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Showing posts from August, 2008

Wise beyond her years

Phoebe watched me mop the kitchen floor. "What are you doing, Mommy?" she asked.

"I'm cleaning the floor," I replied.

"Oh. Mecause it's dirty?" she asked.


"Oh." A pause. "Won't it just get dirty again anyway?"

Wish it were Nov 5 already

"America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of d…

The Pheebs

When Phoebe was a few days old, Mallory introduced her to someone by saying, "This is my baby sister. Her name is Phoebe, but we call her 'The Pheebs'." That wasn't strictly true, by the way, and it has nothing to do with anything I'm about to relate, it's just a random funny memory. Ha! Ha!

So, Phoebe at preschool. Here she is before we left. Note the jewels:

She was happy enough when we got there; she dove right into setting up a tea party for the baby dolls. However, this was her expression whenever her teacher or another child addressed her:

The only word she spoke the whole time was "no." Miss K, the assistant teacher, asked if Phoebe would like to draw a picture. "No." Then Miss K asked if she had brothers or sisters. "No," said Phoebe. Miss B, who overheard, said, "Phoebe, I think you do have a sister. She was in my class a few years ago. Her name is Mallory." Phoebe said, "No." So, um, good luck to Mi…


Phoebe's first day of preschool is tomorrow, sort of; she's just going in for an hour, with me, to meet her teacher and figure out the lay of the land. I'm supposed to write down my "goals" for Phoebe and give them to her teacher, and I'm having a hard time with that. Would it seem totally unambitious of me to say, "I just want Phoebe to be safe and happy for three hours, three days a week"? Maybe I can add that it would be nice if she could learn how to use scissors, or how to hold a pencil correctly. Maybe I'd like for her to become more confident around people she doesn't know very well. I don't know, she's so little, she just turned three. I don't care if she learns her letters this year, or how to count past fifteen. Then again, she's always going to be one of the youngest in her class, so I guess she needs to start catching up as soon as possible.

I feel like I haven't written much about Phoebe lately, although I cer…


First grade seems to be going well for Mallory so far; her only complaint has been that she was the only girl in her class who did not have a Hannah Montana water bottle and all the other girls made fun of her, so could she please have a Hannah Montana water bottle? I told her no, that the water bottle she had was perfectly fine and phooey on the other girls and she saw the light and agreed that from now on she will stand firm against both peer pressure and consumerism and...oh, you know that I bought her the water bottle, right? Which leaks, of course.

I've been getting up at 6:00 every morning to walk/run. (I'm doing the Couch to 5K running program, in which you do gradually increasing intervals of walking and running; the idea is that by the end of 9 weeks, you'll be able to run a 5K. I think it'll take me much longer than 9 weeks to be able to run that far but we'll see.) It's completely unlike me but I have to say, I'm enjoying it. It's nice to be a…

First Day of First Grade

Snippets of conversation as we embarked on our new school year:

Me: Phoebe, it's time to get up now.

Phoebe (as she opens her eyes): Yes, but I need to wear my Tinkerbell underwear and my polka dot skirt today.


Mallory: Are we going to have a party with presents for me after school today, to celebrate being in thirst grade?

Me: No.

Mallory: Well, Mommy, do you know who made school? God. And do you know who made me? God. So don't you think God would want me to have presents?

Me: No.


Me: Phoebe, do you want butter on your waffle?

Phoebe: What, Mommy?

Me: Do you want butter on your waffle?

Phoebe: Yes, but you're not Mommy, actually, you're my Grannie.

Me: Okay. Do you want butter on your waffle?

Phoebe: Yes, but I'm not Phoebe, I'm Baby Violet.

Me: Baby Violet, do you want butter on your waffle?

Baby Violet: No.


Mallory: Oh geez, I just got sneeze on my uniform.

Baby Violet: Bless you!


Mallory: Phoebe, don't you wish you could come to school with me?

Me: Mallory, h…

Sleepy Tuesday

Too drowsy to post anything worthwhile, although I've been a bit neglectful of the old blog as of late. Do tune in tomorrow for the First Day of School! post (although, it may not say much more than: First Day of School!).

I do want to point out, in case no one has noticed, the bookshelf to your's where I'm displaying my most-recently-read books. I've read a lot of good ones, lately too -- especially Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout, In the Woods by Tana French, and The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. Excellent reads! So, uh, go read one of those books instead of my blog!

In hopes that it wasn't a prophetic statement

The other day, the girls and I were exiting the library with the normal amount of fuss: Me, heavy leaden with books, trying to keep the doors from scraping the children's sandal-clad toes, exhorting them to wait for me and not run out in the street, etc. A tween-aged boy was standing by the curb, also weighed down with many books. He wore glasses and plaid shorts. As we stumbled by, he turned to me, nodded at the girls, and said, "They're very promiscuous, aren't they?" enunciating the word very carefully, making it clear that it was a word he had just learned.

I laughed in the polite way that you do when a stranger says something weird to you, but it wasn't until we were halfway across the parking lot that I realized exactly how weird it was. Promiscuous? I do not think that word means what he thought it does, obviously, but it made me wonder exactly what meaning he was trying to convey, what other multisyllabic recently-learned word he should have said inste…

You go, girl

The girl who was mean to Mallory a few weeks ago knocked on the door last night. Mallory seemed happy enough to see her, so I let her in. They went upstairs to play, and Chris overheard this conversation:

Mallory: So, did you ever apologize to me?

Girl: What?

Mallory: Did you ever apologize to me, for that time you and Other Girl were really mean to me?

Girl: Oh, yeah, I forgot about that.

Mallory: Well, did you ever apologize?

Girl: Um, no, I guess I didn't.

Mallory: Well, I think you should.

Girl: Oh. I'm sorry.

Mallory: Okay, thanks.

She makes me proud.

Stupidity in the presence of greatness

The university at which I studied abroad hosted, during my time there, a lecture series featuring some of the finest contemporary novelists of the day – Julian Barnes, A.S. Byatt, William Golding, Joyce Carol Oates, Iris Murdoch. I learned more from those six or eight lectures than I did from either of the professors I had that semester. What did I learn? Well, I’ve forgotten, but it was awesome to be in the presence of these writers nonetheless.

Each writer stayed to sign books following their lectures. The only eligible book in my possession was The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch – I would’ve loved to have Julian Barnes sign a copy of Talking It Over, or Byatt a copy of Possession, as those were then and remain now two of my very favorite books, but alas, I did not own copies then and books were really expensive in England. But I did have the Murdoch book, so I stood in line for ages in the university bookstore, and it was only when I reached the table and handed the book to her that I…

Little sisters

Mallory was invited for a sleepover tonight; this morning, as she was packing her suitcase, Phoebe came in and said, "Me too!" When Chris found her suitcase, and gently told her that she wasn't invited to the sleepover, she cried for an hour.

I think I'll always have a special sort of sympathy for Phoebe, my second child, because I was the second child too*. (And it's odd, because although I have younger siblings as well, I always think of myself as a little sister, or as the younger older sister, if that makes sense. I think that's because Jana, my big sister, was so good at being the oldest, responsible and, uh, authoritarian, and I am, well, fundamentally irresponsible. We all bowed to her! In a good way. I could never live up to that.) I often feel sorry for Phoebe, left behind while Mallory goes to school all day, because I well remember the long, lonely boring days I spent waiting for Jana to come home from school (not counting the days I spent playing i…

WWJD, redux

Today was Mallory's first day at Art Camp, a day camp sponsored by our town's parks and rec department. She's been looking forward to Art Camp all summer. When Chris picked her up, she said she had fun; they learned about the color wheel, she made a friend named Teresa; the teacher was nice. But tonight at bedtime, Mallory said she didn't want to go back tomorrow. It was vacation bible school all over again: the other kids were mean, they scribbled on her papers, she didn't have any fun, she wouldn't go back.

I don't know what to do. You may be thinking: Just make her go! But I can't make Mallory do anything; she has a will of iron, a stubborn streak a mile wide. I can no more convince her of something she doesn't want to be convinced of (that she should go back, that she will learn a lot and have fun) than I can make the sun stand still. (It is my honest belief that she was so afraid that airplanes would make her ears hurt that she brought a double …