Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2008

Get over it, people

My company, in a rare display of forward-thinking, set aside an empty office for the use of new mothers needing to pump for their babies -- in the past few months, I think five women have returned from maternity leave. The office is right next to my cubicle, and features a lock and a tasteful shower curtain across the interior window (so nobody can see in). Seeing all these moms go in with their pumps, several times a day, makes me not at all nostalgic for that phase of my life.

Anyway, at least once a day, it seems, someone will walk by the office, do a double take, and say, "What's with the shower curtain? Who's using that office?" And either I or my boss will reply, "Oh, that's the lactation room." And invariably, the person will say something like, "I'm sorry I asked!" or "Too much information!" or "You're kidding, right?" or "Yikes, I'm outta here!" (And then there was the person who said, "Yo…

On her sleeve, a broken heart

A playdate turned very, very sour for my daughter yesterday; her two friends turned on her, rejected her, went off to another house and told her not to follow. I saw the whole thing and it wasn't Mallory's fault; I would be the last to claim that she's a perfect child, but honestly she did nothing to deserve being treated the way she was. It was a classic case of little girl manipulation and power-tripping. When the one girl said, "We're going to my house, and you're not invited," Mallory simply collapsed. "She's faking," the other girl said. When I stepped in and suggested that they both leave our yard (before I smack the both of you, I did not add), Mallory cried even harder. "Don't leave! I don't want you to leave!" she said, and then, as they left, "No! Let me come with you! I want to play with you! Whatever I did, I'm sorry!" She actually ran down the street after them, wailing and begging them to return.…


What do you do with a child who says, on a Thursday night after attending four days of Vacation Bible School, that she doesn't want to go back on Friday, the last day? When she refuses and refuses and refuses to give a good reason, and then says that it's because "boys were kicking her," and when you refuse to believe that kicking would be tolerated at a church function for children, amends that to "boys were scribbling on my art project"? And when you explain that sometimes bad things like that happen but you can't let it get you down, or allow it to spoil your fun, she just reiterates (again and again) that she won't go to Bible School, she won't, she won't, she won't, you're mean if you make her. And the next morning, as you're trying to get ready for work, she goes on to say that the music at Bible School is too loud and hurts her ears, and that the snacks are no good ("Today it's cheese! You know I hate cheese!"…

Writing this down so I don't forget it

On her birthday, Phoebe greeted each of her presents with a long, drawn-out "Ohhhh!" and a two-syllable "Wow!" (Yes, wow can be two syllables, if you're a three-year-old native of North Carolina.) It was all very cute and we laughed. But her best response to a present was a few days later, when a box came from Aunt Aimee. It was a Cabbage Patch doll, in a swimsuit, and Phoebe said "oh!" and "wow!" and then added, breathlessly:

"This is the cutest doll I've ever seen in my whole special life!"

Now that's an expression of gratitude, there.


A few years ago, my mom gave Mallory the book "The Twelve Bugs of Christmas." It's a very cute book, but takes a long time to read if you do it right; if, for example, on the sixth day you read:

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Six tinsel bugs a tangling
Five glowing bugs
Four cuckoo bugs
Three snowflake bugs
Two sneaky bugs
And a fruitcake bug in a pear tree.

However, I am lazy, so I always cheat when I read the book to my kids:

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Six tinsel bugs a tangling!

and then on to the seventh day.

Last night, Phoebe brought the book to me. "Grandmom read this book to me when she was here," she said. I started to read it in my usual lazy way. But when I got to the third day, and was about to turn the page, Phoebe put her hand on mine and said, "Mommy! You're not done! You have to read the whole thing!"

My mom had read it the right way, apparently, and Phoebe remembered. It struck me that that&#…

Notes on a Water Park

My company sponsored a family day at a nearby water park -- discount tickets, free lunch, free parking, free ginormous refillable drink cup. I thought this was an excellent opportunity for some family fun. Chris was lukewarm about the idea. Lesson: always listen to your husband. Here is what happened.

10:30 a.m. Arrive at water park, along with half the other residents of North Carolina. Fight through the throngs in the changing room and lockers. Apply sunscreen to protesting children.

10:40 Mallory asks for cotton candy.

10:45. Go to the Wave Pool, a big "beach without sand." Phoebe, being under 48", is required to wear a life jacket. Phoebe whines incessantly that she does not want to wear the life jacket. Leave Wave Pool.

11:00. Mallory spies huge waterslide that she would like to try. Chris and I ask her if she -- our notoriously cowardly child -- really, really, really means it. She insists that she does. Chris takes her to the end of the vastly long line. I tell him I…


Mallory: Mommy, can you do magic.

Me: Yes, I can.

Mallory: What kind of magic? Can you show me a trick? Can you teach me?

Me: No, it's a special kind of mommy magic. You have to be a mom to understand.

Mallory: (sighs in disgust, leaves the room)

A few moments later:

Mallory: Daddy, you know how to make a person disappear, right?

Chris: Um, what?

Mallory: You, can you make a person disappear from one room and reappear in another? Like magic?

Chris: No. Why would you think I could do that?

Mallory: Well, Mommy says she knows magic, and you're much smarter than Mommy, so you must know how to do it too!

Chris: You think I'm smarter than Mommy?

Mallory: Uh, yeah. So can you make me disappear?

Chris: Mallory, even real magicians don't really make people disappear. It's just a trick. They find ways to make it look like they've done it, but no one can actually disappear.

Mallory: Oh.


Mallory: So, can you make me disappear now?

In the end, Chris and Mallory did put …

Pieces of Yesterday

I'm doing some geneaological research by request of a distant cousin, and I've spent the last day or so poking around on (By the way, if you are an Oblander or Schmidt living in Oklahoma, or a Holladay or O'Connor living in California, contact me, 'kay? Thnx.) Here are two things I found that made me catch my breath.

This is a sheet from 1930 Federal Census, Precinct 2, Parmer County, TX.

It's hard to read, I know (if you click on it, it will enlarge). But do you see it, about halfway down? Rudolph Renner, head of household. His wife, Clara. Their sons Johnnie, Orva Lee (actually, Aubrey), and Rudolph Jr.; his sister-in-law, Mary Baker. Scrolling over you see that Rudolph is 30, Clara 26; they were married when they were 21 and 18. Rudolph was born in Russia, Clara in Kansas (though her parents were born in Russia), the oldest boys in Oklahoma, Jr in Texas. They speak German in the home, and Rudolph is not a citizen. He is a farmer, and did work the d…

Putting the "good" in "goodbye"

My children were awful the last day of my parents' visits. The weekend had been too full: too many late nights, too many firecrackers, too much sugar; and they woke up on Monday morning in foul, foul moods. They cried over breakfast, they tantrummed when we went out shopping, they tearfully refused naps, they argued over having leftover birthday cake before lunch. And I was angry with them, for ruining the last few hours with their grandparents, for being so rotten in front of their grandparents, for exposing my own parental fallibility in front of my mom and dad.

I let the girls come with us on the trip to the airport, mainly because I hoped they would fall asleep. Phoebe did; Mallory spent the whole hour trying to talk me into setting up the slip 'n' slide when we got home. When we pulled back into the garage, I was annoyed with her, and I was regretting the late-afternoon nap which would make Phoebe stay up impossibly late once again. And, of course, I was sad that my pa…

Emergency Broadcast System

I have a long post in mind about my parents' visit (fabulous) and Phoebe's birthday (she's three!), but I have no time today. So instead I'll quickly share this:

My mom and I were sitting at the kitchen table, chatting. Mallory was upstairs in her room. Suddenly she dashed into the kitchen, taped a piece of paper to the wall, and dashed out. The paper said:

"A bad prsin is coming to crash the wrld."

A few minutes later, she ran in again with another sign:

"It is rile rile tro!"

Then we were encouraged to take cover in the broom closet.

(Need a translation? "A bad person is coming to crash the world. It is really really true!")

When Phoebe Was Two

When Phoebe was two, she liked melon and cucumbers and French fries and Chex mix. . . .and not much else.

When Phoebe was two, she had a bit of a stutter. Sometimes it was a first-letter stutter, as in, “Are w-w-w-w-we going to have d-d-d-dinner soon?” Sometimes it started that way and then became a long, drawn out vowel-sound stutter: “Are w-w-w-eeee-eee going to have di-di-diiiiii-ner soon?” with every repetition becoming a little bit higher and squeakier. I guess I shouldn’t refer to a speech impediment as adorable, but I will anyway, especially because I’m 95% certain she’ll outgrow it soon.

When Phoebe was two, and Mallory called her “mean,” she would respond: “I’m not mean, I’m happy!”

When Phoebe was two, she’d pick up a hula hoop, hold it around her hips, and let it fall straight to the ground. Only when it hit the floor would she start to shimmy her hips.

When Phoebe was two, she was stubborn and strong-willed and prone to tantrums.

When Phoebe was two, she liked to sing. She’d s…

Big Ideas

Mallory thinks big. And I can't keep up.

Here are a smattering of examples.

I come home from work one day to find her busy at her desk. "Mommy, I'm making invitations!" she said. Invitations for what, I asked, and she said, "I'm inviting all my neighborhood friends over for a Girl Scout meeting!"

"But Mallory, you're not in Girl Scouts," I said.

"That's okay! They can come over and we'll just pretend we're in Girl Scouts! We'll do crafts, and have a snack -- do you have stuff for s'mores? -- and we'll dance! See, here's my invitations, I said for them to come over Saturday at six."

"Oh, honey, I don't think this is going to work. I'm not even sure what we're going to be doing Saturday at six."

"But I have to invite them over! I made the invitations already and I'm ready to put them in their mailboxes! Please Mommy?"

"No, listen, how about you just wait and see if Maggi…