The things you do for love (and because they beg you too)

You (meaning Chris) build a (really awesome) car for the Powderpuff Derby:

You accompany your daughter to a Girl Scout event in which pet rocks are made to (somehow) teach the girls about being kind to animals:

On the first weekend in a long time when you have no Girl Scout activities or birthday parties or snowstorms and all you want to do is sit and read a book and watch the Olympic moments you DVR'd, you instead help your children make

Chocolate Sporks

and greenish slime

And then you're a little excited about going back to work in the morning.



“Mouse is a cat,” Mallory said this morning on the drive to school, referring to Mouse the dog. (Confused yet?)

“How so?” I asked.

“She likes to jump up on tables, like cats do.”

“But Mallory, she can’t be a cat,” Phoebe said. “Her parents were both dogs, so she has to be a dog too.”

“I know she’s not really a cat,” Mallory said, “but she acts like a cat.” Then she asked: “When did Mouse’s mom and dad get married?”

“They’re not married, honey,” I said, “they’re dogs.”

“Yeah, but don’t you have to be married to have a baby?”

“Well, people do,” I said [not adding: in most cases]. “But dogs don’t get married.”

“Then how does the mommy dog get pregnant?”

“Well, they mate,” I said.

“Ewwww!” the girls shrieked in unison.

“It’s what has to happen,” I said.

“Gross,” Mallory said. Then: “Where did they go?”

“Pardon?” I said.

“Where did they go, on their date?”

“I didn’t know dogs could go on dates,” Phoebe added.

“No, not date. They don’t go on a date, they mate.”

“But what does that—“ Mallory began.

“Oops, here we are!” I interrupted, zooming into the carpool line, and then I started babbling unnecessarily about finding backpacks and lunch boxes and having a nice day. A cowardly move, I know. But who wants to talk about the birds and the bees and the puppies too, first thing in the morning?


Grandma Francus

Chris’s grandmother – his dad’s mother – died on Friday. She had Alzheimer’s Disease; I think Chris and Amy and their dad probably came to terms with her loss many years ago, when the disease took hold. Strangely enough, without even knowing how ill she was at the time, Chris and Amy had a long conversation about Grandma Francus the night before she died; they told Mallory and Phoebe some funny stories about their visits with her in Chicago when they were kids. Chris has a theory that most people have one set of “fun” grandparents and one set of “proper” grandparents; the Francuses were the fun ones in his family. (The fun ones in mine were the ones with the golf course in their house. Naturally.)

It’s sad that our girls never knew Grandma Francus; it’s sad that, as Chris said, “I have no grandparents left now.” I wish I could think of a better ending than the old cliché that she’s now “in a better place.” I’m not even sure if that’s true; but I hope it is, and I hope she rests in peace.


What it means

Every morning when I take Phoebe to preschool, she asks me to stay for a minute to help her with something -- to hold a stencil while she traces a picture, to read a story, to do a puzzle. On days when this annoys me -- days when we're running a bit late, days when I need to rush off to work -- I remind myself that I only have a few more months of being the mother of a preschooler, and that I should chill out and enjoy these moments while they last.

Anyway, this morning she asked me to help her with an alphabet puzzle. "I need something that begins with m," she said, sorting through the pieces, and then she held up one with a question mark on it. "Here we go!" she said.

"I don't think that starts with m," I said.

"Yes it does!" she said.

"Are you sure?" I said.

"Yes...for Mystery!" she said.

She is apparently going to have to take a screening test to gain admission to Kindergarten. I'm not too worried.


Responsibility: Three Scenes

Scene One: A convenience store restroom in Vicksburg, Mississippi, which, it is discovered at the last minute, is out of toilet paper.

Me: You're going to have to use paper towels, I guess.

Mallory: That's a really bad idea.

Me: It's not ideal, I agree, but I don't see a choice.

Mallory: No, but listen. Do you remember one day when I was in first grade and they had to close the whole school before lunch because the pipes broke?

Me:...Yes, I do remember that.

Mallory: Well, it's because someone flushed paper towels down the toilet.

Me: Really?

Mallory: A LOT of paper towels. To see what would happen.

Me: Well, that wasn't very smart.

Mallory: Do you want to know who it was that did that?

Me: Yes? Maybe?

Mallory: Yeah, it was me. But don't tell anyone -- nobody knows that but you.

Scene Two: Driving home from a preschool birthday party, at which I discovered that one of Phoebe's classmates had been expelled due to bullying.

Me: Phoebe, was Annie [not her real name] ever mean to you?

Phoebe: No, not to me.She hit a lot of other people, though.

Me: She did? Like who?

Phoebe: [sighs] I'm not allowed to talk about it. It's not my job to keep track of that stuff, Mommy -- it's my teacher's job.

Me: Oh. Sorry.

Scene Three: The girls' bedroom, last night, upon discovering that they had strewn packing peanuts all over the floor whilst trying to build a "carnival ride" (don't ask).

Phoebe: This is going to be very hard to clean up.

Chris: You're going to have to clean it up anyway.

Phoebe: What do you think I am, your servant?

Me: Watch it, missy.

Mallory: You know Phoebe, you're lucky to have a big sister.

Phoebe: Yeah, I am.

Mallory: See, big sisters don't need little sisters. They may want them, but they don't need them.

Phoebe: Yeah.

Mallory: But little sisters do need big sisters. They need them to help take care of them, and tell them things, and help them out, because they're just little and they don't know as much about stuff as big sisters do.

Phoebe: Yeah.

Mallory: So I think you should be the one to clean all this up, because you need to pay me back just for being a good big sister to you.

Me: Nice try.


President Who?

Mallory: Mommy, I have to do a project on a president.

Me: What kind of project?

Mallory: I have to choose a president and find out stuff about him. But it can't be Abraham Lincoln or . . . or some other guy.

Me: George Washington?

Mallory: Yeah, George Washington.

Me: So who are you going to pick?

Mallory: I think I'll pick Barack Obama.

Me: Good choice.

Mallory: Or, no, actually I think I'll pick the one...what's his name? The guy who invented something to kill the germs in milk?

Me: ...Do you mean Louis Pasteur?

Mallory: Yeah, him.

Me: Honey, he wasn't a president.

Mallory: He wasn't?

Me: No...he wasn't even American.

Mallory: Huh. Well, I guess Barack Obama is it, then.

Me: I guess so.


Stream of consciousness

I did not know this, but Raleigh has an annual Groundhog Day celebration with our very own groundhog, whose name is…Sir Walter Wally. Which is a bit embarrassing. Apparently this year he disagreed with Punxatawney Phil and predicted that our winter is coming to an end. Take that, rest of the country!

My watch is broken. I want a new watch, because I hate going watchless. Then again, who really needs a watch anymore? There are clocks on all the various electronic gadgets we carry around with us. (In my bag right now there are three – ipod, e-reader, phone.) So I don’t really need a watch. I just want one. I like this one. It’s an odd choice for me. Since when do I like butterflies? But it’s expensive. (I’ve never paid more than $19.99 for a watch. Which reminds me of a funny story. My mom got me a watch for Christmas one year. Christmas morning, I opened it up and then couldn’t figure out how to set it. I handed it to my dad for help. He looked at it and then said, “Where’s the instruction book?” My mom said, “It didn’t come with one.” Dad said, “Of course it did.” Mom said, “No, it didn’t.” Dad said, “Where did you get this watch?” Mom said, “From a kiosk in the mall.” Dad said, “Was it wearing an overcoat?” HA!) Where was I? Oh yeah. So I’m torn on whether or not to buy this watch.

I have moved on from the Wicked soundtrack to the soundtrack of Rent. Which I didn’t like so much at first but now I can’t stop listening to it. I am thinking of renting the movie tonight (get it? Renting?) Chris would hate it. Which I understand. There’s something fundamentally awkward about watching people burst into song at the slightest provocation.

I went to a chiropractor yesterday for a free screening and consultation. The guy said I was definitely a candidate for chiropractic care. I was shocked to hear this as I’m sure that he turns people away all the time.  (This would be a good place for the irony mark.) My neck is out of alignment. It hurts pretty much all the time and I guess it is time to do something about it. But there are so many things I’d rather spend money on. I can’t wait until the socialists take over and we finally have universal health care.

I discovered a new and divine ice cream flavor: Blue Bunny Monster Cookie. Oh my it’s delicious. I must not buy any more. Perhaps they’ll discontinue it soon so I can avoid temptation.

Next Saturday I get to wake up really early and go help unloaded millions of cases of Girl Scout cookies. I am really excited about this. (Again, an irony mark would work well here.)