Home sweet home

"What's a mansion?" Phoebe asked.

"It's a big house," I said. "A very big house." I groped about for an example that would be relevant. "It's like...like the house in Home Alone. A very big, fancy, nice house with lots of rooms."

"Is our house a mansion?" Phoebe asked.

Mallory scoffed. "Our house is NOT a mansion. Our house is the OPPOSITE of a mansion. Our house is IN EVERY WAY the opposite of mansion."

I think she needn't have been quite so emphatic about it.


What's in a name? Not much, I hope, because I can't think of a name for this post

A co-worker of mine has one of those names where his first name is a nickname of his last name. Vic Victor, for example, although that's not exactly it. Dave Davidson. Tom Thompson. Ben Benson. Every time I hear a name like this, I wonder about the thought process behind the choosing of the name. Did the parents think it was funny? Had the mother always dreamed of naming a son Edward, and couldn't give up that dream even though she married a man with the last name Edwards? Was it a family tradition, was it to honor a friend, was it a dare or a bet?

Or were the parents just idiots who gave their son an idiotic name?

A couple of weeks ago, I had one of those days where I wondered if I might be pregnant. If you're a woman of childbearing age, you know what I mean. I had no particular reason to think I was pregnant, I'm certainly not trying to become pregnant -- but sometimes, you know, you just wonder. (It may have been because I had just heard of two people -- two! -- in my circle of acquaintances who are expecting triplets. Triplets! That's three -- three! -- babies at once!) So I'm sitting there in kind of a panic, thinking -- Oh no, what if I have another baby? And then, because that wasn't alarming enough, I thought, Oh no, what if it's twins? I was miserable, contemplating my fate as the mother of four. The sleepless nights! The crying! The diapers! The teething! Then I thought -- Wait, what about names? I love thinking about names. I spent a happy hour browsing baby name sites and made my decision. It made me feel so much better about these imaginary babies -- no matter what, they would have lovely names.

Well. Who thinks I'm crazy now? I know my husband will.

Oh, you want to know the names? Very well. Emily Rowan and Cora Madeleine. I don't care if you don't like them (and I know my husband would veto all four componenets), because guess what? Not actually pregnant. Whew.


The secret is: just don't stop

I ran for twenty solid minutes tonight without a break.

My legs hurt, but I feel good.



I am charmed by Phoebe's kindergarten homework, which came home in the form of a calendar with one activity per day. Today homework was discussing the family fire escape plan; tomorrow will be practicing zipping up her jacket; Wednesday is telling me the plot of her favorite story. So much more fun than the math problems Mallory had to do tonight. (Alaska has 18 National Parks. If you add zero to that number, you'll get the number of National Parks in Virginia. How many National Parks does Virginia have? Mallory's answer: 180?)

On the drive to a Brownie field trip yesterday, Mallory mentioned that she's getting an ipod for Christmas. (The truth is that she's asking for an ipod for Christmas.) All three other girls shouted in unison: "I already HAVE an ipod!" Mallory gave me one her her outraged See, Mommy? looks.

Driving to the field trip entailed forty-five minutes of listening to some variation of this joke, over and over and over: What's your name? [Krista] What color is the sky? [blue] What's the opposite of down? [up] Krista blew up! Ha ha ha! It's not funny even once, let alone fifty-seven times. Oh, to be eight again.

Speaking of antonyms, Phoebe declared today that the opposite of balloon was "Pop!" Upon being asked what the opposite of "pencil" was, Phoebe said, "Broken pencil?" while Mallory said "Eraser!" Chris said, "What's the opposite of quiet?" and then answered himself: "Mallory!" "What?" Mallory said, thinking he was talking to her. "Oh!" she continued, "it's loud!" Chris laughed. "What's the opposite of fast?" he said: "Mallory!" "What?" she said.

According to facebook, one of my high school classmates is a grandfather. I just don't know what to say about that.

It looks like all my siblings and nieces and nephews will be at my mom's house for Thanksgiving. I'm sad that I won't be there as well. Snif.

My kids would rather have Iced Animal Crackers (with sprinkles!) than a homemade chocolate chip cookie. What's wrong with them? Also, Mallory has recently discovered the deliciousness of ravioli; she asked to have ravioli in her lunch every day. "Wouldn't you get tired of it?" I asked, and she said, "What I get tired of is peanut butter sandwiches," which was a fair point. And tomato sauce is more of a vegetable than grape jelly is a fruit, if you see my meaning, so I guess it's not a bad trade-off.

That's it from me.



This weekend we watched the charming movie “Babies,” a film that follows four infants from the first breaths to their first steps, as the tagline explains. The babies are from all over the world – Nabmia, Mongolia, Tokyo, San Francisco – and the film confirms that no matter what, all babies are cute, and all babies like zerberts.

My girls were startled by some of the details – “Why aren’t those ladies wearing shirts?” Phoebe asked, hiding her eyes every time the film cut to the African village. “That’s inappropriate,” Mallory commented when the little Mongolian boy was shown without his pants. “It’s a different culture,” Chris and I kept explaining; “this is how other people live. It’s different, not wrong.” I’m hoping that the girls learned something from the movie other than “Wow, I’m glad I was born in North Carolina instead of Nambia.” You have to start somewhere, I guess.

The movie did make me feel vastly privileged, and even faintly ridiculous, when I recall my own daughters’ infancy – the carseats (three different kinds before the age of 5), the high chairs with buckles, the monitors (with flashing lights!), the wet wipes, the pureed food and the peeled and quartered grapes. The Nambian baby learned to crawl in the dirt; her toys were rocks and sticks; she was forever putting pebbles in her mouth, and no one seemed worried about her choking. The Mongolian boy (my favorite) was left in his open bed unattended, tethered with a string around his wrist; roosters and cats came to perch beside him while he napped. When he got older, he crawled around naked in a field with a herd of cows. I think that it’s all well and good to use technology to protect our children; I think in our society we may be costing our children a modicum of self-reliance and resilience as we do so.

This was brought home to me on Saturday, when I got roped in to supervising play at a Bouncy Slide at our church’s fall festival. “No more than four kids at once!” the coordinator told me. “Make sure the slide is clear before you send another one up! No shoes, and watch out for zippers!” I spent a tedious hour telling kids to wait, to hang on, okay, you can go now, no, stop, watch out for that little girl, yes, it’s your turn – and all I could think about was 9-month-old Ponijao playing in mud puddles with her not-much-older brother, and 1-year-old Bayar exploring alone in his yurt while his mother milked the cows. I am quite sure that, left unsupervised, the children at my church’s festival could have handled the Bouncy Slide by themselves. We let them climb and jump; why can’t we trust them to gauge distance and wait their turn? Why can’t we rely on them to monitor their own behavior, to enforce the rules, to solve problems and have fun without an adult nearby?

Is it because we have too many lawyers?