), baby bok choi, escarole, swiss chard, garlic scapes, strawberries, some mustard greens, some other kind of leafy lettuce-ish green, basil and oregano. This one bag contained more leafy greens for one week than I buy in a year - and no, I'm not kidding. The first few weeks of a CSA are all leafy greens and I've never been a leafy green girl.

So what did I do with it? The baby bok choi went into a stir fry - chicken, loads of ginger, green beans and bok choi in a nice sauce. It was really good, definitely a keeper. The mustard greens went to Melissa in their entirety because no one here enjoys them. The escarole and swiss chard got steamed and then sauteed with chopped up garlic scapes, garlic, butter and salt. They cook down to a tiny amount and I'm in the process of suffering through eating them. It turns out I really do not like a big bowl of sopping wet, mushy greens. I'm putting them on Triscuits. The smug feeling of goodness that I'm getting from eating healthy for me and healthy for the environment food is pulling me through, although let's just say greens season needs to hurry itself along. I have big plans for this week's greens that don't involve mushiness.

The oregano went into the trash. I'm sad to admit it but I washed that stuff a lot, and it still had dirt and bugs on it. Plus, I am not really a huge fan of fresh oregano. I gave Melissa all of the basil, since I have not one, but two varieties of basil growing on my deck. I still have a couple of garlic scapes. I have no idea what I'll do with them. The strawberries are getting put into Doug's oatmeal in the morning. The non-"plain old lettuce" lettuce-looking thing went into salads for me for lunch.

So what is the score card? Well, I'm proud that I made it through the first bag with relative success. I'm still looking forward to getting another bag, which is critical since I have like 5 months of this in front of me! I give myself a B+. Lack of creativity precluded me from the A. Here's the individual breakdown:

Erica: ate more leafy greens than average. Feels sense of accomplishment for using almost everything in CSA bag. Feels like part of a community for joining CSA.

Doug: got strawberries in his oatmeal. Ate additional leafy greens in the form of lettuce on his sandwich (has to be a net positive, right?). Feels sense of relief that I didn't make him eat swiss chard.

Elisabeth and Charlotte: completely unaware that anything has changed. Had their bowl of frozen peas at dinner.

(did I mention that recently I told Elisabeth that I was going to grow broccoli in the garden and she said "mommy, broccoli comes from the freezer, not the garden..."?)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Our Benevolent Princess

Charlotte got ahold of the Cinderella wand this morning. The very fancy wand, with songs and flashing lights. The one that Elisabeth carried around like a true princess, waving it just like the Fairy Godmother. As an aside, why do they give out wands with the Cinderella dresses? Cinderella did not carry a wand - the fairy godmother did. Stupid Disney thinking they can pull the wool over my eyes... shut up - stop laughing, the wand is NOT proof that they have done that. It was a gift I tell you!!!

Anyway, Charlotte thought the wand was terribly nifty. Hey look, mom, it flashes!! Oooooh, listen to the pretty song. Oh, Mommy, it is such a great toy! Look how it...... bashes people in the head. My darling little princess needs to learn to use her wand for good, and not evil.

In other news, I bought Elisabeth Madagascar 2 yesterday mostly so that we, her parents, can get a bit of variety in our quiet time programming. As of yesterday, she watched Madagascar 10 times in 14 days. The off days were days when quiet time was too short for a movie or skipped all together. She likes to move it, move it - that's for sure. Interestingly, my goal oriented little girl had set this 10 times in a row goal for herself the day after she watched Madagascar for the first time. So, flighty as she may be when it comes to her parents telling her to get dressed, put shoes, on, etc - she can stick to any plan that she comes up with herself... I have no idea where she got that.

Finally, I will leave you with two of the funniest things I've heard come out of attorney's mouths lately. First, in court the other day an attorney said, in a very dramatic and impassioned tone of voice, "Your Honor, there is not one chinchilla of evidence against my client." (this caused me to dive behind my computer pretending to look at files so as to avoid laughing out loud.)

Second, I had done something unexpected for an attorney - like return her call, or something similarly mundane - and she said to me, "sweetheart, I want you to call your mother right now and tell her that a completly disinterested party wants her to know that she raised a very good little girl." Golly gee willikers, did I go to law school for that?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Price check?

Charlotte's standing invitation to join the girls at Costco has officially been revoked. I turned into my own mother, and I'm sure her mother and all mothers of prior generations on Sunday as we perused the cleaning supply aisle at our Costco. Charlotte kept touching Elisabeth. Love pats turned into smacks (or "macks" as Charlotte says), and "macks" turned into kicks and pushes, which then turned into howls by the older one. At first, it was funny. "Stop touching your sister! No REALLY, don't even look at her! I don't care that you're kissing her because kisses turn into smacks and smacks turn into Elisabeth complaining! so STOP touching your sister!"

People actually snickered as they walked by. As I said, it was funny at first. But, I ask you, what exactly do you do when you have two kids, the little one literally beating on the older one, and a cart full of prizes that you've accumulated over the past hour but not yet paid for? I had a conundrum. Put her on the shelf with a price tag and walk away? You can't exactly snatch the little one baldheaded in public. Hollering at her has no effect, she laughs and says "mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmack!!!!!!! mmmmmmmmmack!!!!!!!" So I took Elisabeth out of the side by side cart and made her walk next to me (which, in Costco, is actually dangerous). Charlotte, left with no one remotely her own size to beat up upon, started inflicting her physical abuse on me. Now we've ventured from funny to decidedly not funny.

I looked her in the eyes and said "stop." Then I grabbed her leg while looking into her eyes and growled "sttttttttop it NOW." I told her she didn't get to come back if she kept it up. She, of course, kept it up. Finally we got out of the store, Charlotte as happy as a lark, Elisabeth a little haggard and me, well, totally running on empty (so I got a Coke refill and a churro for the enormous price of $1.25).

As we got out of the store, I asked Charlotte if she had been a good girl in Costco. Her answer? "Nooooo." Oh, really? Why not, my dear Charlotte? "Mack mama. Mack Lizzy. Kick. Kick mama, kick Lizzy." Oh yeah? Is that what you did? Are you ever coming back to Costco with Elisabeth and mommy? "noooooooo." Damn right, kid. Not until you're 7.

I don't know what to do with that kid. She cracks me up, even her tantrums are endearing. But her little show in Costco was over the line. I know the mommy message boards have all sorts of mommy wars over the leashes that people put on their kids (proud leash owner here, its an adorable little fuzzy dog backpack, not like a leather studded neck collar!) - but can you imagine the wars over the 2 yr old straight jacket I'm developing?

I guarantee you it will be a top seller on Amazon.