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00s

I remember all the talk, ten years ago, about how the official start of the new century was 2001, not 2000. By this logic, the start of our next date should be 2011, not 2010; yet no one seems to be complaining about all the "Best of the Decade" lists and reviews being published and discussed.

I also remember an article in Newsweek, ten years ago, discussing how to refer to our present decade. The ohs? The zeroes? The aughts? I was a bit concerned about that myself; I realize now, upon reflection, that I never once in ten years needed to refer to this decade by name anyway. I guess maybe that's something you only do once the decade is over, really. Maybe in twenty years, my girls will reminisce about being "Children of the Aughts," (Hannah Montana and Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! and jumpstart.com), in the same way that I remember being a Child of the Seventies (Donny and Marie and Happy Days and the Speak n Spell).

For me, the Aughts were my decade of Having Small Childre…

Review

I found this on another blog...some of the questions are more interesting than others. I suppose the same goes for my answers!

1.What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Drove halfway across the country and back again with my children.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I kept one – not using my credit cards unless absolutely necessary. The rest, um, we’ll keep trying.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Chris’s grandmother died January 1, 2009.

5. What countries did you visit? None.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? A good pair of sandals.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? The kids’ birthdays. The first and last days of school.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Reducing debt.

9. What was your biggest failure? Healthy eating and exercise (rather, the lack thereof).

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing seri…

My picks

Here are the best books I read in 2009. After I compiled the list it struck me that the books fall almost entirely into two categories – historical fiction and memoirs of motherhood. I don’t think I would ever have listed those as my two favorite genres, but there it is.

The best historical fiction, in my mind, is that which compels you to go out and read more about the period in question. I followed up my reading of most of these novels with at least one non-fiction book about their subjects (none of which were as good as the novels, of course):

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard – about the “lost” son of Marie Antoinette. Bayard is fantastic; I also loved his Mr Timothy (about a grown-up Tiny Tim) and The Pale Blue Eye (about Edgar Allen Poe).

The Terror by Dan Simmons – about the doomed Franklin Expedition, which I wrote about earlier this year. His fictional account of the disaster does a better job of tying together the evidence into a coherent whole than any non-fiction account I’ve …

2451

That's the number of miles we drove, there and back again. The trip was long. The girls were surprisingly un-whiny. The portable DVD player helped. The interstate is a boring, boring road to travel. The interstate on-and-off ramps in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana are surprisingly complicated. The convenience store bathrooms in these states feature condom vending machines with really very explicit descriptions of their wares, which make you wish that your 8-year-old did not know how to read.



I drove the whole way; Chris was ill and kept going into coughing paroxysms which would have made him dangerous behind the wheel. I only allowed myself to look at the GPS mileage countdown and the clock at the end of a song. Songs generally last about three miles; that's 817 songs.

It was a long way.

The Great Wolf Lodge was lots of fun with plenty of activities to keep the children occupied and to keep the grownups chasing after the children instead of sitting and talking with one anoth…

Ho Ho Ho

Mallory and Phoebe went to Auntie Mimi's office yesterday to visit Santa.

Here is Phoebe doing her I'm-shy-head-tilt:



Here is Santa looking befuddled at what Mallory said she wanted for Christmas: Autographs from Rudolph, Vixen, and Dasher:



Here is Phoebe telling Santa that she wants an ephelant Webkinz (note to Santa -- she already has one):



Here they are all, looking jolly:



Thanks, Mimi!

Supply, demand

When I realized, ten days before our scheduled departure to spend a few days at an indoor waterpark, that my children have no bathing suits, I wasn't particularly surprised to discover that bathing suits are difficult items to procure in the middle of December. Frustrated, but not surprised.

When I was told by my daughter that her PE teacher told her that she needed a heavier winter coat, I was -- well, I was embarrassed, and also I was wondering who this PE teacher thinks she is. But, I wasn't expecting to have as difficult a time procuring winter coats in December as I had procuring bathing suits. The stores I've checked all seem to have one lonely child's coat on the rack, usually in size x-small.

So, my children will be swimming in their underwear, apparently, and otherwise wearing a lot of layers under their inadequate winter coats. I do feel like a good mother, right now.

The Big Surprise

This is Mouse, a 6-month-old English Cocker Spaniel. She was born with a cleft palate and Amy helped hand-feed her til she was old enough for corrective surgery. Last night she came to live at my in-law's house. She will be visiting us occasionally on the weekends.

Mallory burst into tears when Amy came in with Mouse and said, "This is the big surprise!" We asked her why she was crying and she said, "I'm just so happy!"

Aw.

(But Aimee -- you were right too -- I think we are going to Disney World this summer, but Mallory already knew that so it wasn't The Big Surprise.)

(I kinda wish it was the chocolate pie.)

Eight!

Dear Mallory,

You and your sister have recently invented a new saying for when you're really impressed with something. For example:

"Mommy, you buy the best best best a million times so big a number I can't even say it ice cream in the whole wide world."

Which, really, doesn't make any sense at all.

But that's exactly how I feel about you, birthday girl.

Love,
Mommy

Guesses

My mother- and father-in-law and Amy have arranged a Big Surprise for the girls, and told them Saturday night that the Big Surprise will be revealed on Wednesday (which is also Mallory's birthday, but that's mostly incidental). So the girls, of course, have been begging us to tell them what the Big Surprise is. "Just a hint?" they say. "No," we say. "Mommy, can't we just play Hot and Cold about the Surprise?" Mallory said. "No," I said. "But it's just Hot and Cold! You don't have to really tell me," she said. "No," I said. "Well, I don't really understand how Hot and Cold works anyway," she said.

These are Mallory's guesses:

Going to Disney World
Going to an aquarium
Going to a hotel water park
A puppy
Meeting Hannah Montana
A chocolate pie as big as our house
A sleepover with her friends (not likely)

These are Phoebe's guesses:

The Beatles are coming to our house ("Phoebe, don't you k…

Applicious

Best invention ever:





Look at those uniformly sliced apples (5 Cortland 2 Macintosh, 1 accidental Honeycrisp)



The slicing went so quickly that my crust didn't chill quite long enough. But, I had this pie-crust-rolling-out-thingy to help:



This for aesthetic purposes:



which came in handy; I used all the little apple cutouts to patch the cracks and bare spots. Somehow I didn't end up with quite enough crust:



Still, it turned out okay:



For maximum enjoyment, microwave each slice for exactly 32 seconds, then top with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

The Return of the Lithuanian Spy

When I was in high school, and when I received a phone call at home, I would drag the phone (cord and all) into my bedroom and close the door firmly and sit with my back against the door, to keep out all the people in my house who were dying to overhear my conversations. "Are you conducting secret business in there?" my father asked in reference to this behavior. "Are you a Lithuanian spy?" When the phone rang and it was for me, he would say: "Tell Krista the Lithuanian embassy is on the line!"

Now Mallory, whenever she receives or makes a phone call, immediately ducks into the bathroom with the phone and closes the door. Could it be that this characteristic is inherited? Did she receive it genetically along with my hazel eyes and Chris's long fingers?

She does have it easier; our phones are cordless, at least.

Flashback Friday: The Childhood Pets Edition

This is Spunky:



Spunky is a dog who showed up at our house (out in the country) one day and hung around with us intermittently. Sometimes he'd stay on our porch for weeks at a time, and sometimes he'd disappear for several days and then come back. Other times he'd come home with a little black dog, a female, whom we named Josie. (I suspect there were many Josie x Spunky puppies at one time as well.) One Christmas Day we came home from my grandma's house to find Spunky in our yard, all bloody and limping. He'd either gotten into a fight with another dog or kicked by a cow (did I mention we lived on a farm?). We brought him inside and cleaned him up and let him sleep by my sister's bed all night. I went to sleep crying, sure that he'd be dead in the morning, but no, he was perfectly fine when the sun came up. And then the day came when he disappeared and never came back. I like to think that he found another family to temporarily adopt. He was a good boy.

This …

Count your blessings very carefully

Mallory made up a Thanksgiving song last night. She sang:

"I'm thankful for my Mommy
I'm thankful for my Daddy
I'm thankful for all my grandmas
And my grandpas too.
I'm thankful for my aunts and uncles
I'm thankful for my cousins.
I'm thankful for my house
I'm thankful for my toys.
I'm thankful for my eyes and nose
I'm thankful for my clothes--"

and then Phoebe leaned toward her and whispered:

"Psst! Hey Mallory! You forgot to say your sister!"

My New Ring

Amy hosted a jewelry party a few weeks ago and I bought this ring:



(It's hard to take a good picture of your own hand.)

The ring is kind of gaudy and flashy and totally unlike anything else I own. It probably doesn't look that good on my short stubby fingers or with my standard outfit of a long-sleeved v-neck t-shirt and khaki pants.

But I've still been wearing it every day, and every time I see it, I feel pretty.

I don't feel pretty very often. And I've realized that when you don't feel that pretty, you can get into a spiral of habits that make you feel even less pretty. I hate all my clothes, but I don't want to buy new clothes on the off chance that I might lose weight. Or I should find a new way to do my makeup, but what's the point when I just sit in my cubicle all day. And there are other issues: I should exercise, but that would take time away from the kids. Or I should go to a real hairdresser and get a real hairstyle, but that would be expensive, a…

So tired

Still recovering from slumber party. Dealt with two cranky kids all day long. Who wouldn't leave me alone -- I had to play games and do crafts with them because they were sooo sad that the fun was over. "You still have to do what I want you to," Mallory said, "because it's my birthday party that's over now." Phoebe kept crying because Mallory wouldn't share her birthday presents, and I kept explaining that you don't always have to share birthday presents because they're special. Then we went to another birthday party (Chris's cousin) and two members of that family have what seemed suspiciously like swine flu, so now we have the spectre of that contagion looming over us. I don't know if any of this has made sense. I need to unload the dishwasher and fold some laundry but I'm so tired that I may just go to sle

Slumber Party!

There are four little girls in my house, hyped up after building-a-bear and ice cream sundaes, who are convinced that they're going to stay up until midnight. I think I'm going to go around and set all the clocks two hours ahead and then put them to bed. Wish me luck.

Close enough

Phoebe loves the Fancy Nancy books and, as a result, often asks how to say things in French, like Nancy does. So last night as I was tucking her in I said, "Je t'aime. That means I love you in French."

"Oh!" she said. Then she said, "Pah jem! No, I mean, bah chim. No, I mean...how do you say it again?"

"Je t'aime," I said again.

"Ma chim! No, pah tim. No, I mean, cha chem. No, I mean..."

"I love you too," I said.



(Flashback Friday has been postponed due to technical problems. A shame, it was going to be a good one today.)

One Thing We Did Right

“Mommy, you’d just better be glad that you had Phoebe,” Mallory said a few days ago.

“Well, I am glad, but why do you say so?” I asked.

“Because if you hadn’t, I would’ve been stomping around the house every single day, so mad at you that you didn’t give me a baby sister.”



Admittedly, I wanted a second child mostly because I didn’t want Mallory to grow up without a sibling (which speaks well of my own siblings, doesn’t it?). I also realized, though, that whether or not you will have a good relationship with your sibling is largely a matter of luck and innate personality, no matter what the experts may say about child spacing and birth order and so forth. And, luckily, my girls do seem to get along about eighty percent of the time – not bad, really.





Mallory has always been impressed by Phoebe and Phoebe’s accomplishments. I remember how excited she would get when Phoebe met a milestone as a baby – held her own toy, sat up, learned to crawl. Now Mallory will sometimes share an indulgent smi…

As promised, the rest of the story

The prinses and the real body of the frog and a special supris

Once apon a time there was a prinses and a prince.

Befor the prince was just a frog.

Thanks to the princes becaus wen she kissed the frog the frog turnd
into a prince

Just then they noticed something so great
Theyr gowing to have a baby girl.

Then the baby was born.

The end.

Lessons in Theology

"I'm hungry for lunch," I remarked on the way home from church on Sunday.

"I know why you're hungry," Mallory said.

"Okay, why?" I said.

"Because at church, you saw the priest hold up the bread, and it made you hungry to look at it, but you couldn't have any because you're a public school kid, and that's why you're still hungry now," she said.

"Oh," I said. "Well. Well, no, actually, I'm just hungry because it's lunchtime."



Mallory performed in the choir at church, wearing a very fancy new dress. It's possibly a little bit too fancy for church, but it was the only dress I could find that was not a) strapless b) made for a girl much skinnier than my daughter c) slutty or d) decorated with skulls or weird looking monkeys. Girls' clothes are awful these days. Anyway, she loves her dress. And even though I'm just a "public school kid" (someday I'll teach her the word "Prot…

Technology Makes Us Stupid: My Story

A few months ago I pushed a cart full of groceries to my minivan and clicked my key remote to unlock the back door. It didn't unlock. I punched the button again. It didn't unlock. I went around to the front door, opened it, and pushed the automatic door lock button. The back door still wouldn't open. I went around to the other front door and pushed that button. The back door still wouldn't open. I crammed the groceries in through the side door and drove to my inlaws' house to pick up the kids. "My back door won't unlock," I told my father-in-law. "I tried the remote and the buttons on the door, and nothing happened."

"Huh," he said. "Did you try using the key?"





(the key worked)

(and yes, Mallory was the fifth brownie)

Five Little Brownies

...took an ice skating lesson.

The FIRST little brownie listened carefully to the instructor, performed all the steps with a grimly determined look on her face (but not a single smile), made it twice across the rink, and clumped off the ice at the end of the lesson. "That was hard, and not very fun," she said.

The SECOND little brownie attacked the ice with glee, skinny little legs flailing wildly. She fell a lot, but laughed each time and got right back up. Her technique was not the greatest, but she managed to fly across the ice anyway. She stayed on the rink after the lesson was over, and begged her mom to stay even longer after the allotted two hour Girl-Scout skate was up.

The THIRD little brownie has some kind of natural athleticism which allowed her to grasp proper ice-skating concepts right away. She was cautious, but she was good.

The FOURTH little brownie had spaghetti legs and just could not stay up. She spent most of the lesson falling over or being dragged boneles…

My other daughter is also a writer

Phoebe has learned to write her name:



Overheard while she was working on this: "Now for my name. P H O E B E. There. Hmm...no, it needs a swirl. There. Perfect."

She also tried her hand at writing a story. She would draw a picture, hand the paper to me, and say, rather imperiously, "I want it to be said..." Her story turned out a bit abstract. One page, for examnple, said "There once was a queen who met a butterfly named Spots." Two pages later, she dictated, "There was a pony by the old crib, and the baby was asleep." A few pages later, it was "I want it to be said...Motherhood and cupcakes." I said, "Motherhood and cupcakes?" and she said, "Yes, of course."

She drew this picture at school:



It's Phoebe herself, with a Golden Bechiever.

Flashback Friday!

This was me, the night I graduated from high school (or, as one of my more pedantic professors would have it, the night I was graduated from high school):



Good heavens, I was skinny. My hair was bigger than my waist.

Me and Chris on one of our first big dates. It was my birthday, he took me to the Melting Pot. The next day he went and bought himself his first new car. Which he is still driving today!



Chris talking on the phone in my old apartment in Chapel Hill. I don't know who he was talking to or why he looks so annoyed. The point of this picture is the kitchen. That there, right behind Chris? That was my entire kitchen. I had about 10 inches of counter space. Directly across from the avocado oven was an avocado refrigerator -- the kind you actually had to defrost, once in a while -- and then a small open area for a table. It was living.



This picture is blurry. It is of a time -- also blurry in memory -- when Chris and I got to go on vacation by ourselves. Also it features lovely …

In all other respects I like this person

How is it that in this year of 2009, a woman of my same age, with approximately the same level of education and work experience as me, does not yet know that it is not appropriate to use the word "retarded" when she means, instead, stupid or annoying or ridiculous?

And why is it that I don't have the guts to ask her to refrain?

A story for you

The prinses and the frog
by Mallory
Whach it on Mackt Up Home only if your a reg guest



Once opon a time ther was a princes
the princeses father wants her to be marid



One day the prinses saw a baby frog
Its now my pet said the princes
Your name is Jumps



They went inside and the princes sang
The frog was very very very very happy



When the frog grew up he said if you kiss me I'll turn into a prince
Wow its like a fairy tale!
I will, said the princes.



And they did.
The end.

Next week: The thrilling sequel!