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Showing posts from September, 2009

Why it's good to have a sister

Phoebe: I can't find my favorite book, Mommy!

Me: Which book is that?

Phoebe: The one about the brother named Robert and the sister named Amy and they go to the dinosaur museum.

Me: ...that doesn't sound at all familiar.

Phoebe: But it's my favorite!

Mallory: Phoebe, do you mean the one about the brother named Jimmy and the sister named Linda and their dog runs away?

Phoebe: Yes!

Mallory: Here you go.

Phoebe: Thanks, Mallory.


On Saturday night, I went with Chris to his 20th high school reunion. I was dreading it, a little bit, because I usually do dread parties – I’m not a very social person, and I foresaw a long night of standing about with no one to talk to.

I actually had a pretty good time.

The open bar helped.

But seriously – it wasn’t bad. There were, of course, a few people there I already knew; I also spent a chunk of time at the “significant others” table, at which we all talked about the fact that we didn’t know anyone there, that being the nature of such events. I showed people pictures of the girls, and admired the pictures of other kids. I talked with people about work, and children, and movies, and the economy.

Even though I didn’t grow up with these people, I could make guesses about where they stood, twenty years ago, in the high school hierarchy. That woman must’ve been a cheerleader; that one was a jock; that guy over there was the class clown; this one with the bad shirt was the guy no one …


It’s fall, although all that’s falling in North Carolina right now is rain. And more rain.

The fall, or maybe the rain, is making me a bit melancholy. Days are getting shorter. People are getting older (happy birthday, Aimee and Casey!). Holidays are getting closer, and my wallet is growing emptier.

I think of autumns past. New jeans, marching band practice, hometown parades. Being asked to “go to Homecoming” with the nerdiest boy in the class, feeling guilty for saying no, resenting him for asking in the first place. Visiting Lord Byron’s estate on a perfect English September day. Going back to work when Phoebe was three months old, mourning the end of the summer spent entirely with my girls. Dropping Mallory off at the carpool line for the very first time, watching her walk down the sidewalk in her plaid jumper and her oversized backpack. Saying goodbye to sweet Finn.

The other night I went in the backyard to add some scraps to the compost bin. The girls came out and started chasing…

A roundabout way of saying happy birthday

In August of 1988, we – my whole family – trucked down to San Antonio to move my big sister into college. In retrospect, this was a mistake – when it comes to moving someone into a dorm room, three younger siblings is about three too many. Not that moving into college can ever be a pleasant experience for anyone, anyway. There is the heat, first of all, there terrible, terrible August heat. There are irritated fathers trying to back U-hauls into to0-small parking spaces, or struggling to assemble loft beds. There are mothers worrying about whether you brought along enough sets of sheets. There are over-enthusiastic Resident Assistants in matching t-shirts who smile too much and ask “Can I give you a hand with that?” at precisely the wrong moments. There are stairs to climb, over and over again. There are strangers everywhere.

In my particular family, there was resentment, amongst the three youngest of us, that we were expected to help, instead of being allowed to stay back at the mote…

A Clarification

Chris tried to get Phoebe to repeat her "I can't see, I'm bald!" line, with the following results:

Chris: Hey Phoebe, what do you call it when people can't see?

Phoebe: What?

Chris: What do you call people who can't see?

Phoebe: The Not See Guys.

Chris: Nazi guys? What do you know about Nazis?

Me: She means, Not.See.Guys. Not Nazis.

Chris: So if you can't see, you're a Not See Guy? But isn't there a word for that? What do you call that?

Phoebe, sighing: Daddy, I already told you.

Chris: But what is it?

Phoebe: NOT! SEE! GUY!

Chris: It's a word that starts with a b. You say, "I can't see, I'm b-b-b-..."

Phoebe: I can't see, I'm blond!


Eight years ago today, I was six months pregnant, and my immediate reaction to what was happening was a purely selfish one: Please don't let this affect my baby's childhood. Please don't let the world blow up before my child can take her place in it.

Today I was driving home, tributes playing quietly on the radio so the girls wouldn't hear and ask what they were about. Some day they'll have to know about the box cutters, and the towers, and the strange few days when no planes flew overhead. Someday they'll understand that the world isn't safe, that there isn't peace in our time, that some people value being right more than they value being compassionate.

But not today. Today my seven-year-old talked about her dream of opening a restaurant in California when she grows up, a place called "Sweet Treats," where every meal cost a dollar and the ketchup is free. My four-year-old said that from now on, straws should be called "gelactomos," a…

Twist me and turn me and show me the elf...

I look in the mirror and see myself!

First Brownie meeting tomorrow. Am a bit nervous. We have four new girls this year, which means four new moms too. I have to talk to these moms and put them at ease and ask them for money (dues, fees) and time (field trip help, cookie selling help). I -- well, Amy and I, as we are in this together -- have to make sure these girls have a good time and learn something. We have some good plans in place, but I'm still nervous. At a volunteer training session last year, one of the trainers talked about all the great things she learned from her troop leader, what a great role model she was, how she imparted such wisdom and taught their troop things that still resonate with them though lo many years have passed...somehow I can't imagine anyone feeling that way about me, in years to come.

Oh well. I guess I should just focus on keeping them entertained for one hour, every other Thursday. It can't be that hard, can it?


Things Phoebe has said this week:

"I can't see! I'm bald!"

"I have servants to make sure that I can always have peaceful privacy in my life."

"Allow me to introduce you to my daughters, Shifta and Jaleesa."

"I fell down and hurt myself! It hurts terrible much. It hurts a million times much!"

"I said no! A-R-G-T spells no!"

"Would you like to sample some of my lip gloss? I have Strawberry Sparkle, Raspberry Rainbow, Cherry Surprise, and Blueberry Sunrise."

"This is my pretend dog Finn. She's a Goldest Becheever."


This Fourth of July -- two days before Phoebe's birthday -- she and I sat outside while our neighbors set off a pretty impressive, and possibly illegal, fireworks show. Phoebe sat on my lap and exclaimed over each one -- "Look! That one's purple! Ooh, that was a nice big green one, Mommy!" In the (sometimes long) delay between explosions, she'd get o…


The other day I heard a report on the radio about some guy who played some sport of some kind with some sort of ball, who had just negotiated a contract with some team for eight million dollars.

What got me was the "negotiation" part. I assume, by this, that the team offered this guy, say, five million, and he said no no, I want ten million, and they both agreed to settle on eight million. Now, I know that there are market forces at play here, and there are matters of prestige, and I'm sure it wasn't this guy who said anything, it was his agent -- but isn't it incredible to imagine anyone saying, with any kind of straight face, "No, I'm sorry, five million dollars a year just won't be enough for me."

I remember reading a book about Scott's polar expedition, which posited that the party met their tragic demise because they happened to go out during a season where temperatures were much colder than average -- when it might only warm up to 120 be…