As promised, Phoebe funnies

One wonderful thing about parenting is when you realize that you love your kids not just because they are your kids, but also because they happen to be great kids. (Of course you have to have something in reserve for those moments when they’re just horrible.) Even as a baby, Phoebe had a pretty strong personality, but lately she’s really come into her own and she’s a definite person now. I think what I love most is how self-assured she seems; everything she does, she does with a great deal of determination and sense of purpose. Everything she says, she says with a sense of the worth of her own words. Which is not to say that she can’t be goofy and spontaneous; she often is, but she flings herself into goofiness with her whole being as well.

It’s hard to convey what I mean with a few snippets of conversation; nonetheless, here are some of the funny things she’s said in the last week or so.

One night she threw a paperback book at Mallory. Chris scolded her; she picked up another book and said, “I’m trying to read, okay?” She will often respond to a “Just a minute” or “No, not now” by saying “Fine!” and flouncing away. Hmm, wonder where she learned that? And if I reprimand her, she will shout, “’Stand?” back at me (shorthand for “Do you understand?”) It’s hard to reach respect to a 2-year-old, especially when the disrespect is so funny.

Last Saturday we were driving home; the moon was almost full. Phoebe kept seeing it at different angles from her window and apparently thought it was a new moon each time. “It’s another moon, Daddy!” she would say. Then, inexplicably, she would add, “That’s a green one!” or “That one’s purple!”

Late one night, lying in bed with her, I asked her why she wouldn’t go to sleep. She said, “Well, Mommy…” and I waited for something very profound. She concluded, “Somewhere…there are apples.”

She has a great vocabulary. When she puts on a dress, she declares herself “Bee-ful.” We were playing with trains the other day and each time she’d pick up a different engine or piece of track she’d say, “This one is per-tet” (perfect). We were looking at an alphabet book (not the dreaded Bizarre Animal Alphabet that so befuddled Mallory) and she identified an um-bella, an efenant, an octopus, and a piano with no trouble. On the other hand, her syntax can still be a bit confused: “I’m stuck! I really do am stuck!” she’ll say; or, “Mommy, I carry you me!”

Mallory, as I mentioned in my last post, has claimed Drake Bell of the show "Drake and Josh" as her new boyfriend; she says that Phoebe’s boyfriend is Josh. Drake is the cool kid on the show and Josh is a bit of a dork; I sympathize with Phoebe in this, because my older sister, when we played pretend, would make me be Helen Reddy while she got to be the more glamorous Olivia Newton John, or; even worse, she’d get to be Cher while I was stuck being Sonny. Anyway, the other day in the car Mallory said that maybe her best friend’s little brother could be Phoebe’s boyfriend instead. “No, I don’t want to,” Phoebe said. “Then who is your boyfriend?” Mallory asked. Phoebe cut her eyes over at Mallory and said, “Drake Bell!” It could not have been a more deliberate attempt to irritate her big sister.

It’s so much fun, having her around. She is bee-ful and pertet herself.

Phoebe’s Favorites at Two
Food: Strictly vegetarian! Tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, yogurt, and Goldfish
Book: Max’s Chocolate Chicken
TV Show: "Ruby and Max"
Song: Jingle Bells, Tomorrow
Movie: Annie
Toy: “Beebies”

And, as a bonus, here’s something funny about my other child. For about a year, Mallory has been writing her name like this:

M A l l O R Y (note the lower-case L’s)

I guess they learned about lower case letters in school, because now she’s writing her name like this:

M a L L o r y



My Favorites

Lately, Phoebe has a lot of favorite things. "Read this book, Mommy," she'll say, "it's my fave-wit." Tomatoes are also her favorite, as are grapes and yogurt. Her blue shirt is her favorite until she changes into a pink one. Her little puppy pink one is her most favorite of all. ("Where my puppy pink one? It's my fave-wit.") Here are a few of my favorite things about the last few days.

Mallory and I made this together:

It's to display all her school papers and artwork. She painted most of it; I helped a bit and glued on the clothespins. I may choose the new colors for our kitchen around it, as the only good place to hang it up is on the kitchen wall.

(I was going to just let you wonder about the fortune cookies, but I'll go ahead and add that the cookies were entirely Mallory's idea. And when Phoebe does anything particularly pleasing Mallory will say, "You can go get a fortune cookie off the board!" Although once she got one just because it was August. My girl. Always thinking outside the box. Or about cookies.)

I am also loving our new lunch boxes:

I want to pack an interesting, nutritious lunch for Mallory each day without using any plastic bags. I have a bunch of containers but I'm always losing the lids, plus I can't always get them arranged to my satisfaction. This lunchbox solves these problems. It comes with these four containers (plus a wee one for dressing or dips) and it all closes up and fits into this:

...which also has space for a water bottle and an ice pack. This was her first-day lunch -- a ham sandwich, strawberries, carrots, and part of a 100-calorie pack of Oreos. Today she had a pb&j, watermelon, popcorn, and carrots. The parent handbook states that all lunches will be "evaluated for nutritional value" so I hope I'm passing the test. I'd hate for the nuns to come after me. (Joke. Mallory is going to a Catholic school but there are no nuns. In fact her teacher is Baptist.) I bought one of these cool lunch boxes for myself too, in fact. It makes packing lunch fun! (Actually it doesn't really. It's been three days and I'm already sick of packing lunch. Oh well.)

In other news, we had Phoebe's picture taken and she actually smiled! Here's proof:

Sorry for the quality; my scanner is on the fritz so I had to take pictures of the pictures. But they're pretty cute, aren't they? She was having a fabulous time. I have lots of funny Phoebe stories to share. Perhaps tomorrow.

Here's something not on the favorite list:

If you're looking for a nice sturdy shade tree, do not choose the Bradford pear.

Mallory has a new favorite:

She is recently obsessed with the Nickelodeon show "Drake and Josh." Drake, one of the stars (all three of whose pictures she cut out of a magazine and GLUED to the door, as you can see), is her new boyfriend. The Drake obsession is rivaled in intensity by the Grease obsession of '05. Sometimes I wish she would become obsessed with multiplication tables, or state capitals, or putting things away.

Oh, and baby wipes are Phoebe's fave-wit.



"How was your first day of school?" I asked.

"Great!" she said. Then added, "That means really good, you know."

"I want juice, Mommy!"

"No, it's almost bedtime. You can have some water."

"But juice is my favorite!"

I'm taking the rest of the week off. Woohoo! In the next three days I have to:

  • Attend Parent Orientation for Mallory's school and Phoebe's Parent's Morning Out program.

  • Take kids to dentist.

  • Get car inspected.

  • Take kids to bouncy house fun place because we saw one the other day and Mallory threw a huge tantrum because I wouldn't take her RIGHT AWAY so I promised we'd do it at a later date.

  • Take Phoebe for her two-year portrait. If she actually smiles, I will buy said portraits, but I'm not holding my breath.

  • Clean up my kitchen. I have to make space for lunch-making apparatus (apparati?) and otherwise declutter because I MUST get started on the great wallpaper removal/painting project. I really want to get that done by the end of the year.

  • Try not to melt in the 100 degree heat.

  • Make banana bread with the bunch of near-rotten bananas on my counter. Remember not to buy any more bananas for a while because no one ever eats them.

Aimee & Seth
Happy Anniversary, you two!


Mallory, in Kindergarten

Here she is, all uniformed-up:

Here she is at her desk:

She looks a bit drowsy, doesn't she? Two reasons: Despite my best intentions, I wasn't able to get the kids on a back-to-school bedtime schedule last week, so she's not quite used to getting up at 7:00 yet. Also, her allergies have been pretty bad this week. The only hitch in an otherwise-smooth morning was when I tried to give her some Claritin. "I don't want medicine! What flavor is it?" she asked, and I told her. She started to cry. "I don't want it if it's poop-flavored!" "Not poop, fruit!" I said, and all was well.

She's so excited about school, I hope she loves it. She was a bit relieved to learn that there will probably be no homework for a few months. She didn't impress me with her back-to-school assignment; she was to draw a picture of her favorite summer activity. She procrastinated and put it off until yesterday afternoon, when I told her she couldn't watch her favorite show unless she did it. She sat down at her desk and asked me to draw an airplane for her. "No, it's your homework, you have to do it," I said. She sighed heavily. "How do you spell vacation?" she asked. I told her. She wrote "Vacation" across the top of the page and then drew two stick figures. "Who's that?" I asked. "I don't know, someone we saw on vacation," she said. "I'm done now!" It was not her best effort, needless to say. I hope she gets more motivated as the year goes on!

Phoebe is really going to miss her sister. All the way back to the car this morning she was saying, "Me too! Me too! I go to school too!" Poor girl. She might also benefit from a uniform, incidentally:

I can't believe I have a child in school. I didn't think it would upset me, but I got teary in the classroom and probably would've cried all the way to work if I'd allowed myself to. I just want her to be happy, all the time.



My friend A has a son, G., whom I consider my first baby. He's ten now, but he was born (ten years ago, obviously) before Chris and I got married, when we had plenty of time on our hands, and I hung out with A and G almost every weekend. Then both of our families moved to new houses and weren't able to visit as often, but A and I still talk on the phone almost every day. (G apparently loves it when A relays to him funny stories about Mallory and Phoebe.)

When Mallory was 8 or 9 months old, we had a daycare crisis and A babysat for a day or two. During her naps, G sat outside the bedroom door with a plastic baseball bat in his hands, just in case bad guys came to get her.

A few days ago, A told G that Mallory would be starting kindergarten soon. G asked if she'd be going to his school and A said no. G said, "That's too bad. If she came to my school, she'd have someone to take care of her. She wouldn't have to worry about a thing."

I'm a little sad that our families have grown apart and we don't see each other very often. But it's nice to know that G will always be there for Mallory anyway.



A good friend of ours died on Sunday. I guess technically he was Chris's friend, but he was one of the nicest, most big-hearted guys you could ever meet and I always enjoyed hanging out with him too. There are tributes to him all over the internet today -- he was a very talented, very well-known comics artist -- and I'm not even going to try to compete with those. He had a heart attack; he was 44. This definitely goes in the "not fair" category. Rest in peace, Mike; we miss you.


School Supplies

We're going to buy the rest of Mallory's school supplies this weekend -- some crayons, some index cards (?), a box of Ziploc bags (??). She's already picked out her backpack, a cheap-looking, garish Disney princess item which may not last the semester, much less the year. I thought about ordering her a really nice backpack from Land's End, but have held off due to the school supply ghosts in my own closet.

1. Third grade. I don't remember exactly why, whether I was feeling rushed or pressured while shopping, or whether there just were no other good options, but I wound up with a notebook (a binder, a Trapper Keeper, if you will) that I just hated. It had a picture of a cat on the front; and not only have I never been a cat person, but this particular cat had a weird marking, like a Hitler mustache, under his nose. He was Gestapo cat. I loathed that cat and I loathed that notebook and every year, each time I took it out of my desk or put it in my bookbag, I was filled with deep regret and resentment that THIS was my notebook. It was a hard year.

2. As a high school graduation present from somebody, I received a very nice backpack...with my name embroidered across the back in flowery, cursive pink. There was no reason not to use this backpack, as it had many fine features. But I hated having my name on the back. It embarrassed me; it made me feel about 10 years old. I carried the backpack dutifully all four years of college but I never liked it.

So I let Mallory get the cheap princess backpack...because if she comes to me in three months and says, Mom, I've decided I hate this backpack, I won't feel any qualms buying her another one.

Just finished reading:

Harry Potter, obviously
The Water's Lovely by Ruth Rendell
How the Light Gets In by M.J. Hyland



Mallory has been exceptionally sweet to her sister lately. Last night, for example, Phoebe was playing with Play-Doh while I made dinner. Mallory came over, saw that Phoebe had smushed three different colors all together in one big ball, and said, "Phoebe, that's great! You made a rainbow!"

A few days ago, we were getting dressed to go somewhere and Phoebe asked to wear a princess costume. I said no, but that she could wear her denim Elmo jumper instead. I put it on and she collapsed into sobs. "I not pretty now!" she wept. Mallory ran over and hugged her and said, "You are pretty, Phoebe! I always wanted a pretty little doll to play with and instead I got you and you're such a pretty real baby!" Which cheered Phoebe right up and made me cry.

I've read that parents of my generation are creating a bunch of "praise junkies" because we tend to say "Good job!" to our children too often. This makes kids expect to be praised for every little thing and keeps them from feeling intrinsic satisfaction in their accomplishments. I don't know whether I believe that or not, but I feel a bit of knee-jerk guilt every time I let a "good job!" slip out. But what else, I ask you, can you say to a 2-year-old learning to use the potty? "Nice pee, Phoebe! Excellent bladder control, young lady!" Phoebe herself examined her potty chair after one successful foray and commented, "Wow! I peed really very high!"

And here's the age-old dilemma. What do you do with the above-mentioned potty-learning 2-year-old when they ask to go potty when they're supposed to be going to sleep? It's the perfect excuse to get out of bed and she knows it. I hate to say no (because usually she really does pee) but I also want her to stay in bed. Sigh. Parenting, it's all so hard.


The Kind of Week It's Been

Me: Why did we have children?

Chris: Because we were stupid.

Chris and I have both been sick with colds. Mallory had "Sports Camp" all week, which she loved, but which absolutely wiped her out so she was tired and cranky every evening. Plus I had to get her up, breakfasted, and out the door on a schedule every morning after a whole summer of lazy mornings. (We were only late once! But when school starts we'll have to be out the door a whole hour earlier and being late is not an option. Sigh.) And Phoebe has been taking very late naps, despite everyone's best efforts to get her down earlier, and thus not going to bed until 11:00. And did I mention Chris and I are sick? I just want to curl up under my desk and take a nap.

Mallory, Phoebe and I took care of our neighbor's pets while they were on vacation. They have a guinea pig, a rabbit, and a cat. The girls were very excited about petsitting; they especially loved giving carrots to the rabbit and guinea pig. (Phoebe would kneel down beside the cage and croon, "Hello budgy-wudgy, cute little budgy-wudgy!") They also really like the cat, but the cat does not like little girls and would run and hide as soon as we entered the house. Well, on Tuesday morning, Mallory and I fed the animals and then left for Sports Camp. We were about two blocks from home when Mallory said, "Mommy, can cats jump?"

"Yes, cats are good jumpers."

"Umm...can cats get out of...traps?"

"Mallory, what did you do?"

She never confessed exactly, but apparently she tried, somehow, to "trap" poor Randall. I had to call Chris and ask him to go check and make sure the cat was okay. (He was. Apparently cats can get out of traps.) And I delivered a long lecture about responsibility and kindness to animals and so forth. Whether it sunk in I do not know.

Last night Mallory shoved a doll up her shirt and announced she was having a baby. I said that was nice, but that it was time for dinner. We sat. A few minutes later she asked for a new fork because hers was somehow contaminated. I said, "If you would like a new fork, you can get up and fetch it yourself." She said, "Hello, I'm having a baby here!"

Mallory starts kindergarten in two weeks. Yikes. I am trying to think of a way to adjust my work schedule. I can't get to work any earlier than 9 once school starts due to drop-off time; I have to work 7.5 hours each day, so if I don't take lunch I can leave at 4:30. That gets me home around 5:15. I hate getting home that late; there's no time for grocery shopping or going to the library or anything like that. (What I'd love to do is join the YMCA and take the kids there a couple of days a week; right now there's just no time.) And I don't think that Mallory's going to have homework this year, but if she does, when is that going to get done? I'm wondering if I should try leaving early a few days a week -- say, by 3:45 on Mon, Tues, and Wed. Of course, then I'd have to stay til 5 or 5:30 Thursday and Friday. I'm wondering if it would be worth it. Sigh. It's very hard when your work interferes with your life.

It's tax-free weekend! Must go shopping!

This made me laugh:

The devil flames really get to me. Of course 99 is hot, but it's not hellaciously hotter than 97. Now if the temperature were to jump up to 115 or something, that would be something. I don't know, maybe it's because I'm doped up on Sudafed. The end.


Maybe "Gifted" Wasn't Quite Right

Random memory: Once when I was nine or ten I glanced through a book of my mother's about gifted children, thinking that it was all about me. The book was, I think, just a resource guide to educational policies in different states. As I flipped through it, I kept seeing the word "adopted" -- I assume because the text discussed the adoption of certain programs or procedures by school districts.

But instead of reading to clarify the point, I just dropped the book and walked away, because I thought it meant that IF you were a gifted child, then you had to have been adopted. And I didn't want to know which one I was. Or wasn't, come to that.

I was a real genius, all right.

PS In the alphabet book we were reading last week, U was for Uakari (a Brazilian monkey) and Z was for Zorilla (an African skunk). So yeah, the author was just mean.