Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happiness Is...

...listening to my kids laugh out loud at the same Charlie Brown Halloween special that I loved as a kid. I guess some things are timeless.

And by the way, happiness is most certainly NOT making 100 miniature chocolate whoopie pies with orange frosting for tomorrow's class parties. That falls more into the category of "motherhood" or "martyrdom."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Preteen Bear

This kid is growing up. Fast.

Last year I fretted over her upcoming transition to junior high, worrying about how she would deal with the responsibility of changing classes, more homework, increased peer pressure. How on earth would she ever remember her locker combination? Let's face it, organization has never been Bear's strong suit, and while some of the girls in her fifth grade class were concerned with fashion, boys, and cellphones, Bear was still perusing the American Girl doll catalog and playing dress-up with Bug. As she should. Regardless of what some parents seem to think, ten is still a little kid.
Over the summer, though, I watched the preteen begin to overshadow the little girl. Along with the obvious physical changes, came a heightened maturity, moodiness, and a sudden and complete aversion to waking up in the morning. There was dramatic sighing. There were requests to go to clothing stores. She shyly asked me to show her how to shave.

And then. THEN! She casually mentioned that she didn't really want any more American Girl doll stuff. Oh, she still planned to play with what she has... but this Christmas she'd rather have things like clothes, accessories, and video games. Bug declared her insane and WEIRD.
I've watched with equal parts amazement and pride as she's handled junior high with grace and maturity. Oh sure, we still have the occasional forgotten homework assignment, the inability to remember to bring home her gym clothes, and the exuberant bursts of silliness that reassure me that the little girl is not completely gone.

This past Friday she went to her first Sixth Grade Activity Night at the junior high. Seventh and eighth graders have dances in the cafeteria, while the sixth graders play games and sing karaoke in the gym. I helped her to choose an outfit, let her wear a tiny dab of lip color, and dropped her off with her friend. When I picked her up two hours later, she was laughing and glowing with happiness.

I miss the little girl, but I love the preteen. Isn't she beautiful?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What Next? Fried Pork Rinds?

Daddy Shortbread went to the grocery store and bought SPAM today. I told him he's welcome to it. The girls and I will be dining on homemade teriyaki chicken, sushi rice, and broccoli rabe tonight.

I am equal parts revolted and appalled.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Daddy Time

Bug's been pretty focused lately on the negatives of being the youngest in the family. She has an earlier bedtime than her sister. She's not allowed to watch certain TV shows that Bear does. She has to wear her sister's old winter coat instead of choosing a new one from the Land's End catalog. She practically writhed with envy last weekend when I let Bear borrow my cell phone to go ice-skating with friends.

Later that day, it was nice to see her reaping one of the benefits of being the youngest: one-on-one Daddy time when her big sister was off at a sleepover.
And, no, that's not how I normally dress my child. She put on an old t-shirt of Daddy Shortbread's to paint earlier that day and then decided not to take it off. Ditto on the too-short sweatpants. Whatever.
Daddy Shortbread was a very game two-square player, even when his opponent got a little rowdy.
To wit:
I had such a good time watching them enjoy each other. Daddy Shortbread would turn to retrieve the ball, only to have an ebullient Bug tackle him from behind. Two-square isn't normally a full-contact sport, is it?

I hung out at the picnic table sipping Diet Pepsi and shooting pictures to look busy. No way was I playing ball with these two crazies.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why I Need To Get a Kitten

Me (playfully, to Daddy Shortbread): If we had another baby, do you think it would be a boy or a girl?

Daddy Shortbread (gives me look that indicates I should drink my coffee and shut up)

Bug (piping up from the breakfast table): Um, let's not find out, OK?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Things My Kids Say That Make My Blood Run Cold

Bear (musing): I think I may want to be a cage dancer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Now Seeking Donations Toward My Cat's Psychiatric Care

Several years ago, my kids made a trio of Halloween spiders. Some five or six years later, they are admittedly a little worse for the wear but much loved. The kids still drag them out every Halloween and always set them together right by the TV.

I think Bear made this one in preschool. Notice the gouges in his side where his pipe cleaner legs have been repeatedly removed and repositioned. Lovely, no?
Bug made this one at a Halloween party when she was three. She was very, very insistent that he needed to be pink and orange. He looks like he's been hitting the sauce, doesn't he?
I've become a little bit attached to the bedraggled critters over the years. They remind me of my two tiny Trick-or-Treaters, who desperately wanted the candy but were still freaked out by the spookier aspects of Halloween.
So the other day, I'm sitting in the living room chatting with a friend when I notice that there are only TWO spiders in front of the TV. Suspicions aroused, I leap up and exclaim, "Where's the other spider? One's missing!", completely freaking out my friend who basically saw me leap out of my chair as though electrocuted and shout "spider!"
I immediately assume a cat (specifically Maisy, who has a propensity for swiping anything made with fluff) has nabbed one for a toy. I commission my friend to help me search. We walk through rooms, scanning floors, peeking under beds, and looking for tell-tale bits of fluff.
When I walk into the dining room, I discover this:
And so, it is with deepest regret that I must announce Spider #3, a pink fluff and pipe cleaner arachnid handcrafted by Bear at age six whilst she was in the throes of her princess phase, has met with a watery grave followed by a quick yet respectful disposal in the kitchen trash can.

Because no WAY was I keeping a fluffball spider that had been marinating in the cat bowl all day. Ew.

To their credit, Bear and Bug were more amused with Maisy than upset about the spider.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Raking Leaves, Kid Style

You don't have to be a parent for very long to realize that kids are not voluntarily helpful unless there's something in it for them. Sometimes they're angling to lick the spatula; other times they're softening you up before they ask for something big; once in awhile it's just for the praise. I've yet to have Bear or Bug pitch in and help for purely selfless reasons. So when I saw Bug and Bear raking up the leaves by the driveway, I harbored no delusions about what their master plan was.
Nope, I just ran inside and got my camera because I knew this was coming:
Also this:
Which quickly segued into The Battle of the Leaves:
Miss Woodland Sprite (who later found leaf bits in her underwear):
Bear, who is way too mature to watch Disney princess movies with her sister but not too mature to roll around in leaves like a chimpanzee:
Help! Our mother buried us in leaves!
They offered to bury me, too. I declined, but I will watch Disney princess movies. Maturity is relative.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seize the Apples

Usually my awareness of leaf season goes something like this: oooh, pretty! wow, gorgeous! oooh, I should definitely take some pictures today! man, tomorrow I'll for sure get my camera out and take some shots!...whoa, where did all the color go and who the HELL put all those dead leaves on my lawn?

But Friday was one of those autumn days that was so absolutely scintillating in its perfection that it made me feel all carpe diem. The sky sparkled blue. The leaves positively screamed with color, and fluffy little milkweed spores drifted lazily through the air. I picked the girls up from school and declared that today was an apple picking day. They were enthusiastic.

"And can we get ice-cream on the way?" inquired the always-enterprising Bug.
Well. Why not?

We munched our cones (rum raisin for me, which I know sounds wrong but is just awesome. I made fun of it for six years before I finally tried it.) as we drove out of town, down the little country road that leads to The Apple Farm. This was all around us:Spirits were high as we headed into the orchard:Some of us felt the need to break into impromptu kick lines:Guess who wore herself out half an hour later and morphed into La Grande Crabbe Who Is Too, Too Tired To Carry Her Own Apple Picker? And raise your hand, please, if you saw that coming.

Still, Little Miss Cranky Pants and swarms of teeny gnats aside, it was a great afternoon.

Bear shows off her bag of Winter Banana apples:


This is what it looks like outside my house today:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

But, Honey, It Was On My List

While shopping at Target today, one item on my shopping list gave me pause. Written in a somewhat childish (say, eight-ish) hand, right beneath "deodorant" and "shampoo" was:


Nice try, sweetie.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Actions? or Words?

Every day, I hear at least one (or two, or fourteen) of the following:

"You're being a brat!"

"Why do you have to be so IDIOTIC?!"

"Mom! Her paper is touching my FOOT!"

"She just ran past me and whapped me in the head on purpose!"

"Stop LOOKING at me!"

"Well, fine! Then I don't want to play with you EVER AGAIN."

"Aaaaaargh!" (door slam)

But when I go through the pictures I've taken over the past week,I find these:

I guess even the best sibling relationships have their moments of dysfunction? For example, I can clearly remember being furious with Uncle Awesome in the base comissary when I was about eleven. I can't remember what his offense was, although I can assure you that it was annoying in the extreme. What I can remember is my hand literally ITCHING with the need to punch him. I also remember weighing the swift and terrible punishment my mother was sure to rain down on me versus the satisfaction of wiping the smirk off his face. So I guess I get it.

What it's hard to communicate to your eleven-year-old is that someday, years from now, you're going to think your little sister is really cool. Even though today she seems to be Satan.

Or convincing the eight-year-old that the condescending despot posing as her older sister will someday be her best friend.

I promise.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bitten By the Political Bug

In the past few weeks, Bug has been fascinated by the outbreak of campaign signs around town. She reads them out loud, asks me if the candidate is Republican or Democrat, and whether I plan on voting for them. As more and more appeared in our neighborhood, she began to wonder when we would get ours in the mail.

You have to go to the campaign office and get them, I told her. Well, what in the heck were we waiting for? she wanted to know.

We had signs for the last election, and I have been meaning to pick some up, but never seem to think of it when I'm downtown near the Obama campaign office. The one time she reminded me when we were downtown, I had ice-cream in the back and couldn't stop.

The kid is a little bit relentless when she gets something into her head. Every day for the past week, she's asked if today is the day we will get our yard signs. No. Today? Well, then, how about today? It was when she elected to stay up to watch the vice-presidential debate with us (eight, the kid's eight!), that I knew I REALLY needed to get those signs.

Today was The Day. I picked both girls up from school. We drove downtown and crossed the square to the campaign office. The window was painted red, white, and blue with OBAMA/BIDEN in gigantic letters. We strode purposefully in and requested yard signs.

They're out of the fricking signs.

Worst. Mother. Ever.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Better Than Therapy

Yesterday I took the day off from being a mom to help my BF Jen deliver wedding cakes to a ski resort up north. I heartlessly (one might even say gleefully and not be stretching the truth by much) left Daddy Shortbread to deal with Saturday homework, driving the Bear to ballet, and what to feed the two finicky short people who live with us. You know, the ones that liked bananas last week but this week are tiiiiiired of them. Yesterday? Not my problem.

My BF and I wore our cute jeans and makeup. We got Starbucks lattes the size of our heads. We practically wet ourselves laughing on the drive up. It was HEAVEN.

As we got farther north, it was also peak foliage season. We were surrounded by this:
Driving into Kingfield, you follow this little river all the way to the mountain. Jen graciously pulled the van over every time I squealed and patiently let me shoot about ten billion pictures. She refrained from whining and complaining, unlike my usual van companions (who are darn lucky they're cute and biologically related to me sometimes).

We drove and gawked at the four million dollar "vacation homes" that dot the base of the mountain. Some of them have a ski lift that comes right to their back yard to whisk them up the mountain. (Who ARE these people? They can't all be neurologists from Boston.)

We lunched at a delightfully eclectic, girly cafe/flower shop, whose menu would have caused my kids to faint in horror. Nary a chicken finger, nor a french fry to be found, just wonderful salads, wraps, teas, and sparkling fruit juices. Delish. We lingered and chatted, keeping a wary eye on the wasp that had wandered inside and taken up residence on the window beside our table.

Finally, we drifted homeward, feeling the need to stop at both farm stand and garden center. The van smelled both earthy and delightfully spicy and fall-like from the pumpkins, squash, and pots of mums we shoehorned into the back.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Autumn Sunrise + Unmitigated Bragging

When I caught a glimpse of this amazing technicolor sunrise out the kitchen window Monday morning, I snatched my camera and ran out into the yard in my pajamas. Within two minutes, the color was completely washed away by the rising sun. It was worth the damp socks and public display of nightwear to capture it.
In other news, Bear brought home her very first junior high school progress report today. We've been working hard with her to keep her organized, and she has been putting a lot of effort into homework, so it was with a face flushed with pride that she handed me a printout with the following grades:

Band - A+

English - A

Reading - B

Social Studies - A

Math - A

Excel Science - A

Well, look at that. Hard work and organization does pay off. I could swear someone's been telling Bear that. Now, who was it? Hmmm... Oh, right. ME. (And possibly her father, too, but this is my blog, so I get most of the credit).