So tonight, while waiting for a pizza, I picked up a brochure on blood donation. I tried to donate blood, once, back in college, but the nurse took one look at my veins and sent me away unstuck. Apparently I have very small veins and it would take very long time to eke a pint out of me. (Yes, this strikes me as odd too, and really, of all things about me to be small, what good does it do me to have small veins? Small bones would be great, a small nose would be divine, but small veins? That's just pointless.) But according to this pamphlet I read tonight, I couldn't donate blood even if I had veins the size of the Nile, because I lived in the UK for three months in 1993. And thus I'm at an increased chance of having the seeds of mad cow disease in my blood.

I was previously at peace at my inability to donate blood, but now I'm just incensed that I can't. I wonder if there's an appeal process. I wonder if I can tell them (whoever makes up "them") that seriously, the only beef I ate whilst in England was one McDonald's hamburger, the first day I was there, and it tasted so weird to me that I never repeated the exercise. (My dad told me that it was probably because it was grass-fed beef rather than grain-fed. I think I ate mostly cheese and crackers for three months. Oh, and Bounty bars. Bounty bars are awesome, wish they were available in the States. And the chocolate-caramel-shortbread pastries! Yum. Anyway.) The odds of that one quarter pounder with cheese coming from an afflicted cow seem ridiculously low, surely too low to disqualify me from being a blood donor. Especially since the chances of ordinary Britons, who've lived in Britain all their life and who've had a meat and two veg for every single meal and roast every Sunday, contracting mad cow disease are also ridiculously low. And what's with the three month rule? What if I'd stayed there only two months but eaten a McDonald's hamburger every single day? What if I was there one day and ate a contaminated steak at Heathrow airport?

Clearly these musings are why I'm not a statistician, or a public health official, or someone else who sits around making up rules about who can or cannot donate blood.

Speaking of eating, and of dairy products, Phoebe was tending to a baby doll the other day at my in-law's house. She approached my mother-in-law and said, "My baby is really hungry. She wants a piece of candy." Claudia, sensing a ruse, handed over a Hershey's kiss. Phoebe brought it over to her doll's cradle and murmured for a moment. Then she came back over to Claudia and said, "My baby says she's very full." Pause, sigh: "I guess I have to eat it!" Oh, the sacrifices we make for our children!


A girl can write

Sentences by Mallory:

A pris can sel stuf. (A price can sell stuff)

A hart can luv.

Manie can sel stuf. (Money can sell stuff)

Toes can do stuf.

You can do etrefyg. (everything)

Frogs can et flies.

Bees can steg you. (sting)

Latie bugs can flie.

Phoebe has developed the habit of asking how to spell words, but she never believes the answers she gets. "Mommy, how you spell bath?" she'll ask. "B-A-T-H," I'll say. "No," she'll say, "it's called D-H-R-E-F-Y-F." One wonders why she bothers to ask.


A sister is a forever friend, except when she's not

Mallory was very concerned when she learned that Phoebe was getting shots today (at a very late 2-year-check-up). "Poor Phoebe," she said mournfully when we woke up this morning. "Poor little Phoebe," she said again when we loaded up to go to the doctor's. "Oh Phoebe," she said, when Phoebe expressed excitement as we pulled into the doctor's parking lot. "She just doesn't know what she's getting, does she, Mommy?"

Mallory hovered attentively while the nurse checked Phoebe's blood pressure and her hearing and pricked her finger. "Is that blood?" she asked the nurse in a tone of outrage. "You're worried about your sister, aren't you?" the nurse replied. When the actual shot was administered, Mallory cringed and covered her eyes, and then helped me calm Phoebe down by rubbing her back as the victim cried on my lap.

I was reflecting that it was so sweet, so nice to see such an obvious display of love and affection from Mallory for her little sister. They really love each other, I thought, full of motherly pride. Then Phoebe turned her tear-stained face to me and said, "I want Mallory to get a shot too!"


Rocko Bama for President!

I was explaining to Mallory the other night that we'll be electing a new president soon, and then told her who my particular favorite was. She was intrigued by his name and kept asking me to pronounce it; then she asked if the other people who wanted to be president were "bad guys." I said, "Yes! They're evil, evil I tell you!" No, I actually said, "No, they're not bad guys, and one is actually a woman, they just have ideas that I disagree with."

Last night the phone rang and Mallory ran to answer it. She listened for a minute and then her eyes got really wide. "Mommy, you gotta hear this!" she said, bringing me the receiver. I listened; it was a robo-call from my candidate, in his own voice, encouraging me to vote in our upcoming primary. "Do you know who that was?" I asked Mallory.

"It was Rocko Bama!" she said excitedly.

Close enough.

And, just to drive home the point that my daughter is no master of elocution, last night she and Phoebe had this exchange:

Phoebe: Mommy, I want some wallemon.

Mallory: Phoebe, it's pronounced wallermelon.



So I have a cold, and haven't been sleeping that well, and last night while I was not sleeping, for some reason I started a tally in my head of the Worst Moments of My Life, which I will share with you now, not including the precise moment in time at which I was composing this list, which was one of the Worst because I absolutely could not breathe and my throat was sore and my lips were cracked and my face felt like it was about to explode from the sinus pressure. So here you go:

1. Seventh Grade. One day, whilst wearing my pink corduroy pants, the unexpected happened and I was totally unprepared. This has probably happened to every seventh grade girl since the beginning of time, and soon after they realize why every purse ever sold has that hidden zipper pocket. Luckily, I was also wearing a long sweater-tunic thing, so I don't think anyone realized my distress, but man was that ever a long, long day.

2. Spring, 1991. Breaking up with my high school sweetheart. I knew it was the right thing to do for me, but I had a really hard time coming up with a good explanation for him, so it was a horribly awkward and painful conversation on top of the fact that I felt so, so bad for breaking his heart. The nadir was when he asked, "But don't you even care about me anymore?" and I realized that even he knew, by then, not to ask if I still loved him.

3. December 2001. Mallory was a few days old; my parents were there to meet her and to help us out. We were living in our first house, a charming two-bedroom bungalow in Durham; or, in other words, me, Chris, a newborn baby, Mom and Dad, and two huge dogs in 1200 square feet. Mallory was nursing 23 hours out of every day and would not consent to be put down in her bassinet at night; our stupid dog Zack barked every time my dad or mom moved, much less tried to sneak quietly down the hall to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and I was at the end of my rope. One night, after hours of trying to get the child back to sleep, my back killing me from being unable to put her down or lay down myself, I left the nest of pillows on my bed and went to the living room, where my parents were sleeping on the sofa bed. I picked up the pair of jeans my dad had left on the rocking chair -- and about a million dollars worth of loose change spilled out of his pocket and onto the hardwood floors. Pennies rattled and bounced, the dogs started barking, the baby was screaming -- and I stood there in absolute despair, thinking, I just don't want to be a mommy anymore.

4. Sometime in 2004. Mallory was three; I was watching her cavort on the playground of our local mall while Chris was off shopping. Suddenly, Mallory jumped off one of the play structures and ran straight for the playground exit. I leaped up to follow her, but by the time I reached the exit and looked around, she had disappeared completely. The mall was packed, and I stood there in absolute panic; I didn't even know where to start looking, or who to alert, or how I was going to explain to Chris that I had lost our child. I thought -- What if I never find her? Then I heard Chris's voice call, "Mallory!" I looked around, but I was unable to see him, either, which only added to my confusion. Then I heard his voice again -- "Krista, she went that way." I looked, and saw Chris coming down the escalator. He had gotten on at the precise moment she ran away, and thus had a bird's eye view of her progress down the mall corridor. We retrieved her in a matter of seconds and I think Chris yelled at her for running away. I don't think I was able to speak for about five minutes. Later I tried to explain to her that she must never, ever do that again, but I kept tearing up and couldn't get the words out.

5. Summer 2005. Phoebe was a newborn, sleeping in her crib. We were downstairs with Mallory, who launched into a mighty tantrum about I-don't-remember-what. After a few minutes of dealing with her carrying on, I realized that Phoebe was also crying upstairs. I went up, glanced into her crib, and my heart stopped, because she had gotten entangled in her blanket -- it was wrapped around her face and she was struggling, ineffectually, to get free. I immediately scooped her up and pulled off the blanket and needless to say, she was fine, but for the next few minutes, while whispering, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" into her soft fuzzy head, I kept imagining what would've happened if I hadn't heard her, if she hadn't cried, if I'd shown up thirty seconds later.

Reading over these, it strikes me that I'm a very lucky person. It almost feels like tempting fate to post these. Here goes anyway.



I saw a this bumper sticker the other day:

Don't change the way you look.
Change the way you see.

It was timely, that particular sticker, because I've been kind of wrestling with my reaction to something that really is none of my business anyway, something I can't really get into that much on the one-in-a-trillion chance that the person I'm talking about reads this. Short, vague version is that some people we know are doing something that, although well-intentioned and kind-hearted for sure, also seems risky and, well, considering the resources and personalities and possible complications involved, a little nuts. Chris and I have had long conversations about how crazy this is and how it will never work and how it will adversely affect many of the players involved and how it's something we would never, ever, even for a minute consider doing.

But that's the thing, isn't it -- it sounds crazy to me. It sounds like a bad idea to me. I think it's sheer lunacy. I realized, as I was being all Judgey McJudgerson, that I was viewing the situation from the perspective of someone who has never been in this situation, someone who comes from a place of relative privilege and ease, which may in fact mean that my opinion means nothing at all. And that may seem really obvious because we all learn in third grade that you have to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, etc., but it struck me how hard it is, sometimes, to untangle your opinions from the circumstances in your own life that makes you hold those opinions.


K-I-S-S-I-N-G. (N-O-T.)

Mallory announced before bedtime that, before school today when no one was looking, she kissed her boyfriend on the lips. She had the gleam in her eye that usually signals Giant Fib, but I took the hard line nonetheless. "That's not appropriate," I said. "You could get in big trouble if you get caught. No kissing at school."

"No kissing, period," Chris added.

"What does 'period' mean?" Mallory asked.

"It means, no kissing at all. You're too young for that," Chris said.

"When will I be old enough?" our daughter asked. "When I'm sixteen?"

"No...when you're thirty," Chris said.

"Thirty? Are you kidding me?"

"Thirty. And even then, you have to ask our permission first. If we don't like the guy, you won't be allowed."

Mallory thought about that for a minute. Then she said, "How old do I have to be before I can kiss someone without asking you first?"

"Sixty," Chris said.


"Okay, okay. Not sixty. How about...fifty-nine."

"Humph," Mallory said. She climbed into bed and we turned off the light. A few minutes later I heard her say, "I just can't wait til I'm fifty-nine!"


Her Royal Highness

I'm sure somewhere in the vast universe which is the Disney corporation, there is a tally board which records the number of preschool girls who have been snared by the great Princess Marketing Machine...in any case, that number just increased by one Phoebe.

Our house is a veritable treasure trove of Princess Stuff ("Look at this stuff, isn't it neat? Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?" sings Ariel, not-so-subliminally planting the message that princesses have lots of little things!) -- dolls big and small, tshirts, toothbrushes (which Phoebe calls her Sleeping Beauty Brush-Teeth), cups, spoons, diapers, Playdoh, markers, sleeping bags, and so forth. It can all be a bit overwhelming. "I want to play with Ariel number four!" Phoebe told me yesterday. "Um, okay," I said, and I handed her the Ariel Barbie doll. "That's not number four!" Phoebe wailed. I offered the Ariel Polly Pocket figure. "Noooo!" Finally I found the Ariel Zizzler doll and Phoebe was appeased. Whether these numbers will remain constant is yet to be seen.

Phoebe must also be dressed as a princess at all times now. No pants, no shorts, and even the little knit dresses of which we have an overabundance are not quite princessy enough, unless paired with sparkly shoes. Getting dressed in the morning has become quite a challenge; if only I could hire a flock of bluebirds -- a la Cinderella -- to perform the job!

Phoebe's conversations are, of course, now sprinkled with princess-isms. For a while she was routinely addressing me as "Fairy Godmother," as in, "I want some juice, Fairy Godmother!" Guess it beats being the Wicked Stepmother. Last night I asked if she were ready for bed and she said, "No...are you ready for the ball?" We also hear lines of dialogue cropping up here and there: "My father is going to kill me!" (Ariel); "What is that girl up to now?" (Sebastian); "It's more than I ever dreamed!" (Cinderella). More fancifully, she conducted this this conversation between Ariel Number Four and a Jasmine doll of unspecified rank: "This is my boyfriend! I got him from Disney." I cringed at that, but then relaxed a bit at the next line: "My boyfriend really respects me!"

I'm not sure where that came from, but I'm hoping it's the message that sticks.



Monday night I opened up Mallory's lunch box and saw that, of the ham sandwich, orange slices, and pudding cup I had packed that morning, she had taken only one bite of the sandwich. "Mallory, why didn't you eat your lunch today?" I asked.

"Um, I didn't have time," she said.

"Why didn't you have time?"

"Lunch was really short today," she explained.

Tuesday night I opened up Mallory's lunch box and saw that she had eaten one bite of sandwich and all the pudding. That night Mallory also had a stomachache. "Did you have a stomachache at lunch too? Is that why you didn't eat?" I asked.

"No, I didn't eat because I was talking to my friends and ran out of time," she said. "I think I have a stomachache because I only ate my pudding. And then I had ice cream at Mama and Papa's house after school."

Ah. The next morning I packed only a sandwich and an orange, no pudding, and also told Papa that they were to inspect Mallory's lunch box before giving her a snack, and that if she hadn't eaten most of her sandwich and most of her fruit, she was not to have a treat after school.

So Wednesday afternoon, my mother-in-law opened up the lunch box, and Mallory said, "Before you say anything, you need to understand that my friends have a lot of questions for me at lunch time! And I have to answer them and it's not my fault I don't have time to eat! What do you want me to do, not answer their questions?"

But she had, in fact, eaten most of her lunch that day, so all was well. As Chris said, it's hard to be so popular.