Kids' Clothing Conundrum

I was going to be "kute" and title this "Kids' Klothing Konundrum," but then I realized that the post initials would be KKK. And that reminded me of something that happened when I was editing my grannie's diaries. She wrote that she was working on a "KKK quilt," and, rather bemused, I decided to try to find out what kind of pattern that was. I went online and found a "historical quilters' forum" and posted a question -- "My great-grandmother's diary mentions a KKK quilt, I'm quite certain she didn't mean the Klan; does anyone have any information on what kind of quilt this might be?" One person responded: "In fact it probably was a Klan quilt! They were quite common a few decades ago, especially in the South. Everyone was a little bit racist back then, so you shouldn't think badly of your grandmother!"

Thanks, lady!

I ended up just leaving that particular sentence out of the book, but to this day I maintain that my grannie was not making a Klan quilt. (Whatever a Klan quilt might look like.) Grannie was not shy about speaking her mind on any subject, but no where in 15 years worth of writing did she ever say anything even remotely racist. So, if anyone reading knows what a KKK quilt really is, please let me know!

And my original point was...

I am annoyed by the state of girls' clothing today. Mallory is big for her age; she's 5, but in a size 7 already. This means we have to shop in the "tween" department, and let me tell you, there's nothing tweeny that I would allow my daughter to wear out of the house. And that's going to remain true even when she really is a tween. The tight pants, the cropped tops, the slinky dresses, the short-shorts -- no. The t-shirts with "Hot Chix" or "Love to Shop" or "I Heart Boys" written on them -- no. The clunky sandals with the high heels -- no. That's not even a tween thing. One of my pet peeves is seeing little girls -- girls even Phoebe's age -- in sandals that they can't keep on their feet and walk around properly in. Little girls need to run and climb and go down the slide and they can't do that in high-heeled shoes. Actually they can't do those things in too-tight pants, either. In fact, I think that the constrictedness (is that a workd?) of these clothes bothers me almost as much as their inappropriate "sexiness." Why is that boys get to walk around in huge tshirts and baggy shorts -- which are maybe not very attractive, but at least they're comfortable -- while girls have to wear shirts they have to keep tugging on to make sure their bellies are covered, and shorts they have to keep pulling on to make sure their underwear isn't showing? This is all a conspiracy of some sort, I'm sure.

Anyway, what I've had to do is order most of Mallory's spring clothes from Land's End and L.L. Bean. Loose knit dresses, knit shorts, roomy t-shirts without offensive slogans -- that's what my 5-year-old will be wearing. And the idea of sending her to Catholic school, where she'd have to wear a uniform every day -- the same uniform as the boys, by the way, khaki pants and a polo shirt, is frankly looking better and better.

Just Finished Reading

Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction by Sue Townsend

How I love Adrian Mole. I read his first diary when I was in England (thus understanding all the references to Bounty bars (delicious!) and tellies and Boots) and have kept up with him ever since. Very few books make me laugh out loud; these do.

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

This is a Victorian mystery novel, so I was almost guaranteed to like it, and it was pretty much un-put-downable. (It's about 500 pages and I read it in three days.) The author did a great job of incorporating details about Victorian society -- in particular, the incredible constraints on women of all classes -- into the book without making it read like history text. And it's going to be the first in a series, so I have more books to look forward to. Hooray! I love discovering new authors.


Rare Form

A few days ago Chris helped Mallory paint her face like a clown. "Aren't you surprised to see me like this?" she said to me. I said I was. "Mommy, I really really want to be a real clown," she continued. "But I don't mean when I'm a grownup. I just mean when I'm still a little kid. So can I go to the circus and be a clown, can I?"

I said I wasn't sure if the circus was in town. "Well, they can just come to our house, right?"

To divert her from this line of questioning, I asked what her clown name was. "Bingo!" she said. "No, Molly. Molly the Clown. No...you can just call me Mallory."

Tuesday night when she emerged from the bathroom -- where she was supposed to be brushing her teeth -- with lip gloss smeared all over her cheeks, in an attempt to recreate the clown look. "I hope we can get that cleaned off before you go to school tomorrow," I said.

"Well," she said. "If we can't, can you just call Miss Suzanne and tell her I can't come to school because I have clown face?"

The other night Mallory asked to play the rhyme game. "Pop," I supplied.






Hm. Mar is a word, but I didn't think it was a word Mallory knew. I was sensing a trend. "Cup," I said.


"Mup is not a word."

"But it rhymes!"

"Yes, the sound rhymes, but you have to use a real word. Try again...Couch."


Phoebe -- incidentally, what am I going to do with the child's hair? -- is in to sorting and naming lately. She'll choose a crayon, hold it up, and proclaim, "It's geen!"

"No, it's orange," I'll say.

"Oh. Arsh." The orange crayon discarded, she'll pick another and say, "It's geen!"

"No, it's purple."

"Oh. Pupple." Another crayon. "It's geen!"

"No, it's yellow."

"Oh. Lellow."

Similarly, she'll choose a magnetic letter. "It's a Bee!"

"No, it's an S."

"Oh. Ess." Another one. "It's a Bee!"

"No, it's an H."

"Oh. Aish." Another one. "It's a Bee!"

"No, that's a seven."

"Oh. Eight!"

Phoebe is constantly asking us to open things. "Ope it," she'll say, bringing me a box of crayons. "Ope it," she'll say, handing me a bag of fruit snacks. She's also asked me to "Ope" an orange and a cucumber. "I can't open the cucumber," I said. "Ope it!" she commanded. So I peeled and sliced it and darned if she didn't eat almost half of the thing. (She also eats raw celery. Not my child!)

Her attention span has become, at times, disturbingly long. The other night she spent, and I am not kidding, a solid hour playing with a washcloth and a Barbie boot. With the boot stuck firmly on her thumb, she picked up and spread out the washcloth over and over and over again, murmuring to it all the while. It was mostly babbling interspersed with plenty of "Okay"s and a few "I put soap"s and "I dry"s. She finally gave up the washcloth when she spied a box of baby wipes. "Trash!" she said disdainfully of the washcloth, and then spent about twenty minutes "cleaning" the kitchen with her wipe. (Every surface under 33 inches looks really nice!) At one point I was standing in her way, so she placed both hands on my leg and said, "Push! Push!" until I moved.

Homer Simpson was right when he said of children, "The sooner they talk, the sooner they talk back." Phoebe has started to counter everything we say with, "No, I want _____!" For example:

"Phoebe, it's time to go to bed."

"No, I want to sit. No, I want to play."

"Phoebe, please close the refrigerator."

"No, I want i-keem."

"Phoebe, don't drink the bathwater, it's yucky."

"No, I want drink!"

"Phoebe, let's not play with the fingernail clippers, they're sharp."

"No, I want sharp!"

My kids are pretty delicious.


Why a Huge Crisis Cropped Up at Work Today

1. Because my boss is in Orlando.

2. Because I wanted to take a longish lunch and go shopping for spring clothes for the kids.

3. Because I have a really, really good blog post to write about funny things the kids have been doing.

4. Because it's a gorgeous day.

5. But mostly, because my boss is in Orlando.


Clearly does not have children of her own

A few weeks ago Chris brought the kids to my office for a visit, and while they were here, Mallory asked to visit the ladies'. (This was after she said to my boss, "Is it okay with you if my mommy never comes to work again?") She went into a stall; I waited her off to the side; after about 30 seconds I heard a shriek and an "Excuse me!" coming from the stall next to her. Apparently Mallory had thought I was in there and had peeked under her wall to see me, surprising the actual occupant of the stall. I immediately told Mallory to stop what she was doing and added, "I'm so sorry," to the person within.

The woman emerged after another minute. It was someone I'd worked with on a few projects; we had a nod-and-smile-at-each-other-in-the-hallway kind of relationship. "Please excuse my daughter," I said to her. She grimaced in my direction, washed her hands, and left. And ever since, there is no more nodding and smiling when she sees me in the hall.

Am I right to think she's overreacting just a bit? I mean, clearly it's not nice to be peeked at in the bathroom, but then again, Mallory's a little kid. And I reprimanded her. And I apologized for her twice. Is there anything else I should have done to make things right?

Just wait til she has a 5-year-old. Then she'll understand.


Friday Weigh-In 3

I gained a pound this week.

Blech. I think it was rebounding from the flu. And my failure to get to the grocery store to buy more vegetables. And the fact that it's so, so very cold outside and when it's cold you don't want to eat a salad anyway, you want lasagna.

I'll keep plugging away.

On to something more interesting: my children! I haven't posted pictures for a while, so here are some I took at the playground the last time we were able to venture outside.

Can you believe my baby is old enough to climb all the way up there all by herself?

Whirly girls.


It's Always Something

I have Restless Leg Syndrome, or, as Kramer on Seinfeld so aptly described it, "the jimmy legs." This is an honest-to-God medical condition (Chris) and it can be pretty miserable. My restless legs got really bad during pregnancy and are aggravated, I found out last week, when I take cold medicine -- I actually got restless arms one night after taking some Nyquil.

I've found one thing that helps (well, other than sleeping on my stomach with my legs folded in a weird way) -- homeopathic leg cramp tablets with quinine. They're not foolproof, though. So imagine my excitement when I came across an ad for prescription Restless Legs relief in an Entertainment Weekly. I almost dropped everything and called me doctor to ask him if the drug was right for me right away!

But then I read the list of side effects. They included the usual -- nausea, headache, nosebleeds, etc. But the drug apparently caused some people to fall asleep suddenly when performing other tasks, such as driving. The drug may also cause patients to develop impulsive behaviors, such as pathological gambling.

I think I'd prefer not to develop a gambling problem at this point in my life. I'll live with my jimmy legs for a while longer.



Last night I got a taste of what helping Mallory with her homework will be like in years to come. And I didn't much like it.

Our task was to address the Valentines cards for her classmates. And it wasn't that Mallory wasn't excited about this -- she was. And she was even being cooperative, for once. The problem was that she wanted to do it all herself, and it took forever. And it was tedious. And my tongue was getting numb because I had to keep preventing myself from saying things like, "If you would just start at the edge you'd have room to write the whole name," or, "This is the third time I've shown you how to make an H," or, "The letters need to go in ORDER," because really, she was doing her best, and she was doing a fine job for a just-turned-five-year-old, and who cared anyway if she didn't plan ahead and most of her cards were signed:
It was just hard for me to sit back and watch her do things not quite perfectly. I need to get a grip.

Then once all the cards were done, she wanted to draw a picture for her teacher. "You have to guess what the picture is about," she said, words that would strike trepidation into any parent's heart. She drew two people with some...thing...in between them. "I'll give you a clue," she said. "The daddy has a square head and the mommy has a circle head. That's on purpose. And the baby is in the middle."

"Oh," I said. "So it's a family. Very nice!"

"But what are their names?" she asked.

"Um...Mommy, Daddy and Mallory?"

"Nooo," she said, disgusted. "I'm not a baby. What do you think the baby is IN?" she continued, pointing to the shape in the middle.

"A...swing?" I hazarded.

"Noooo." She shook her head, disappointed. "I'll draw some more." She drew the sun at the top and I said, "The sun!" Wrong again -- it was a star. "It's nighttime," she said.

"So the family is camping out?"

"No. Does it look like I drew a tent?"

"No," I said hastily. I watched as she drew more starts -- big circles with lots of spikes. After she drew the spikes she'd scribble a dot in the center of the circle. "What's the dot for?" I asked.

"That's the middle of the star," she said.

"I see." I watched her draw more stars, and then the obvious dawned. "Oh! It's Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus!"

Mallory beamed. "Of course!" she said.

Of course.

My sweetie came through for all of us today. Last night I mentioned that I hadn't had a chance to get Valentine's presents for the kids, since I spent all weekend hovering near death. Chris said maybe they wouldn't notice. But we went downstairs this morning to find cards for all of us, candy for the girls, and a rose for me. Thanks honey! Sorry I have nothing for you. Except my undying love, of course. That'll have to suffice!


Friday Weigh-In 2

Lost this week: 4 lbs. Total: 7 lbs.

I'm not putting too much weight (HA!) in those numbers because for the past four days I've been curled up in bed shaking with ague and ingesting nothing but chicken soup and grape juice. So it could be that once I start eating again, I'll gain a little bit back. Or it could turn out to be "legit" and it'll be a nice jump-start. Either way, it looks like progress so I'll take it.

And now I'm going back to bed.


Call it Path to Absoriffia, Or Something

So, they've gone and made a movie of one of my very favorite books from childhood, Bridge to Terabithia. Have you read it? It's a beautiful story about friendship and kindness, and class and poverty and being "different," and about using your imagination to get through life's hard spots. It's a gentle book that treats its readers -- children -- with respect, and addresses some very mature issues without condescension or sentimentality.

The movie, on the other hand, is about monsters that come to life and two kids that have to "find the key" to "unlock the mystery" and "return to safety". Or something like that.

When I saw the preview on TV Saturday morning, I'm afraid I was less than calm. "Oh my GOD!" I shouted, and of course Phoebe repeated me. "I don't BELIEVE this!" I yelled at Chris, who sympathized.

The thing is, if you want to make a movie about a couple of kids who invent a magical world that then actually comes to life and threatens their safety -- fine! Make that movie! More power to you! Just don't call it Bridge to Terabithia, because that's not what Bridge to Terabithia is all about.



Mallory attended a birthday party this weekend featuring BB the Magic Clown. About halfway through the program, she came over to me and whispered, "Can I be a magic guy when I grow up?"

"I guess so," I said, surprised.

"How can I do it?" she asked.

"I guess you'll have to go to magic school," I said. She said, "Okay!" and ran back to watch the rest of the show.

Now, some of you may think this is not the best career path for a 5-year-old to embark upon, but I'm a bit excited and I hope she goes for it. Because if she does become a Magician Clown, she can explain all the tricks to me.

I was baffled by BB the Clown. He was, frankly, kind of old and fat and he told really dumb jokes, but some of his tricks were amazing. He held up a coloring book and flipped through it and it was perfectly clear that all the pages were blank. He said that this was a poor excuse for a coloring book and waved his wand and flipped through it again and all the pages had words on them. Then he subsequently added pictures, and then color (but outside the lines) and then that changed to color inside the lines but not appropriate (green hair, purple skin) and then that changed to appropriate colors in all the right places in the pictures. Now how did he do that? He never switched books, he never added anything or took anything away. I am still wondering how he did that and frankly I'm a bit miffed that I was so thoroughly tricked by an old fat man named BB.

What's not so magical is that we're all sick, except Phoebe. Chris and I have colds and Mallory has a cold with a high fever; she's missed two days of school. What's annoying is having to go to the pharmacy counter to buy decongestant. Of all the dumb laws, this pseudoephredine-buying restriction is the worst. A few months ago I tried to buy infant's cold medicine for Phoebe and children's cold medicine for Mallory at the same time, and the Wal-mart pharmacist told me that I could only buy one at a time. I said I had two sick kids of different ages, so what did she expect me to do? I even had them both in the cart with me, runny noses and all -- clearly I was not taking the Infants Pediacare and the Simply Stuffy to a meth lab. Clearly I just wanted my children to be able to breathe properly. Makes me angry to think of it.

What's also not magical is my inability to write a coherent sentence because I'm not breathing all that properly myself right now.

What's not necessarily magical, but is nevertheless adorable, is what Phoebe said last night when she was (finally) ready to go to bed. I opened the door to the girls' bedroom (where Mallory had been sleeping for hours already) and Phoebe walked in and put her finger to her lips and said, "Ssshh! Kite! My-ee seep!" (Quiet! Mallory's sleeping!) As frustrating as it is when Phoebe won't go to bed on time, I do enjoy these late-night moments with her.


Friday Weigh-In

I've lost three pounds!


Actually yesterday I started reading the book that I'm basing my diet (I mean, my lifestyle-change) on, and as it turns out, I'm not supposed to weigh myself for a whole month. And for four weeks I'm not supposed to be cutting calories so much as raising my metabolism by eating regular meals and exercising more. So I haven't done exactly what I was supposed to be doing, but who cares, because I lost three pounds!

I have a series of "presents" I'm going to give to myself once I meet particular goals. For example, once I lose ten pounds I'm going to get a haircut and have my eyebrows waxed. (Believe it or not, this is a true luxury for me. I don't get my hair cut nearly as often as I should.) Twenty pounds, I may get my hair highlighted, or get a facial. I figure these incentives will make me feel good about myself and it's better than rewarding myself with an Oreo blizzard.

I think what Mom said about the body adjusting to changes in four day segments must be true. I had an awful, awful headache on Tuesday and I think it was because my body was wondering where all the sweet, sweet sugar was. Now I'm feeling okay. And I'm surprised at how much I'm actually enjoying the food I'm eating. Sweet potatoes -- they're not bad! Baby carrots -- a very satisfying snack! (In fact I may turn orange from all the baby carrots I'm eating.) Diced cherry tomatoes and cucumbers in a whole wheat pita pocket with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette -- the best lunch I had all week! And who needs Oreos when you have cashew nuts, anyway? (Have I mentioned Oreos twice in this post? Hmmm...)

Exercising has been difficult because the weather has been awful (another snow-turned-to-rain day yesterday) and because Phoebe will not go to bed on time, so I haven't been able to do my Pilates. But I'll keep trying. Because I have a whole lot further to go.

On an unrelated note...don't you hate it when you don't have time to wash your hair in the morning? And you know that you should just apply a dab of hair gel, run your comb through it, and accept that it's just not going to look that great, but then you can't stop futzing with it? And you try a barette, and a little clip, and parting it on the other side, and nothing makes it look better, and then you realize that all the futzing has made it look worse? And in all the time you took messing around you could've just washed it, but now you're even later than you were before? I hate those days.